Archive for the ‘Garden Notes’ Category

Remembering what Ratty said…

Saturday, September 17th, 2022

“Believe me my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats,” said Ratty to Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s classic 1908 novel The Wind in the Willows.

Oh how I wish Mole had listened and had spread the word to all his kith and kin years ago.  Then, perhaps, I wouldn’t be traveling, once again, in this Land of Lament that is my otherwise marvelous looking lawn.  Perhaps the Mole People would have messed about right on out to sea.  After all, Mole never did go back underground.  He liked it along the riverbank with Rat and there he stayed.  It could as well have been the banks of Willapa Bay… and beyond.

In Our SE Corner

I’m not sure where, exactly, the Mole People  have been all Spring and Summer.  But now, all of a sudden, I know exactly where they are.  At least some of them.  Right in the southeast corner of our garden.  To be fair, it’s probably the best place they could have chosen — mostly out-of-the-way and not immediately apparent.  But still…   And, I do know that all those mole hills are probably the work of one Mr. Mole.  Only one.  Which gives me a Case of the Dreads.  What will tomorrow bring?  Or more specifically, how many more moles and where?


Uh oh! Silly little tree frog!

Wednesday, September 7th, 2022

There’s an unmistakable and instant “recognition” when you stick your bare foot into a garden boot right on top of a frog — even if you’ve never done it before!  Fortunately, my synapses were firing on all four burners and before I shifted my weight to put on the other boot I absolutely knew: if I do that we’ll have a boot full of mess and we’ll be missing one of the more delightful of our garden creatures.

So, out came my foot and I gently upended Mr. Treefrog from his hiding place.  He hippity-hopped over to the wall where he posed just long for me to take his picture.  He didn’t look very happy about it, though.  When I came back from setting the hoses, he was nowhere in sight and I was glad of that.  I hope he found a safer haven nearby.

So far this year, I’ve not heard the Treefrogs singing to one another.  Perhaps I haven’t been outside at dusk.  I’ll make a point to remedy that now.  I do love to hear them call out to one another — often from our hanging baskets of fuchsias.  Harbingers of Fall for sure, marking the end of yet another Summer.

And in my garden — a merry minuet!!

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

Dying Daisies

Do you remember the Kingston Trio’s song, “The Merry Minuet” — better known as  “They’re rioting in Africa,” the first line of the song’s lyrics?  I can’t get the tune out of my head this summer, but the words in my head have nothing to do with the status of our world.  They’re rioting in Africa, They’re starving in Spain, There’s hurricanes in Florida, And Texas needs rain.

No,  In fact the words in my head are totally unclear and the tune drowns out my real world only when I’m in my garden.  I think it has something to do with the status of my flowers.  The dahlias have finally bloomed, but some of them have turned dwarf-like — not their normal height at all.  And the daisies came all at once, grew taller than ever and are already dying by the dozens.  They’re blooming in Seaview, But not the North End… 

Stunted Dahlias

The lilies, bless them, are finally thinking about blooming.  I believe they are late this year, though the entire garden is so off on its own rant that I’m no longer sure what to expect… or  when.  And those nasturtiums that Ann Gaddy gave me a month or so ago — still there, still looking healthy, still not giving the appearance of growing.  They can’t hold their heads up, Their stems bow and bend.

So is it the weather — the wicked Climate Change?  Is it the pollinators — or more correctly, the lack of same?  Or is it my increasingly faulty memory — as in perhaps it has always been thus?  They’re still making roundup, and killing the bugs,

One thing for sure… I need not stress over the final lines. They can stay pretty much as they are:  What nature doesn’t do to us, Will be done by our fellow thugs.

Quick! It’s Trimmin’ Time!

Tuesday, July 26th, 2022

Rhodie Trimming: Before (left); After (right).

What a strange year it’s been for our rhododendrons — especially our Honorable Jean Maries.  Our cold, wet spring meant spasmodic blooms late in May — not the usual solid mass of color earlier in the month which has been the  norm since we were first introduced some forty years ago.

