Archive for the ‘Garden Notes’ Category

Once Again, Right On Schedule!

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Mrs. G.W. Leak – May 1, 2022

Mrs. G.W. Leak is holding forth in all her glory in our garden.  She’s grown so tall over the years that she now lords it over all the others, but they don’t seem to mind a bit.  Some ladies just seem to command everyone else’s respect.  In our garden, it’s definitely Mrs. G. W. Leak!

But everyone — from the most robust to the most delicate — are joining the “look at me” chorus.  Even Nyel’s lilacs are out — not quite in full bloom and not quite in full fragrance.  But soon!  I can’t wait to fill the house with their heady perfume.

Nyel’s Lilacs

The Jean Maries (properly called “Jean Marie de Montague Rhododendrons) are budding out, little by little — letting us know that they’ll be in full bloom by May 12th — my father’s birthday!  Hard to believe he’d be 112 this year and has been gone since he was 82!  Of all the reminders he left behind, I think it is the Jean Maries that tug at my heartstrings the most.  He loved the color and was always inordinately pleased when they came out “on time” which makes me think that his birthday blooming each year was more  a happy accident than specifically planned when he and Paul Clark planted them all those years ago.

Jean Marie’s First Blossoms – May 1, 2022

Dad’s other favorites were the York Roses — perhaps actually called the “York and Lancaster Rose,” named for their red and white stripes symbolizing the Lancasters and Tudors, respectively, in England’s War of the Roses, 1455-1487.  They are now confined to six big tubs whereas they once marched down a center bed in the garden, dividing Willard’s Croquet Court from Dad’s traditional lawn-surrounded-by-flower-beds.  The York Roses seem to like the tubs, though.  Already there is a bud on one of the bushes — about two months early by my reckoning!  I wonder what that signifies… if anything.

Underfoot and Out of Sight? Pay Attention!

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

One Cryptomeria Japonica Posing as Two

Ours, for the most part, is what you might call “a mature garden.”  My father planned the landscaping in the late 1960s with Dr. J. Paul Clark and his son, Steve, and by the time my folks retired here in 1972, more than one hundred rhododendrons graced the perimeter of the property.  Toward the northeast corner a cypress-looking tree, a cryptomeria japonica, was planted surrounded by rhododendrons.  We love that little island at the end of the lawn and call it “the round garden” but, frankly, don’t give it much energy or thought.

Over the years the cryptomeria has grown tall and stately and appears to have split into a double trunk.  Surrounded as it is by huge rhodies, we don’t look at its earthly beginning very often, but our Garden Girls alerted us recently that there might be a bit of trouble brewing with that tree.  About three feet up from the ground, near the “split” of the trunk, you can look down into a hollow,  But, more worrisome they thought, was the large fungus growing at the base of the tree.

We called Arbor Care and yesterday Austin came to take a look.  I can’t begin to explain the details, but suffice it to say that there is greater “trouble” underground than above.  The root system of the “conk” as he called that fungus-like growth, will eventually envelop the tree’s roots, weakening them over time.  Of more immediate concern is the top of the tree where the force of wind or storm could topple one of the sides of the tree — probably right onto our chicken coop.  He assured me, however, that The hollow trunk below the split is not of particular concern.

One Tree Has Become Two

He felt that the tree, despite the fungus situation, has a good many years left if we take stabilizing measures — sooner rather than later.  So, hopefully before the next big wind threatens, Arbor Care will install a cable toward the top of the tree, anchoring the weaker side to the stable half and all should be well.  At least for awhile.

My take-away, though, beyond a big sigh of relief at being able to save this tree for the foreseeable future, is the amazing realization that all sorts of things (beyond the life of the mole people) are happening underground as well as above.  And right here in our garden, too!   Who knew?  When I went back to take a picture of the outward manifestation of this huge fungal problem, though, I found not a trace of the conk. Perhaps Austin took it with him to get some input from his colleagues.  And perhaps more information will be forthcoming.

