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Monday, 18 March 2019

I woke to wind battering the house, sounding like a winter storm.

I so wanted to stay home with Frosty and Skooter.  Frosty wanted nothing to do with the outdoors.

We resolved to try to finish the center parking lot berm in Long Beach, the one that mostly involves just string trimming.

The Veterans Field flags nearby showed the strong east wind.  The temperature was warm and the east wind, usually icy cold, was just a bit cool.

Allan’s photo

I started work a half hour later than Allan because Jenna (Queen La De Da) was taking some items to her new Mermaid Sandcastle just across the parking lot.

 

After Jenna and I put the world to right, I joined Allan on the job.

Some of the mess of the center berm, with more of the miserable-to-weed crocosmia and rugosa rose combination:

Allan’s photo

The wind blew our wheelbarrow right over.

Allan’s photo

string trimmed and tidied (Allan’s photo)

Despite the wind, I wanted so much to erase santolinas AND berms from the work board that we went out to the Bolstad beach approach to trim the santolinas in the planters.

In the westernmost planter, I found that just in the last couple of weeks, someone had removed one of the large old santolinas, a project that would require standing on the bench or the dune wielding a shovel.

 

the hole

Most of the small plants have already been stolen. Now the big ones are the prey.

As I walked along, I found more large plants had been dug out. Up till now, most of the plants stolen could have been removed with hand tools.

This planter is also off balance with a big santolina removed from one side:

trimmed, for what it is worth (Allan’s photos)

Santolinas that size would not even transplant well and so probably the thief ended up with dead plants.  The plants LIKED it out here in the salty wind and open air.  They wanted to be left to live their quiet lives.

windy and fuming

trimming some ground level santolinas

Of course, the many blocks long ground level garden needs weeding….but not in lousy weather of any sort.

finding another planter with large stolen santolina…or rather, without it

Just every OTHER grape hyacinth dug up and stolen…how thoughtful to leave some.

A sea thrift used to be where that hole is.

This poor fella got replanted.

These planters used to all have a lot more plants. Even most of the little sea thrifts that the Basket Case Greenhouse donated last fall have been taken.

gesturing in outrage with The Toy at more holes.

Don’t even ask why there are so very few narcissi out in these planters; they have been dug and stolen batch by batch over the past few years along Bolstad.  I don’t bother to plant them anymore; it would be a waste of time and money.

Another planter, this one with our name on it from volunteer days, had its big old green santolina missing.

We stopped at city hall because I had an urgent need to kvetch and whinge to the city staff while Allan watered the entry ramp garden that gets no rain (being under wide eaves).

One brilliant staffer had the idea that the planters could just have landscape fabric and river rock put down (by the city crew, as if they have time for that….) around the few existing plants.  I said that would be a good solution.  What plants remain would look scree-garden-y and not so annoyingly off balance.  (A layer of small pea gravel would have to go down first and then the larger river rock, so that the underwear did not show).  I just cannot imagine how the city crew could find the time. And I feel too arthritic to haul bucket after bucket of rock at a work pace.   We are 64 and 66 years old, fer-cryin’-out-loud!!

[update: That idea was rejected because people might throw the rocks. Wildflowers were suggested, but they get stolen, too, and they won’t thrive in summer unless someone has time to water them with the Long Beach water truck.)

Regarding another common couple of suggestions: There is nowhere to put cameras, no one to monitor the footage, and thorny plants like barberries have been stolen as readily as plants without thorns.

I told the nice office staffers that once upon a time, I imagined keeping the Long Beach job till I was doddering along with a walker.  Now, I just think “two more years” (what counts as full retirement age for social security), because the thievery has sapped some of the joy out of the job.  The beach approach planters used to be beautiful, before whatever happened that brought on so much thieving.

From the glory days:

one of the beach planters in 2015

Allan weeding one of the western Bolstadt planters in 2015

3 Aug, beach approach; these planters have to be relatively drought tolerant and very salt wind tolerant.

It makes me sad to compare photos of how good they once looked to how they look today.

A reader of my instagram had a suggestion that had already crossed my mind, that each hole could have a sign that said “This empty space courtesy of a plant thief.”  That wouldn’t look appealing to the tourists.

