The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels


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Evening In the Garden-Spring Rejuvination

Gardening season has finally arrived though the sun’s warmth still lags a few weeks behind. Nonetheless, I’ve been rejuvenated by getting earth on my hands, the chorus of encouragement from the birds and satisfaction of falling into bed at night tired and sore in muscle groups I forgot I had.

This has been a huge spring in the yard. Recall we bought our home 2 1/2 years ago as a blank slate with nary a plant in the yard.  This spring’s been a blast, with 9 new trees planted, the entire east side of the home dug up and ripe for planting and the woodland in the backyard’s bones further laid out by Pete’s love for digging and moving dirt about.

The light was positively lovely the other evening. I stepped out and snapped a few pic for you:

A Black Tulip Magnolia now graces the backyard. Her rich, purple flowers are divinely scented:

The raised beds are plump with winter greens.

Living in a Zone 8 climate is a privilege. Hearty pansies overwinter and added color during the dark winter days. Pansies and violas are one of my fave flowers.

Unfortunately, slugs share an affection for them as well.  My strategy is to plant TONS so we can both enjoy them.

Kale and parsley:

Our little Orcas pear tree is strong and really budding out this spring.

Wee pea sprouts. I remembered to cover with anti-bird netting this year. Last year I forgot and later realized the lack of sprouts indicated I was feeding the critters. A learning process this gardening thing is.  I’ll remove the netting today.

Hardy fuchsias overwinter here.  Hooray!  Up comes Delta’s Sarah.  By the way, a list from the Northwest Fuschia Society is essential reading if you are interested.

Honeysuckle makes an entrance. This pink variety I planed a couple of summers ago. It’s been slow to gain size.  Might warrant a move if that is the case again this year. I also need to be sure I am pruning it correctly.

The tangled mass of swampy brambles is transforming to our vision of a woodland garden. We added in a clump of birch, a vine and a japanese maple and a weeping birch this spring. The native willows have lovely leaves and provide pretty shade and screening but these trees are very short-lived. Deciding what to plan to fill in and replace them, eventually, is on our mind. Bushy stuff will also be planted along the back fence to help with screening, hiding the ugly fence and to replace critter habitat.

I etched in a new corner for shade-loving plants, a new forsythia, an old fashioned rose, and the Japanese maple.  See the wee-red leaflets starting to appear on the maple?

Fresh, pale green leaflets on the new weeping birch:

“Maggie” the Magnolia has lost her blooms. Leaves start to fill in.

Our raspberries promise great yields this year.

Seed flats of nasturtium, sunflowers (learned that lesson last summer when the birds ate all my direct sowed seeds), kale, and calendula.

A flowering quince was on my bucket list. This is the Storm Pink variety. It’s thornless, should stay under 5′ and has the loveliest pink blossoms. It’s destined for the front yard between the new Japanese Stewartia Tree and in front of the foil of a  hinoki cypress .

Forget me nots. Is there anything more cheery?

New fuchsias wait for a home in a shady spot.

It’s going to be a delightful gardening season. I’m looking forward to sharing more with you.


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Nasturtiums. And others.

Some simple snapshots of flowers and a token veggie from the garden:


A dahlia the size of a dinner plate.

Delicata squash

I have a thing for nasturtiums. I can’t get enough of them. This year I loaded up on nasturtium seed packets. My trip to California in March took me to the Petaluma seed bank. They carry Baker seed company seeds. I purchased a catalog. It’s an idea book for seeds to order for next year.

These little guys have the prettiest patches of melon orange.

I imagine many will self see for next year. Still…I’ll surely look for more varieties.


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Garden Update

Happy Friday all. I’m procrastinating starting my work day.  It’s raining, remains of a thunder and lightning show last night. Once familiar in past locale’s, those are rare in Port Townsend, WA.  We stood on the porch with neighbors and watched it approach, heard its rumblings and watched the light show. Rain’s needed.

Realizing I’ve yet to share garden pics with you I’ve collected some.

The front yard, yet to be landscaped, perked up with perennials and annuals I tucked into place.

