Posts Tagged ‘springtime’

Looking back on the year at KBC

Because I also administrate the KBC Facebook page (because the owners are dear friends, and because I think it is the best place to stay on the Peninsula, and because it is still my favourite job),  I have a wealth of garden photos for 2012, enough to make an entry for each season.

13 February

2-13...We arrive to wake up the garden.

We arrive to wake up the garden.

2-13, Euphobia characias wulfenii

 Euphobia characias wulfenii

crocus backed with Melianthus major, 2-13

crocus backed with Melianthus major

2-13, Crocus and Anthriscus 'Ravenswing'

 Crocus and Anthriscus ‘Ravenswing’

2-13, Iris reticulata

 Iris reticulata

Euphorbia 'Tasmanian Tiger'

Euphorbia ‘Tasmanian Tiger’

16 March

Narcissi and heather by a cottage

Narcissi and heather by a cottage

Pulmonaria and Narcissi in A Frame garden

Pulmonaria and Narcissi in A Frame garden

A Frame garden with Hellebore and Pulmonaria

A Frame garden with Hellebore and Pulmonaria

inside the deer fence

inside the deer fence

Great news!  A clematis we thought had died put out a new shoot.

Great news! A clematis we thought had died put out a new shoot.

26 March

the lady fountain

the lady fountain

Pieris (which my grandma called Andromeda) and primrose

Pieris (which my grandma called Andromeda) and primrose

7 April

Allan pruning roses

Allan pruning roses

13 April

Euphorbia characias 'Wulfenii'

Euphorbia characias ‘Wulfenii’

tulip buds

tulip buds

Fritillaria meleagris (checkered lily, guinea hen flower)

Fritillaria meleagris (checkered lily, guinea hen flower)

Erythronium (dogtooth violet)...from my mother's garden

Erythronium (dogtooth violet)…from my mother’s garden

21 April

quintessential spring green with tulips

quintessential spring green with tulips

one of the "green" tulips

one of the “green” tulips



28 April


tulip 4-28


4-28 Tulip 'Cool Crystal'

 Tulip ‘Cool Crystal’


4-28 broken by rain

 broken by rain

tuilip 4-28


4-28 by the pond

by the pond

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I don’t think I have much of a record of Donna’s garden in Long Beach.  In going through his old photos in 2013, Allan found these three of her tulip show.  Her daughter, Diane, still our client, likes pastels, and Diane’s sweet mom, Donna liked bright colours so their gardens were quite different!

Donna's tulips

Donna’s tulips

We planted all bright coloured tulips for her.  The red and white of her house was just like my grandma’s “Little Red House” in Seattle.

Donna's tulipsDonna's tulipsWe used to do a set of containers on her back porch as well, also all bright colours, but have no photo record of them.  She was a lovely client, and I always admired the closeness of the mother-daughter relationship between Donna and Diane.


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We had agreed to have my mother’s garden on the Peninsula garden tour in 2009 at the request of tour organizer Patti Jacobsen.  Oh dear.  The garden was a wreck.  Our own garden on tour had taken precedence in 2008…and my mother had been unable, since 2007,  to do any of her own gardening work.

Not only would my mother’s garden be on the tour in June, but so would the garden of our client, Laurie.  I had a gut feeling that both of these gardens faced dire change.  My mother’s age and our dear Laurie’s delicate health and possibly impending move to a warmer climate added a sense of urgency to giving each of them the joy of being on the tour.  Gardens generally do not survive when their owner leaves them.

At my mother’s, we decided to start by clearing out the vegetable garden of three years’ worth of weeds.  This area had been my mother’s pride and joy.  It had also been the area where she had proposed we might have a little house built in order that we could all live on the same property and be there to help her out.  So the veg garden had been let slide, and nothing had happened about the little house because none of us had enough money to build it.  We plunged in, determined to make an area to plant some peas, as Mom had always loved to do.  Somewhere in there might lurk her strawberry rows which used to provide her with many berries for her late morning cereal.

