Archive for the ‘Garden Notes’ Category

Some Days Are Like That!

Thursday, August 31st, 2023

Patricia’s Garden – 2019

Carefully considered, I do believe yesterday had many more pluses than minuses.  As a matter of fact, there was only one negative and, as it turned out, that was mostly a figment  of my imagination.  (Doncha just hate when that happens?)

The morning passed “as usual” — a few household chores, a little catching up with email, and another pass at next week’s column for the paper.  It’s not quite to my liking yet but maybe the lightening gods will visit me today.  Not “lightening” in the sense of a flash of brilliance; more the opposite of serious as in “lighten up!”  I still have a day or two. so I can but hope.

But back to yesterday — I spent the midday hours at my friend Patricia’s house — lunch and a garden tour (but forgot to take pictures, of course!) and a lot of catching up.  I especially loved seeing the latest pictures of her granddaughters and hearing the latest among her many siblings and in-laws — all areas of life that I’m not personally privy to, being as I am, an only child and also the mother of an only, unmarried child.  Thank goodness for good friends who don’t mind my vicarious clapping and cheering or (sometimes) clucking and lamenting.

Judy in her Rodeo Queen Days!

Then off to the Performing Arts Center to Judy Eron’s concert — some familiar songs, some new, and all pure Judy!  My personal favorite was her tribute to Charlie, “her very own fruitcake.”  I couldn’t help wondering how many people in the audience had been lucky enough to actually sample some of Charlie’s fruitcake — his father’s recipe — as Nyel and I had.  I think Nyel actually gave Charlie a sample of his fruitcake — in his case, his mother’s recipe! (Again, I didn’t even think of taking a picture, so entranced was I — but scored today online with one that must have been taken in her “Rodeo Queen” days!)

I drove home in the glow of friendships and laughter and music and decided to start dinner and then get back to my computer.  But… cough, sputter, rusty spurts, silence!  No hot water!  Not in the kitchen!  Not in the downstairs bathroom sinks!  Not in the bar.  I went out to listen for the pump.  Was it running?  Did I have yet another  leak?

Spiffy New Faucet

It was well after six-thirty but I called the plumber anyway.  I could at least leave a message.  But on just the second or the third ring, he answered!  Himself!  And I began to cry.  So much for Competent-Widow-Woman-In-Charge-Of-Her-Life…  Patience on his part, an explanation that he’d been here doing a little more work that we’d discussed previously, and following a few simple directions on my part and… all was well.  But doncha just HATE when that happens?

I know Nyel was nearby when I was enjoying Judy’s Fruitcake song.  I hope he was off doing something else when I was blubbering over the phone to my ever-patient plumber.  And I tried mightily to cut myself some slack. One or two plumbing disasters in a summer… maybe acceptable.  But five?  OMG! Please, please!  No more!



One thing I miss about those chickens…

Tuesday, July 25th, 2023

Chickens Come Calling – 2016

Yes.  Probably just one. (I definitely wasn’t meant to be a farmer person.) What I miss is that when it gets to be late in the day and I still haven’t written my blog and my mind has gone blank… there were always chicken antics.  Or chicken disasters.  Or chicken arguments.  They were a great source of inspirational (or not) blog material.

Swallow Clean-up Project – 2023

Now…  not so much as a cluck-cluck-cluck to set the computer keys a click-click-clicking. For a few weeks, the barn swallows’ nests on the front and back porches took up a little of the slack.  But, the the front porch trio seem to have fledged and flown without even a by-your-leave.  They were cute while they lasted but they’ve given me a fine mess to clean up — certainly not worth blogging about.  And Mr. and Mrs. on the back porch with their two-story nest have made bird-watching  and bird-blogging impossible.  Clever parents good blog material do not make.

Along The West Fence – July 2023

The garden is coming along but (sh! don’t let the flowers hear me), this year it’s one of those quiet, non-spectacular gardens — not much to really blog about.  Not like Slutvana and Little Red Hen and all the other ladies of the coop.  And certainly not like those cocky, scary roosters.