Now….I will keep my focus on the downtown planters and parks.  I am done with even trying to replant on Bolstad. I have to stop my blood from boiling about this or I won’t make another two years of living, much less working.

We went home early because the wind was unbearable at 35 mph.

A block and a bit away from home, we applied some water from big green jugs (formerly kitty litter containers) to our newly planted bed at the fire station, under a wide eave so not getting much rain.

not much going on yet (Allan’s photo)

Frosty was thrilled to have me home early.

I calmed down by making about fifty santolina cuttings (feeling just like Carol Klein!), potting up some plant sale starts, and writing four blog posts.

Berms and santolinas got erased from the work board. Sweet peas and poppies have appeared as the next round of tasks. The beach approach weeding will have to wait.

Next day I realized I must add Boreas Inn to both sweet peas and poppy lists. Susie hasn’t had sweet peas since we passed the job to someone else two years ago. One of the reasons I took it back. I hope I can have sweet pea success like I used to there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, 9 February 2019

The weather was too darn cold, almost freezing, to play around the pond today. All we managed to do was move a viewing bench into place before light snow began to fall.

The wheelbarrow ice has still not melted! I’ve never seen cold last so long here.

Most of the snow left the garden in last night’s rain.

Here is the view from our front porch today…

And here is our old cat, Maddie, in that same garden eight years ago, a memory brought up by Facebook today.

The front garden

Hebe and crocus

Prevented from ponding, we drove three blocks east to the River City Playhouse to see local singing trio The Oyster Crackers, including our friend Christl, who manages the Wiegardt Gallery (one of our former gardening jobs).

This benefit for the local food bank was a full house, with cookies.

Allan’s photos (Rita Smith, Christl Mack, Bette Lu Krause):

Back at home, I found on YouTube some episodes of the Chelsea Flower Show 2018 to enjoy, followed by the first two episodes of Monty Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens.

Meanwhile…

Sunday, 9 February 2019

Bitter cold and cutting wind did not stop us from finishing the liner-hiding driftwood edge at the back of the bigger pond.

Allan got such a good collection of driftwood on Friday!

Allan aboard the good ship Ann Lovejoy

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

The ponds were both lightly iced over.

The wheelbarrow ice has still not melted.

My plant sale plants are putting up with the cold surprisingly well.

Before going back indoors to write these four ponding posts (on my iPad because I am too lazy to boot up the computer), I took some photos of our project. Other than adding some more river rock around the edges, I must wait for a thaw till the next stage, planting.

I’ve always felt intimidated to make a pond. Monty Don’s shows told me how to do it, and he inspired me to try by saying that even if you fail at a project, you’ll have learned something.

How I long for the day when some frogs move in!

Allan finished a blog post of his own about boating in late January. If you missed it, you can read it here.

We were planning to go back to work on Tuesday, February 12th, to get Long Beach’s Fifth Street Park and Street planters and The Shelburne Hotel garden looking tidy for Presidents Day weekend four days later. With temperatures predicted to be in the 30s and very low 40s all week, I think not. Surely the tourists will not be shocked to see weeds and the ornamental grasses still standing. After all, Monty does not cut his grasses back till Gardeners’ World starts broadcasting in March. And I have many episodes of old GW, Love Your Garden, Garden Rescues, and Chelsea Flower Show to pass the time.

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Friday, 8 February 2019

Note: While on staycation, I mostly take photos with my phone, leading to photos that are a bit softer, unfortunately.)

We still have snow.

Front window view:

The temperature was still so cold that in the back garden, not even in the shade, wheelbarrow ice had not melted.

First, I gave biscuits to my friends next door.

I’d had a brainstorm before rising this morning: plastic window boxes would work well for plants on the pond shelves.

I fretted for awhile on whether green or brown would be hidden better under the water. (I can’t plant these up with marginal plants yet because my plants are still frozen into their pots.)

Our friend Mark, a pond owner, reminded me later that algae will hide either color!

The cold water felt painful on our hands. Nevertheless, Allan redid the driftwood edge on the back of the little pond that has gotten dislodged while making the big pond; he inserted blue broken pottery to hide the liner.