Mom’s veg garden, 11 April, before and after

We returned on April 14th with the idea of digging out paths in order to make the beds slightly raised.

14 April, path idea

Only a few strawberries had been salvageable.  But we did get the peas planted.

We found in this old paint brush evidence of how long it had been since the area was cleaned up:

a garden find, 14 April

The weedy condition of the ornamental flower beds daunted us.  Could we possibly, considering how many jobs we also had to do, have this garden perfect by late June?

14 April, looking south from the veg garden

Mom was skeptical.  Patti was worried.  We knew it could be done.

We started on the area just inside the entrance to the garden.  By the southeast corner of the house one entered under the branches of a big California wax myrtle that formed a natural archway.  From the street, one could only guess from a few bright glimpses that a garden lay within.

just past the wax myrtle, 14 April

First on the agenda:  Cut back last year’s growth and reveal each plant.

looking southwest from entrance

The garden, on a double lot (100×100 with some area beyond that belonged to the city but had been colonized by us) already had lots of spring beauty to offer.

a border of primroses, 14 April

My mother had  carefully divided a few primroses into a border of many.

The garden bed by the front parking pad had been smaller when she bought the house in 1999.  Inspired by George Schenk’s idea of gardening on pavement, we had simply piled soil on part of the blacktop and used it for an expansion with hellebores.

front bed, 14 Aoril, with hellebore, backed with blooming Skimmia and Pieris

Her stunning hellebores grew in the little woods on the southeast corner of the lot as well as in the front bed.

hellebores, 14 April (left) front bed (right) in the woods

As we weeded and defined, more spring gems stood out clearly.  I could tell that Mom was beginning to believe that her garden would indeed be tour-worthy in time.

Pulmonaria, 14 April

Soon, she would order ten yard of Soil Energy for mulching.  We would return weekly, or more often, happily forgoing time off in order to give this garden its day of glory.  It is expensive in labour and materials to show off properly on a tour.  One needs mulch…only the finest, at $32 a yard…and of course, one needs a carload or two of exciting new plants.

By April 30th, we still had a ways to go….

30 April

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Springtime weather returned during the first week of April.  All the creatures rejoiced in it.

Moony, Dewey, Pinta and Elé

Laurie’s garden remained one of our favourites.  Her horse herd had grown and now included golden Moony, the Peruvian Pasos Pinta and Elé, grey Kachina (not pictured above) and the newest, the miniature Dewey, rescued from dire circumstances, nurtured back to health, and in possession of a dire temper.  The presence of horses required a bag of carrot and apple pieces (offered to Dewey with a toss from a safe distance).

At Klipsan Beach Cottages our idea of a couple of years back had been to use plastic window boxes as inserts in the wooden ones, thus making it possible to seasonally change out the 20 windowboxes on the cottages, A Frame, and office windows.  Each one is slightly different planted with the smallest of narcissi and the species tulips, the snowdrops, the Fritillaria meleagris, that bloom between February and Mother’s Day…Mother’s Day being the time when KBC owner Mary plants up the summer annual window boxes.

April windowboxes

In the woodland swale at KBC, we outwitted the deer by planting sweeps of Narcissi.  At Andersen’s RV Park deer had not yet discovered the tulips.  2008 would be the last year we got away with planting them in that garden; a deer herd must have increased or been displaced by housing development because nowadays they amble through regularly and have limited our planting choices.

narcissi at KBC, tulips at Andersen’s

In another garden rampant with ravenous deer we planted hundreds of a white narcissi mix.  Everything in the Discovery Heights garden has to pass the deer test.  Hellebore foetidus seems to thoroughly repel them and joins pale yellow new foliage to echo the touches of yellow on the assorted narcissi.

middle garden, Discovery Heights, 17 April

You can just get a glimpse of the ocean to the right of that treed hill.  On a grey day like this one, it blends with the sky.

