The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels


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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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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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A Summer’s Garden-Winding Down

In June I shared my delight at having a fledgling garden.  The summer’s raced away from me and I did not share its fruits with you.

I fretted over  it not being large enough.  Pete kindly turned over more soil.  It was too large!  I really has a hard time staying on top of it (esp. when Pete was away from work.)  Regardless, a blast was had in the garden.  It was an experiment, being so long since I’ve tended plants tucked into the ground and not in pots.  Coming home from work, I’d stay out until dark, a rumbling belly reminding me to eat well after 9 PM.

I was organizing some pics tonight. Ones of the garden perked me up.  Thought I’d share.

The initial waiting was an exercise in patience. Eventually,  plants seemed to shoot up from nowhere.

 

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Greens came out of our ears.

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It got hot in July/August and things really got bushy.

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I made several jars of Dilly Beans with my first harvest.

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The onions, though not huge, I’m still harvesting.  With a strong scent, I tear up when cutting them. Maybe I’ll try roasting them?

 

 

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Something nipped off the very first squash blossoms inside the fence.  Later, in September, I forgot to Liquid Fence respray the squash and other flowers out of the fencing. The great Massacre happened one night, most blossoms nibbled off the squash (why, oh why did I start so many seeds?), the Jerusalem Artichoke buds, and most of my annual planters.  Grrrrr…

 

 

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Still harvesting potatoes.  A deficiency of some sort left scabs on the skins. I cut them off.  It’s been fun heading out and pulling up just what I need when I need them.

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The peas I did not pick frequently enough. Thus, the harvest was not as large as could be.  Still…snaps  and the snow peas were a treat I grazed on while working out there.

 

 

 

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Those hollyhocks on the right are now almost taller than I.

 

 

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I am a sucker for nasturtiums.  The remind me of Golden Gate Park in SF, growing like mad there.  There, I kept them in pots on my deck.   Planted from seed, the garden filled in quite nicely in all colors.  I saved some seed for next year.

 

 

 

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Sure, the tomatoes were meh, but man did I have nasturtiums! I showed a few people they are edible, enjoying their expressions at their first tentative nibble.

 

 

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This area is not known for prolific tomatoes.  I put mine in a spot that had more shade than I figured.  Excessive greens branched out.  I kept pinching back. A small harvest we enjoyed.  Next year I’ll plant them in pots and keep next to the house where the heat reflects off.  I’ve noted the varieties that did best.

 

 

 

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Now, the garden looks sad.  We’re still harvesting yellow squash (crookneck and pattypan), herbs, onions, potatoes, and hoping more green tomatoes will ripen.  It’s getting cooler, things are winding down.  Folks garden year-round, here, with the help of greenhouses and such.  I foresee tending smaller raised beds next summer.   The soil at my new home (more on that later) is poor and will need much work.

Until then, happy thoughts of working in this garden brighten our thoughts.


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Spring Yard Flowers

Delayed but oh-so-pretty pics for your enjoyment—–

Spring turned my yard into a scented paradise with flora both new to me and familiar from past times.

The garden’s looking awfully pretty.   It’s raining now.  Pics to come later.

 

Two varieties of lilac perfumed the yard.  I’d come home from work at night and walk into a wall of scent.  I kept the house full of bouquets while I could.  Lilacs I associate with growing up in MN – esp. my maternal grandma’s yard.

 

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Roses, on a huge bush (dwarfs my car, can it really be called a bush?) probably planted in the thirties when the house was put up.   The neighbor labeled it as BELLE of PORTUGAL in variety.  I could not pass without stopping for a sniff.  Oh they are lovely and thankfully not finished for the year.   A few buds linger, promising more.

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Rhododendrons dot the yard.  This red one is huge.

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A quince, tangled up in Himalayan Blackberry canes, sits behind the shed.  This yard has plenty of established flora.  Much love is needed to make up for several years of renters’ neglect.

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The mysterious flowering tree was identified by my landlord as a pear tree.  The blooms were beautiful.  I’ve noted apples on local trees.  Already!  Today I’ll check for wee pear fruits.

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One huge cherry tree now has fruit.  The birds are having a hay-day. Yesterday I watched with amusement as a chipmunk worked  away at a cherry.

Look up into the blooms:

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They smelled fantastic.

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Other long-term flora greeted me this summer including:  thimbleberries, foxglove, creeping buttercup, English Daisies and Poppies.  What a treat to potter about and tend a real yard. It’s been years.  The work is therapeutic.