The window boxes are filling in. It was fun working with the colors available at the time I eagerly planted them.

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Violas, which did great last summer failed this year so I just replanted the ones on the side of the house. The annual supply around here, at this time of the year, isn’t great.

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Fuchsias. I’ve grown to love them. They live in the front boxes:

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“Lena” is back on the porch:

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The “Army Nurse” that didn’t overwinter successfully was replaced by another I potted up.  It’s  auditioning for a home in the ground.

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A mystery variety that overwintered in the garage was planted next to the arbor. It thrives.

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I just love that hardy varieties overwinter here and will grow to massive proportions if desired.

One rainy, cool, very early spring I noted an evening light and rainbow that was fetching. The garden was just waking up.   See the wooden frame in the back corner?  That will become a chicken coop for next spring.

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I added a new raised bed framed with rocks to the backyard. It’s planted with sunflowers, milk weed, tall Echinacea, dwarf bee balm and some annuals.

Are you familiar with borage? It’s so pretty, an iridescent blue. Apparently it’s edible.  It grows like a weed.

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All the lettuce is done.  The greens are getting tough and will soon be pulled.
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This bed now homes mostly flowers and the garlic rings it.

One AM, a huge slug munched on leaves from the pea plants.  I let it be, observing it,  as it stuck to one spot.

The little Orca pear has three fruits on it and is gaining girth well.

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I planted my first ever strawberry plants—for the birds’ enjoyment.  Need to net them next year.

The Frost Peach has a few fruits on it. Unfortunately, it has leaf curl, which I read can be treated when dormant in Feb.  It’s a gamble planting this here but I thought we’d give it a go.

The apples are gaining girth and height quickly, but barely fruiting. There’s am insect targeting them I haven’t been able to identify.

Last year’s honeysuckle and clematis boomed:

The learning process continues.  I enjoy my times out there pottering, weeding, and just throwing down a blanket and reading.


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The Egg and I Fuschias – An Annual Pilgrimage

My friend Stephanie and her husband Doyle have a delightful farm, Egg and I Gardens,  in Chimacum, WA on  Egg and I Road between Beaver and Center Valley.  This road’s named after the book author Betty MadDonald penned.  A piece of local history, I just picked up a copy of the namesake book and dove in.

Published in 1945, the book is a humorous memoir about Betty’s adventuresome travels and about being a a newlywed wife on a chicken farm here in Chimacum.

Pete and I made our annual pilgrimage to Stephanie and Doyle’s to select a hanging fuschia basket from their greenhouse. They specialize in fuchsias.

Things are just starting to bloom in there. Last year I went a bit later into May and there were more lush blooms to coo over.  Regardless,  it was beautiful in there, and Stephanie predicts they will sell out in a couple weeks.

Look at these beauties:

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Fuchsias are a new-found love. My grandma always had a Mothers Day gift basket on her clothesline pole. The masses of dripping, bright pink flowers mesmerized me.  Here in WA, hardy varieties grow as shrubs. Less hardy ones can be brought into a garage or greenhouse for the winter.

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Hanging baskets of single and multiple varieties are just starting to pop.

 

Starts, very well priced, come in small and larger pots.

Handy photo cards, with the hardiness rating, make selection easier. They’re all so beautiful! I have a hard time choosing.
  

We brought home a basket full of promise  containing two varieties of fuchsia and a purple, trailing annual.  I forget it’s name.

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Last year’s hanging basket I named Lena, after its namesake flower.  Here she is one month after purchased:

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Lena made it through the winter in the garage but I forgot to pinch its new sprouts to keep them from being impossibly leggy and frail. Oops.  Lesson learned.  I picked up more lena starts and planted a new pot.

The farm is a beautiful spot, promoting dreams of animal husbandry and gardening.

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They sell Tamworth pork which we loaded up on.   We took a stroll to visit the pigs.

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A-dorable.