Oman Builders Supply, 18 April

By mid April that new garden bed at Oman Builders Supply had enough colour to satisfy but in future I planned to have that colour come from bulbs rather than primroses.  They’d have to be moved for later flowering plants to settle in whereas bulbs can stay in place as their foliage dies down.

26 April, west end of beach approach garden

On the Bolstadt beach approach Armeria (sea thrift) flowered brightly in the windblown sandy outer garden.  In the thirteen sections of this garden there is a big difference between what thrives in section one, sheltered down by the arch, and section thirteen out by the buoy where drifts of sand come in over the garden in winter storms.

Arbour Day volunteer work party: Allan Fritz, Kathleen Sayce, Diane Carter

The end of April brought of the Ilwaco Tree Committee to plant some conifers into the Discovery Garden by the museum.

I felt ever increasing urge to shop for plants and we planned our yearly trip to Cistus and Joy Creek nurseries, but meanwhile…

…an adorable viola face at The Basket Case Greenhouse

…and tables full of spring flowers at Seven Dees, Seaside.

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The gardening tasks repeat from year to year.  I’d think no one would want to read the same story over and over, yet as a gardener I find it endlessly fascinating to watch the cycles repeat on Moosey’s Country Garden.

The hydrangea jobslowed the beginning of our rounds of spring clean up.  At last, at the beginning of March, we got to Klipsan Beach Cottages to cut back the many sword and deer ferns.

Don’t fall in!

Allan, being the agile one, balanced over the island pond to trim the fronds that dangle gracefully over the waterfalls.  This same task would be repeated at Discovery Heights, our own garden, Laurie’s garden, The Boreas Inn, and on a smaller scale at each job that had just a few ferns to clip.  The new fronds unfurling are a sure sign of spring and if one does not cut the old ones while the new are still dormant, it’s a tricky and finicky job that takes much longer.

Animals large and small can be a welcome distraction in chilly weather.

at the Red Barn Arena

George, in Suzanne’s garden

The Red Barn Arena always provided us with some equine entertainment.

And here’s the elusive George, so large and attractive but so practices at skittering out of the way whenever I got within hands-width of petting him.

I’m trying to firmly implement the revelation of June 2007 and only take on new jobs with CPNs (certified plant nuts) or with clients who will give me free reign.  Oman Builder’s Supply in Ocean Park hired us to do a little garden in front of their new store.  Opening day would honour the late David Fritts, longtime hardware store employee who had had a strong vision of the Ocean Park store remodel and longtime Ilwaco city councilman.  We had one day to get the new garden together and to fulfill the “lots of colour” request planted runs of primroses and violas from the Basket Case Greenhouse along with fresh little lavenders.

In late winter I fret about getting the clean-ups done especially since so many of our jobs are in the public eye.  Just when we thought we might have work under control, weather intervened.  In late March a surprise snow fall caught us while working at Klipsan Beach Cottages (here, light snow at the A Frame) and as we drove home we stopped at several jobs to take photos of whitened gardens.

increasing snow: (left) Mary’s new garden; (center) Andersen’s RV Park, halfway home (right) Jo’s garden in Long Beach

By the time we got to Long Beach, the snow had become thick enough to be photogenic.

(left) Jo’s garden (middle) Mom’s garden (right) Boreas Inn

Photographing the  Bolstadt Beach approach gave me a sharp, windy chill.

looking back toward Long Beach arch

The weeding of this long garden loomed ahead of us but we found it hard to imagine doing it anytime soon.

Giant snowflakes fell on the Shelburne garden in Seaview.  The bright fresh Hyacinth flowers looked well hunkered down as if their shoulders were cold.

Shelburne garden in snow

In Ilwaco the yellow narcissi we had planted to echo the exterior of the Portside Café barely showed under their heavy white burden.

the planter by the Portside Café always planted with yellow colour echoes

Usually a late snow melts before I can get home to photograph my own garden all white and pretty.  On this occasion, we made it home in good time.  Our lower entry garden was a study in brown and white.

