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Posts Tagged ‘The Natural Nook’

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Allan had gone to breakfast with J9 at the Long Beach Grange.

breakfast with J9 at the Grange

breakfast with J9 at the Grange

home

I slept longer and then took a stroll out to the bogsy wood.

It had definitely begun to dry out...

It had definitely begun to dry out…

I wanted to see some frogs in the bog but they were all hiding.

I wanted to see some frogs in the bog but they were all hiding.

Many the crab pot was stacked next door.

Many the crab pot was stacked next door.

I made another attempt at the crocus photo in the front garden.

the crocus run

the crocus run

also: narcissi

also: narcissi

crocus and hellebores

crocus and hellebores

more hellebores

more hellebores

and more

and more

tulips and narcissi

tulips and narcissi

Allan's garden

Allan’s garden

After my garden walk, I called Allan to suggest that we go overseas (to Oregon) rather than work, as the grey day’s weather was changing to drizzle. The work board still had some first time clean ups on the list (and I had forgotten to add the Red Barn).

skiving off from work

skiving off from the work board

Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart

After his breakfast, which of course had taken place at about 11 AM, Allan and I headed over the bridge toward Gearhart and our favourite north Oregon coast nursery, Back Alley Gardens.

Back Alley and The Natural Nook, formerly Fitzgeralds

Back Alley and The Natural Nook, formerly Fitzgeralds

March 1st at Back Alley

March 1st at Back Alley

plants

on the deck

a charming primula

a charming primula

double primula

double primula

inside the adjoining Natural Nook gift shop

inside the adjoining Natural Nook gift shop

The Natural Nook

The Natural Nook

We were so busy visiting with Pam and Prissy that we almost forgot our mission to buy a spare Birds Be Safe collar. Fortunately, Allan saw them after we had rung up our assortment of exciting hellebores and wee conifers.

see birdsbesafe.com

see birdsbesafe.com

Now look! There, to the left, is the new Ducly Mahar book and I did not even notice it till now.

Pam’s Gardens in Seaside

After visiting with Pamela Fleming of Back Alley, also the gardener for Seaside, Oregon, we made our usual detour down Broadway to check out her curbside gardens. The photos are strangely composed and blurred because we were on the move. We always used to tour these gardens by car even before we met Pam in person. They never fail to impress.

nicely mulched, with Heucheras

nicely mulched, with amber Heucheras

pocket

 

an impressionistic blur by the river bridge

an impressionistic blur by the river bridge

driving west on Broadway with gardens ahead

driving west on Broadway with gardens ahead

seaside

ever westward

ever westward

shrubs

one of several welcoming sit spots

one of a few big, welcoming sit spots

thick clumps of narcissi

thick clumps of narcissi

Seaside's famous Candy Man (handing out samples from the Candy Man store)

Seaside’s famous Candy Man (handing out samples from the Candy Man store)

turn

the western end

the western end

hydrangeas on the shady side, with nary a weed

hydrangeas on the shady side, with nary a weed

Seaside 7 Dees

While I had gotten some extra choice small hellebores from Back Alley that will bloom next year, I still was on a quest for larger ones in bloom now. When we arrived at 7 Dees (part of a Portland-based chain), blooming hellebores awaited us along with something very exciting, indeed, breathtaking: Edgeworthias!

Hellebores and Edgeworthias

Hellebores and Edgeworthias

more Edgeworthias inside!

more Edgeworthias inside!

