Posts Tagged ‘garden’

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.


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!

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…