I’m a little late, perhaps, in getting this page up for the new season, but here
we are. Things are changing, and I am still in a big life transition. I am in the
slow process of moving about 70 miles from where I currently live. (The romantics
out there will appreciate that love has won out over business-as-usual.)
So, I am selling out or winding down on many old favorites, but even so, I can’t
resist the lure of something new. Erythroniums, especially, are looming large on
my horizon. As noted on another place on this page, I have acquired a collection
of never released or named Erythronium hybrids. As I write this, in late February,
they have just started to poke their leaves above ground, and I can see flower buds
expanding. I will be photographing and documenting them as they bloom, and I am
also in the process of developing a web page devoted to Erythroniums. I will keep
you all informed. I will be starting to release them this coming fall. One of the
reasons they are not more widely available, I believe, is that they are a bit tricky
to ship. They are somewhat fragile and need careful handling, and the shipping season
is short. Though technically a bulb, they do not have the protective coating (a
‘tunic’) of, for example, a tulip or daffodil, so they tend to dry out if they are
left to sit too long before being planted. But with careful handling and proper
placement, these lovely little, graceful, lily relatives can be long lived and carefree,
and can be an exceptionally charming part of the spring garden palette for many years
So -- changes --- My new home, in this next chapter of my life, will not be near
the open fields I am used to, with the thousands of little tree frogs that set up
such a lovely racket on warm spring nights (in fact, they are going at it quite enthusiastically
as I write this), with cows pasturing on one side of the property and elegant horses
on the other. Rather, I will be entering the world of the urban gardener. It’s
a drastic transition, but it’s all good. I find that I rather enjoy the camaraderie
of passersby as I continue to transform half of Marc’s tiny front yard into a mini-forest
of Japanese maples and shade loving rarities, and the other half into an ornamental,
gourmet vegetable/flower garden. I am learning to appreciate every little bit of
open ground up against the house, between shrubs, anywhere something can be tucked
or trained to climb. It’s a whole new world. And while we may not have room for chickens
on our (very small) urban farm, I have found room for multiple compost piles.
I admit it, I love garbage. Yes, toss me your rotten apples, your slimy cucumbers,
your crusty carrot peels. Give me your old yellowed broccoli, your squashed squash,
your decomposing tomatoes, your over-the-edge onions, your moldy melons. Bring me
your used coffee grounds (with filters) and (chemical free) grass clippings. I now
treasure those containers of fuzzy grey-green mystery stuff lost in the back of the
refrigerator. Nothing is wasted. Toss it all in a big pile in the backyard. Mix
with the proper proportion of old leaves or shredded paper. Lightly water it down.
Mix it around every once in awhile. Make it a warm and welcoming environment for
multi-billions of microorganisms to do their work. Sit back and wait, and watch this
pile of detritus transform into a pile of beautiful, productive, rich, dark brown
soil amendment. Yes, COMPOST HAPPENS. Add it to the vegetable garden. Plant seeds.
Watch the veggies grow. Eat when ripe. Add the scraps to the compost pile.
The circle is complete, but keeps on turning.
January 20, 2011
PLANTS, BOOGIE WOOGIE,
AND HERDING WORMS
These are a few of my favorite things (tra-la-la, tra la la). Though not always
in that order –
After a three year hiatus from being a mail order nursery, I am back up and running.
I’m trying not to run too fast, though.
Life is just too short to be going crazy, and I don’t want to be running so fast
that I miss the best stuff. So, most things that have to get done, eventually get
done, I guess, at least in my ‘that’s good enough’ world. We only have so much time,
and I can only hope that in retrospect, it’s the important things in life I have
chosen to spend time on. Spending time as if it is a commodity, such an interesting
thought. And what have we ‘bought’ when we ‘spend’ our time? In the end, we can
only hope that we have spent wisely. As Bob Dylan once said ‘Time is a jet plane,
it moves too fast.’ That’s for sure.
But it’s time now, to get back to business, so the on-line catalog is back, with
many fewer items than the last time, but hey, its just me now, with occasional, much
appreciated, help, and I just don’t want to do it all.
The garden is still in winter mode. The leaves still lay where they have fallen.
The worms and bacteria and other macro and micro organisms are doing their job, returning
all that valuable organic material back to the soil. Its a beautiful thing. Soon
I will get out and do a good clean-up, but for now, I am into the natural look.
Music and piano playing still occupy much of my time. I still can’t get enough,
still lovin’ to boogie and playin’ the blues.
And the worm thing ? Well, I have learned a lot about worms and worm composting
in the last few years, and have the utmost respect and appreciation for the job that
worms do in breaking down and recycling organic waste. I have worm bins outside the
door, in the compost area, and on the kitchen table. And, yes, a bunch of worms
in captivity is called a herd, and though they usually stay put, there have been
a few instances of mass escape, and I have had to ‘herd’ them back. (It’s a long
story, not something I really like to talk about) They are kind of like my little
pets, though I do draw the line about letting them cuddle up on the bed with me.