I think I got the only one of this colour:  Edgeworthia chrysantha Rubra

I think I got the only one of this colour: Edgeworthia chrysantha Rubra

(The tag says Edgeworthia c. Rubra, which I assume is chrysantha, which is I believe supposed to have larger flowers, but Google tells me it’s Edgeworthia papyrifera Rubra.)

and I got myself this Edgeworthia papyrifera

and I got myself this Edgeworthia papyrifera

I was so very chuffed to find these. I used to have a precious Edgeworthia chrysantha; it had been brought to me on the train from Seattle to a Seaside spring garden seminar by none other than my gardening idol Ann Lovejoy. I adored it in my old garden and of course had to try to move it to my new one, and killed it. All I have left is one little branch; I had used its carcass, painted purple, as garden decor till it disintegrated. While these won’t have the emotional attachment for me, at least I have the excellent winter blooming shrub again.

mine!

mine! waiting to be rung up

and a pretty and fragrant wallflower came along, too...

and a pretty and fragrant wallflower came along, too…

Last year I would not have been able to buy such shrubs as we then shopped in the small two door Saturn. Look at us now!

van

load

While shopping at 7 Dees, I’d gotten a text from our friend Jenna (Queen La De Da)informing me she was on her way to Olde Towne Café in Ilwaco. When I told her we were at 7 Dees she asked if they had any of “those swirly trees”…and so we were even able to fit THIS into the van for her new shop, along with all our plants, with room to spare.

would not have fit in the Saturn!

would not have fit in the Saturn!

Astoria

One of the glories of the day was not having to buy frozen food at Costco; Allan had shopped on his own earlier in the week. Thus we were able to have an early dinner in Astoria. We chose Blue Ocean Thai.

Blue Ocean Thai at the west end of Commercial

Blue Ocean Thai at the west end of Commercial

The ambience of the restaurant is perhaps a little lacking.

a big sparse room

a big sparse room

Allan pointed out that the chandelier’s shape reminded him of an Allium.

Allium shaped chandelier

Allium shaped chandelier

The food was exquisite. I wish the Thai restaurant that is closer to us was this good. I almost wept with joy; it had been years since I had Thai food of this quality.

so delicious

so delicious

Top left: cucumber salad… The Larb Gai (bottom) was served at a cool temperature, as it should be. The Pad Prik King (green bean dish, top right) and Allan’s dish with peanut sauce filled me with joy, and there were leftovers for later.

After dinner we had a quick look, in the uncomfortably chilly dusk, at the Garden of Surging Waves. The ropes that kept us from going in last time have been removed from the new Chinese Heritage garden and many more plants added.

waves

now open to the public

waves

view

statue

rocks

fish

my favourite part: the wall of words

my favourite part: the wall of words

words

words

More words: metal tables (or benches?) inserted into the wall inscribed with quotations:

tables

words

words

temple

The last time we had looked at this garden, a big 7 Dees truck delivery truck had been parked nearby. And here, in the garden today, we saw several Edgeworthias (Chinese paper bush, so perfect for this garden’s theme). Maybe that is why they had been available for me to buy at the Seaside garden store.

edgeworthia

Edgeworthia

Edgeworthia

home

My lovely plant haul, photographed the next day:

haul

I had just seen Ciscoe rave about the Brazleberry on telly.

Hellebores small (very collectible) and large

Hellebores small (very collectible) and large

I am still taking Pam's advice and adding more columnar conifers.

I am still taking Pam’s advice and adding more columnar conifers.

Back Alley had two tables of fabulous Xera plants.

Back Alley had two tables of fabulous Xera plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday, 1 November 2013

We had made a plan to go shopping “overseas” (NW Oregon) but had to squeeze some work in first.  (My Facebook friends know that I am trying to avoid using the word “but” too often in the blog, but here, oh, and THERE, I will allow it!)

I had noticed on Halloween evening as we toured the town’s decorations that Cheri’s garden definitely needed some fall clean up.  The dead brown stalks of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ might have looked spooky for the big Ilwaco holiday.  Now it is over, so today down they came.

Cheri's, before

Cheri’s, before

One of the cats (Jake, I think) was out in the new cat enclosure.

Pet me!  Rub my head now!  More please!

Pet me! Rub my head now! More please!

KITTY corner across the street, I checked on Mike’s garden as well.

