Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tell The Truth Tuesday -- My Compost and Shed Area

You may have noticed in last week's inaugural Tell The Truth Tuesday post, far in the background of one of the photos, there was an abundance of clutter in my compost area. In fact, the area all around my shed near the compost bins is a mess. Over the years this part of the garden has become a catch-all area, where crap tends to congregate. Until recently there were hundreds -- and I do mean hundreds -- of gallon pots here. I managed to sort through them -- kept some and tossed the rest in our recycle bin. I still have quite a few larger pots, which sometimes come in useful. The really big five-gallon pots contain compost ingredients that haven't made it into the bins yet, mainly because what's currently in the bins has aged and needs to be shoveled out and used.

What else is here? Plant supports of various kinds, planks, old pieces of driftwood and branches that I want to save, a dead tree that I plan to paint and use as a vine support...

I'm sure you get the picture.

In fact, here is a picture.

Coffee grounds

Bag of shredded paper

All kinds of stuff has accumulated around the back of the shed -- old sheets of clear plastic and hoops from when I had a hoophouse, old hoses, old pots, old racks, etc., all covered with Douglas fir litter.

And at the other corner in the front, we find the ubiquitous pile of rocks, mini pot ghetto and miscellaneous accoutrements. It's nothing like the so-called "She Shed" that appears everywhere on Pinterest, so meticulously decorated inside and out. Shall I open the doors and show you what's inside my shed?

Forget it. I'm not opening these doors. At least the shed is recently painted.

I also realized recently, after peering inside the compost bin for the first time in months, that the raccoons have been using it as a toilet.

Little piles of raccoon poop

The raccoon toilet problem had a not-too-arduous solution, of course. On one of our recent, very cold mornings, I went out with an empty grocery bag and spade, gloved up, and shoveled all the poop into the bag and tossed it into our trash. Fortunately, since the temperature was below freezing, the poop was still frozen and not too messy or dangerous to handle.

Not a pleasant task, but at least a relatively easy one.

And now, with the lid down, hopefully there isn't enough room for them to get in and do their nasty business.

How tidy is your compost area? Do you have a spot in your garden where stuff accumulates? What do you do with old pots? Do you have some ugliness worse than this to show us all?

Tell us your troubles in a post, if you feel up to confessing your sins, or simply in a comment if you prefer.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tell The Truth Tuesday

I want to start by thanking everyone for their encouraging comments on my last post about my struggles with the holidays, etc. I did appreciate everyone's thoughts and ideas and support. It helped to lift my spirits to know that I'm not alone in my disillusionment with the holidays and with social media.

Loree at Danger Garden suggested that I start a new meme about showing the ugliness in our gardens. I don't know who or how many will actually join me, but if you feel like it, feel free. I may only post once a month, I may post twice a month, or maybe every week (I have a lot of ugliness to show you). It's flexible too, if you want to post the next day or on Thursday, or whatever day you realize "Oh Hell, that area of my garden is getting me down."

I thought I'd call it Tell The Truth Tuesday -- an opportunity to "Tell It Like It Is." And if that expression doesn't mark me as a child of the 60s I don't know what will.

Tell It Like It Is

So, for my debut image, here is my other raised bed and its weedy burden.

Yes, those are ALL Canada thistles.  Four feet wide and 20 feet long.

Some of you may remember a few years ago when I dug out an area of my garden to get rid of this monstrous weed, sifting all the soil and carefully picking out every little piece of white root. I posted about that here. I managed to eradicate it from the garden proper, but when I had some left-over sifted soil that I thought was free of weeds, I dumped it at the far end of this raised bed. There must have been a little piece of root still in the soil, because soon Canada thistle popped up. But now busy with other projects in the garden, and figuring it was contained in the raised bed, I put the chore of digging it out on a back burner.

In three years, it has filled the entire raised bed. This horrifyingly embarrassing weed is just one reason I will NOT be hosting an NPA garden tour this year.

What do you think will shift it, now that I've ignored it for three years? Agent Orange? Napalm? If I don't do something, I fear it might explode the sides of the three foot tall concrete raised bed.

How about you? Do you have a horror as bad as this to show us?

Monday, November 26, 2018

In The Doldrums

You've probably noticed I haven't been posting much for the last couple of months. I'm doing fine, still gardening like a madwoman, just not much interested in sharing about it on my blog.

Do you know what The Doldrums are? Basically it's an equatorial region of the earth where a lack of wind causes sailing ships to make no progress.

That's been the state of my blog for a while.


I could write about what I've been doing in the garden, but because of the time of year, it doesn't really look like much yet. Plus, I've been in a foul mood.

So, bear with me while I veer off into a rant about a few things. If it bothers you, feel free to stop here. Go read (or reread) someone's uplifting post about what they're thankful for this year.

Social Networking

In many ways, social networking -- and blogging is a part of that -- has been a great way for introverts (I am one) to communicate with the world. But...



But social networking also sucks ass, in all kinds of ways.

