Saturday, October 22, 2011

Viadoom Dreariness

The rain is pitter pattering outside my windowMy plan was to go walk on the viaduct and take photos from that venerable mid-century highway construction which has contributed to so many breathtaking views of Seattle's waterfront and the distant Olympics. I am waffling, it is pouring now. Demolition started last night. I will miss it but unlike many, it won't put a crimp in my commute.  My world is West Seattle. 

Fall changes are more rapid now. Here are some shots of the backyard, taken yesterday:

 This is a tree that grew as a 'sucker' from a dead tree we had cut down YEARS ago. A neighbor who has since passed away, called it a California Palm. It has thorns on it's trunk and on the underside of the palm-like leaves. The wood is rather soft, almost mealy. At one point, the tree that preceded this one, had a chickadee nesting in a cavity in the trunk. It was fun to watch as it was so close to our deck. Right now, this young tree does it's job of adding shade to my fern garden.   

 The blush of orange over yellow reminds me of peaches.

 The sumac is eye catching and it is complimented by the yellow of the mid-winter fire dogwood. It looks so good you would think I planned it that way! (;

P.S. I did end up going on the viaduct walk! My photos can be seen on my Flickr account. Click here It felt good to be part of Seattle's history.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Brilliance

It may take until noon for the sun to burn away the fog but when it does, everything just 'pops' against the blue fall skies. 

Japanese Toad Lily

Autumn Full Moon Maple

Hydrangeas age so gracefully; changing in 
color, each shade more beautiful than the last.

 Fuzzy plumes of cimicifuga lean over the shady path and wave in the slightest breeze.

Knobby seed pods of abutilon replace the yellow flowers of September.

Hardy Fushias beckon to the hummingbirds.

Dainty Japanese Anemones (aka Windflowers) flutter like nervous ballerinas in the corner of the yard.

I thought I lost this 'Joseph's Coat' climbing rose last winter.  Now it is starting to bloom!

The tomato plants are pulled and green tomatoes are in the garden window or wrapped in newspaper to ripen. We ate one squash stuffed with sausage and rice; delicious! The  garden 'to do' list is long every fall. If I just make it my goal to fill the yard waste container every weekend between now and the New Year, I'm doing fine. Coming in November: my chrysanthemums should be blooming!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Summer Wanes

September started with a heat wave. Really, how absurd; after a non-existent summer we start the school year sweating bullets. Labor Day Weekend and THE GIRL is back!  Well at least closer; in Walla Walla, not Bangkok. What better excuse to visit wineries?  Here you see our souvenirs. the magnum will be our Christmas wine.

And a trip to Walla Walla also includes a purchase of fresh fruit. Nectarines. Some we dry, some we freeze. Oh so sweet!

Surprisingly enough, the plants in our own garden yielded enough tomatoes and chilis (they continue to ripen) to make 8 pints of salsa to freeze.

The late summer heat has left the ground parched and dry. The sumac should be beautiful by the end of the month. There are many cones of fuzzy berries above the green leaves.

It surprises me how the shady path recedes from my line of vision at this time of year and the zinnias and dogwood in the upper rockery catch my eye.

The chrysanthemum have yet to bloom; the colorful zinnias are center  stage. The sunflowers have not  stood as tall and prominent as most years. This one does look pretty as it bows down; this morning's raindrops decorating both the petals and leaves. 

Blueberry picking was a disappointment this year but blackberries are another story.  I picked enough today for three pies. I think I timed it right. Along with the start of rain will come mold and more spiders spinning their webs amongst the brambles.  Fall is only days away.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Find Sun In Unexpected Places

Mid August and I saw the first colorful leaf from the Venus dogwood in my front yard:

In spite of the cool summer I am starting to get Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and my salad size tomatoes just might give me a decent crop. I have my doubts about the beans, though. The blossoms are not even open. Pumpkins and squash will be small but quite perfect for a family of two. Peppers are so so. They are not as plentiful as last year. The basil in pots will give me some batches of pesto but the plants in the garden; probably not.

I adore the double petaled lily that is in a pot on my deck. But then, any and every lily is adorable and intoxicating.

The container plants on my front porch are very healthy. The purple Wandering Jew is beginning to sport pink flowers. I will take cuttings inside to start all over again next year.

I have purchased white astilbe at a 2 for 1 sale at the Nursery at Mt. Si. They are already planted along the 'shady path' as I had planned in my last post.

The rumor is that contractors will be building a 3000+ square ft. home on the lot to the east of our lower yard. That of course will mean lots of gardening adjustments as they will cut down all the trees. The less ambient, more persistent shade of a house will be new for me. Good thing I know my shade plants. But then again, I may find sun in unexpected places. I think that is a good motto when facing change: "Find sun in unexpected places."

On a personal front there are changes too. Our daughter is coming home from Bangkok in 4 short days and she will be working MUCH closer to home. Four hours of car travel as opposed to 18+ on airplanes. Another plus; she will be living in Washington's wine country.

On the work horizon I have some minor changes too. We start later; at 9:35, eat lunch later, have an afternoon recess, dismiss later, and my prep time is in the afternoon. Of course as with every year there are new students and families. I have written names on name tags, supply baskets, homework folders, and on the birthday chart. You could give me a spelling test on their first names and I bet I would pass. Isabel, in three different spellings, is the 'name of the year'. There are 3 incoming kindergarten girls with this name. I hope one of them likes "Belle".

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Not All Roses

While many plants refused to grow in our cool wet July weather weather, the roses didn't seem to mind. I was surprised that even the foliage looks pretty this year; no black spot or mildew.