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Tamworth are a rare, old world breed known to be good moms, friendly, and flavorful.  I can vouch for the flavor part.  These guys are fed non-GMO grains sourced from a farm 22 miles away, whey, sprouted barley, hay, garden scraps and forage.  They are pampered. No mass farming with cruel conditions.

Clover and Buttercup, the donkeys, said hi as we fed them some sprouted grain:

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It’s always good to stop in. I recommend a visit if you are in the area or visiting.

 


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The Garden Stirs

Spring is springing early this year up in the Pacific Northwest. The days are getting longer. Cherryblossom brave the chilly nights and bulbs faithfully push through the soil.

I’ve got the gardening itch. I tended herbs, some winter greens and some very hearty potted pansies through our mild winter. The other afternoon, despite nursing a cold, I spent some time in back tidying the beds and making some plans in my mind.

The crocus are just lovely. Next year I will plant enough to line the Woodland portion of the yard.

Wee irises.

One lesson I learned to last year was to plant winter greens early. By the time I thought of it, I planted them in October. Poor little guys made it through the winter but did not take off much in size until a couple weeks ago. The hoop frames and plastic sheeting seem to be helping.

Mustard greens. Yum!   

These lacinato kale seedlings hung tight through the winter and are just now starting to grow.

Garlic, planted in October I think, are sending up shoots.  I’m very excited to see how they turn out.

I used to buy  miners lettuce from a grower in West Marin. When I spotted a packet of seed at the co-op, I excitedly planted it at home. The plants look different from the variety I was familiar with. Regardless, it taste great. But holy cow does it spread.  It needs a lot of thinning. Good thing I like the taste of it because we sure have a lot of it.

Whoever calls a person a pansy as an insult doesn’t know what they’re talking about. These plants are so hearty. This guy survived frost several times this winter with no problems. I can see some self-seeded plants popping up.   

The forsythia plant has a few promising yellow buds. I just love this plant and can’t wait for it to grow and mature. Someday, I will likely curse it’s prolific growing habits.

Honeysuckle leaves. Another trooper.  

And I can’t wait for the rhododendrons to bloom. This one has beautiful purple blossoms.

Our big plans for the garden this year include Peter building a magnificent garden shed in the back, adding much-needed drainage around the house using French drains and gravel, and working on building up the contours and shape of the water-course  way in the back. We’re now researching what trees to plant back there to replace the willows that will eventually need to be removed.

It’s hard for me to keep  my enthusiasm (and project list) at a reasonable volume.


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Jefferson County Farm Tour 2015- Part One

How about some summer-y farm and garden and fiber photos to brighten up your winter?

September  brought the annual Jefferson Farm Tour. A dear friend was visiting, such great timing.  Using their handy map I plotted out a day’s excursion for us culminating in a short walk through Fort Flagler.

First stop was Ona True Farm run by Max and Chris, two Wisconsin transplants. Their tour included a Max guided walk where he explained his forward-thinking approach to farming, especially water conservation techniques.

A favorite site of mine was the garlic drying loft. I load up on their garlic at the farmers market (on hiatus until March.)  We planted some of his cloves.

A blurred pic. Sorry!

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Quinoa has a new presence on the Peninsula.  Here the gals show a way to winnow away dirt and debris from the seeds.  I found a link to information on the plants history, how to grow it and prepare it once harvested.

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Max and Chris have a hoop house of ginger. Bringing this home from them is always a treat.  It flavored some of my peach jam this summer. A few slices in hot water is tasty.

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Next stop was Amity Farm, a pretty little farm, out on Discovery Road.  The barn’s built from the trees cleared off the land.  They have sheep, angora rabbits, chickens and alpaca.

And a sheep watch-dog that bonded with Pete.

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There were spinning demos.  I don’t spin. I haven’t fallen down that rabbit hole.

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Speaking of rabbits, here’s an angora.  Yes, it really is as soft as it looks.

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Under multiple canopies, Amity hosts several spinners and hand-dyers.

Eye candy:

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My LYS Bazaar Girls carries Local Color Fiber Studio yarns. I’ve yet to knit with it. (This is the year of wading through stash…I mean it!)

