Garden hardscape... in an unexpected place

We've always loved Camaraderie Cellars in Port Angeles, so we paid it a visit today (and also grabbed a few geocaches along the way). The winery has moved into another building on the property, surrounded by a surprisingly complex series of outdoor spaces.

The wines were still great, especially the reds, and as I sampled my way through the list, I explored the gardens. There are outdoor spaces, stone slab tables for eating, and chairs for relaxing. There's a covered area made from barrel staves, blown glass flowers and globes for lighting, and a huge wrought iron firepit. I especially loved the windbreak fences made from reclaimed multi-paned windows, and the rustic fence made from woven branches. The whole place is rustic and comfortable and unique, and well worth the drive.

And while you're there, don't forget to pick up a few bottles of wine.


Perseids, farm-style

12:30 am
Warm clothes
Two Adirondack chairs
Four lap robes
The night sky, clear and fairly bright and wide open to the east
28 meteors
5 satellites
Coyotes singing down the valley
Jupiter rising
Two furry critters snuffling for a snack under the hedge

Stargazing with Davey...  priceless.


A day for reading

Today I'm reading.

Here are a few of the books in today's stack, my own, and also from the library.

Cookbooks and my recipe notebooks | Collecting my favorite recipes for cooking at the cabin. Easy to prepare, few ingredients, versitile (oven or barbecue), fun to fix, and full of flavor. These are destined for my new blog, Cabin Fare (and maybe there's another family cookbook in my future).

Photography books | Fine-tuning some rusty SLR skills and photography knowledge while I debate whether to buy my chosen Nikon DSLR at a great price, or wait for the just-around-the-corner revamped model. I had the same dilemma exactly four years ago when I bought my Canon ultrazoom. Being on the fence isn't a comfortable place to be, especially if you're me. My style is to exhaustively research something before making a decision. The last thing I want is the promise of a new model tossed into the process.

Gardening books |  I never realized how many books there are on desiging a cutting garden. I hope our new perennial garden will provide lots of cut flowers for the house next year, and it's great to have so much time to plan the garden. Lots of ideas of what to plant so far, it's fun!

It's a beautiful day. I could be walking the trail, or riding my bike, or washing the MX-5. There are weeds to pull. And the orchard has yellow plums and bright red apples just begging to be picked. It's time to start picking blackberries, too.

But today, I feel like reading.
I feel like learning.
So that's what I'll do.

Perseids solo

For the first time in years, we're at home on the farm for the best day of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Usually we try to be at the cabin on the Olympic Peninsula, where the skies are black, and the stars are bright. We sit out for hours on the shores of the lake, usually at our friend's cabin. Bernie, Dave, and I have spent many hours over the past couple of decades, watching for meteors and satellites, tracking the planets during the different seasons, and enjoying every minute of it. With a big fire to warm our backs, we turn our chairs to face the lake and the sky, sip on red wine, and find it hard to quit and go to bed.

This year, though, we needed to be at home over the weekend. So not wanting to miss out completely, I decided to set my internal alarm clock for midnight, climb into sweats and a sweatshirt, and go sit in the orchard where there's a great view toward the east. And wait and see what (if anything) happens.

With a promise to wake Davey if there was a show to be seen, I did as planned. I crept out of the house at midnight, with my driving glasses in hand, just in case.

It was warm outside, completely clear and bright, and I loved being outdoors on such a beautiful night. I'm pretty sure that was the international space station I watched track across the sky.

But there were no meteors or satellites. Nada. Not a one.

Was I out too early? Probably. I'll wait until 1:00 am tomorrow.

Check back then.


Baby violets

Last September, I spent the weekend with my friends, Bernie & Linda, who live in Ellensburg. Linda is famous for her African violets, which thrive in the north-facing  windows of their living room, in the sunny window in the kitchen, actually (and contrarily) in just about any room in their house.

Violets are probably my favorite house plant. I fall in love with the endless variety of color and shape at the nursery, bring home a new favorite, tend it and admire it...  then the blooms fade, and the plant never blooms again.

My current violets are very happy in the south & west light they get in our dining room. They set new leaves, old leaves die, and one of them (I think it has gorgeous magenta flowers with a white edge, but it's been so long I'm not really sure) has actually sprouted a new little violet plant. But as happy as my two violet plants are, they don't bloom.

So Linda gave me a crash course in violet care and propogation, and sent me home with three leaf cuttings: each one in potting soil in a separate styro cup, with a "greenhouse" baggie over the top so they'll stay moist.

The violets rode home in the cup holders in my Pilot (bet Honda never thought of this use for a cupholder!). Once home, they moved in with my two violet plants, and there they stayed for 9 months while I watched for baby leaves.

In late June, tiny fuzzy leaves started to push their way through the soil in two of the styrofoam cups, and in just a few weeks, each plant had eight new leaves. The third leaf never sprouted baby leaves, but a tug on the leaf showed it was rooted.

Today I potted the new violet plants into the antique pottery flower pots I've been saving, and my little violet garden has now grown from two plants to five plants.

l to r:  Pink, Pink with purple spots, Purple with white edge

I hope they like their home as much as the grown-up plants do. And I hope they'll bloom.


July in the garden

A couple of weeks ago I dug out an overgrown border next to the patio, and put in a few new perennials: Lady's Mantle, Shasta daisies, Veronica spicata, and pale blue Delphiniums. The new plants are getting established; the cool weather seems to be doing them good.

I also started some cosmos seeds, taking a chance that an old seed packet would still have a few viable seeds. The gamble paid off, and the starts are looking great. As soon as they're big enough, I'll transplant them into a pair of big pots to go on either side of the porch steps, and we'll enjoy the blooms well into October. Then I'll harvest the seeds for next year. It's all part of my plan to cultivate plants to fill up a new border along the south side of the farmhouse, without having to spend big $$$ at the nursery next spring.

The garden phlox were new additions to the orchard garden last year, and I was surprised at how huge they grew this summer. I put in four plants up against my pole fence, and they each bloomed, and this year the foliage grew more than four feet tall before setting flower heads.

There are two varieties in this border, and both have big, beautiful lilac-blue flowers. One variety has beautiful bronze-green foliage in the spring, which turn to bright green in the summer.

In the border on the other side of the lawn is a volunteer phlox that is busy putting out new plant shoots. It hasn't bloomed, and may not this year. I suspect it's from a white phlox I put in a couple of years ago on the other side of the orchard; hopefully it will do better in the new location. And hopefully it will bloom this year, at least so I know what color it is!

Coneflowers are one of my favorite perennials, and they've graced our garden ever since we bought the farm in 1984. I have three varieties: a white called 'Big Sky Sunrise,' the familiar pinkish lavender, and this deeper red variety, called 'Ruby Star.' It's the first of the three varieties to bloom each year; I'm still waiting for the others to bloom.

Over the years I've learned that these plants do much better in containers on the patio, rather than directly in the ground. But when the new border goes in next spring, I'll try transplanting new seedlings there, and see how they do.

I love the gardens in mid-summer. Blue and purple flowers are my absolute favorites, and this is the perfect time of year for them: the phlox, hydrangea (both mop head and lace cap), Veronica spicata, Campanula, and Scabiosa are in full bloom. The lupine and perennial bachelor buttons are setting up for a second bloom, and the powder blue Delphinium should also bloom again.

My patio hydrangea, the mop-head type, has been in a huge pot since I brought it home from the nursery back in 1998. The small bush looked pretty lost in its large container the first year, but soon grew into its new home. If I prune it gently every couple of years, it thrives on the patio. The first few years, the blooms were pale pink. This year, they're are a perfect periwinkle blue.