Do I want another flock?  Just a small one?  Not on your tintype!  I just want to bitch and moan…


This old house takes a family…

Monday, July 10th, 2023

The First Two Sections — A Family Accomplishment!

Along the west side of our house, between the public right-of-way and the fence line, my father planted a row of Jean Marie Rhododendrons.  (Or did Nyel plant them when we first moved in?  I’ll have to look that up…)  In any case, once they became well-established they began to grow like Topsy.  (And if you remember who Topsy was, please let me know.)

Nyel-the-Rhodie-Trimmer, 2020.

For a few years, Nyel would trim them neatly in the late spring and they pretty much stayed under control.  More recently, when he was wheel-chair-bound, he and I tackled them, every spring or summer… usually.  When Marta came for summer visits, she got into the act, as well..  It was definitely a family gardening project and Nyel, being Chief Plant Guy took on the job of Quality Control.  He even made a small standing measuring stick so we could be somewhat consistent.

Today’s helper: My Little Red Wagon!

Last summer (after his death in early June), I honestly don’t remember if we gave the rhodies a thought.  Probably not because by this summer they have been threatening to block our kitchen windows and obliterate the south garden fence.  Enter Charlie and Marta — to the rescue.  Of the four sections, there is one short one — horizontally that is– to the north; two medium-sized ones; and one ominously long one at the south end of the property   The kids and I did a fine job on the short and one of the medium-length ones.  Not half of the total, but a good start.

The Final Section – for tomorrow.

Today I did the second of the medium-lengths.  It took about two hours and I can’t say it looks perfect but… it’ll do.  Tomorrow I’ll tackle the longest section in which the Dorothy Perkins Roses have intertwined themselves.  It may be a scratchy two or three-day job.  Stay tuned.

And where are those “kids” when I need them?  There have been a few interested tourists.  Perhaps I could try my Tom Sawyer routine on them…

All of A Sudden!

Monday, June 12th, 2023

York Roses

I’m sure it was just yesterday — but maybe the day before —  that I looked out our bedroom window at the tubs of York Roses and there wasn’t a blossom to be seen.  It’s been that kind of a Spring, all the way around.

But today I looked and there they were, almost bursting at their seams or whatever the equivalent of seams are for roses.  AND, I was amazed to find that they are right on schedule.   I looked back in my past blogs and saw that on June 16, 2012 I wrote:
This year the roses are finally back in full force.  They are blossoming like crazy in their tubs, their distinctive red, white, and variegated blossoms brightening our gray June days.  Three cheers and pip pip!

Dorothy Perkins Rosebuds

Apparently, my concern had been our losing battle with the Deer People.  But then I had discovered “Liquid Fence” which smells REALLY bad (but fortunately only for a few minutes to humans and more like two weeks to the deer and rabbit folks) and allows roses and hydrangeas and camelias and geraniums to flourish.

Nyel’s Peony Buds

This year my concern was just the lateness of things.  As in will we have any roses to put up at the cemetery when Charlie and Marta come and we take Nyel’s ashes up to tuck him into his place for eternity.  Traditionally — or at least for my mother and father — we took the Dorothy Perkins roses with us.  But those buds are hardly visible right now.

We  have a couple of weeks yet … and the peonies are still coming on!  Wouldn’t they be perfect?!


The Bane of My Existence

Saturday, June 10th, 2023

A Lot of Lawn!

My new lawn-mowing guru has been coming on Saturday afternoons — not my time of choice, necessarily, but “beggars can’t be choosers” as they say.  He does a good job, is reliable and, so far, I’m quite pleased that I found him.

East Hose

However, he does lead directly to “the bane of my existence” (more accurately the bane of my current existence) which is winding up our hoses to get them out of his way.  We have three of them — two very long (maybe 100 ft or so) and one quite short for the south garden.  They are all a pain in the tush for me.  I am definitely NOT a good hose-winder-upper.

