Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

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!”

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.

 

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 wildcare.org 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!

 

Look who’s playing first fiddle this year!

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

Lilacs 2021 – The Sky’s The Limit

The Merry Month of May in our neck of the woods means rhododendrons!  And at our house, it means Jean Marie Rhododendrons, in particular. Or to be really exact:  Jean Marie De Montague Rhododendrons.  They were my dad’s favorite and he planted them — lots of them — in the 1970s and 1980s with the help of Paul Clarke.  They are usually out in all their glory by May 12th which was my father’s birthday.  This year he would have been 112 but I’m not sure this year’s crop of Jean Maries will be in full fettle, even by then.

Jean Maries along Our East Fence Line – May 2014

They are slow and spotty this year.  It’s probably due to the severe haircut Nyel and I gave them last fall.  We were a little late in our pruning duties and, since we had missed a year or so, we were probably overly severe.  The Jean Maries are still scolding us about it, apparently.  It’s either that or it’s this whole weird weather pattern and climate change thing we have going.  As in who has EVER heard of a burn ban as early as April here on the Peninsula?

However, the reluctance of the Jean Maries is giving the lilacs their time to shine.  They are reveling in not having to play second fiddle this year to those flashy ladies in red.  Usually, by the time we even take notice of the lilacs, they are on their way out.  It’s a yearly regret — especially if I haven’t filled the house with their sweet fragrance at least once or twice!

Jean Maries along Our East Fenceline – May 2021

I think this year will be different.  Those lilacs are bursting out all over the yard.  I’m not sure what kind they are — I just think of them as common every day lilacs — they smell like lilacs, are lilac colored, and for once are struttin’ their stuff before anyone else is dominating the garden.  Sorry, dad.  But… things could always change in the next week or so.

Hooray (mostly) for the rain!

Monday, April 26th, 2021

My Leaky Rain Boots

As everyone knows, the importance of rain boots is keeping your feet dry.  When that function fails… well, what is there to say?

It’s not that my boots are all that old.  Pat Fagerland had a pair that she loved and I asked her where she got them.  I think that was about three years ago.  I sent for a pair to use when I am out in the garden.  But mostly for going back and forth to the chickens through the wet grass.  The grass doesn’t even have to be very long nor does it have to be rainy before the dew-soaked blades force the moisture right in among your toes.  That is, unless you are wearing “proper waterproof gear” as one of my friends calls slickers, sou’westers, and boots.

Howeever… following a chicken run a few days ago, I noticed that my socks were quite damp when I took off my boots.  “Couldn’t be!” I thought.  The next time, I shoved bare (not sock-encased) feet into those boots and, sure enough, I could actually feel the slight trickle of cold water on my toes.  Both feet!  Design flaw?  Factory defect?  Built-in obsolecence?  What the heck?

Clara Mae’s Fantasy

How could both boots fail simultaneously?  Three years might be too long to expect my money back.  Or even a replacement which is what I would prefer.  Pursuing it all seems like more trouble than it’s worth.  Maybe I’ll just settle for  three-years-is-good-enough and order new boots.

But… since when did rubber rain boots become a disposable item? Or does three years exceed the rule for “disposable?”  Life gets complicated for the conscientious — don’t you think?

Oh… and did I mention that the chickens have expressed some Rain Boot Envy on these wet days? I hate to disappoint them but I’m just not sure how to explain why we aren’t investing in rainy day footwear for them after all.

From Champagne to Salad Greens!

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Nyel, Bill (my dad) and Noel Around The Champagne Table – 1988

Recycling, refurbishing, renewing.  Nyel is adamant about all of it.  Including repurposing.  Today’s (read “this week’s” or possibly “this month’s”) project deals with an old galvanized washtub.

Neither of us remember where that washtub came from.  Maybe it has been on the premises since my grandparents’ time.  Certainly, it has seen better days.  There are holes in the bottom and dents on the sides.  It definitely has character.

Getting Ready for the Salad Greens!