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I wanted to climb up on the table and stretch out.

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See the sheep’s name and photo? That I get a kick out of.

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Look at that face!

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Next leg of the trip took us over to Marrowstone Island to tour a unique farm.  More on that later-


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Updates-Knitting, Soup and Hoops

Time for a mish-mash of catchup 

Home ill from work the last week, I was ill enough I couldn’t knit for several of those days (yah that sick…)

However, things are looking pretty good this year as far as the handmade gift checklist goes.

I give this phenomenon credit to:

  1. Several knitted gift ideas were switched to quilted gift projects which made the time frame MUCH more realistic.
  2. I wrangled the handmade gift list down to a realistic length and simplified some of the projects. For example, that lap quilt in flannel is just not reasonable, but a runner and napkins are.

I have sweater fever.  It’s cold out and all I want to do is make soup and snuggle under quilts while knitting or bundle up in down and walk in the trees.  Winter arrived with rain storms but clear, sunny days punctuate and they are divine. There are several SQ’s of yarn in my stash begging to be let out. After a partial day of sorting and mumbling and swatching I started a sweater project as a reward of sorts for having my last hand knit gift half-way completed.

This is The Lake Breeze Cardigan by Amanda Woeger.  You can find the pattern on Ravelry as well. It has all I’m looking for at the moment including:  Top down raglan shaping, cabled details on the back, minimal finishing.  The button band is knit as you go.  The fronts are plain stockinette so I think I’ll play with adding vertical bust shaping.

 

The yarn? Socks that Rock Heavyweight in True Blood Red.  I scored if from a destashing Raveler for a steal.  This yarn is so rich in color.  It’s tight twist makes it sturdy. The cables pop.  I’m playing yarn chicken, however, as I only have 100 yards over what the pattern calls for.  Since I often lengthen sleeves I have my fingers crossed.

What you see above is the collar looking down the body. There are short rows that help shape the neckline. I learned a new short row technique called Shadow Wraps or Twin Stitch.  Brilliant!  They’re invisible and don’t require picking up wraps.

This is the tutorial I used to better understand Amanda’s directions on paper.  I do much better visually:

Now blocking, a Christmas stocking I made for my niece Lily awaits a lining and a few embroidery stitches to finish up.  I made the mistake of not spinning this in my washer before laying it out.  It’s taking forever to dry.

Other ramblings –

Here’s our Canadian Hemlock living Christmas tree. Our back yard needs trees so we found this guy at a local nursery and gave it a special spot in the home, our first Christmas tree.  He’ll be planted after the holidays.  Jane’s leaving it alone. Hooray!

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Speaking of Jane, I discovered a cat nip spray that’s been really fun. She ignores the dried herb version.  One spritz on a toy or her scratching post and look out! She morphs into a playful thing.  Here, post catnip binge, I think she was drooling.

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Other rambles-

Speaking of wintery soups-below’s a concoction of carrots, butternut squash, mandarins and their zest, and plenty of fresh, grated ginger.  Puree with a submersible blender, add some curry and other spices and you get soup that warms you to your toes. I keep this in the freezer almost all of the time in single portion containers.  It’s helped get me through this week of cold-induced-misery.

A glimpse into the neglected garden-

A photo of the beautiful hoop frames Pete made. They’ll have plastic sheeting affixed. I’ve been too ill to be out in the cold wind to do this. But today…I can. Here’s a gardener’s lesson – I planted my winter greens starts too late. The chard and spinach in the closest bed are wee and not growing much.  Maybe the covers will help? Next year, I know to plan and start earlier.

And lastly, I just have to share this stroke of good luck with you. A road improvement project behind our home involved the construction dudes taking out a stone retaining wall.  Needing landscaping rocks, and turned off by the cost and, frankly, from paying for rocks, I eyeballed this wall of potential. After speaking with one of the fellas, he showed up the next day and asked, “Where would you like your rocks?”

Sweeeet!

Just had to take a video of them unloading a pile in the front yard.  I can’t wait to put them to good use.

I hope you are staying warm and cozy!