I worked on placing rocks and broken pottery “waves”. Just using the rocks we have makes for a rather jumbled effect which I hope to improve on later.

This time, I added some green broken pottery. A friend’s photos of waves at nearby Cape Disappointment State Park have enlightened me that ocean waves contain a lot of green.

Photo by Donna McKinley

Icy cold rain sent me indoors. Allan decided to go, despite the rain, to a secret driftwood collecting spot; we needed some to hide the liner that is tucked up against the boat at the back of the big pond.

On his quest:

Before he returned, the rain stopped and I went back out for more pond edging.

Allan unloaded his excellent collection of driftwood and went into the pond like Monty Don.

He had found the perfect very thin piece of wood to screw into the boat in order to hide and secure the top of the liner.

The long pieces of driftwood will further hide the liner and make good shade for frogs…but not today because daylight ended.

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Thursday, 7 February 2019

Predicted snow did not arrive and so we were able to continue on with the bigger pond. A small land bridge divides the two ponds for several reasons. It will allow me to get to the boat for boat gardening. It lets us avoid a weird L shaped liner fold. And it isolates problems so a leak would be easier to find and fix.

The back garden still had considerable snow.

I raked all around our new work area to remove packed ice.

Those hoses from yesterday were lightly frozen into the smaller pond. When I tossed little smooth rocks on top (to go to the bottom and hide the liner), they just sat.

Allan’s photo:

The second pond had more little rocks to remove (the results of having been a scree garden). Allan deepened the bottom a bit and we sculpted the edges.

Allan’s photos:

Allan is able to hop in and out of the pond more easily than I could.

We siphoned water out of our faucetless rain barrels, bucketed out of others, used every bucket of water we’d had sitting around and every green jug Allan had filled up last week…

…and we still had to use metered water to fill up the last few inches. I could not wait for more rain to see how it looked full.

While the pond filled, I found some marginal pond plants reseeded into the patio (from the water boxes) and potted them up in plain bagged soil, not potting soil, put little rocks on top, and placed the plants at the back of the small pond.  I had hidden the liner there  with some driftwood

There was a sudden crisis when I realized that we had not used the board and level method of making sure the sides were even. The west edge was deliberately higher, but the land bridge was too low for the pond to fill high enough to cover up my pond planters. Fortunately, I had saved a wheelbarrow of the brown sand for just such an emergency. Much rushing about, squabbling, and swearing (mine) ensued but we averted catastrophe and got the land bridge built up and tamped down so that the pond could fill by dark.

I even had time to add just a few rocks.

Snow is again predicted for tomorrow. I hope to have time to work on hiding the liner. We ended up with enough leftover liner and underlayment to make me question our measuring skills. If the extra liner does not have enough of a wide part to make another mini pond or stream, I can use it to make a bog garden. Allan measured it and put it tidily into boxes.

Frosty (age 14) had wanted nothing to do with this icy and challenging project.

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6 Feb: ponding

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

The pond materials arrived from The Pond Guy a day early.

Allan’s photo

We were determined to get the small pond done.

Snow had melted in Allan’s garden on the east side of the house.

Some plants have been laid flat.

Between the house and shed, snow still lingered, blanketing some of my plant sale plants. Even the plants without the protective white blanket appear to have survived the cold, down to 26 F at night.

I’d feel more secure if I had been able to fit all of them into the greenhouse.

I recently learned from Gardeners’ World that I could have put winter dormant plants under the greenhouse shelving. Too late for this year. Next year, that will make more room.

Snow still lay firmly over the back garden, despite sunshine.

I was pleased to find that my special Dan Hinkley plant that I bought at last summer’s Hardy Plant Weekend, now in a pot too heavy to move, seems ok with the cold. I had asked him what plant I should buy that would make other gardeners envy me and he said this one. (I should look up the name. The pond is distracting me.)

Also on the patio

I eagerly went to the little pond, only to find that the ground was frozen solid so that the edge could not be sculpted. Happily, after an hour indoors, the temperature warmed enough so that we were able to carve out the plant shelf edge in a different spot (the thawed side!) than I had planned. The frozen side will be the gentle slope that frogs (and I hope not raccoons) are said to like.