And then, as the cold, wet spring sloshed into a soggy, well-chilled summer, whatever bloomin’ inclinations the lovely Jean Maries might have had morphed into leaf production.  Leaves, leaves and more leaves!  Bigger leaves and higher branches of leaves than most other two-year periods produce.  I was having to stand on tiptoe inside the house to see out over the plants that were blocking the windows!

Blackberries (with white blossoms), left, encroaching on York Roses, right.

So today I said, “Enough already!” and began to trim.  And trim.  And trim.  I worked for an hour or so — two big trash bags full and I had made scarcely a dent. At this rate I reckon I have job security until September.  At least!

As an added bonus, I decimated half of a huge blackberry vine that had the audacity to invade a tub of York Roses.  I felt quite accomplished and promised the other half that I’d see her tomorrow, you betcha!  What I didn’t mention to any of them — rhodies, blackberries or York Roses — all bets are off if it rains.  I’m definitely a fair weather gardener, even while lopping and trimming!

Planting Babies and Hoping for The Best

Monday, July 18th, 2022

Planting Babies

Today was Plant Baby Mastershalums Day at my house.  Thirteen of them.  A baker’s dozen… or, in this case, a gardener’s dozen!

I watered them, too, but then read Caroline Miller’s comment on yesterday’s blog: They say Mastershalums are the easiest plants to grow, but more than once I killed mine.  I think I overwatered them.  I ran right outside and turned off the sprinkler!

Perhaps (I keep thinking to myself) the seeds from last year’s nasturtiums (and there must have been plenty) will notice these babies that Ann left for me.  And, perhaps they will take the hint and begin to grow.  There should be quite a few of them lurking just underground, perhaps amid the daisies or where the dahlias used to be.

Roses and Lilies and… Bindweed?  Oh My!

Which reminds me, whatever happened to the dahlias?  I know it’s supposed to be tricky to get them to winter over, but I always thought the danger was the cold and the frost.  I didn’t realize that they could drown.  Surely that must have been their fate in our soggy boggy winter, spring, and early summer.

I do have a few dahlias — emphasis on few.  But even they are dwarfish — not the robust plants their mothers were last year.  Only the lilies and the Shasta daisies are thriving… so far.  But, I haven’t given up hope.  That’s because my memory is clear as to past years.  (And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, take a look at my July 12th blog:

Finally! Spring AND Summer Have Arrived!

Friday, July 15th, 2022

Spring & Summer 2022 in Oysterville!

It’s not often that two seasons arrive at the same time, but I truly think that Spring waited this year until she was certain that Summer was underway.  Finally, the pollinators are arriving — too late for our Jean Marie rhododendrons in May but I’m relieved to see them here, no matter what we missed out on earlier.

Yes, the bees and mosquitoes are finally putting in an appearance.  Flies (and even a moth) lurk around waiting for chances to sneak into the house. Our hummingbird feeder is beginning to attract a few more hummers.  A pesky ant or two and a gang of slugs have been seen prowling around the garden beds…  Yes, Spring has definitely arrived!

A Profusion of Dorothy Perkins Roses, 2022

And so has Summer.  The Dorothy Perkins roses on the west fence have never been prettier — and that on the good authority of my neighbor Carol Wachsmuth!  The Shasta Daisies are profusing all over the place and I suddenly realized that I’d forgotten all about planting nasturtiums this year.  That’s what happens when Spring doesn’t come nudging at my toes in March and April!  I wonder if it’s too late?

I guess the one positive occurrence in galloping right from winter into summer is that we skipped the Spring Fever part.  And (some of us)) the Spring Cleaning part.  But it’s going to make summer seem all the shorter, I’m afraid.  I’m determined to get up early and stay up late to take advantage of every glorious hour and vista!  Hope to see you on the trails and byways revelling in the glorious bounty of two seasons in one!


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.