The intention is to develop a worm-based website, with information of all the great
things they do for us, along with their interesting biology and habits. Stay tuned
for that one.
My dryer finally gave out on me today. I knew it was going, and though a few jiggles
here and there had kept it going for a while, my ‘high-tech’ repair method didn’t
seem to be working this morning, so now I’m sitting in my car in front of the Laundromat
waiting for my clothes to finish drying, and it seems like the perfect time to update
this so-called blogt’s hard to believe that summer is almost over. Or maybe I just
don’t want to believe it. It has been such a delightful summer. Due mostly, I admit,
to a fine new relationship and all the new experiences and feelings that brings.
But that’s another story.
But in the nursery business, as September nears, the busy fall season is about ready
to start up again and the long hot days of summer, some of them actually luxuriously
lazy hazy, (as the old song goes), are soon to be a memory. There are a few last
blasts, a last camping trip up the Santiam River, the Oregon State Fair, some music
events, still some carefree afternoons napping in the shade on a hot afternoon. It
does feels a bit decadent when there is so much to be done, but I’m getting used
to it and just letting the pleasure of it all take me away.
The garden is overflowing and overwhelming. What used to be a beautifully tended
garden with a perfectly edged lawn (when Bill was still with us), now, definitely,
has my stamp on it. I tend to be a ‘good enough‘ kind of a person. And in my eyes
it IS good enough. I plant more randomly, the lawn edges are raggedy, trees need
to be pruned, there is a bit more of a wild feel to it, but I love it, and when the
obvious weeds are pulled, and the lawn is mowed, it actually looks quite lovely.
The frustration, of course, is in having ideas and vision of possibilities, and to
be honest, a secret wish that it WAS perfect, and there is just not enough time,
even for someone with better time management than myself. So I deal with the most
obvious and shut my eyes to the rest. Early on this year, I made a conscious decision
to see the beauty and not the weeds and the unfinished work. And it is beautiful.
There is beauty all around us, and it is so easy to miss it by focusing on the mess,
or whatever negative stuff may be going on. It’s all in attitude, for sure, and
the choices we make.
So the plants keep growing and I keep propagating. I had hoped to have my on-line
catalog up by this time, but I’m still working on it. In the meantime, I have added
mail order prices to the basic plant list and if you would like to order, just call
me (360-574-3832), write, or send an e-mail (email@example.com) and we
will work it out. As always, my focus is on epimediums and other shade plants. There
are a few shrubs and sun lovers thrown into the mix.
And I am always available for talks to garden clubs or other organizations.
February 1, 2009
OF RABBITS, MOLES, AND MUSIC
Can it really be February already? Days into weeks into months are getting away
from me. There is little more time to dilly-dally (dilly-dallying is actually one
of my favorite pastimes – though I prefer to think of it as productive, well-directed,
dilly-dallying). So, I’m about ready to head out the door, to get the packing shed
cleaned up and organized for the season, though there will be little packing to be
done this spring.
For those interested, however, I do foresee myself getting back to a limited mail
order business this fall. But I need more organization in my life, so for now, the
packing shed will be holding gloves, irrigation supplies, fertilizer, slug bait,
tools, twist ties, pens, brooms, and other frequently used items. I have spent the
last week cleaning and organizing the potting barn, taking 15 years worth of old
pots and ripped greenhouse plastic that had been stashed away in a couple of the
old horse stalls (out of sight/out of mind), to the recycling center, in good faith.
I can only hope they actually do get recycled. I am really quite horrified by the
amount of garbage (and so much if it is so easily recyclable!) being tossed non-stop
into landfills. Maybe I will rant about this on another day.
The plant season will be upon us shortly. Actually it has already started. Hamamelis
‘Arnold Promise’ (a bright yellow Witch Hazel) has been blooming for about a month
already, just outside my back door, lemony fragrant when the days are warm enough.
The buds on the fasciated Pussy Willow in the border along the back of the parking
lot are starting to split, showing the characteristic silky silvery-grey fuzz. Hepaticas
are starting to bloom in the raised bed in a small unheated hoop house, as is Galanthus
nivalis (Snowdrops). And the rabbits are poised to pounce. Not that they haven’t
been pouncing and bouncing all over the place all winter anyway, eating everything
with a hint of green to it ---
I really don’t know what to do about the rabbits. Coyotes and cats used to keep them
under control, I think, but the cats are gone now. The coyotes are still around (I
hear their mesmerizing, eerie singing at night, sometimes they are REALLY close),
but they are no match for the proliferation of rabbits. Yes, rabbits do ---- like
rabbits! I get it now. Maybe we induced this by creating such an inviting habitat
for them, with lots of natural cover and an extensive gourmet restaurant within short
hopping distance. Their favorite foods seem to be the emerging shoots of Epimediums
and Clematis. And this winter, I discovered, too late, that they also love to eat
the stems of shrub peonies, especially the expensive ones They snap them right off,
or just sit there munching on bark. I see them hop away from the headlights of my
Jeep as I drive in at night, or I will spot them in my garden in the morning from
the front window. That’s when I run outside, winter coat haphazardly slapped on over
my pj’s, to chase them away, yelling like some kind of crazy person as they casually
look up at me with a clear sense of entitlement and then slowly hop-hop away just
a short distance, unconcerned.
