Posts Tagged ‘garden’

We picked our plum tree bare…

Monday, September 10th, 2018

…singing every stretch of the way!  (Well, I was; Nyel doesn’t sing.) If you are a “Double J and the Boys” fan, you know Judy Eron’s wonderful song of revenge, “I Picked His Plum Tree Bare.”  It can easily work its way into your head and become a serious earworm without any provocation at all.  But, when you are actually picking plums, singing that song becomes an unequivocal imperative.

This was a first-ever experience for us, even though that plum tree is more than a decade old.  We got it – a dwarf Italian Prune Plum – along with our two apple trees and planted them all on the south lawn.  I guess we were thinking “orchard” but soon realized, as did the trees, that it wasn’t a fruitful (ahem!) idea.  All three of the trees developed problems.

The plum tree seemed the healthiest and was definitely the most pleasing to the eye.  But, as the years went by and it was producing no fruit at all, Nyel got disgusted and moved it out into the back forty.  It has been one of those out-of-sight-out-of-mind things and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Nyel noticed a young plum.  No!  Wait!  Lotsa plums!

Yesterday, we decided it was time to harvest.  Both of us are beyond our ladder-climbing years, but it is a dwarf tree, after all…  So, between the two of us (and following the no-climbing-beyond-the-third-rung rule) we emulated our friend Judy.  We picked that plum tree bare!  Nine and a half pounds of gorgeous plums hidden among the foliage.  Hard to see.  Tricky to get to.  But apparently undisturbed by deer or birds or tourists. And, they are plum delicious!!

A Continuing Saga

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Let The Work Begin

The final step (I hope to goodness) in the Great Septic Upgrade Saga began yesterday.  First, came Eugene, one of the Beach Time landscaping guys.  Next came three truckloads of dirt – yards and yards of it.  I don’t know how many.  It’s easier just to think of it as it appears – three big piles in the middle of our drain field.

Next, Eugene brought the skip loader that he had at-the-ready in the lane.  The plan, he said, is to feather out the dirt so that there it will blend gradually with the rest of the lawn.  He made a few passes at the east end and then, apparently, his workday was over and he disappeared, leaving his equipment neatly parked and at the ready for today.

Poised for Work

Eventually (I think) there will be a layer of topsoil and then the new lawn will be seeded and the watering will begin.  I hope the sprinklers will be set up to operate on some sort of a timer.  However it all works, I look forward to a healthy lawn before too many more months go by.  I should say a healthy lawn in that particular area of the yard.  The rest of our lawn will no doubt suffer mightily from the green grass envy syndrome.

In Pre-Saga Days

Not only is our existing lawn brown in many spots due to summer drought conditions (plus a healthy dose of benign neglect by the homeowners) but even the green parts are largely green-not-grass.  I’ve gradually come to terms with that green-not-grass.  With my ever-dimming eyesight, it looks pretty good from afar – very acceptable when one considers the alternative.

And then there are the totally bare spots.  Moles, the removal of a tree, and who knows what else have taken their toll.  I’ve been watering like crazy and Nyel has scattered a little grass seed in spots, but it is slow going (make that growing.)  I’ve trained myself not to look down when it comes to the local vista.

Hopefully, all will blend together seamlessly and (mostly) effortlessly on our part.  Probably wishful thinking but hope still springs eternal when it comes to such matters.  Also… we aren’t mentioning any of this to the girls.  They’ll no doubt wonder about being cooped up (so to speak) for the next few months but Farmer Nyel says there are priorities. Even when it comes to chickens.

Looking for time to just… sit.

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

A few years back…

Our friend Cate said that our place looked like “a home for old people.”  She was talking about our garden and the chairs that were lined up invitingly all in a row.  She said it jokingly, but still… That was a few years back – when we were a lot younger and I could laugh at her description.  Now?  I wish we still had those chairs!

Nyel never did like them much.  They were hard to get in and out of but, more than that, he had to sit with his head at a peculiar (and uncomfortable) angle because the high back of the chair was not compatible with his hat.  (Hats are imperative for old people in the summer, you know.)  He toughed it out, mostly for my sake, I think.  In line with my general philosophy, ‘appearances are everything,’ I loved those chairs.  They were colorful and inviting – to young and old, I thought!