(left) outside the lower gate (center) contorted filbert traced with snow (right) Phormium at the stream arbour entrance

By 2010 the Phormium by the entrance to the stream path had grown so large we had to remove it; the above photo reminds me of why I once loved Phormiums so.  This particular one had blades of a rich smoky hue.

Corylopsis pauciflora

the spring-fed pond

I still remember the cold pure smell of the spring water surrounded by snow.

Inside the house the temperature was perhaps even more bitter than outside.  After the removal in 2006 of a faulty and scary propane heat stove, we rarely managed to get the temperature above fifty in the winter and spent many a foul weather hour in front of the parabolic heater.  One step away from its arc and we might as well have been in a tent.  Only the earliest morning to early afternoon sun fell upon the house and shade drew in by two in the afternoon. But oh, the view from that arched window.

the pond…the boxwood balls…Paul’s Himalayan Musk over the old trailer…the spruce tree…and looking straight down from the attic window

From the loft window where Allan had his desk we could see over the spruce tree and the Ilwaco boatyard to the working end of town blanketed with snow.  Then with the heater pointed right at me, layered in softer clothes than for outside but just as many layers and with the fingerless gloves on, I settled into a welcome indoor afternoon of reading and the social internet (and probably some games of Scrabulous).

Ilwaco’s west end in snow

By the next day, spring had returned.


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Friday night when we stopped at mom’s to bring in firewood, I snagged a few more volunteer seedlings of Verbascum olympicum from her vegetable garden…the one with white woolly leaves and a tower of yellow…to take to Marilyn’s, a garden which lacks them and simply must have them.  So today that transplanting job was number one, after a stop at the Basket Case and Clarke’s.  I had purchased a few pineapple sage at the Basket Case and ogled the annuals but resisted because I feel that it is too early to plant them (even though many other people are, and perhaps I am overly cautious), and was about to load the car when I let out a shriek of joy as I saw Sambucus ‘Black Lace’ (elderberry) in gallons for a mere $11.  Last year they were hard to find for under $30. I gleefully purchased the three that I saw: one for me, one for Discovery Heights, and one for Marilyn. Clarke had the three cistus I wanted:  ‘Elma’ with white flowers, and the pale pink one with sticky leaves, and x Purpureas with the dark maroon blotch in a papery dark pink flower.

After the planting at Marilyn’s (and the pleasant news that the small and poorly cared for dahlia tubers I planted there are sprouting), we took a circuitious route through Oysterville.  I hear the owners of a lovely garden there want help and am intrigued by working in that lovely town.  Onward to KBC, my favourite job, where work is like play (and yet I must charge for it due to the economic realities of life.)

Tulips at one gated entry to the fenceD garden, and golden comfrey

Mary had most of the cleaning and paperwork done, so she and good dog Riley were able to join me in weeding and edging.  Allan cleaned up all around the entry sign out by the highway (Thank you, because it is noisy way out there), and later dug out an enormous woody rosemary which was swamping too many other plants.

Vignettes at the entry to the basement laundry area

The payoff for pruning the ferns continues in the swale and around the waterfall pond   (where Allan gracefully balanced while pruning, without falling in; Mary says she herself has fallen in at least once!)

ferns on the pond island and by one of the waterfalls

Below, Anthriscus sylvestris ravenswing, a bronze airy-flowered plant which I especially love, and more late-blooming Tulip viridiflora ‘Golden Artist’

Finally, we did a frenzied hour of weeding at Andersen’s and had some of Vernice’s lemony birthday cake, and did a quick check on L____’s garden, overjoyed to find our weeding of a month ago had held up well.  Thus ends a thirteen day work week, with dinners at 9 p.m., and tomorrow…..a blessed day off

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All the public gardens of Long Beach are featuring tulips as the main floral attraction, a show that should continue into May. On the beach approach, the deer have thoughtfully backed off from munching every tulip bud so we finally have a bit of a show there.