North Hose

I can hear Nyel, loud and clear:  “Leave the hoses to the mower man!” but somehow that makes me feel a little guilty and I also think that hauling on those long hoses is good upper body exercise.  Are they neatly coiled and ready for their next use?  Not even close.  But, they’re out of the way for the nonce.

South Garden – More Lawn!

I looked up “bane of my existence” to see if, indeed, that’s what those hoses are. To say that something or someone is “the bane of my existence” means that the person or thing is a constant irritant or source of misery.  Well… sort of.  But I think the next part of the explanation is more to the point in the matter of my hose problem:  As a cliche, “bane of my existence” has lost its edge to a large degree over the years, and today is most often applied to something that may profoundly annoy us but is certainly bearable.

Yep.  Lost its edge.  And haven’t we all?

Signs and Peonies

Sunday, June 4th, 2023

The First Red Peony

I’m not one for believing in signs and portents…  But maybe, just maybe, there’s a message in our garden’s one red peony.  It’s the only red one.  It’s never bloomed before.  But Nyel was ever hopeful.

He had planted the peonies years ago, babying them along year after year.  Most of the plants didn’t survive and the ones that did all had white buds.  Nyel had hoped for red.  Or at least pink.  Like the ones his grandmother grew back in Idaho.

“They were always in bloom in time to be taken to the cemetery on Decoration Day,” he would tell me.  They were his favorites when he was a kid. And the lilacs, too.

Teresa at the Planter Box said our winters just aren’t cold enough here.  “Put ice cubes around them every morning in winter,” she said, but it seemed too onerous.  Nyel was determined, though, and year by year the plants grew stronger, the stems stood straighter, the buds stayed on the stems long enough to bloom, and Nyel was encouraged — even if they were all white.

Nyel’s Peony

But this year… up came one red peony.  A beauty, too.  Yet, I wanted to scream at it:  “YOU ARE TOO LATE!  NYEL’S NOT HERE ANYMORE!”  But I didn’t.  I chose, instead, to think of this as his “one year anniversary gift” to the garden and me.  Maybe next year there will be two.



It’s probably not every day that you…

Sunday, May 21st, 2023

…go to the Long Beach Grange, but this coming Wednesday, May 24th,  is a day you can make up for other lost opportunities!  From 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Maggie Stuckey will be talking about (and selling!) her hot-off-the-press book, The Container Victory Garden.  Story-telling contributors to the book will have an opportunity to read their Victory Garden remembrances.  And, folks from the Grange will be selling plants ideal for container growing!

A few things you should know:
There will be a no-cost raffle for special plants from Maggie’s book.
Autographed copies of Maggie’s book will be for sale.  (Cash or personal checks only, please.)
A portion of the book sales will be donated to the Grange.

Do come to learn all you need to know from best-selling author Maggie Stuckey about how to become successful at vegetable container gardening,  And come, too, to honor the intrepid Victory Gardeners of World War II whose stories are also a part of this information-packed book.

The Long Beach Grange #667 is located at 5715 Sandridge Road, Long Beach. There is parking around the back and the building is wheelchair accessible.  See you there on Wednesday!






“That old lady in Oysterville…”

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

Along Our Northern Border

In the great scheme of things, or at least in the world of tourism on the Peninsula, I am thankful that seven ayem is pretty early in the day.  There usually isn’t much activity over at the church or in the road in front of our house.  At least, I hope not.

The rhododendrons along most of the south, east and west garden borders are now so large that I am unaware of folks who might be walking along the lane toward the bay or stopping along their way to take pictures.  And so it is that I am often out walking the garden perimeter and having a righteous conversation with my beautiful co-residents, happily under the illusion that no one but the flowers can hear me!

Mother Lilac and Jean Marues by the east Oircg

This morning I apologized profusely to the camellias for neglecting them a few weeks back, somehow forgetting to spray them with Deer and Rabbit Fence, the surest protection I know of against our voracious local ungulates.  Sadly, therefore, from knees to bellies (theirs) they have been chomped and chewed to an unsightly, extremely un-camellia-like display of shorn leaves.  “I’m so sorry!” I said over and over.  “But you’re doing a great job at recovery!  You’ll soon look good as new!”

