Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Trellises have become a bit of a joke in our conversations. 
Stephen suggests I have a fetish. I argue function. 
Soundcliff's gardens are anything but level...
no broad horizontal spaces for row crops, 
so to grow up makes sense to me... 
I'll own such fetish.

There have been several incarnations of bean & pea supports
 like this, which I put inside the Mashua trellis
which is 3 years old, I think.
Low plants such as the zucchini I tried there last year were shaded-out. 
This tri-tipi encourages vertical growth of vines in conversation
with the sunlight.

Later in the season that conversation became visible as both vines rose to the tops of their supports. While the beans have made much food for our table, the Mashua, a Peruvian nasturtium produces starch crop of tubers we dig around the time of the winter solstice. I've written about this plant several times.
There evolved a nice symmetry with the White Pine nearby,
  having at least a decade of settling-in on the level below 
where the fire pit centers one of the only
actually level parts of the property.
An early Spring piece of infrastructure was Tom's creation
 of a definitive sensitively gentle firm path in the north garden
 following the edge of an old slippage which we are healing by
 building-up a"permaculture"compost pile 
which after 5-6 yearsis beginning to become a plant-able slope.
This was a project we left Tom to design & make this on his own. 
He used locust logs which were been harvested on the property. 
It is sweetly graceful & we are pleased & proud of it with him!
Tom does sweet work... as you will see more...
Our steep slope requires paths usable by foot & wheelbarrow,
making our beds level & accessible enough to
be usable garden spaces.
Slopes invite the evolution of curving zig-zags
 with some hair-pin turns... & trellises.

This very old wild cherry tree has been doing precipitous yoga since
long before I came along.
It has a wonderful gestural glyph-like quality.
We have had it pruned several times
 to relieve weight & pressure.
Returning from Japan we were encouraged to
experiment aiding it with a support.
Again Tom was instrumental in engineering this proposed fantasy
project about which neither of us had any experience... 
we had numerous problems from the start.
The major difficulty is that the lawn is covering 
the sand filter of our septic system 
over which much of the tree's weight reaches. 
We really had only one choice of placement...

Then it became almost humorous to me 
that we could attempt to "support" such sprawling tonnage?!?
The best we might do is to push a "stool" under it
 & see if it wants to sit...
[I've been questioning a proclivity 
to use the word crutch even as the limb we were supporting 
looks more like an arm than a butt.
Tom realized we needed to begin at the top... hanging the lintel s
o we have some stable point at which 
to begin measurements. This amused me more!
There were numerous re-measurements 
as we informed ourselves of next steps & cautiously cut the  
aged logs we rescued on the land... locust... a durable wood. 
We built secure foundations using old waste concrete 
to develop the final measuremenst, 
all secured by a healthy pour of new concrete. 
There is a very deep impulse, with a very long history, 
for craftsmen to leave their mark...

Tom, my engineer with the muscle...
& me, appreciating the challenge to work with him. 
We dialogue well inside our four years of experience
gardening & building such projects together.
We pleased ourselves!

A garden sofa has been another long-incubated dream of mine, 
more because the extant path was so narrow 
that a wheelbarrow completely blocked passage... 
ultimately unworkable!
Salvaged timbers came together to make a 
retaining wall & a bench
 with Corsican Mint planted as "checkered upholstery" 
which will eventually grow solid on the seat.

After all that work, 
a cool drink on the Prow Deck is in order! 
Its plantings have bloomed a delicious clash of colors.

Monday, September 19, 2016


This  season was quite fine... making the garden rather glorious from early spring until now... 

[I still work to learn making photos with the new Nikon... still intimidated by its complexity... so some of these images were made on my iPhone as well, which is obviously more usually at hand...

First, a bit of early spring cleaning brought out a dried arrangement from last year's garden, which had been enjoyed  indoors all winter... Hydrangea, Sedum & Acanthus...  the colors faded mellow on strengthened sculptural forms.
One can see how the acanthus plant influenced the Corinthian style of columns in ancient Greek architecture...