The Hat Problem

We’ve had our eye out for suitable replacements but, mostly, we’ve only seen clones of those dangerous, collapsing chairs.  So, we’ve done without.  Then I had a bit of an epiphany.  We have in our back-forty, eight ancient (and very banged up) folding metal chairs – they went with the card tables that my folks had back in the seventies and eighties.  I think they got them second-hand.  They’ve been used and misused for half a century and are so ugly that I can hardly stand them.  If only they were pretty, bright colors thought I.

Cans of spray paint at Jack’s were my solution.  Yesterday Nyel painted the first four.  I love them!  They won’t be especially comfortable but they look terrific and will serve the purpose – sitting at the picnic table or just hanging out admiring the bay — without hat issues.  Or gazing at the the flowers.  Or schmoozing with Cate and the other old people that might be joining us… if we ever have time to just sit around!

Gardens! Music! Art! Appetizers!

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Music in the Gardens is coming right up!  Saturday, July 21st from ten to four.  We’ve have our tickets in hand.  We also have lists of musicians and artists, which gardens they will be in, and at what times. Trying to decide where to go first and in what order to proceed is a lot like putting together a life-sized three-dimensional puzzle.

Tickets, which include a map and the garden descriptions, are the crucial element.  They cost $20 and are available at the English Nursery in Seaview, the Basket Case Greenhouse in Long Beach, and at the Bay Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park.  Hurry!  Do not pass go!  They are your entrée to a day of enchantment.

If you are like me and want to see it all, musicians and artists schedules are available on the Water Music Tour Facebook page:   https://www.facebook.com/notes/music-in-the-gardens-tour/music-in-the-gardens-tour-2018-musicians-artists-schedules/1910813582298237/   Rather than duplicate that information here, I’ll just give an overview to whet your appetite.

Garden #1 – Singer Songwriter Brian O’Connor with Ceramic/Garden Tile Artist Renee O’Connor.
Garden #2 – Jazz Musician Tom Grant with Basket-Maker Susan Spence.
Garden #3 – Tanz and Sea Strings (musical duo Judy Eron and Charlie Watkins) with Metalwork Artist Jacob Moore.
Garden #4 – Brad-n-Dave Acoustic Band with Watercolor Artist Betsy Toepher with Kent Toepher selling garden books.
Garden #5 – Jean-Pierre Garau and Al Perez of the Al Perez Band with Sculptor Constance Jones.
Garden #6 – Guitarist George Coleman with Potter David Campiche and Topiary Artist Nansen Malin.

Coordinating the times is the tricky part, especially if you want to catch all the musicians.  For those, checking the FaceBook page is really a must.  If it helps any, the artists in Gardens #1, #3, #4, and #6 will be there all day. Other artists and all musicians have two- to four-hour blocks of time.  As I said at the beginning — Trying to decide where to go first and in what order to proceed is a serious challenge – but a delightful one, even so!

The tour will truly be a feast for all the senses!  Oh… and did I mention food?  Many of the garden hosts will be offering appetizers – often being served on porch or deck. I hope to see you somewhere along the tour route on Saturday!

It Seems to be Snowing at Our House

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

Flakes of Paint, Not Snow

The lawns, the flower beds, even the porch – no matter where we look, there is “snow.”  Some of it is an improbably bright pink; some is a faded red; and some is stark white.  The rhododendrons are losing their blossoms!  But, even more distressing, the tired, old paint has been scraped from the house and the residue blows hither and thither, breaking into smaller and smaller flakes.  On the green leaves and on the grass and in the newly mulched beds – wherever it settles – it looks exactly like we’ve been visited by one of those winter flurries.

Snow Falling on Cedars

I remember this phenomenon from paintings past and I know I will be picking up bits and pieces for years to come.  However, when the walls are pristine and white again and the flowers are blooming to distract the eye, I probably won’t give it a thought.  And I console myself with all the other snowfall images that are brought to mind.

