The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels


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Spring!

Here are some pics from walks around town and the neighborhood the last week. I am so glad to see signs of spring.

These cherry blossoms smelled as lovely as they look.

Sweet little crocuses. I’d like to get a bunch in my garden this fall.

A neighbor’s early-blooming rhodie. 

Look at the leaf on this rhodie. I’m starting to note the variations in leaves more.

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A wash of wee leaves-

 

Almost Lilacs. This shrub was a giveaway we scored last summer. Someone noted it failing in their shady yard so they dug it up and set it at the end of their road.  It has white blooms.

Must be a willow. Love the catkins.


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August garden glimpses-The front yard.

Take a gander at our summer garden. Flowers are in full bloom. We are drowning in zucchini, lettuce, and happily munching broccoli and green onions.  There is promise of a bumper crop of raspberries and the second crop of strawberries are forming.  This spring, we dug up a huge portion of our yard and gleefully plugged in colorful perennials.

This year’s front window box is probably my all-time favorite.


Fuchsias love this shady spot and I’ve taken keen advantage of that in box and the foundation plantings.


Along the side of the house:

Cages still guard the fruit trees. I thought peach trees were ignored by deer. I was wrong. Nasty little buggers have been grazing on the leaves that line the sidewalk. The cages need to come off the apple trees for growth’s sake but I’m worried that they’ll be devoured. Anyone have any tips?

The Gravenstein apple tree survived a bout of bugs last year and has good looking fruit on it.


I have some favorite flower specimens including a new Dalia the size of a dinner plate.

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Climbing nasturtiums stretch with our families heirloom ‘tall yellow flowers’ in the background. We’re not sure what kind of flower they are. The original clump came from a great grandparents farm and has been divided and shared amongst my family.  I lugged mine home in a suitcase – it’s thriving!

Succulents – I’ve been tucking them into nooks and crannies in the front yard in a spot that takes a lot of hot, direct afternoon sun. They’ve spread like mad this year. The neighbor’s cat Butterscotch gets a cheek scritch from a hen that guards her chicks. He’s since moved. I miss his antics.

Dwarf sunflowers. These have me giggling with glee.


The next field trip I will take you into the backyard.


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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.