So we are all in little boats, and on my boat the lookout is calling from high up on the mast, “Spring ahoy!” and there is a flurry of activity as the entire crew (both the dog and the woman) prepares to cast anchor and embark upon Spring. Yippee!

Spring ahoy

Okay that’s the end of the sailing metaphor, but the part where the terrier climbed the mast was certainly exciting. (You didn’t expect ME to go up there did you? )

So yeah it’s getting Springish here. Stuff is growing. And I know there are rumors out there that I don’t actually have a garden anymore–that it all died or I live in an apartment now or possibly in my car,  so I took evidential images with the phone, the Big camera, the Little camera, my Dick Tracy camera ring…  just to clear up the gossip, which by the way is sometimes known as “what’s clicking” according to the online slang dictionary. (Where would you be if I didn’t keep you up-to-date on these things?)

Anyway here are the first flowers of my immense swath of six or eight Anemone blanda bulbs, which seem to toss up the blooms sort of like scouts to see if it’s safe for the leaves to finish growing.

Anemone blanda

The buds looked quite purple but the blooms are more blue so I am pleased and will make every effort to not kill them.

Now here is an image of what my impeccable garden notes say is Rhododendron cilipenense, sometimes called Silly Penance by those of us who initially planted it in the wrong place where it languished sadly for some years but then finally last fall we dug it up and packed it across the lawn to better light and water. Lots more blooms this year and yes they are pink, but in a nice way.

Rhododendron cilpinense

In the native Oregon plant department, the Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis) has already produced its sweet-scented graceful flowers. (I have filed a Missing Persons report on the hummingbirds who are supposed to see these blooms as an OPEN sign in the window of the garden.)

Indian plum

Now I know you are very eager to hear how my new pine tree bed is coming along so here is a update on the sod removal. You will most certainly recall that I am excavating, hand excavating, the sod between and around two pine trees and a deadly toxic (DO NOT EAT IT) yew tree.

Here is an image (this one taken with my Dick Tracy ring camera which is also a laser, just so you know) showing the outcome on a day when the sudden mild temperatures overcame my usual finely focused sense of rationality and I madly shoveled up about a half acre of grass.

sod clumps

That was the easy part. By the time I had cut free the soil (soil) and hauled the clumps away, well I earned my evening beer, that’s all I can say. Plus I didn’t find even one cask of buried gold during the entire exercise, always disappointing. I have not ventured near that miserable bed again for some days now, even though it it’s only half big enough.

The Garden Inspector did come and said it was okay so far.


(This is a busy time for Max. He has Plans, huge lists of things to do outdoors.  Sure right now he is principally resting, but just so he can endure the horrific impending hard work. Preparation is everything.)

Here is the new bed looking lost in its neighborhood. I will chip away at it, enlarging it a few inches at a time–Mr O will hardly notice. (He fears lawn-lessness, even though it tends toward moss. I think he imagines crowds of people dressed in white showing up someday desiring to play croquet and finding that only three square feet of grass remain.)

tiny pine tree bed

This time of year you can’t work in the garden every day. Sometimes it rains, or is a special birthday. Recently I made some Jackson Pollock cookies. It was way fun flinging that chocolate around on top of the lemon icing, so therapeutic that I almost forgot all about not finding gold in the pine tree bed.

Jackson Pollock cookies

But I digress. And again…

The adorable fuzzy chickies have returned to the farm store, part of their annual migration to chickenhouses. I love how you can hear the peeping clear to that aisle where they display the hose connections and watering cans.

farm store spring chicks ps:  If you have reached Spring too be careful getting off your boat– the deck can be slippery.


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in Pacific Northwest native plants and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Arrival

  1. kininvie says:

    Dear Linnie, You will, I know, be sympathetic to the fact that my boat is still firmly stranded in the pack ice, but it was fun to see a garden that looked sort of green. Plus I am pleased about your blanda, knowing the expense and worry they caused you. May I have a quiet word in your ear about them? I didn’t wish to upset you before, but if they multiply, which they will, provided you don’t try to move them or put up signs saying ‘all mice welcome’, they have an unfortunate tendency to produce by-blows, which are not blue, but pink. Also, it may be something in the soil (yes I did notice ) which does this. I don’t know. But the again, they may not. You will have to wait until next spring to find out.
    Also, I believe at one point, you did mention that you were going to acquire some chickens, and now would seem the ideal time, judging by your photographs. I acquired a further four at the market yesterday. Chickens, I suggest, would be a good addition to Mr O’s croquet fantasy, since it is well known that you cannot have a successful game of croquet on moss – it slows the ball down something terrible – and the most cost-effective way of removing moss from your lawn is to use your chickens as a kind of mobile moss-rake. Plus, there are eggs. I am getting 3 a day at present, and the rate will increase as the days grow longer.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Kininvie
      Dang sorry about the pack ice. (Be careful as it thaws: Titanic and all that.)