My first thought, on seeing those white flakes on the glossy leaves of the Jean Maries was “Snow Falling on Rhodies” which led immediately, of course, to Dave Guterson’s wonderful Snow Falling on Cedars. It’s a book I haven’t read since it’s publication in 1994.  Its subject matter – the racism and hatred of Japanese Americans during World War Two, their incarceration in “Relocation Camps” and their difficulties in returning to their communities after the war – has many implications for our world of today.  I think it’s time for a re-read.

That ‘snow’ also puts me in mind of one of my favorite children’s paintings, Done by a first, second, or third grader in one of my classes at Ocean Park School, it is the quintessential Snow Picture!  There is no question about how the painter felt about that all-too-rare occasion here when the snow really, really comes down fast and furiously.  I wish I could remember who painted it.

In truth, it’s only when I’m working out in the garden that I find those snowy paint flakes distressing.  But I’d better find a way to come to terms with them.  Like so many modern-day aftermaths and consequences, no matter how diligent we are in our clean-up attempts, the problems linger on.  Relentlessly.

When Memory Collides with the Here & Now

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Hulda Klager House – Closed

Yesterday’s field trip to the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens was a bust – not at all what we had hoped for and nothing like our memory of it.  Definitely one of those you-can’t-go-home-again things!  The worst part was that we had talked it up to our neighbor Carol.  Plus… she had offered to treat us to lunch and couldn’t be dissuaded.  The lunch (Mexican food) was delicious and we, course felt doubly guilty.

Nyel and I are pretty sure that our first trip to the Lilac Gardens was when we were both working and we are also pretty sure it couldn’t have been during “Lilac Days” which take place for the three weeks just prior to Mother’s Day.  We remember that even though there were only a few lilacs were bloom, plants were being sold, docents were in evidence to answer questions, and the house, potting sheds, and other areas on the grounds were open to the public.  Not so yesterday.

In Hulda’s Garden

Our first clue was only a few cars in the parking lot and an honor system put-your-money-in-the-box arrangement.  We were free to wander the grounds but all the buildings were locked up presumably until next year.  And the lilacs were mostly “over” – about three weeks earlier than ours on the coast.  Damn!  Even so, there were many other things in bloom – many photo ops and we spent an hour or so wandering and marveling and, truth to tell, feeling some relief that there weren’t hordes of visitors crowding the pathways.

I had spent some time prior to our trip on the Hulda Klager website – but apparently not on the right pages.  I had not noticed the mention that Many of the lilacs were planted by Hulda herself while others were planted by the many devoted volunteers that work hundreds of hours each year in the Gardens.  The potting shed and lilac display gardens are located behind the Historic Home.  Lila plants are sold only during Lilac Days.

Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens

It wasn’t until we read the little brochure (free for the taking in the mailbox) that we learned their policies had changed sometime in the ’90s and, for lack of docents,  they are now only fully open during the three weeks of Lilac Days.  Somewhere else I read that they get 10,000 visitors at that time.  Despite our disappointment and having led Carol astray, I think I’m just as happy that we had the place to ourselves!

We had noticed on our way into Woodland that there was a nursery just north of town, so before we began the homeward trek, we stopped in.  Somehow, our impression was that it was a small operation but, once again, we could not have been more wrong.  Tsugawa’s Nursery is huge!  The workers were helpful and informative and Nyel and I found two lilac plants promising deep purple blooms – just as we had hoped we’d find a Hulga’s place.  And, they come with a one-year guarantee!!

Variegated Lilac in Bloom at Hulda Klager’s Place

Carol (bless her!) shared the back seat with the two five-gallon pots and we were home by four o’clock. Five hours coming and going on the road had given us time for lots of visiting so, even though Hulda’s place was a disappointment, the trip, itself, was great. Still… we feel we owe Carol bigtime.  For sure, lunch will be on us next time!

Another Unexpected Delight!

Friday, September 29th, 2017

The View from Our East Windows

Our trip back from Portland yesterday afternoon couldn’t have been better.  It was a gorgeous day for a drive and we reveled in the scenery all the way to our front door.  What a beautiful area we live in!  It never ceases to bring us pleasure.

