Posts Tagged ‘garden’

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!

Here they come, ready or not!

Friday, January 15th, 2021


Our world has been gray and green for so long now that the single pink camellia felt like a visual assault.  Not very big and not especially bright — not neon-sign bright or day-glo paint bright.  But, even so, she got my full attention when she appeared.

I don’t think it was an accident that she showed herself from exactly the spot we would notice.  Like the chickens when they come calling, Ms. Camellia was right outside our east door — just beside the porch where we’d be sure to see her as we went from one end of the house to the other.  I couldn’t help exclaiming when she caught my eye. I felt her smiling back, pleased that she had surprised me.  So far, she’s the only one — the first bright burst of the new year.

Here come the daffodils!

I’m not sure who will be next — daffodils or hyacinths.  The race is on.  Both are poking up but it will be some time before they blossom.  Blue  will edge around our garden beds and a field of yellow will blanket our northern verge.

I’m betting the hyacinths will burst forth first, but don’t mention it to the daffs.  They always like to think they are the harbingers.  And when it comes to harbinging… don’t we all?

A picket fence is like a young girl’s curls…

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Our Newly Painted Bright and Shiny Fence

My grandmother once wrote to her teenaged daughter, Medora, who was away at boarding school:  I do hope you are not slicking up the sides of your hair.  I know it will take the curl out.  Ruth ought to be a continual object lesson to you as to how pretty hair can be ruined.  You can leave it soft and curling around your face and still show your ears.  In fact, when you take the frame of your hair from your face it is like plucking the petals off a daisy and leaving the bald pod.  Some people’s hair is not a necessity.  Yours is – so is mine.

I often think of those remarks when thinking about the fences in Oysterville — especially the picket fences.  It seems to me that they frame the old homes like a young girl’s curls might frame her face.  Or is that too fanciful?

Jay At Work along The South Fenceline

Considerable attention is given to fences in the Design Guidelines for the Oysterville Historic District  The very first statements about them is:  “The use of fences is encouraged.”  Immediately following that statement are these bulleted items:

  • “Use picket fences (wood) on the street.”
  •  “A variety of details is appropriate in fences.”
  •  “Barbed wire is suitable for fencing pastures.”
  •  “The use of fences is strongly encouraged in the Core Area.”

There is quite a bit more, but you get the idea.  We still maintain our fence around the perimeter of our garden, though not everyone in Oysterville does these days.  It is an expensive proposition, even if you can make the pickets, paint them, and install them yourself.  Most of our curent pickets were made by Nyel some years ago and, fortunately, he made enough extras (even painted them!) that we can still replace the ones that get broken or otherwise damaged.

Bright Pickets Peeping Into The Garden

Yesterday, Jay Short and his son Charlie came to begin repainting our fence — outside and in.  It looks glorious!  It is definitely the crowning glory that sets off our house!  The upkeep of picket fences is a pain and I sometimes wish that we could follow Tom Downer’s example of a “fake wood” picket fence…  But it’s a fleeting thought.  Only a brightly painted white picket fence would do around our 1869 house!   I repeat:  It looks glorious… even in today’s rain.

Betwixt and Between

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

So, now that the library is open, we are back to the waiting game.  Only worse.  The books that were on hold for us in March are again making their way through the list of waiting patrons, but the books we were reading to tide us over are long since finished and returned.  So, I’m still reading from our bookshelves here in Oysterville.

Right now, it’s Life In A Medieval Castle by Joseph & Frances Gies (1974) complete with many photographs and diagrams showing towers and guardhouses, baileys and barbicans and all that good stuff.  Probably my dad’s.  I’m interested in the construction methods and designs only because I’ve visited many of the castles and/or ruins that are described.

William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke
By Kjetilbjørnsrud, CC

What interests me more are the stories of those who lived in those castles.  Take John Marshal who, in the chronicles of 12th century England won mention as “a limb of hell and the root of all evil.”  Among his other ‘accomplishments:’ during a battle he hid out in the bell tower of a burning church and, despite the lead of the tower roof melting and a drop splashing on his face and putting out an eye, he refused to surrender.

Later, having made good his escape, he was prevailed upon to hand over his young son William to the king as a hostage against a possible act of treachery during a truce.  John went ahead, committed the treachery and when King Stephen threatened to hang young William unless John surrendered his castle, John cooly replied that he did not care if his son were hanged, since he had “the anvils and hammer with which to forge still better sons.”  Yikes!

Magna Carta, 1215

Luckily (probably for us all), young William’s “cheerful innocence” as he was led to the hanging grounds won the King’s heart and the child was spared.  He grew up with his father’s “soldierly prowess but without his rascally character” to become one of the most distinguished of all the lords of Chepstow Castle and the most renowned knight of his time.  According to the authors, “He served King Richard and then King John for many years and played a leading — perhaps the leading — role in negotiating the Magna Carta.”  And I’m only on page 36!

It’s always nice to know how really difficult periods of time turned out.  We can only hope that we are still around to see how our own siege is resolved.  Who will be the William Marshal of our time?


What has happened to the mastershalums?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

View from My Front Doorway

“Christopher Robin gave me a mastershalum seed, and I planted it, and I’m going to have mastershalums all over the front door.”

“I thought they were called nasturtiums,” said Piglet timidly, as he went on jumping.

“No,” said Pooh. “Not these. These are called mastershalums.” A.A.Milne.

I’ve always adopted Pooh’s optimism about mastershalums and we, too, have had them all over the place.  In fact, for years they have crawled up over our porch and cheered our visitors along their way to the front door.  We have a few of those trailing nasturtiums again this year but our crop of new ones has generated all leaves and only one blossom so far.  Very disappointing.