I almost forgot to be like Monty Don and use a board and level.

It was perfect.

I raked the snow from around the pond to avoid working on a mat of ice.

Allan was glad to have the Nora House driveway for laying out the underlayment and liner. Later, I saw a hint on Gardeners’ World: Monty said to lay out the liner in the sun for an hour to warm up. I don’t think that would have helped today. He uses a butyl liner. Our is heavy but not that heavy. (I think we could have bought butyl liner from Firestone…but Pond Guy has a good reputation so we went with his, which is, by the way, heavier and cheaper than Home Depot’s liners).

I was glad the underlayment is dark, not white.

Skooter helped (Allan’s photo)

We were able to run hoses from two faceted water barrels to fill it up.

After helping

I wanted to put rocks all around…but the temperature had dropped so much and dusk was fast approaching.

That’s as far as we got today.

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Friday, 1 February 2019

We had a day of chilly rain, which meant a wonderful binge of Gardeners’ World 2018 on BritBox. I am watching on my iPad and making many screenshots and notes.

Allan filled the jugs so that we will have more rain water for filling our pond after the liner comes.

He went to the library and found this hellebore being admired by patrons.

He also had a look where a handsome sailboat had sunk down at the port, we know not why.

Here it is the summer before last:

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Surprisingly good weather meant I had to tear myself away from Gardeners’ World and turn and sift a bin and a half of compost.

rain in the pond hole

bin three

my audience

You can hear the crows in a short video, here.

I got halfway through sifting bin four before near dusk.  All the siftings went into the garden beds where I had added sand.

After my compost frenzy, I picked some flowers for Jenna’s sneak peek Mermaid Sandcastle party.

We attended the party for of all of fifteen minutes but did bring the bouquet and chocolate chip cookies made by Allan.  (I have to confess, I was anxious to have time in the  evening to watch Gardeners’ World.)

IMG_0308.JPG

The cute house behind the giant fry pan.

Jenna’s photo

The hellebores might be wilted by tomorrow, but the other parts of the bouquet will stay for awhile.

I was amazed at how Jenna had pulled the house together since we had been there eight days before.

treats

IMG_0292.JPG

and more treats

Jenna’s spouse, Don, doing caricatures.

Jenna and one of her mermaids

Sunday, 3 February 2019

I am pleased to report that Sunday was cold enough to be an all Gardeners’ World day for me.  I also finished this supremely enjoyable book.

…..

I’d like to see those surveys. I am skeptical that gardening leads to longevity. I know of too many wonderful gardeners who have died before 70, even before 60, of cancer and ALS.

I rather share the author’s thoughts about death:

I, on the ….

I remember clearly my moment of realizing I was going to die someday. I knew it, of course, but late one night, as a teenager staying overnight at my grandma’s house, the realization struck me that someday I will just not be here at all. I’d never given it much thought before that moment. I can still remember the way the dark polished wooden headboard gleamed in the lamplight as I noticed my blurred reflection.

Even if gardening won’t let us all live to 100, the happiness and interest that it brings to life make it a worthwhile pursuit anyway.

………………………………………..

Before bedtime on Sunday night, Allan looked out the window and saw an unusual sight which he proceeded to photograph in an unearthly white glow at midnight.

the water boxes

 

 

 

Compost bins

achillea

Frosty on the front porch

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25 December 2018

The Christmas present exchange between me and Our Kathleen had a touch of O’Henry about it.

from Kathleen (Cream Earl Grey is delicious)

To Kathleen (from NIVA green gift shop)

I would love to have sent the same Liquid Wisdom teapot to Montana Mary but have a long and sad history of fragile things getting broken by the time they reach her.

We had already celebrated Christmas on Christmas eve, so I spent the afternoon potting up plants for my Memorial Day plant sale.

rain gauge

In hazy winter light, the lawn sparkled but I could not catch that in a photo.

new greenhouse lean to already full

Skooter helped with digging and dividing.

A terrible disappointment: The Eryngium, grown from seed from a reputable big name seed company, that was supposed to be Miss Willmott’s Ghost, have all turned out to be just an ordinary eryngium (and this one is blooming in winter).