Three beauties (left) in Fountain Park: Astilbe, Darmera peltata, and Gunnera manicata.  Angelique tulips (right) in Coulter Park.  These pink peony flowering tulips used to be my favourite until I became seduced by brighter and more startling (and less tasteful?) colour combinations.

It’s a pleasure to garden for a town whose administration values and supports having interesting gardens.  Thanks, Long Beach! for paying us to play in your gardens. And thanks to the locals and tourists passersby for all your words of appreciation.

[2012 note:  A couple of years ago we started doing all the street planters, too.  Some of the volunteers did a great job but the results were not consistent enough for a town which has year round tourism.]

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Friday the 13th: a wonky trailer throws a wrench into the workday

One of the wheels of our utility trailer went wonky….No surprise because as Allan pointed out, that same little trailer brought his worldly goods down from Tacoma, and since then has hauled around heavy loads of mulch, river rock, and weeds for two years without any problem and is due for an overhaul.  His previous career was fixing and assembling bikes and exercise equipment and so he is out in the rain repairing the wheel.  Something to do with ball bearings.  If it gets done, we will go do our task for the day in Long Beach: cutting to the ground all the rugosa roses (‘Blanc Double de Coubert’) on the south side of the police station so that the wall can be resided.  Don’t be shocked it you see it; the roses will come back and, if the siding job is done soon, the roses will even have time to bloom this year.) Meanwhile, the rain is slowing which is nice for me…Hmm, if we do move to mom’s house, we will have a carport for such fix-it tasks.

In Long  Beach, Allan cut back the dwarf (ha! still quite large) pampas grass in the big popout, cleverly avoiding breaking off any of that particular tulip display, while I walked the street trees, deadheading and tidying, and checked up on the center quadrant of parks.

Each tree and park has a different display of colour. And the perennials are coming on as well.  In “Fountain Park” by Debbie’s Restaurant, the Darmera Peltata has its pink umbels out well before the large parasol leaves, while in the background the Gunnera is doing so well, reminding me that mine died and I must replace it!

Onward to Klipsan Beach Cottages (actually it was a huge workday with a stop at the Planter Box to buy more Dr. Earth fertilizer, then Wiegardt Gallery before KBC, and Seanest, Andersen’s, McDonald’s, and Raymond Federal after! All to make it possible to take a day off to go plant shopping).

at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Fringed tulips ‘Max Durand’ at KBC….My favourite  tulip with the crystalline edges. or are parrot tulips my favourite?  No wait, the green tulips (Viridiflora) are definitely my favourites. And a wee sculpture at the dog memorial garden (Misty, Debbie, and Raven).  I have planted there among the memorial plants (Eucryphia, Fuchsias, a blak leaved Elderberry, and more) all white narcissi including the aptly named ‘Misty Glen’ and ‘Tommy’s White’ (Tommy being the adorable siamese who probably misses his dog friends), but I realize that I must plant white narcissi there much more thickly next fall to get a spectacular show.

Mary gave us a box of easter candy! I may take some of it to the Rainyside shopping day (Rainysiders getting together at Joy Creek and Cistus nurseries). It’s a tradition for someone to bring chocolate. Oh, never mind, I know it won’t last till tomorrow.

And Allan just called (from 50 feet down the road….) to say the trailer is ready to go…what perfect timing….and we’re off!

(Later) Mission accomplished, including salvaging tall white Oriental Lilies and Dutch Iris from the police station garden and transplanting them at city hall. For awhile, the Dutch Iris ‘Oriental Beauty’  of an odd chartreuse yellow and blue-green combination perfectly matched the large “click it or ticket” seat belt poster that was on the south side of the station. I got to pet Morgan, a wonderful Seattle Great Dane who strolled by with his person. He’s named for the Morgan horse and is a sweet, friendly leaner….leans gently against one’s legs while being petted.

Oh, and the chocolate did not last…it accompanied the conclusion of typing this entry.