Precarious Perch

On the other hand, our “crop” of swallows, at least on the front porch, is thriving.  As I stepped out there this morning, I was blasted by  squawking and scolding from both both mom and dad, or so I thought at first.  As I looked up at the nest over the windowsill, I thought perhaps the noise might be directed to the babies, not to me.

There are four of them, but this morning one was barely visible as the others crowded greedily up to nest’s edge, precariously balanced by my reckoning.  If I were their mom, I’d be screeching, too:  “Get back!  Be careful!  You’ll fall!”  That happened to one of the over-enthusiastic babes last year and we found him (or her) toes up on the porch.  If these are the same parents, no wonder they were frantic.

Lonely Mastershalum Blossom

Otherwise, all was peaceful in the garden.  The daisies are growing to beat their record.  I can almost hear them lording it over the reluctant mastershalums.  There are dahlias and snapdragons and hydrangeas in bloom and the roses are threatening to weight down the picket fence with their blossoms.  Nevermind that Portia’s gentle rain from heaven was droppething all around.  It was lovely — just as it should be on this 21st of July!

Before the sun crested the horizon…

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

By Dawn’s Early Light

Back and forth, forth and back I walked yesterday morning.  8,000 steps and all before breakfast!  And all because our “lawn” to use the term loosely, is more buttercups and dandelions than grass.  “Weed and Feed” we were told by the experts.  Best time to spread it, while the dew is still heavy on the surface but not on a day when it’s likely to rain.

Around here, the day chooses you and not the other way around.  Yesterday was it.  I loaded the spreader, set the dial at 3½ as instructed, and started off.  I planned to do the worst area first — the east lawn.  If the both the lawn and I survived, I’d tackle the north lawn the next day (which is now today.)

Back? Or… forth?

Well, I did survive and I see no evidence of anything dire (or otherwise) happening on the east lawn so I was ready to roll at 6:30 this morning.  But, the “dew” was falling enough to form droplets on my glasses and that’s not recommended for the best (or any) results.  “No active rain.”  So here I am.

Front Page Today

As I sat down to write this post, I saw the online front page headline in the ObserverCovid-19 came calling on July 4, test says.  I could actually feel my blood pressure rise.  If the test is accurate, at least 30 virus-infected people were in Long Beach over the weekend of the Fourth.  Suddenly, I couldn’t see.  The droplets on my hair and glasses had turned to steam…  What is the MATTER with our leadership? Encouraging thousands of people to come to the beach?  And without enforcement relative to mask-wearing?  Putting our residents at unnecessary risk?  Do they actually WANT Pacific County to become some sort of epicenter?  Maybe of stupidity?  But I digress…



In A Garden Full of Reds and Lilacs

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Big Red Rhodie

The Reds are out in all their glory — the Jean Maries along the west and east fences, the huge no-name Red in front of the chicken coop and the smaller no-name Red near the cannon.  And, of course, Little Red Hen and Nyel-Who-Once-Was-A-Redhead, too.

It really is the BEST time of year in our garden.  Even though the reds dominate, there are other blossoms everywhere.  The lilacs by our east porch and over by the gazebo are in their glory.  Other rhodies — Mrs. G. W. Leak and those huge bushes with the purple blossoms along the north fence — are more glorious than ever.  It’s as if they are ssying, “We love to have you home!  Keep sheltering and stay safe with us!”

Nyel and Little Red Hen

For her part, Little Red Hen comes running whenever either of us is in the garden.  She loves to “help” me, scratching and pecking where I’ve been weeding to make room for nasturtium seeds.  I’ve told her that once I plant them, she’ll have to stay away, but she just gives me that cocky one-eyed look and I know I’ll have to confine her to the coop if I want those seeds to have a chance.

Lilacs In Profusion

She’s fickle, though, and easily distracted.  As soon as Nyel shows up, she abandons me and the tenuous promise of wriggly earthworms, much more interested in the here and now of dried meal worms in the Farmer’s hand.  Little Red is  about three now, the oldest of our three hens.  I wonder if she remembers Farmer Nyel from the days before his wheelchair and if that’s why she’s the friendliest of the girls.

All-in-all, we count our blessings during this 2020 Spring.  There is beauty wherever we look in the garden and entertainment, too!  Who could ask for more?

Undaunted… Well, maybe not quite.

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Austrian Beauty

Our garden has been left to its own devices for a while, mostly due to the weather but partly because of the Sheltering Syndrome.  We are absolutely fine with sheltering in place until someone yells ollie-ollie-oxen-free but the problem might be that we are TOO fine with it.  That’s the “syndrome” part.  As in I’m starting to think of my world as confined within these four walls.

So, yesterday I forced (well almost) myself to do a walk-about in the garden.  Some of our rhodies have been blooming profusely and I apologized to them for not getting a picture when they were at their peak.  The deer people have been enjoying the camellias more than ever and that warranted another apology — I should have been giving the leaves a shot of deer repellent occasionally.

Windblown but Brave

The narcissuses (say it three times real fast) that Cousin Lina brought from Austria are still blooming and they are beautiful!  But… they are pretty crippled up from recent winds and rains.  I took their pictures, anyway, and commiserated with them.  “We’re all going through a bad patch right now.  Thanks for hangin’ in,” I told them.

I know that the only earthly reason not to get out there more frequently is inertia.  Who’da thunk that would be a side effect of sheltering in place?  And now that I know… will anything change?  We’ll see…

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!!