The shady path is magnificent. I love, love, love these white astilbe and plan to plant more on the opposite side of the path to balance the view of the path from the deck.

Most of the hydrangeas are lacking blooms and it was actually 'touch and go' as to whether or not some of them survived the winter. But these two guardians of the gate are as lavish in bloom as ever. The climbing one smells SO good on a sunny day.

Of course my fern garden is flourishing in this cool July. I visited Lakewold Gardens, south of Tacoma and got some good ideas for adding to this area; possibly a moss covered rock or log.

Planting these Orienpet lilies in the pots at the top of the rockery steps was a capital idea. When there is a slight breeze I can smell their spicy, green apple scent from our deck. Just in case you think my gardens are all pretty and weed free, I had to post pictures of one of my 'work in progress' areas;

This is Bishop's Weed, also known as Goutweed. It is in a border that is not readily visible from our deck. I did like the way it lightened this corner of the lot but it has overreached it's boundaries and is now an unwelcome guest. Go here to read an amusing and honest gardener give her opinion of Bishop's Weed.

This is some recently recovered area and I will watch it like a hawk for the return of the Bishop's Weed. I know this will be an uphill battle.

As For the Vegetables....

Nothing is as lush or abundant as it should be. At this time last year the beans were up to the deck. This year they are no more than a foot tall. Of course I had to start them twice as the first batch were cleanly nipped off by slugs or snails.

Itsy bitsy pumpkins; good thing I do not need them to make Jack o' Lanterns!

The chard was better than usual; sweet and slow to bolt.

Even in the vegetable world, blossoms are captivating.

A fair amount of tomatoes on each of my 4 bushes, but the million dollar question is: "Will they ripen?"

Peppers do best in pots for me. I started them from seed in April and in spite of the cool weather, I feel rewarded. I am not sure just how hot or what type this is; banana peppers, maybe? I bought a packet of mixed seed.

Now these plump peppers are an Italian heirloom pepper given to me by my neighbor and friend, Erin. I will save the seeds and plant more next spring. Aren't they cute? they bring to mind a childhood memory; when I was a kid our family would sometimes go to a supper club for dinner. The one I remember best is Shaffer Park Supper Club in Crivitz, WI. Our family of seven would be camping for a week or more at Sandstone Campground, a family place for employees of Wisc. Public Service and it was a VERY big deal to shower, dress up, and take the boat down the Peshtigo River, or go by car, to Shaffers for a chicken dinner. Taking the boat was definitely more unique and exciting. Waiting for that chicken dinner could be L-O-N-G, especially if you were a kid. The relish tray and bread sticks (Grissini; but what did I know then?!) needed replenishing at least once. Now let me get back to those peppers. On the relish tray were these wonderfully juicy and salty and not too spicy peppers. They looked exactly like the ones growing on my pepper plants. Maybe it is time for me to dust off my canning jars.

Sunday, July 03, 2011


My birthday, July 2nd is halfway to the new year. Yes, 182.5 days before Jan.1 and 182.5 days after. It always reminds me that I can choose to look at life with a half empty or half full philosophy and half full is what I strive for. This July 2nd was lovely and warm with blue skies and a breeze. I took no pictures in Paulsbo where I sat on the patio of Paulsbohemian Coffee shop in a funky wooden deck chair and read my book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. When I wasn't absorbed in the mystery I could look up and see sailboats skimming across the water and hear the cling clang of the ropes against the masts of the boats in the marina below the coffee shop. Chris hung his paintings inside the shop. I think I had the better end of the deal; a book in hand and sunshine on my knees. Then on we went to Port Townsend and I resisted taking yet more photos of the Victorian houses., I had done that enough on my last visit in 2009. But I did go on the gallery walk in town. The blue skies turned to gray and the pleasant breeze became a chilly wind in the late afternoon. July 3rd the gray skies were back and I was glad I had my jacket when we walked through Chetzemoka Park. The poem at the end of this post was on a sign in the park. The last stanza of the poem is my favorite. It explains the reason why the Gunnera that I am standing in front of is so immense. You almost expect a dinosaur to come galumphing from behind the leaves!

This is a trellis that supports about 4 different colors of climbing roses.

This section of the landscaping was a gift from Vancouver, BC, Canada.

A lot of rain makes for ENORMOUS leaves on this Gunnera.

Gazebos as big as this always make me think of the Sound of Music.

Wonderful views!

Mary Lou Sanelli

July Morning, Chetzemoka Park

I like to sit in the swing, the one closest to the sandbox
where toddlers play, their mothers sitting on the rim
chatting up preschools, the latest movie at The Rose.
As morning strolls toward noon, one will brush the sand
off her child and the others will follow suit.
I love the oneness I feel with this park,
though, today, a woman walks by and throws me
a glance that shoots a blunt arrow into my calm.
It is appropriate to say I am cut
from her life but that’s another small-town poem

If I have a day without duties, I like to lie on my back
looking up at a maze of clouds that give shape
to a puffy clan of faces I try to name.
One looks like my Uncle Pete
the morning after a poker game.
This is when I find myself
overcome by happiness, when an afternoon
stretches out before me empty as sky. When rocking
in a wooden swing and watching the crows
is more than enough work for one day.
By the gazebo, a friend mows the lawn
and waves to me because when I think of it
we’ve known each other a decade now
plus a few years.

This park, beach-bound and camouflaged
in cedar wraps me in its arms and laughs.
In this state of mind I resist all I know
of fall, winter, persistent parts of spring.
When sunless skies define what is real, I remind myself,
when you live in a luxury of water. Of rivers, rain,
lakes and sea. Where, if a city park could speak
it would say, Girl, rain is the very reason
I am as ravishing as this.