I am sad.  I still desperately want Miss Willmott’s Ghost.  If anyone can bring me a real one, I will take that person out to dinner at the Shelburne Pub!

I have had a potting soil situation.  I bought the same brand from two different local stores.  One shipment is normal looking and dark.  One is extremely red and barky.

This kind, spray painted to mark the barky batch.

So I bought some from each source and mixed them, two parts good to one bad (at least, I think it is bad).

I think the red and barky soil is not as good (left).

Look at the difference, same brand!

The barky bags also had a lot of this.

What do you think about that, fellow gardeners?

26 December 2018

rain gauge and Frosty getting ready to help

Along with potting up starts, I did a little project.  The patio I made in January of 2011 had pavers at the edge, with the water boxes that were later installed.  I suddenly realized those pavers no longer served any purpose and took them out.

I crammed in some sod so that it can be string trimmed right to the edge of the boxes and will no longer be a weedy mess.

From the free wood pile by Jessie’s Fish Co, Allan brought home an armload of plastic venetian blinds.  He had asked me months ago if I wanted them for plant tags.  At that time, I was tired from work, had no intention of having a plant sale, and said no.  I had been regretting that no and was thrilled the slats were still there.

now chopped into plant tag length, four per slat

The potting continued with hellebore seedlings and divisions of golden oregano.

I am keeping track of the time I spend on this project, and the soil, and will divide that by any profit I make to see if this is a worthwhile thing to do after we retire.  (I have dreams of a plant stand at the Saturday market.)

Allan got round to photographing a gnome (made by Wendi Peterson at a Basket Case Greenhouse winter workshop) in a downtown window.

27 December 2018

I continued on a doomed mission to remove as much Ficaria verna (lesser celandine) as possible from areas of the garden where it is taking over.  It no doubt came from plants I brought from my mother’s garden.  It goes dormant in summer, so during the time when I was taking plants while we had her house for sale, its tiny corms hitched a ride.

little round leaves on the run

I am unlikely to win this battle.  I do love the bright yellow spring flowers.

I debated cutting down more dead perennial growth with The Toy, but what is left still looks beautiful to me.

Chelone (pink turtlehead)

We had made a trip to The Planter Box to get some pots back; I have been donating all my extras back to them before I decided on having a plant sale.

potted up some hens and chicks in these cute tiny pots

The only hen that has made no chicks is my favourite one that I bought for about $8 last spring:

Sempervivum ‘Gold Nugget’ is, so far, ungenerous.

After dark, I took a break from daily reading to watch just one episode of Gardeners’ World.  I know if I go down that rabbit hole, my reading plans will end for the winter so I must resist.  But…just one…

I trusted my memory so can not tell you the location of a garden right by the sea…

with a wonderful greenhouse…

…where the gardeners mulched with seaweed.

They said it helped to repel slugs and snails.

I wept with the tenderness of the visit between Carol Klein and Beth Chatto, one of my all time favourite inspirational gardeners.

30 December 2018

We’d had more rain. and now I had a semi-squally winter afternoon for more potting up of plants.

This time, I worked partly in the greenhouse making cuttings.  Wish me luck; it would be wonderful if these take. I was advised in a workshop of yore and by my friend Ann to use perlite.  I had one small bag of the stuff, but found it hard to stuck the cuttings in so I made a mix of half perlite and half seed starting mix.

I used santolina (green and silver), escallonia, rosemary, hardy fuchsia, red and gold twig dogwood, and a few other plants.

Maybe the ones in the lower right should have fewer leaves (olearia, just an experiment).

Skooter chose to not help out in the iffy weather.

sound asleep by the bathroom sink, the warmest room in the house

31 December 2018

We had ice!  Definitely a reading day.

My sarracenia did not mind the ice.

My plant sale stash is growing, but no more will be added till the weather warms up again. We did not dip down into the 20s so I did not have to cover these.

I learned this month that while planting in the ground is not a task I enjoy, I love potting up starts and making cuttings.  I found myself wishing that I had kept my previous home, which was zoned commercial, so that I could have had a weekend nursery.

Wishing you a belated happy new year as I finally got around to writing this on January 17th!

Next: some of the reading of late December.

 

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