And, then when we got here, we found the biggest surprise of all.  Despite months of deferred maintenance and neglect on our part, our garden looks spiffier than it has for a long, long time!  The lawns (yes, we have several!) have been mowed and trimmed, and the rhododendrons along our east fence – which had been threatening to totally block our view of the bay – have been beautifully pruned.  And besides that — the meadow has been mowed!  Our view is back!  Our yard looks like someone lives here!  We keep going to the windows and looking out – totally enchanted with all of it.

The Newly Mown Meadow

Big kudos to Chuck Messing and Vivian Wattum – the lawn fairies – and to Jay Short and his crew of hedge-pruning elves  and to Jim Kurtz, the meadow-mowing-man.  We feel hugely indebted to all of you.  I’m thinking hugs and chocolate-something-or-other for starters…

And it wasn’t only the garden that surprised us.  We had left in a frightful scurry two weeks ago today, with a Poetry Gathering scheduled for Sunday afternoon – a gathering of thirty or so, at least according to the RSVPs.  Three poets, a potluck dinner, and no host or hostess.  Neighbors Carol and Tucker to the rescue!  A hurried meeting as I packed the car and Nyel struggled to get ready for yet another hospital stay. Little did we know it would be for two whole weeks.

I showed Carol some of the tricks of getting the house ready but realized long afterward that I hadn’t shown her where the plates or silverware was.  Tucker knew (from many previous events) how to move the furniture.  Charlie Talbot would be here the following day to help set up.  I showed Tucker where the vacuum lived and where the breaker switches are in case the stove should go wonky again.  And what else???  I wondered what would greet us yesterday when we opened the door.

Burn Pile

But, like the garden, the house looked to be in apple-pie order.  Furniture returned to familiar spots.  The carpet, far cleaner than the way we left it.  The kitchen neat and tidy – the dishwasher empty.  And, as far as we know to this point, everything returned to its proper place.  Wow!!  The best homecoming imaginable!  Thank you, everyone who helped!  We are ever-grateful!

P.S. – If this blog goes up later than usual, it’s because I keep going to the windows to look outside!  Wow!  Even though it’s raining… wow!

Coming Soon: Music in the Gardens!

Monday, June 19th, 2017

2017 Poster – Music in the Gardens

Never mind that the flowers may not yet be in bud.  And never mind that the musicians won’t be tuning up for another month or so.  It is time to mark our calendars for the Water Music Festivals BIG EVENT OF SUMMER – Music in the Gardens 2017.

It’s a one-day-only extravaganza scheduled for Saturday, July 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Tickets don’t go on sale until July 10th, so mark that down, too.  And just as a reminder-to-self, jot down which of the locations you want to go to pick up your tickets – the Bay Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park, the English Nursery in Seaview, the Basketcase Greenhouse on Sandridge in Long Beach.  It won’t be until you purchase said tickets ($20) that the whereabouts of the gardens and the whoabouts of the musicians will be revealed.

Garden Scene – 2016 Tour

What I’ve gleaned, so far, is that there will be eight gardens on the tour this year and they will be located from Oysterville to Chinook!  There will also be (for an extra contribution) a specially decorated trolley to take you from garden to garden if you so desire.  And, as if you may not already be on sensory overload, there will be a raffle of selected works of art (perhaps garden related) on display at one of the venues.

This is the 11th annual Long Beach Peninsula Garden Tour.  If music and gardens and art are not quite enough for you, consider this:  the event is a fundraiser for the Water Music Society whose mission is to bring classical music to the Peninsula.  Each year, part of the money raised by this particular event is earmarked for the Ocean Beach School District Music Fund.  (Last year that amount was $5,000 — hardly small potatoes by anyone’s gardening standards!)

Garden Scene – 2016 Tour

Oh… and one last thing.  Organizer Nancy Allen says that many of the gardens this year have “a water orientation” – to the Columbia or to Willapa Bay or, perhaps, to Loomis Lake.  She is careful not to reveal too much… not yet!  So, mark those calendars.  Quick!

Spontanaeity — Not My Middle Name!