Gaura 'Whirling Butterflies'...

pale pink Schizostylis and Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’…

...and Pulmonaria and Brunnera 'Looking Glass' in Mike's garden

…and Pulmonaria and Brunnera ‘Looking Glass’ in Mike’s garden

Then, at the Port, we weeded the Time Enough Books garden.  The next day a big event would take place.

Soup Night book signing tomorrow!

Soup Night book signing tomorrow!

I took some photos in order to help promote the event on Facebook.

books and bowls

books and bowls

Local potter Karen Brownlee, she who organizes the wonderful Empty Bowls charity event here on the Long Beach Peninsula, had created some bowls especially for Soup Night.

bowl

I particularly looked forward to the event because the author, Maggie Stuckey, had co-written the excellent kitchen garden book, The Bountiful Container, and because Maggie is friends with Peninsula garden tour organizer Nancy Allen.

I then checked on the wee garden on the south side of the Port Office.

after a bit of deadheading and weeding

after a bit of deadheading and weeding

The marina’s mirror like reflection belied the storm warning evidenced by two triangle flags.

so peaceful....

looking west….so peaceful….

looking east

looking east…placid and still

and yet!!

and yet!!

The gale warning gave me something to worry about.  What if the power went out when the storm came during the night or the next morning?  How would we have delicious soup at the book signing?

Even though the weather continued into the afternoon warm and wind free, we went across the river.  I felt bad about it as we should have been working.  And yet Bulb Time fast approaches and I wanted to check out the fall plants available at Back Alley Gardens.  Crossing the river in the wind (on a bridge, not a boat) scares me.  And the cats would be quite agitated if we did not replenish their canned food treats at Costco….so off we drove.

Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart

Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart

It is pleasant to browse a nursery on a beautiful day.  We usually take trips there only on rainy days.  For the longest time I felt that the nearby town of Warrenton had a bleak and miserable appearance until I realized one summer garden touring day that I had ONLY seen it on rainy day Costco shopping trips.

As always, Back Alley had a collection of wonderful, irresistible plants from Xera.  Theirs is the only nursery locally to offer them.  I made another purchase to add to my collection of plants I have no idea where I am going to put…

They are must haves....

They are must haves….

One of the most interesting finds was a hardy water plant, to the left, above.    Xera says:  “Cyperus sp. ‘Zero’:  A large growing perennial for moist locations including water containers and the margins of ponds.  To 4′ tall and upright, outer stems bend outward in time.  Excellent textural plant throught the summer months.  Stiffly rising green stems have the look of bamboo topped with umbrella shaped leaflets.  Deciduous in winter (freezes back to the ground, returns in spring).”  I have one from the Planter Box that did come back once.  This one might be a more unusual cultivar!  Over the winter we intend to install an embarrassingly generic black plastic pond that we got for free (and we do appreciate it!), so we had better have something cool to make it special.

Another plant new (to me) was Escallonia ‘Lou Allen’.  I adore Escallonias even though many of my friends consider them passé.  Escallonia ‘Lou Allen’ is described by Xera as a “FANTASTIC compact form of Escallonia that grows relatively slowly to only 2′ tall and 3′ wide. Great low hedge or small scale groundcover.  Very formal looking. Medium pink flowers appear in early summer and sporadically throughout the year.Tough low maintenance shrub that is drought tolerant when established. Evergreen. Full sun to very light shade in average soil. No pruning necessary- it just grows like this. Cool.”  I have NO idea where I need three compact Escallonia (other than sitting in pots waiting to be planted somewhere).  They are here now!

on the deck at Back Alley

on the deck at Back Alley

inside the shop, "The Natural Nook"

inside the shop, “The Natural Nook”

All summer long, we could count on being stopped near the highest spot of the Astoria Megler bridge because of work going on.  Now that storm season is here the work has ceased, so I cannot show you a good photo of a marvelous sight we saw going home.  All I can offer is a hint taken from a fast moving van.

looking east, at 45 mph

looking east, at 45 mph

The Columbia River by Astoria, Oregon, was so calm and clear the the lights of cargo ships reflected in the water, while low tide revealed the sand bars.

tide

I have rarely seen such still water in the river.  It was hard to believe a storm was coming. Tomorrow, storm or calm, would be a day off for us because we had three artful events to attend.

