5.17.2017

The unexpected...

It rained and blew in town yesterday, but there was still plenty of blue sky, and the snowy mountains were spectacular. As we walked the streets, shopping and enjoying lunch at Deschutes Ale House, I couldn't help think about the parallels between weather and life. Living in the Northwest, that's a comparison you can draw nearly every day.

As we headed south toward the condo, another thing was clear: we were headed straight toward a wall of weather... snow. I couldn't stop smiling, because of all the other weather conditions we experienced today, only a good snowfall was missing.



The flakes were huge as we drove into Sunriver.












From the deck, I watched the snow fall through beams of sunshine. I'm used to rain and sun at the same time, it's common in the Northwest. But this was my first experience with snow and sun.

5.16.2017

The Sparrow...



I can never resist a cute historic building, no matter where (or when) I find one. We were having fun on the Bend Ale Trail, and between two breweries, there it was. A tiny old brick building, much patched and repaired, and re-purposed into the cutest bakery.


We ducked inside to check out the wares, and to get out of the wind and rain. We left with a loaf of artisan bread and a fruit tart and a couple of cookies for later. The tiny space in front of the counter was full of people waiting for lunch; the house-made soups and sandwiches looked great.


The Sparrow is on Scott Street, in the Old Iron Works Arts District. The bakery shares a beautiful courtyard with the Workhouse and the Cindercone Clay Center., also in restored brick buildings.

5.15.2017

Heading for Bend...

We came to Bend for a lot of reasons... time with friends, a last chance to see snow in the mountains, some geocaching, some golf (for our friends), and beer. Some of my favorite beers are made right here in Bend.

But at home in the condo, it's home-cooked food and good wine. We both raided our cellars for some special bottles to share. I'm pretty sure we brought way too much!

5.10.2017

In bloom...

When you consider how few days of sun we've had since spring began, and how few of those days I actually had time to sit in the dirt and pull weeds, I'm really pleased with how the yard is looking this year.


Right now, all the perennials are up, and so far, it's a study in green and purple (one of my favorite color combinations!) Only blue and purple flowers are in bloom right now: forget-me-nots, bluebells, lilacs, and hellebores. Next to bloom will be the iris (native purple with yellow beards), columbine, and the bright orange poppies, and then the day lilies, garden phlox, and peonies.



The big hanging fuchsia is a Mother's Day gift for my mother-in-law, but we get to enjoy it for a few days.



It always seems to rain buckets right after the lilacs burst into bloom. This year, it's rained buckets before, during, and after.



Please ignore the occasional dandelion that may appear in these photographs. The weeds (and the blackberries) grow faster than I can weed.



The patio borders are easy to weed, so I save them for last. The azaleas are just finishing and the hostas are up. In the next few days the rhododendrons will start to bloom, one right after the other through June and into July. The pink dogwood is blooming, and everything else is waiting for its turn: perennial bachelor's buttons, lady's mantle, orange poppies, peonies, day lilies, and veronica spicata.
There are pots of everything tucked into the gardens here and there, rescues from last year that need a permanent home.

The flowers are blooming in an odd cycle this year, after our cold and wet winter. Did you know that we measure weather in two six-month periods: October 1 through March 31, and April 1 through September 30? I didn't, until we broke the rainfall record for the second year in a row. Can you picture 44.7 inches of rain in just 7 months? Our weather is always big news around here.

Anyway, back to the garden. All that rain is the reason for the lushness of the perennials, and even though they all seem to be late bloomers in 2017, they're making up for lost time by growing into huge plants way ahead of schedule.

So I hope this little gardening diary will help me compare growth and bloom against the garden next year.

But if we head for a third year of record-breaking rainfall, all bets are off!

5.09.2017

Abandoned...

Occasionally we find a nest that's been abandoned, and it's always so sad. I wonder what made the adult birds leave their eggs. Were they scared away by a predator? Did they build too close to the road, and get spooked by cars?


One year, a bird built a nest in the Christmas wreath that hung beside the front door. Our coming in and out of the house eventually was too much for the bird, and it abandoned its eggs. I moved the wreath to the wall of the garage, and the next year, a bird built its nest there and raised two babies.

When we mow, we try and keep an eye out for nests in the grass, but they're hard to spot. If we do find one, we leave a large area of tall grass around it, to provide some protection.


Soon it will be time to mow the pastures, before the quail are ready to nest. Then we won't mow again until fall, so the quail (and the occasional pheasant) are safe until they're ready to fly.

5.06.2017

Remember...

I didn't plant them. But one spring day, I saw the first blush of blue in my garden. Just one or two small clumps at first, spreading year by year, until there's a carpet of forget-me-not's at the farm. I love their simple shape, their blue and pink color, their constancy and willingness to thrive.



It's not just on my little plot of ground that they thrive... everywhere I look, I see them. In yards, alongside the roads, and thick carpets of them lining the edge of my favorite trails.



My mother loved them, and loved any signs that nature was overtaking whatever man designed. So when I see the forget-me-not's growing on the side of a trail, I think of her.


5.03.2017

Greening...


These are the two constants of winter and early spring in the Northwest. Rain, and fog, and often, snow. And all that water brings endless green. Moss and lichen and evergreen trees are constant reminders of our temperate climate. But in spring comes the reawakening: the bright green of new leaves and the greening of the grass, and the hillsides turn green again.

And did I mention the moss?

5.01.2017

In bloom...

The lilacs were there when we bought our little farm. Four bushes, ten feet high, spaced out along the fence between the young orchard and the paddock that enclosed the chicken coop. The trunks were sturdy, and so big I couldn't wrap my hands around them. I still remember that first spring at the farm, when the lilacs bloomed. I cut armloads to bring inside, and put a vase in each room in the house, even the laundry room.


For years the lilacs bloomed without fail, then a couple of especially hard winters took their toll. Branches broke under the weight of ice, and one shrub was killed. To save the remaining lilacs, we decided to cut them back and hope that new plants would eventually grow up to replace them. It took a few years, but they're back, lush and green and bursting with buds. In just a few days, I'll be able to cut blooms to bring inside, to fill the rooms with the sweet smell of spring.



Lilacs aren't the first thing to bloom here, but I think they're the flowers I look forward to the most. I love the fragrance, the gorgeous color of the buds, the sheer presence of their color next to an orchard in full bloom. But I especially love that these lilacs have been here just as long as my old farmhouse.


4.30.2017

Red barns...

Jacob Rego settled in the Kittitas valley in 1912 with his wife and parents, and raised Durham cattle and hay. He built the barn that first year to shelter his cattle and store hay. Hand-hewn timbers, round pegs, and square nails form the foundation of this beautiful red barn, which today shelters miniature donkeys on the ground floor. The upper floor is a recreation room for the Gibson family, the current owners of the farm.



The patriotic barn quilt was painted by the women of the Gibson family.


Shared today on The Barn Collective.

4.26.2017

Along the Cedar...

In between rain showers, we walked along the river near Landsburg. There are amazing things in the woods, if you take your time and look, really look. Like the shapes hidden in the green.




Faint stripes in the trillium petals, the first one I've seen this year.



An Oregon wood snail, crawling across the tree roots.




And really big cat tracks in the mud.