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Garden Helper

For a wonder, I actually worked out in the garden yesterday and accomplished more than I had anticipated.  I credit Mike’s weather forecast.  I had counted on a partly sunny day with temperatures in the 50s and that’s what we got.  Yay!  As the chickens and I scratched and dug in the flower beds, I considered the whole ‘planning aspect’ of things.

‘Plan your work and work your plan’ was always my motto as a classroom teacher.  It’s pretty much how I operate in all aspects of my life.   Being spontaneous is not easy for me.  Doing anything ‘all of a sudden’ disrupts my intentions and, quite frankly, throws me for a loop.

I blame my California upbringing for that particular personality trait – especially with regard to weather.  In California, at least in the Bay Area where I lived during most of my formative years, you can pretty much count on the weather year-round.  Cooler, of course, during the winter months and with the occasional rainy day.  But San Francisco rain does not compare to what we have here at the beach.  It’s very unusual for a bit of ‘weather’ to interfere with plans in the environs of the City by the Golden Gate.  Grab an umbrella and off you go.

The Northwest… not so much.  When the sun comes out unexpectedly, spontaneity rules.  Shorts appear – never mind the temperature – a pick-up picnic might occur and, most assuredly, a bike ride or a hike is an immediate option.  On the other hand, plans seldom change because of a stormy day.  Northwesteners are spontaneous about good weather but not wussy about the bad.

The Peck-and-Scratch Method

I blame my unkempt garden on my lack of spontaneity (and maybe on the chickens).  First, it goes without saying that I am a fair-weather gardener.  I don’t muck around in the dirt (ahem! soil) when it’s raining and certainly not when its windy.  Second, even under perfect conditions, gardening isn’t high on my priority list.  Nothing outside is.  I’d rather be writing or reading or researching or doing almost anything that isn’t outside.  So… in order to accomplish anything at all in the garden requires careful planning and setting aside specific time slots.

Well… you see the problem. Obviously, yesterday was a sort of minor miracle.  And the girls and I actually accomplished quite a bit.  Mike’s weather says that today will be “Mostly sunny, with a high near 54. North wind around 3 mph.”  Wow!  Perfect.  I’ll probably be out there again.  But no shorts!

We’re going on a Wait-and-See!

Saturday, July 9th, 2016
At the Oysterville Store

At the Oysterville Store

The information we have, so far, about the Music in the Gardens tour a week from today is just enough to tantalize!  We know the identities of some of the musicians involved.  And we know that there will be artists ‘on duty’ in a couple of the gardens.  We know how many gardens are involved and, in a general way, where they are.  But that’s the extent of it!  That’s why I call it a “Wait-and-See!”

All will become clear when we pick up our tickets.  For right now, though, these are the tantalizing bits of information we’ve been told:

  •   Seven Gardens – one in “Deep Seaview, one in Long Beach, and five in Ocean Park
  •   Noel Thomas will be painting in the Long Beach Garden
  •   One of the Ocean Park sites features a 25-foot lot, packed with plants
  •   Acústica World Music will be playing at a bayside garden
  •   Terry Robb of Portland will be playing at one of the gardens
  •   The Winterlings, also of Portland, will be playing at another
  •   Local musicians – The Mozart Chicks, Tom Trudell, Barbara Bate and Brian O’Connor – will be playing… somewhere
  •   One of the Ocean Park gardens will have a botanical illustration class taught by Dorota Haber-Lehigh
  •   Rita Nicely will be catering small bites in one of the gardens
Garden Owners' IDs (so you'll know who to ask)

Garden Owners’ IDs (so you’ll know who to ask)

Other facts of interest – this is the 10th Anniversary of the Music in the Gardens Tour.  Since other nearby (Astoria, Gearhart) garden tours have been discontinued in recent years, ‘ours’ here on the Peninsula is even more special!.

Tickets are $20 and are available at the Oysterville Store, the Bay Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park, at the English Nursery in Seaview, or may be purchased online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2530370.  Your ticket will entitle you to a map which will reveal locations and other pertinent information.

See you in the gardens next Saturday, July 16th between 10 and 4!