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August 25, 2013

After our stroll through the Astoria Sunday Market, we headed south for the real purpose of our trip “overseas”:  checking out the new Xera plants at Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart and its sister business, The Natural Nook.  We entered via the home and garden gift shop.

inside The Natural Nook

inside The Natural Nook

Everything in the shop is something I would love to have if I were the sort of person who spent money on “stuff”.  Only a limited income and lack of space stops me!

Just look at these "hens and chickens" candles!

Just look at these “hens and chickens” candles!

a beautiful window

a beautiful window

chubby little birds

chubby little birds

Natural Nook is also a florist shop.

The Natural Nook is also a florist shop.

Outside in the nursery, I saw the abutilon that had caught our eye in the last garden of this year’s Astoria garden tour.

abutilon

and a tag telling all about it….

tag

Plantswoman Prissy Martin took us to her greenhouse behind the Back Alley plant sales area to show us a very cool plant…whose name I cannot remember.

mystery plant with green flower

mystery plant with green flower

She said it gets tall.  Maybe shop owner Pam Fleming will see this and comment with the name.

We then checked out the garden in the way back area where Prissy tests out plants and grows flowers for her darling small “tussy mussy” bouquets.

Kiss me?

Kiss me?

Now, is this “Kiss me Over the Garden Gate” or the more sinister sounding common name “Love Lies Bleeding”?   Or both?   Google tells me the latter is Amaranth and the former is Polyganum orientalis.  The amaranth has longer flowers.

backed with statice

backed with statice

Pam and Prissy navigate through the jungle of interesting plants...

Pam and Prissy navigate through the jungle of interesting plants…

I was impressed with Pam’s ability to make jungle noises.

Prissy points to a plant of interest.

Prissy points to a plant of interest.

The sad thing was that Cathie Cates, co owner and florist, had to miss all this fun because someone had to run the shop.

looking back toward the nursery from the verdant back garden

looking back toward the nursery from the verdant back garden

In the nursery, the latest acquisitions from Xera were artistically displayed.   Pam joked it was the “Skyler table”.  Or had the “Skyler influence.”  I will pretty much buy anything cool from Xera…  (Limited income has rarely stopped me from buying plants.)   The previous week, a garden club from Cannon Beach had been in and got most of the cool stuff before I got there, so I was glad the stock was replenished.

Xera table

Xera table

customer

customer…and competition for the best plants!!

When Pam and Cathie visited our garden on the Edible Tour day, Pam had suggested that I need more evergreens in the back beds, pointing out how beautifully an evergreen would set off the Stipa gigantea.  I did love evergreen columns and shapes in my old garden and had avoided them in the back yard of the new because I did not want to block my view of the port.  However, it is true that smaller evergreens correctly placed would not block the view.  Well, I am very suggestible, so….

Pam totalling my purchases, including a few evergreens (or ever-silver, ever-golds).

Pam totaling my purchases, including a few evergreens (or ever-silver, ever-golds).

And look how beautifully they fit in our new van!

van

Before we left, we compared our gardening hand tools with Pam’s, the ones she uses in her job as the gardener for the town of Seaside.  Hers, on the right, look more serious somehow.

tools

We bought one of the excellent hefty red handled double headed tools and a good extra thin and pointy long handled shovel for digging in narrow spots.  I already own one of the good claws, in the middle right beside the pointy trowel, and yet I prefer my little green or gold handled 99 cent claw.  I used to have a pink handled one we called Pinky, and since then any nice fork-raking of disturbed and weeded soil is referred to, in our business, as “pinkifying”.  It was a sad day when I lost Pinky up at Discovery Heights because the pink ones no longer seem to be available.  Now it’s just “Greenie” and “Goldie”.  The pink ones were not a breast cancer awareness tie-in, either, and I used to be able to get all three colours at Dennis Company.