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Contrary to the impression perhaps given by the previous entry, life is not all fluttering around the flowers but does involve lots of digging and pruning at this time of year.  This week we took on a one time clean up at a house for sale by the golf course in Surfside An old camellia needed pruning.  I was pleased to make it look, after pruning, as though it had not been pruned, although it was 2/3 of its previous size when done. Allan weeded several small overgrown beds.

The landscaping across the street from the house for sale was impressive. Two houses had gardens which flowed together with no lawn.  One was perhaps just beginning but particularly endeared itself to me with its peace flags on the arbour (a peacenik for a neighbour, I was happily  imagining, till the golf ball whizzed by my head). The other garden was more intensively planted with grasses with an interesting series of angular decks leading up to the front porch.

We returned for another weeding of L______’s garden of memories where we fertilized and weeded.  The memorial garden for Whitey the cat is full of white narcissi, as planned.

Finally, we got to Carol’s garden on the bay….our first visit this year, and the scary thing is that there were still three more gardens we have not made a wake up call to this year!  There was much to be done: pruning, weeding, fertilizing… in a blazing heat which we both found disconcerting, but I moaned about it more. I rejoiced each time a light haze covered the sun for a few moments.  Because we worked into the evening, the last hour of the day was in blessed shade. It’s not supposed to be hot at the beach!

I realized one day that it has been a whole month since we had been to Laurie’s garden….OOPS.  So she got a day, which was more strenuous than I expected because I realized some of the more vigourous perennials had encroached upon the lovely oriental lily sprouts.  So much heavy digging and axing of perennials clumps resulted in a trailer load (top of page) of plants to go to Marilyn’s, some of which had originally come from my garden, like the starts of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’.  My plants rotate from garden to garden by the principle of Skyler giveth and Skyler taketh away.

Still there were three gardens we had not yet visiting: Solstice House, Evelyn, and the Long Beach Subway.  So this morning, Subway got a good four hours of weeding and pruning and hauling of debris to the dump…while a blessed fog rolled in and saved us from the fear of more hot weather.  We attended to some pruning and weeding and mulching at Andersen’s RV Park in the afternoon and still, despite my best laid plan, did not make it to Evelyn’s.  And next week we have a new job in Chinook….And so as happens every spring I have the feeling of being shot out of a cannon with no landing in site till the end of next November!

There is a feeling at this time of year that one will never catch up.  But I have a new resolve that at the end of the day, no matter how tired, I’ll take a moment to stretch a bit and to remember with views like these why I moved to the beach:

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For the past week of work have been marvelling at the gorgeous bulbs everywhere.  I have utmost faith as I plant fall bulbs because they are so dependable.

Back at R___’s memorial garden, the narcissi glowed in the sunset:

The miniature narcissi form delicate clumps and have more character than the larger ones.

[2012 note: here’s the link to information re this year’s Music in the Gardens tour.]

The days pass….more gardens are weeded and planted, and more new blossoms discovered.  In Marilyn’s garden, Tulip ‘Persian Pearl’ and Narcissus bulbocodicum ‘Golden Bells’ (common name  “yellow hoop petticoats”) and all their blooming companions entertained us while we worked.

In downtown Long Beach the planters are cared for by different volunteers and two of my favourite spring shows happen to be in front of Dennis Company hardware store.  Our friend Susie Goldsmith of the Boreas Inn envisioned a microcosm of Holland with her rich red tulips, while another volunteer’s planter uses similar tulips to speak of the softer colours of spring.

I love both of these planters but Susie’s makes me laugh with delight at its sheer verve and vivacity.

Under the 18 Long Beach street trees narcissi and crocus and grape hyacinth have been pretty enough, but now the big showy tulips (and I love them!) are starting to flower and will go through May. Each tree has a different colour theme of tulips which may come up in odd places as they got dug up and replanted when the crew had to redo the lighting connection last autumn after bulb planting day.  And the big pop put next to Boo Boo’s Putt Putt Golf (true name!) has a glorious show…Raised up to a higher level, the bulbs can be viewed in comfort.

And we got some work done this week as well reveling in the flowers.

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