For years we used it to hold champagne bottles nestled in ice — a hallmark of our Annual Oysterville Croquet and Champagne Galas (1984- 2002).  For the past two decades, though, it has been sitting atop a metal storage cupboard in the garage and has been the repository for between-seasons Christmas tree stands and other sometimes-necessities of the household.

Today that old, leaky washtub is headed for Nyel’s new kitchen garden where it will be filled with topsoil and compost and planted with little green onion sets and several kinds of lettuces.  Salads-in-a-Tub within steps of the dinner table!  I don’t think as many people will be bellying up to it now as in its glamorous champagne past, though.

On the other hand, it’s likely to get a little too much attention from our girls.  Those chickens do love to peck and poke in the soil and I know they’ll be excited about a “new” container to explore.  I wonder if Nyel has a Chicken Discouragement Plan in mind.

Even Granddaughters Grow Old

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Fern III with the Winter Blahs

It’s been close to ten years since I’ve “reported” on the status of Fern III — the  Deer Foot Fern (or Davallia to be more exact) who sits on a table in the bay window of our bedroom.  Right now she seems to be going through a case of the winter blahs — commiserating with us during this Sheltering Time, I think.  Perhaps it’s time for another “haircut” — an event that always seems harder on me than on her.

I’ve been reminding her of her heritage and how it is that she has been here with us for the last fifteen-or-so years.  I can’t go back to her very beginnings, there being no ancestry.com for ferns, but I can go back three generations. Her grandmother lived in the Ocean Park Timberland Library during the 1980s.  I often stopped to talk with her, marveling at her fury feet (rhizomes, I was told) that crept over the edge of the big pot she sat in.

Fern After A Haircut, 2015

One day, Sue Cowell, who worked at the library, asked me if I’d like a cutting.  She and Librarian Bonnie Sayce were transplanting Fern to a bigger pot that afternoon.  Fern II was sort of puny by comparison to her mother, but she liked it at our house on the bay and she soon filled out and needed to be transplanted herself. Visitors to the house often referred to her as a Rabbit or Hare Foot Fern or even a Squirrel Foot Foot Fern.  Apparently the color of the rhizomes of a particular plant determine the animal it is associated — white, for instance, with Rabbit or Peter Cottontail.

Fern II lived with us for almost twenty years and, by the time we sold the house to Ann Chiller, she was much too big to move.  Besides, she and the house seemed perfect for each other and we didn’t want to break up such a happy relationship.  So Ann inherited the plant.

In 2007 or 2008 Ann, in her turn, sold the house.  Before she moved she brought us a present — a small cutting from Fern II.  And so Fern III began her sojourn in Oysterville.  Even here in our bedroom, she is surrounded by books which must resonate in some primordial fashion, hearkening back to the library of her grandmother’s time.  She has outgrown several pots and has flourished, even with my somewhat haphazard care.

Fern III in 2011

I’m not sure where Fern’s forebears are these days.  The last I heard, Karen Pennington wrote that she had Fern II.  That was back in 2011.  Perhaps someone will write in response to this update and tell us a bit more — especially about Fern III’s grandmother who I met so long ago at the Library.  It’s hard to believe that Granddaughter Fern, herself, is forty-some years old — if you count the years since her mother left Fern I.  Wow!

 

Just a matter of teamwork!

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

Nyel is ever patient; I’m more impulsive.  Nyel tends to be cautious in his judgements; I’m more decisive.  Nyel is reasoned; I’m intuitive.  Both of us are persistent and usually we have the same goals in mind.  We make a good team.  Almost always.

Right now we are spending our afternoons trimming the rhododendrons that form a sort of hedge along the west side of our house.  It’s something Nyel used to take care of each summer when he had two good legs.  Now that he is wheelchair-bound, he can do most of it but I get to do the back parts that he can’t reach.  It’s definitely a team effort and sometimes generates a bit of “discussion” between us.

We began the project day before yesterday and are prepared for it to take four or five days in all.  Partly that’s because my legs tell me to quit after an hour or two and partly it’s because we have only so much space to store yard debris before it can be hauled away.  Two gigantic outdoor garbage bags full and we stop for the day.