A lotta buddin’ & bloomin’ & bitin’ going on!

Saturday, October 16th, 2021

In Nyel’s Patio Garden

Those rock-hard Bartletts are beginning to drop from our old pear tree and, judging from the calling cards left by the deer people, we are getting a few hungry visitors each night.  I’ve tried to remember to spray their “candy patches” — the roses and primroses, camellias and hydrangeas, and potted geraniums  — with Deer Fence every two weeks but… damn!  Those poor camellias by out East Porch have been under serious attack in spite of all my efforts.

It’s only that particular camellia that seems to interest them.  The other one — pristine and pure.  Probably of greater note is that both of them are alreading budding out.  In October!!!  I’m not sure what the timeline is between first buds and first blooms, but I’m willing to bet that I’ll be arranging camellia bouquets well before my birthday at the end of February.  That was always when they flowered before Climate Change came to Oysterville.

Tell-tale Signs of Deer Visitors

There has been no deer damage to the York Roses or the Dorothy Perkins, however.  And the Tea Roses in Nyel’s little Patio Garden are blooming to beat their record.  The geraniums and primroses, though… hard to tell.  They seem to be in stasis.  Perhaps settling in for winter hibernation.

Perhaps the deer people could take a hint.   But, of course, they don’t hibernate like some of their more sensible neighbors; they just confine their foraging to a smaller area and, if it gets really cold, they head for a protected copse of trees at night and hunker down.  There are lots of hunkering places around here.  And, lots of foraging possibilities.  I’m re-doubling my spraying efforts and being thankful that, so far, the deer candy doesn’t include the camellia buds — only the leaves.

Fencing us in and them out in Oysterville?

Friday, September 24th, 2021

Double Picket Style – W.D. Taylor House, 1980s

Oysterville has long been known for its picket fences.  Not so much that it has them.  Lots of places do.  The commentary on our fences over the years has been upon their variety more than upon their actual existence.  I wonder if that’s because property owners mostly made their own pickets in the “olden days” — those days I think of as belonging to my grandfather and great-grandfather.

Churchyard Fence – Photo by Deirdre Purcell, 2015

With regard to fences, anyway, those “olden days” were before 1925, during the years my great grandfather had a “ranch,” purchased in 1902 by my grandfather and on which he raised dairy cows.  On November 12, 1925, my grandfather’s ranch foreman, B.G. Gove, wrote to my grandfather who,  apparently, was out of town.  I quote part of Mr. Gove’s  charming and informative letter here, leaving his spelling and punctuation “as is”:

A man run into a Cow some where neare Chinook some time back and smashed his car  of corse, no one oned the cow so his Layer toald him that as long as the Officers wasent trying to put the herd law in force, the County was responssal for the car so they broat suit agenst the county and the county comishenrs to clear their skirts sent the sherife to round up everyone that had stock running out.  They arrested Looes Loumes and Will Shagran so now Looes and Will are working to get the Herd Law squashed and it is surprising how many friends Looes can find to fite for him and he poses as a disinterested one working for the good of the Poor Widdow…  Nelsons Boy was over the other night with a paper for the Herd Law that is the only one I have heard of for the Law.  They Sure Mis you here.  Nelson was telling me that you had a herd Law passed (a State Law) when you were in the Senet  if that is so, why all this fus to get it a county law   the county can’t make Laws to conflick with the State can they….

Nyel Makes Pickets, 2012

At a meeting about another matter entirely at our schoolhouse the other day, Kathleen Sayce mentioned the picket fences that were once “typical” around the oldest homes in Oysterville.  She mentioned that, traditionally, the fences of Oysterville were placed around homes and gardens (of the vegetable, flower and orchard types) to keep out wandering livestock.   That was surely back in those free range days that Mr. Gove was writing  about.