Facebook, for example. I deactivated my Facebook account almost two years ago now and haven't missed it yet. I really should go back in and delete it completely, but I've forgotten my password, and I dread any interaction with them to try and get it back.

Read this. Why the fuck are you still on Facebook, putting money in Zuckerberg's pocket?

Then, there's that nagging feeling, every time I get on Instagram and check out the wonderful, curated images, that everyone except me has a perfect life and has the perfect garden and is having the most fun in the universe. The certainty that I'm the only flawed gardener out there with a garden full of dying plants, thriving weeds, and huge areas of bare, ugly soil is such a drag. Come on, Instagrammers! Someone post some ugly pics, so I can at least have a little shot of Schadenfreude.

By the way

I know




The Holidays

What can I say? I'm a bit of a Scrooge. The only authentic feeling the holidays elicit in me is a sense of mourning. I mourn the young woman I used to be who loved celebrating them, and who found meaning in them. Who searched and searched for just the right gifts for loved ones, or sometimes made them with her own hands. Who spent the holidays surrounded by family, and treasured family dishes and recipes. Now a darkness descends on me every fall when I sense the holidays approaching, which unfortunately happens earlier and earlier as the shops put their Christmas and Thanksgiving merchandise out in August. It's a marathon cooking slog, for a meal that is hard work to prepare, that requires shopping in grocery stores packed with people (shudder!), and takes less than 15 minutes to wolf down. On the one hand, it makes for a very nice, cozy, unstressed meal with just me and Nigel, and he is very appreciative of my work and he always compliments my cooking.

Everything Else

I was going to mention the news, the wildfires and climate change, and politics and the state of the country, my health and my increasing age, but maybe I'll just say "ugh." Every day the news is either depressing or alarming.

If you went to that link above about The Doldrums, it says

The word may be derived from dold, an archaic term meaning "stupid", and -rum(s), a noun suffix found in such words as "tantrum."

Anyway, I'm still here.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- November 2018

I've only lived in the PNW for about 10 years, so I don't have a lifetime of experience to draw on, but it seems to me that we've been having an unusually dry and un-stormy autumn. Bolstering my belief, the Seattle Weather Blog's Twitter feed claims the same, and that low rainfall Novembers correlate with low snowfall winters, so less rain is alright with me.

We only just had our first frost about a week ago, and it was a mild one, with the frost gone by mid-morning. We had a string of overnight frosts followed by not-so-cold, dry days, but before the frost I went around and captured some pictures of what was blooming. So this isn't technically what's blooming today, but last week. I guess that's close enough.

Mahonia x media 'Charity'

Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress'

A patch of Dahlia 'Black Beauty,' some blacker than others

I saved seeds from this, the darkest flower

Saxifraga fortunei 'Black Ruby'

Two last Dahlias in the cutting garden


Cyclamen hederifolium

Hardy Geranium x oxonianum 'Wargrave's Pink' amongst Columbine foliage


Pink Lupine

Calamagrostis brachytricha

Corydalis lutea

Corydalis lutea

Verbena bonariensis

Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts GBBD on the 15th of every month. Check out her post here.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- October 2018

Here's a record of what's blooming in my garden this October.

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' is covered in flowers, and often frequented by hummingbords

Most years it has both flowers and last year's strawberry-shaped fruit at the same time, but not this year

A handful of Calendulas are still hanging on, despite some very cold overnight temperatures, close to freezing

Helianthus and purple Aster

A couple of California poppies have rebloomed since our return of rain

Most of the Echinaceas are dried seedheads, but they have produced a few new blooms

Hardy Geranium 'Wargrave Pink' goes on all summer and into fall

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is mostly finished blooming, I think, sometimes it's hard to tell

This Japanese Anemone whose name I've lost has produced one bloom, it's in a terrible weed-infested spot where it gets neither enough sun nor enough water

The tuberous Begonias are still flowering, although the foliage doesn't look its best.

Dahlias are still flowering heavily too, although the rain we've had has beaten some of them down a bit. I'll have to try to remember to give them more support next year.

Dahlia 'Black Beauty'

'Black Beauty'

Dinner plate Dahlia

Leaning over (I won't show the ones that have planted their faces all the way down in the dirt)

Cyclamen hederifolium

Chocolate Eupatorium

Geranium 'Ann Folkard'

Corydalis lutea


Most of the oakleaf Hydrangea flowers have turned brown, but there are a couple of new white ones

I've lost track of the name of this pink Hydrangea still growing in a pot, I wonder if some day I'll get it in the ground

I was very late getting my Brugmansias out of the garage, and they only started flowering about two weeks ago, just in time to go back in

All the tender plants have made it into the greenhouse to be overwintered once again, and a few are flowering.
Begonia 'Little Brother Montgomery' stands in for all the other leafy Begonias, since all their flowers pretty much look the same

I realized when I moved my Hindu Rope Hoya into the greenhouse that it has been producing flower clusters for a while, since there were quite a few dried ones

Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the fifteenth of the month. Check out her post here.