After this pleasant nursery visit, we came back home…

bridge view to the west

bridge view to the west

bridge view to the east

bridge view to the east

container ships at rest

container ships at rest

looking east

looking east

and back at the town of Astoria

and back (south-east) at the town of Astoria

My gardening life is enriched by having such a great collectors’ nursery less than an hour away (38 minutes if one does not get stopped by bridge construction).   I love and am loyal to our Peninsula nurseries, but Back Alley is the only place with those amazing Xera plants.

For more about local nurseries, you might want to read this excellent article.   I learned that Prissy is known as “the propagator”!

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All that means around here is we crossed the bridge over the Columbia River to Astoria, Gearhart, and Seaside. We began our Saturday with a stop at Larry’s Antique Gallery Too! shop which involved much chatting and dog petting.

shop dog

shop dog

Then a stop at Olde Towne Café to trade compost buckets…More schmoozing ensued.

Captain Phil

Captain Phil

Then, of course, we had to take a walk through the Ilwaco Saturday Market to take photos for Discover Ilwaco.

Ilwaco Saturday Market

Ilwaco Saturday Market

Had a gander at a garden we used to do. Well, now that we live just a block from there, we have offered to return. It’s looking pretty bad! But for some strange reason they don’t want us back. The mind boggles. Since I offered, and was turned down (hearing that only from a third party after we submitted a bid), it has gotten so much worse I don’t even want it anymore. So there! (The person who cares for it is an excellent gardener but is overbooked and lives much further than one block away.)

big blackberry vines

big blackberry vines

Uh oh, somehow it got to be 2 PM and we were still in Ilwaco, so off we went toward Astoria. The previous week, we had had excellent garden company in our garden: Debbie H and Helen W. on Saturday and Laura D. on Sunday. Helen had invited us to come back and see her Astoria garden in June; we had previously seen it in July and in winter.

We also wanted to check out nurseries, and Allan wanted to go grocery shopping (how tedious!).

By 2:37, we were crossing the Astoria Megler bridge, to my usual terror.

the beginning

the beginning

the view to the west

the view to the west

too close for comfort

too close for comfort

cargo ship

cargo ship

construction guy

construction guy; I wish I were that brave!

down the curve

down the curve

I like it when the bridge is being worked on because it slows down the traffic and there is less passing on the bridge.

We survived and turned left to go into Astoria.

We survived and turned left to go into Astoria.

Somehow, though, we went by the Mill Pond Village and ended up on the road going east out of town, so we turned left into the Alderbrook neighbourhood to turn around. It’s a hidden gem just east of town; I only discovered it because a friend lived there for awhile. Two blocks wide, it’s next to the Columbia River and seems to have a lot of gardeners.

Alderbrook

Alderbrook

Alderbrook

pig weathervane

pig weathervane

and right next door, another!

and right next door, another!

Alderbrook

Alderbrook

seems like an artistic neighbourhood

seems like an artistic neighbourhood

vintage trailer in Alderbrook

vintage trailer in Alderbrook

by the river

by the river

Alderbrook riverside

Alderbrook riverside

interesting garden

interesting garden

There was an art gallery there, but this cannot really be a grocery store, despite the sign. Or can it?

former store?

former store?

an idyllic enclave

an idyllic enclave

Alderbrook does feel quite separate from the rest of the town. I was getting anxious about whether or not we would arrive at the Gearhart nursery before it closed, so I did not photograph any houses on the way out, and I now wish I had taken a photo of my friend’s former tiny house and garden; it still looked good from the street.

as one emerges from Alderbook and turns right, back into town...

as one emerges from Alderbook and turns right, back into town…

We did find the Mill Pond Village but will save Helen’s garden for its own entry, next, because it is so lovely.

We got to Back Alley Gardens with 45 minutes to spare (if they close at five).