 Camellias begin blooming soon after the holidays...
An early bulb we grew in a pot is a checkered lily called Fritillaria meleagris...
This "mouse plant" was gifted us by an Island gardener friend several years ago. Its blooms are a soft brownish purple with long tails scurrying down under the leaves. I've recently transplanted a clump into a taller concrete bed so we will be able to poke down into its delicately dense under-cover to see them more easily.
We replaced an old unproductive & unshapely apple tree with a red Japanese Maple...
We haven't had a freezing winter for a number of years so the rich red blossoms of Pineapple Sage grace our salads all winter long.
Iris are such curious sculpture yet remain favorites for that & their colors. Soon they will be covered-over by those nasturtiums...
There are a number of herbs & flowers which make such abundant seed as to become gentle "weeds" in our compost & soil. Chervil was rampant this year, but I enjoy its light, airy texture & fragrance. It has a vaguely anise flavor & lovely white flowers.
Golden Marjoram decorates & flavors salads wonderfully... the Forget-me-nots just beyond are another of those weeds we celebrate in love-hate relationship, bringing an exuberance of early color, but becoming soon too aggressive about crowding-out it's neighbors.
Looking toward the southern woods...
The planer form of the Viburnum is accentuated when it blooms, seeming to hover over the curved bed of crocosmia, punctuated by a small mosaic-ed concrete sculpture of a Japanese character which Stephen brought to the garden during the Holiday Studio Tour, which later blooms brilliant red .
There are many herbs & flowers which make such abundant seed as to become gentle "weeds" in our soil. Chervil was rampant this year, but I enjoyed its light, airy texture & fragrance. It has a vaguely anise flavor & lovely white flowers.
A Solomon's Seal blooms stalwartly in a bed of threatening Bishop's Weed...
This lovely Maiden's Hair Fern has been in the western border of the south lawn since the earliest version of the garden. It holds delightful court with a Hellebore, which blooms all winter...
A very casual shot of one of the borders when the Ajuga is blooming it's almost blue purple against a  yellow-green companion, all framing a sweet pink azealia.
Unlikely color combinations abound in our garden. A red Rhododendron with Japanese Iris & a purple columbine enliven the way to the Prow Deck, which you'll see a bit later...
Columbine remind me of my mother, who raised many varieties of them at their retirement home in Colorado, where it is the state flower. I want some more...
Hymenocallis returned to the garden after a couple year's absence, reminding me of tropical flowers we saw in Bali
The smaller of our two palm trees has settled nicely after its third move to find a spot it can be happy, with Japanese iris making it look as if it lives in a rice paddy with golden bamboo.
The Chinese Windmill Palm, which is the larger of the two varieties of palm which will grow here has become quite tall on the edge our cliff...
While pruning it, this spathe of immature fruit came down attached to a brilliant yellow stem. I enjoy listening when the ripened seeds are expelled with Pachinko-like popping as they bounce down the resonant fronds.
Adding to our rather "tropical" tastes have been a series of brugmansia which we've kept in pots on the upper "This Is It" deck for many years... in several colors [yellow & purple] but my favorite is this simple white.
A deciduous vine growing on the deck railing was planted soon after the remodel 18 years ago. We still do not know its name or what it is, but it has been blooming more & more frequently over the last few years... the blossom is a curious  sculpture looking a bit like a miniature fuzzy orchid. I think we may not have a pollinator because I have never discovered a fruit.
Its vine has become a twisted architectural feature hanging from under the stairs, here lit at night...
 Ahh, the Ginger which had been dormate for several years when it was first gifted from Santa Cruz by our neighbor, Taylor, began to thrive when moved several years ago to the sunnier border near the poteger [kitchen garden}. I divided it into two other locations this spring & all of those plantaitions bloomed! such lovely spikes scenting the evening air with sweet spice...
 The garden does also grow food...
from lots of year-round kale & chard...
 To my favorite squash, called Trombonchino, for it's long curves of firm flesh, with only a small bulb of ovary with seeds at the end... delicious to saute as small whole fruits or as slices.
It is a lovely vine.
The major part of our garden must always be the larger world of water... the Puget Sound which is a fjord off the Pacific Ocean... it has its spiritual roots in the waters of the entire globe. We husband this precarious aspect with as much appreciative grace as we can muster. We know how blessed we are.
The Prow Deck perches on the retaining walls healing a slide some years ago... we do know such events could happen again at any time.... Our beloved Tahoma [Mount Ranier] is overdue for  an eruption... We love living on this edge.
The view looking from that deck up toward the house is another riot of color in this late season, with purple Asters beyond Anise Hyssop & bright pink Cosmos...
But the exuberance we bring most regularly into the house are the Dahlias of which we've begun to collect more varieties... it becomes a happy chore to change them out every several days,
 with vases in nearly every room.

Ah, but the gardening consists of more than pretty fleurs... we've built some infrastructure as well,... trellising peas, beans & squash... not to forget Mashua; supporting trees with Japanese "crutches" & sculpting our steep slope into evermore gentling terraces.
That to come next post.