The first day was the hardest.  There was a lot of “discussion” as to height, width, spacing etc.  Tucker wandered over at one point and said something like “looking great” and I thought perhaps he had heard us clear over at his house.  Yikes!  But he said not.  But, he was not interested in my suggestion that he take my clippers and have a turn at it.  My Tom Sawyer generosity didn’t even tempt him!  I guess it didn’t look like that much fun…

Each day goes better than the day before.  We know there will be some fine tuning to be done eventually and we can only hope that by then our process will be going perfectly smoothly and that we will be happy with the results.  Teamwork!  It’s the name of the game.

 

Where’s our hedge fund when we need it?

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Nyel On The Attack

It was at least twenty-five years ago, but I remember it clear-as-clear.  My mother was still living in this house and we were a mile down the bay at our place.  She called early one Saturday morning and said that we had to “drop everything” and come tend to the rhododendrons outside her bedroom windows.  “They are completely blocking the view and pretty soon they’ll block out the light completely.”

We allowed as we could come over later and see what we could do.  We didn’t give her worries much credence.  She was always a bit of a drama queen, after all.  But, when we got there we found that her alarm was well-founded.  The rhodies seemed to have grown by leaps and bounds and just overnight — or at least within the last week when we had been there doing a bit of yard work.  We conceded as to how something had to be done.

No. I’m not sitting down!

I have no memory of our solution — mostly because I don’t think I was involved.  Nyel, bless him, got right on it and trimmed all of the rhodies in the garden — not just those around the house, but those along the east fence, as well.  As I remember, our burn pile grew to a burn hill and then to a burn mountain by the time he had things tidied up.  It must not have seemed too onerous, however, because one of the first things he did after we moved into the house in the late nineties was to plant a long row of Jean Marie Rhododendrons along our west fence — not quite double the trouble, but almost.

Trimming the rhodies has been one of the summer chores every year since that first call for help from mom.  Until last year (when Nyel began life in a wheelchair) I haven’t been involved.  Now, however, it has become a team effort — Nyel getting the front parts that he has access to and me wriggling ’round to the back between house or fence and plants to get the parts he can’t reach.  And now that we are old and impaired, it takes about four or five times as long for the two of us than it did for the one of him on both feet.

In the first five minutes…

There will come a day, of course, when we can no longer manage this yearly garden chore.  I was thinking about it as we got ready to have at it again today.  “What we’ll need,” I said to myself, “is a hedge fund.”  But… the really, truly, literal kind.  Not whatever the financial wizards were making headlines with a few decades back.  One more place to spend our hard-earned pennies… Or, we could just let ’em grow.  I wonder if anyone would even notice the house had gone missing.  And us with it.

In spite of all…

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

Hyacinth Border in All Its Glory

Despite benign neglect on my part, our garden is looking remarkably well.  For the first time in many Springs, we are not starting the season with more weeds than flowers!  That’s all thanks to our wonderful friends who contributed to a garden cleanup for us when Nyel was hospitalized so long last year.

By hook and by crook we were able to continue having the Garden Girls come in every two weeks for a few months — until the winter storms came in earnest and then the Coronavirus showed up and closed down everything (except Mother Nature).

Just Beyond The Front Porch

The neat and tidy look won’t last, of course.  Not unless the sheltering time is pronounced “over” for  landscapers and other outdoors “non-essential” workers.  And I am the last one to be a back-to-work advocate right now.  Not until the health professionals say it’s “safe.”  So… being a very tentative, fair weather gardener, myself,  I’m hoping for fair skies, warm sunshine, and no wind so I can confront those pesky weeds in comfort.  (Which is precisely the attitude that I recognize as a problem… But some things don’t change.)

Meanwhile, I rejoice in the here and now of hyacinths and narcissus, primroses and azaleas and the promise of our Jean Marie rhododendrons next month!  Thank you Mother Nature and all your wonderful helpers who have made  (perhaps inadvertently) another year of garden beauty a reality for us here in Oysterville.