A field of weeds...

Even weeds are beautiful, in the right place, in the right light.


Cottage garden

In the late spring, I always know when there's going to be a change in the weather. We get a week of brilliant sunshine and the peony buds swell before my eyes. I count the buds, and the anticipation is almost more than I can stand.

And just as those gorgeous flower heads grow heavy and start to open up, the weather changes. The warm, sunny days turn cloudy, and a big storm blows in from the coast, and it rains. It pours down rain. And it always has, as long as I've had peonies in the garden.

The rain collects in those gorgeous flower heads, and they slowly sink to the ground. I shake them off, and stake the plants, but usually I just start cutting them and bringing them inside to dry off and finish opening up.

A lot of my favorite perennials come into bloom with the peonies: bluebells, white and blue speedwell, purple iris and columbine. I stuff vases with flowers and sprigs of lemon balm, and the scent fills the house.

My oldest peonies are more than 20 years old, and each year they produce more and more buds. Fairy's Petticoat grows in a border by the patio. It's a beautiful pale pink with extravant fragrance, with huge blooms that slowly turn white. Nick Shaylor grows in a corner by the garage, where I pass by every day. Its pink blooms start out with red edges, then slowly fade to a soft pink. It has 34 buds on it this year, a new record.

I love everything about peonies. The wonderful fragrance. The way they open slowly, from tight little buds an inch across, into huge, extravagant blooms.

Kansas was a slow starter; it had one or two blooms for years, until we had to take out a huge fir tree that shaded the garden for much of the day. The next year, it had six blooms, and this year there are more than a dozen. I love the bright carmine red of this peony.

This is my favorite part of the cottage garden, which has been neglected so far this year. But the foxglove and the speedwell and the iris are in bloom, the bright orange poppies will bloom for another month, and there's still a carpet of forget-me-not's. (And if you look closely, you'll see a couple of stray blackberry vines; every time I cut them out, they're back within a week. I swear!)

My only failure is a peony that I planted into a big pot, and it has never bloomed. They hate to be transplanted, but I think this one needs to go into the garden. And maybe then it will bloom.


Yellow and blue...

I found a patch of forget-me-not's in a shady corner, where the buttercups have threatened to take over. It seems as though whenever I find time to work in the yard, it rains. And as much as I love being a Northwest girl, gardening in the rain just isn't something I'm willing to do.

I thought this would be the year I'd bring the gardens back into shape. It's been years since I've added any new plants, and I'd really like to do that. But getting things established means being close to home, especially in the summertime. The rest of the year I don't worry so much, because we usually get regular rainfall. But having to be close to home to water the garden puts a damper on travel plans. And I love the freedom to be spontaneous, to take a long road trip, to explore.


Northwest green...

I don't like to manipulate my photographs, unless something drastic needs to be done. When the color is just what I remember, and the composition is what suits me, I leave it strictly alone.


Spotted teal...

Our annual road trip: from the cabin to Port Townsend, and home down the west side of the canal. A long, beautiful day of hiking and exploring, picking up a few geocaches, and taking a few pictures along the way.

While walking through one of my favorite old state parks on Hood Canal, I spotted this small bird's nest on the ground under a huckleberry bush.


At the lake...

Finally, we found the time to make it out to our lakeside cabin for a few days. Madison came with us, her first car ride since we brought her home last winter. All of our cats spent time at the cabin, and they were different there. Just like we use the cabin to relax and dump the stress, I think our cats are more relaxed there, too.

We unloaded and hauled the Adirondack chairs to the deck, popped open a couple of cold beers, and dipped chips into salsa. And enjoyed the sun on the water, the bright blue sky, and watching the fishermen trying their luck. The wind was blowing pretty hard and the water was choppy most of the afternoon. But eventually the bugs drove us off the deck and away from a beautiful evening... with a now-calm lake and the sun going down.


Unexpected places...

A forgotten trail along the river is only used by fishermen these days, and that's a shame.


Some alone time...

I woke to a perfect, beautiful spring day... and that made even more glad I decided to take a day to myself. DW headed off to a family barbecue; I headed off on a road trip, getting away for some time to myself, and some time at a favorite quilt shop that may be closing its doors. The gardens were in full sun when I got home, so I took pictures instead of pulling weeds, then pulled up my favorite lawn chair and read.


By hand...

I spent a happy few hours in the sewing room today, finishing up a small quilt. It's one of a dozen or so kits I've put together over the past couple of months. Every piece in it came from my scrap bins and from fat quarters I've had for years, and some of these fabrics have been in my sewing room for years. 

I had so much fun doing this, once I made the first kit, I didn't want to stop. So I chose more patterns and fabrics, and bundled each one together with the instructions. 

Just like a quilt store. 

But all for me. 

Some will be wall hangings or table toppers, and some are big enough for lap quilts for cold winter evenings. I like that I used up so many scraps of fabric, and freed up so much room. For more fabric.

When possible, I plan to hand quilted the small ones; they'll be perfect projects to take to the cabin, and on our summer road trips.


New friends...

Today was a few hours editing photographs, and a few more in the yard, collecting prunings for the burn pile, and digging out the perennial borders. Then I went off with a friend to our first quilt guild meeting. An art quilter came to speak, and to show some of her original designs. 

This is a close-up of the border of one of her small quilts, with free-motion machine quilting, curved seams, hand-pieced four-patch blocks, and hand embroidery accents. I loved this quilt, and wished I'd made it. Just those small touches of embroidery elevated the quilt beyond beautiful.