Back Alley Gardens

Back Alley Gardens

I got some cool Salpiglossis ‘Chocolate’, another Hebe ‘Quicksilver’, a pretty purple and yellow annual, and some variegated thymes but was sad that they did not have a big shipment of unusual plants from Xera like they did last year at this time.

Salpiglossis 'Chocolate'

Salpiglossis ‘Chocolate’

Catalina grape

Catalina grape

As always, we admired a lot of the indoor garden themed art in the adjoining Natural Nook.

Informative tea towels with hummingbirds and dragonflies

Informative tea towels with hummingbirds and dragonflies

birdhouses

birdhouses

sculpture

sculpture

The Natural Nook

The Natural Nook

Then on we went to Seven Dees in Seaside without a feeling of time pressure because they are now open till seven in summer.

I usually don't go for cutesy critters, but there is something about this hippo...

I usually don’t go for cutesy critters, but there is something about this hippo…

Seaside 7 Dees

Seaside 7 Dees

a mossy 7

a mossy 7

catnip protected from...

catnip protected from…

one of the shop cats

one of the shop cats

I do love a moggie.

I do love a moggie. And they know it. Probably from the baby talk.

Our two carts of lovely purchases.

Our two carts of lovely purchases.

Catchy names seemed to abound.

Geum 'Alabama Slammer'

Geum ‘Alabama Slammer’

Astrantia 'Vanilla Gorilla'

Astrantia ‘Vanilla Gorilla’ (next day, in my garden)

Vanilla Gorilla may have been a Back Alley purchase. On his recent visit to our garden, Ciscoe Morris told us that a study in the UK showed that Astrantia REPELS SLUGS. I already love the plant and now have more reason to collect them.

And an exciting new Eryngium which stays small so might be great in containers:

Eryngium 'Blue Hobbit'

Eryngium ‘Blue Hobbit’

As we left 7 Dees at 5:45, I suddenly got an ominous feeling: Didn’t Costco close early on Saturdays? We had wanted to go there last to get some frozen food, but we had made a terrible error because when we pulled into their parking lot at 6:05, they had closed five minutes before. This is so hard to remember as it seems so early for a grocery store of any sort to close on a Saturday; it probably goes with their reputation of being very good to their employees.

Oh dear. We stopped at Fred Meyer and while Allan did some minor grocery shopping I checked the plant department and found more salpiglossis. It used to be an unusual annual to find but has obviously caught on.

common name:  Beardtongue

common name: Beardtongue

I also was surprised to see very inexpensive Leycesteria ‘Golden Lanterns’ there.

Golden Lanterns

Golden Lanterns

A very peachy coreopsis spoke to me of Lorna (Andersen’s RV Park) but it was too leggy so I passed it by.

Lorna's colour palette...

Lorna’s colour palette…

I got myself some more heirloom tomatoes and peppers for the edible garden tour; I still wonder if my garden will look ridiculously under-edible.

Hint of the day:

To my horror, both 7 Dees and Fred Meyer were selling the horrid Aegopodium (Bishops Weed). Do not fall for this dreadful thug.

at 7 Dees:  Do not fall for this.

at 7 Dees: Do not fall for this.

At Fred Meyer

At Fred Meyer

Don't do it!

Don’t do it!

Do not buy this plant, don’t take starts from anybody, or you will so regret it. This amusing article will tell you more, but I have to disagree with the author’s assertion that Bishops Weed does not seem to grow into lawn turf…because it does. It also looks terrible after it blooms and does need to be sheared at that time.

Back we went across the river…

approaching the dreaded four mile long bridge

approaching the dreaded four mile long bridge

glad to slow down for a flagger at the top

glad to slow down for a flagger at the top

the descent

the descent

the view upriver

the view upriver

Allan says the bridge does not bother him although he did find it startling the first time he saw how high the span goes. He does wish that people could not pass on the bridge. We obviously survived another crossing because I am here to tell this story.

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