And then there are the lilacs — back again for the umpty-umpth year and nearby their “babies” that Nyel had dug up and planted hither and thither beginning to bloom for the first time!    “How I wish Nyel could see you,” I said.  “He would be so proud of you!”

Mrs. G.W. Leal! A force to be reckoned with!

Then there are the overwhelming Mrs. G.W. Leaks who must be over thirty feet tall now:  “OMG, Mrs. Leak!  You have outdone yourselves this year!  You are beyond gorgeous!  Thank you so much!”

And on I went… It wasn’t until well after I came indoors that I wondered if there were listeners — perhaps dog-walkers and their four-legged companionswondering who the old nit-wit is that wanders the garden praising and scolding and carrying on, apparently all by herself.  Oh well!  I know the flowers love our morning conversations — they show me their appreciation every single day!  Bless them for making the world seem so simple — at least within my garden fence.

And “…the rain it raineth every day!”

Sunday, April 2nd, 2023

Ready! Soak! Plant!

Well, at least it’s April and I can console myself that these daily showers will eventually become May flowers.  Although… I’ve been told that I should wait until Mother’s Day to plant my nasturtium seeds and my dahlia plants.  So… wot the hell?

I think the rhythm of the days is probably going to see to it that I’m not out there digging in the muddy soil too soon.  This morning it was sunny and bright and I thought, “Aha! I’ll just go out an plant a few seeds.  Sort of a test.”

But by the time I was really up-and-at-’em, it was raining again.  The seeds are still safe in their packets.  And besides, I think I’ll try soaking them overnight this year  — see if that makes a difference in how soon they germinate.  But wait!  If I plant them and then the rain it raineth in the afternoon and evening… won’t that have the same effect as soaking?

My friend Pat always has a fabulous garden.  I’ll bet she’s already been hard at it.  I think I’ll give her a call and get some good advice.  But, no matter what, I’m not working out there in the rainy parts of the day.  Only the sunny parts.

A Bright Spot, Rain or Shine!

And meanwhile, I sing my dad’s praises every day whether or not it raineth!  There are always (Yes! ALWAYS!) rhododendrons blooming somewhere in the yard.  He  planned it that way back in the 1960s when he and Paul Clark planted those 99 rhododendrons on all four sides of the property.  Thanks, Dad!

Degree by Degree — Spring is on her way!

Tuesday, March 28th, 2023

I can’t remember when I last looked at the outdoor thermometer but it wasn’t all that long ago.  It said 44º and it felt like 20 below.  I know I shouldn’t complain (and I don’t think I did) but this morning at 6:30 a.m. I looked and it was 50º!!  WOOT!  WOOT!

Not that I went outside and sat in my lounge chair, you understand.  It was, after all, raining.  But, the daffodils were looking daffy and the primroses were acting prim and I could tell they could feel Spring right in their very bones (read: roots and stems.)

On the other hand, the camellias are still totally confused.  It is three months beyond their usual blooming time and still they are bursting forth.  And after forth, they burst all over the ground below!  Colorful, but not quite what our bargain was to begin with.

Right now at 5:15 p.m. the outdoor temperature is 51º — down 4º from when I looked at noon.  So basically, we’ve had a day in the 50s!  Amazing!  And never mind that I won’t really feel like gamboling and cavorting outside until it’s 20º or 25º warmer.  We are on our way!  Though my friend Ardell says we’re in for some colder nights soon.  She knows those things because she’s a cranberry grower and now that the flowers are budding out, everyone in the cranberry biz is on high alert.  It’s easier these days than it was a few generations ago, though.  Those sprinklers are automated and go on when the temps get below a certain point — did she say 46º at this time of year?

Sounds like a great idea to me — but the water would have to be steamy  for this hot-house-flower to be completely happy.  And for once, I can’t blame old age.  I’ve always been cold-blooded.  So come on Springtime!  Crank up those sunbeams and aim them at Oysterville!  I am ready for the Warm Times to arrive!