And, for those who want “distinctive” looking pickets like those of the “olden days,” making them yourself is a necessity.  I think Nyel has made scores, if not hundreds, over the past thirty years.   So far, we haven’t had a single cow in the yard.  The deer, however, are another matter entirely.


Snip! Snip! Snip! And away goes summer.

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

Summertime Daisies

Now that we have wonderful “Garden Girls” who come and do the heavy lifting (and bending and pulling and lugging and digging), I mostly snip snip snip.  All spring and summer I’ve supplied the house with fresh bouquets but now my snipping has more to do with beautifying the garden than the house.  It’s deadheading time!

The daisies, so fresh and cheerful, have mostly passed their prime.  Every day now I snip, snip, snip.  I can hardly keep up.  And no matter how I praise the few stragglers who are coming along, they really aren’t making much of a splash.

September Dahlias in July!

The dahlias, too, are going by.  Not at so great a rate and they are putting out quite a few more blossoms but, still, I can hear them whispering among themselves that they’ll be withering soon.  Even the Dorothy Perkins roses along the fence are beginning to fade. “Not yet!  Not yet!” I want to tell them. The nasturtiums and geraniums and fuchsias aren’t quite so spent.  And when they do decide it’s “time” they tend to drop softly, without much fanfare.

When I stop to listen — really listen — there seems to be a chorus from all the garden beds:  “We’ll be back!  Next year!”   “So will I!” is my fervent response.  “So will I!”

The Beauties and Beasties of August

Sunday, August 8th, 2021

Photo by Marta LaRue

So far, August has been the best of times and the worst of times in our South Garden.  Thanks to our Garden Girls — their suggestions, their heavy lifting, and their relentless weed-and-critter patrol — our flower beds have never been more seductive.  The colors and textures and sizes — oh my!

Mole Tracks – Photo by Head Tracker

However, (not that I think the one is related to the other) never have the mole-people been so active in that particular area of paradise.  I don’t for a minute think that they pop their little heads up from their underground construction biz to take a look at the beauty above them.  After all, everyone knows they are short-sighted and would probably miss the entire wonder-of-it-all.  No, I just think it’s our dumb luck to be Mole Magnet Heaven.  Again!

Photo by Marta LaRue

We actually had a bit of a mole break last year.  But this year… where in the world did they come from, anyway?  And why don’t they congregate a few feet to the south in the lane where nobody cares?  I think they are purposeful in their nightly maneuvers but so far, anyway, Nyel and I haven’t heard their bugle call to assembly.

And right when we are planning to do most of our own congregating outside!  Assuming the weather will cooperate.  And right in the South Garden, too.  Curses on the mole people, I say!  There are wide open spaces nearby and, certainly, more beautiful gardens in which they could bivouac.  FttM!  Frustrating to the Max!

Enough with the gray already!

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

Just Beyond The Garden Gate

I don’t mind gray hair.  I find gray clothing rather soothing.  But I’m not a fan of this interminable gray weather.  I SO wish the inland areas would cool off a bit so our “moist marine layer” would move on and we could get back to the sunny skies of summer.

The flowers in our garden couldn’t agree more.  The girls and I took a walk-about this afternoon to talk to them regarrding this weather pattern we’ve been experiencing.  They were silent for the most part but just as we were about to leave them to wait for summer on their own, out came the  sun!  It was just for a moment or two but I swear to you, those flowers perked right up.  They actually turned in unison toward that bit of brightness and we could all but hear their sighs of contentment.

Garden Girls

Of course, it didn’t last.  In fact, the sunshine was of such short duration I wondered if I had imagined it.  But no!  The girls had stopped their peck-peck-pecking and were standing stock still — or maybe shock still.  It was so out of the ordinary for this July of 2021 that none of us quite knew how to react.

I found myself telling Little Red Hen and Clara (I’m not sure where Slutvana was) that Farmer Nyel says there will be no change in the weather for another two weeks.  Fourteen more days of gray!!  I wonder if there will be any colors left by the end of July — or will they have all been sucked away by the inland heat dome.  Perhaps we can prevail on the Disney people to colorize our world again.  Soon.  Before we forget what summer colors usually look like! Surely we’ve had enough of the gray.