And I really don’t know what to do about the moles either. What used to be nice
smooth green lawn has erupted into a field of mini-mounds, one after the other. (Last
year there was one particular molehill that kept getting larger, almost daily. Instead
of mashing it down like I usually do, I left it as a kind of experiment. I wanted
to see how long it would take to make a mountain out of a molehill –)
So I have to let them be for now, though I may go on a rampage soon. I’m presently
in the throes of cleanup/organizing, and I’m actually enjoying it! The garden is
one of my next projects, after some seed sowing, and hardwood cuttings.
I haven’t done any fall garden cleanup this time around, other than a little raking
up of leaves off of the lawn early on, and even that was minimal. And the only reason
that the front part of the garden (another out of sight/out of mind area) does not
have a heavy covering of maple leaves smothering what is left of the grass, is that
the neighborhood kids came in and raked it, unbeknownst to me, so that they might
have a big pile of leaves to play in. They told me about it after the deed was done
- you got to love ‘em. So now it’s mid-winter, and I like the natural look of leaves
and stems decaying in their natural state, I rather like the way the leaves on the
beds have gradually morphed from crispy golds and reds to a uniformly rich brown
ground covering mat through the winter, and I know that they are gradually releasing
their minerals back to the earth, adding humus, feeding the worms and the bacterial
life, enriching the soil, as it was meant to be. It feels right. I’m changing my
gardening philosophy, or rather, going back to it, after a 30 year diversion (that’s
another story for a different day). And lately I’m considering getting rid of the
lawn completely (or mostly) and planting trees and shrubs and understory plants in
its place. I think I’ll start with the worst mole infested, semi-shaded area by the
house, and see what happens. It would be nice to just be able to let nature take
it back, but unfortunately that relates to weeds, weeds, and more weeds, so I will
need to exercise some level of control over the process.
But the music keeps me energized and enthused. I’ve spent the last 2¼ years taking
weekly piano lessons, mainly learning blues patterns, boogie-woogie, and some New
Orleans style stuff. What better way could I find to express feelings and to create?
I can’t get enough really, I would play half the day away if I could. I live in
Battle Ground, WA which is just north of Vancouver, WA, which in turn is just across
the Columbia River from Portland, OR. I spend a lot of evenings in Portland listening
to music, mostly blues bands, and especially keyboard players. Portland is known
as a music town, of all types of music - jazz, blues, rock, latin, folk, anything.
I feel extremely fortunate to be able to go to Portland just about any night of the
week and hear truly world class musicians, for a pittance of what they are worth.
Be assured that you will be hearing more of this part of my life as I blog on.
So, now I’m heading outside, but tonight I will spend a couple more hours practicing.
I’m currently working on the New Orleans classic ‘Big Chief’, and some slow blues.
It’s not quite easy yet, but it sure is fun, and when it does feel right, it’s worth
all the wrong notes, bad timing, and heavy hands it took to get to that sweet spot.
Jan. 15, 2009
So, it's been 2 years now since I've actively pursued this business venture. I took
the time off to reflect and try to reorganize priorities and decide how to proceed
in my life. Fast ? Yes, the time went too fast. It's hard to keep up. Like any vacation
( though I never considered this a ‘vacation’), at the beginning, the time seemed
to stretch far into the future, the days ahead deliciously empty and ready to be
filled with relaxation and adventure and learning. Yes, plenty of time.
And suddenly it's over. I did accomplish some of what I set out to do. Didn't even
get started on some. Got realistic and realized that I would never be able to do
some of the things in this lifetime that I would like to do. It's all about time,
isn't it? And having to come back to reality and knowing that I AM getting older
and that I really better get serious. Wanting to resist it, but knowing that resistance
makes it worse, as it just takes one out of the moment, and then the moment is missed,
and that is really what makes the time fly. I’m working on it. Actually, I seem to
be saying that about most things in my life these days. ‘I’m working on it’. It’s
the best I can do. But its been an interesting, somewhat enlightening, last couple
of years, and I will be pursuing these thoughts in writing here as the ‘time’ goes
by, but for now I just want to get this web page up and running. .