Mt. Hood National Forest by Mother Nature

Mt. Hood National Forest by Mother Nature

It seems like five minutes ago I was recounting my reading group’s trek to the McKenzie River near Eugene, Oregon. But that was already a whole year ago. Our annual fall retreat is 20+ years in the making. This year, the six of us went to Welches, Oregon. We stayed in a lovely home on the Salmon River. When you live in the Pacific Northwest, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty. Welches in the Mt. Hood Corridor, 45 miles west of Portland, between Zigzag and Wemme. That’s right, Wemmy.

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screening with a little peek

screening with a little peek

Oh sure, big dense laurel hedges have their place–but only if you live in English Manor. I don’t seem as interested in the total privacy I hear other people talk about. I’m more attracted to screening that allows light through, especially in the dark months, and the opportunity to see what’s going on out there. Always something, right? Read More…

gardens: Palm Springs style

gardens: Palm Springs style

We’re four days back from spending a long weekend in Palm Springs, and I’ve yet to catch up with myself. My family lured me out of town by giving me the trip as a birthday present. Smart. I’ve a wee tendency to imagine catastrophe and thus inclined to stay close to “home base.” Wouldn’t it be ironic if I was sitting here feeling all snug in my house, and a Fed Ex Plane known for skirting our eaves every evening seriously undershot the airport?

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Childhood inspiration — sometimes you can go back

Childhood inspiration — sometimes you can go back

I always love hearing how, and when, someone caught the gardening-bug. In my case it was destined to be — it wasn’t anything I decided to do — gardening was just something you did, that everyone did. My grandfather grew a remarkable vegetable garden, wait — make that fruit and vegetable garden. He had the best raspberries in town and we snacked on sugar snap peas by the bagful. Both of my parents garden, although with regimented roles of dad as the lawn and veggie guy, mom as the tender of the “flowers” (even if it doesn’t bloom the ornamentals are referred to as “flowers”).

I don’t have strong memories of visiting nurseries when I was  kid, but I do remember stops at Northwest Seed & Pet. It’s a locally-owned business in Spokane, WA, opened 1944. As a kid what could be better? Your parents can get the boring stuff taken care of and you get to look at animals! Well, that was then. Read More…

A windowsill bark tray for little garden treasures

A windowsill bark tray for little garden treasures

I love giving gifts to gardeners. They can be so easy to please, as long as you know a little about their style. Miniature roses for the cactus lover would be a miss (but the cactus called miniature desert rose could do the trick). But when you’re talking about people who are happy playing in the dirt, you get to skip the mall, and never even change out of your muck boots if you don’t want.

One of my favorite presents I ever received was a piece of bark. Let me explain.

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snow talk — with a little gardening thrown in

snow talk — with a little gardening thrown in

It’s an event when it snows around Portland, Oregon. Most of us don’t know how to drive in snow. And the city is not all that well equipped to keep things running smoothly, though they give it the ole college try. And they provide fair warning:

If you choose to drive, stay with your vehicle in a snow and ice storm. Any abandoned vehicle is subject to being cited and impounded. To locate your vehicle, call Police Auto Records at 503-823-0044.

People who move here from snowier climes are quick to rain on our parade. They think we’re ridiculous. But come one. Let us have a couple snow days in winter.

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nest feathering season

nest feathering season

Apparently Christmas is in a week. You wouldn’t know it by me. Every year, I think a) I’m really going to be on top of my game, or b) maybe nothing this year. Don’t get me wrong, I like the season and the decor and the chestnuts roasting on an open fire. But it’s a lot of work, money, and then Mister. Maybe by next year he’ll be better. It could happen.

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Ima: fair weather gardener

Ima: fair weather gardener

My friend Gail had a passel of aunts: Ada, Etta, Ida, Oda, and Uda. If one was Ima, I’d fit in the group–as in I’m a fair weather gardener. Oh sure, I get prepared with the mulch and the frost cloths and the ideas. But when it comes time to employ them, it’s too cold out there. I skid to a stop at the threshold as ably as Pumpkin–and this after she’s begged to go outside for an hour straight. It’s a rinse and repeat situation with that pooch.

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getting plants planted, or not

getting plants planted, or not

Does anyone else get nervous when November rolls around. In theory, I love the going-into-winter season. But it seems once we hit that 1st day in November, the rest of it comes thundering through faster than you can shake a hot toddy at it. That doesn’t even count tasks left to do in the garden. I did manage to get outside yesterday, with box of kleenex in hand. I curse you: sore throat, runny nose, and insistent cough.

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Operation Embrace Autumn

Operation Embrace Autumn

This year I have a plan. Instead of fighting the loss of summer I am celebrating the beauty of autumn. I know that comes naturally to many of you, and I’ll admit I’m a touch jealous. I want to be the person who is happy in the moment. Not looking back, or rushing into the future, but living in the now. So in addition to buying a new pair of boots and a couple fabulous sweaters (oh and scarves, we must have scarves) I’m finding new ways to enjoy my garden. Can’t spend the afternoons working in the garden? Then I’ll find a way to bring some of those plants into the house.  Read More…