The Aftermath

Monday, June 28th, 2021

The hydrangeas sit south of our house
Two of them, side by side.
They seem to be sisters
About the same size
Blooming together
Year after year.

Why then
Is one smiling with health
And one curled up in death
Today after our
105° of Sunday sunshine?
It doesn’t seem fair.


But where is Dorothy?

Saturday, June 12th, 2021

Oriental Poppies

Roses and poppies and salvia… oh my!  The garden is poised for summer and promises to be bursting forth in all its glory about the time the Solstice arrives a week from tomorrow.  Especially the roses.  The Yorks apparently love being in the big tubs near our tool shed and have more buds than I’ve ever seen. Ditto the old-fashioned roses that want to climb up the outside wall of our garage, if only we’d give them a trellis or two.  As it is, they are doing their best to create a big bush of tempting flower arrangements — but beware of those thorns!!

York Roses

Of course, it helps that I’ve been diligent about the regular spraying of Deer Fence all winter and spring.  Last year I was neglectful and we had ‘nary a York ‘nor an Old-fashioned rose all summer long.  On the other hand, there was a profusion of Dorothty Perkins along our east and west fences.  So far, they are not showing us any budding promises this year.  Perhaps I cut them back too vigorously when we were trimming the rhododendrons last fall.  I will surely miss them if they don’t make an appearance.


On the other hand, the Oriental Poppies are showing off to beat their record and our new salvia plants are almost painfully purple.  (Why haven’t we had those before?  They seem to like it here and we are delighted with their spikey blossoms.  Thank you to our Garden Girls for the suggestion!)  My nastursiums (“mastershalums” — my annual salute to Winnie-ther-Pooh) are doing beautifully — at least in the leaf department.  I’m hoping that a run of sunny days will encourage their blossoms.  Ditto the Shasta daisies and tiger lilies and dahlias!

Dorothy Perkins – 2016

All in all, the garden is coming right along.  Thank you, dear Maggie, for introducing us to Glenna and Lee.  They are by far-and-away the best bloomin’ magicians ever!

Bumper Crop of Bambis in Oysterville

Sunday, May 23rd, 2021

Among the Lettuces

Suffice it to say that Mrs. W.T. Deer knew what she was doing when she chose this particular Oysterville garden to hide her newborns.  She must have had insiders’ knowledge that this wasn’t mean Mr. McGregor’s garden and that her little ones would be safe among the vegetables as long as they didn’t move a muscle.

And they didn’t.  These weren’t naughty Peter Rabbits. no sirree.  These were well behaved Bambis and they didn’t so much as blink — “great photo subjects,” according to Tucker who knew (and wasn’t telling) their location.   According to the site, “Deer, like Jackrabbits, will leave their young alone for up to twelve hours at a time while they forage. The babies know to stay still and quiet, tucked into the grass where their mother left them.”  Or among the potatoes and asparagus.

Twins In The Garden!

Obviously, Beatrix Potter’s Peter was not a Jackrabbit.  I remember that his mother reminded him,  “Your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.” I wonder what the twin Bambis’ mother said to them before she went off to have breakfast.  Whatever it was, they seem to have paid close attention.

There are several other fawns in town this season.  I saw two of them galloping across Territory Road toward the schoolhouse the other day, stopping traffic in both directions.  They were both still wearing spotted coats, though one looked to be half a size bigger than the other.  I didn’t see mom; presumably she was at the front of the line, trusting that her little ones would keep up.

I can’t remember when we’ve had so many babies in town.  Perhaps our year of sheltering convinced the Mama Deer People that it’s a safe, quiet area for bringing up little ones.  Now that our visitors are back, however, we sure could use a few “Bambis at Play” signs along the road!