      I thank you for the whispered warning about pink A.blanda–I won’t tell anyone–but I will be surprised if they spread at all. What volunteers around here are those celandine things and lemon balm. Oh and a native plant called self-heal (Prunella) which is supposed to be medicinal so I keep it on hand instead of health insurance.

      On the chickens, or re the chickens, or as to the chickens, I may once have suggested that, should Mr O build me a proper garden shed so that my zillions of empty plant pots and fertilizer ingredients and stakes and empty flats and etc could be removed from the current (or previous) chicken house, well then maybe there could be chickens in the chicken house again. Because we did have chickens, red and speckled, and I remember the fabulous fresh eggs so fondly, but that was some years ago. Not like you Kininvie, buying more hens even this week. I anticipate with great excitement your (surely) pending blog post featuring the new chickens. Could they be as interesting-looking as the ones you wrote about once before?

      • kininvie says:

        The short answer to your problem is to tempt Mr O with the vision of a perfect, chicken-raked croquet lawn, provided he provides a shed….

        Re chickens: I shall certainly provide a further post (although, as is the way of things in fox territory, there are few survivors from the previous post). I seem to have acquired a couple of prima donnas who point blank refuse to go into their house at bedtime, but prefer to stay in the snow and die (unless I rescue them, every sodding night). It’s my own fault, they were runners-up in some agricultural show, and, like all runners-up, think they are special, and because they didn’t win, will now show everyone how ill-treated they are by choosing to die from exposure. I know a few people like that too….

        • linniew says:

          OMG Kininvie, I KNOW THOSE PEOPLE.

          I had chickens a little like that once as well, though not even runnners-up. They wanted to spend the nights outside, sometimes in trees. Usually there comes a time when you forget to do Extreme Chicken Care and they get eaten by a coyote or ‘possum which I guess is natural selection or perhaps some type of chicken karmic event.

  2. Spring and winter keep elbowing each other out of the way here. I keep waiting for spring to win once and for all, so I can decide which flower species to kill this year. Your Dick Tracy ring is fantastic–these pics are great! Max photos make me smile.

    • linniew says:

      Hiya Moonbeam!
      Yes you would love the Dick Tracy ring. It’s one of the later ones with a solar battery– and really high resolution, which is good for me because I have trouble with that.

  3. Jackson Pollock cookies? Brilliant! I want to make some now! Spring is just waking up here, scratching its butt and poking a toe outta bed. I’m ready to turn on the light and rip off the covers! Get up!

  4. I suspect I shan’t arrive at spring for quite some time to come. The forecast for the next fortnight remains decidedly chilly, and there’s a risk of a small blizzard on Tuesday, so I will stay below-deck and weather out the cold weather while dreaming of little green things popping out of the soil!

    (And then – when the frost clears – I too will start digging up a patch of lawn. Again… As long as there’s room for a game croquet I don’t really see how one would want more lawn than strictly necessary. – And our lawn IS regularly used for croquet games…)

    • linniew says:

      Hi there Søren
      A small blizzard? Hmm you talk like me. I have tried croquet but I am as good at that as I am at most sports–fortunately with gardening no one is keeping score. At least not the way I do it.

      I hope you have something lovely to drink and eat below deck while you finish the trip.

      • Well, it’s not going to be dangerous or anything, but they’ve cancelled half of the suburban commuter trains tomorrow in advance, so clearly it’s not just a breeze and a few snowflakes that’s expected…

        And croquet with friends – and a well-stocked drinks trolley or a cuppa tea – is a lovely game, especially if (like me) you don’t really care too much about who wins.

  5. Humph. Spring is just barely visible over the horizon, but my boat keeps running into crosscurrents that keep us from landing. Translation: it’s snowing this morning! @&^$%!

    • linniew says:

      Oh Jason, that endless snow! Such a world. Today here in western Oregon I bought two kiwi plants. Which sounds delightful except that I’ve killed pairs of kiwi plants twice before. Something about water lack and clay soil. Undaunted, I will try again, and also undaunted you will wait out the winter and with luck we will both triumph.

  6. Lyn says:

    Thank you for the cute sktch, the mental image, the laughs and the lovely photos. That Dick Tracy ring camera is really something. So should I cancel the croquet party coming from Australia? And now I absolutely have to make some Jackson Pollock cookies – brilliant.

  7. Lyn says:

    An e got lost somewhere – still looking unde the desk. Maybe the dog ate it. It belongs in the word ‘sktch’. Please pretend it is there. Thanks.

  8. Lyn says:

    And now an r has gone too (from ‘unde’). Something mysterious is going on here.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Lyn
      Please do not cancel the party! but don’t wear white because the terrier always has muddy feet. And I found both the e and the r, they were in a corner of my writing desk under some papers. I also found my phone under there so it’s well I looked.

  9. b-a-g says:

    I guess that for every lemon-iced, chocolate-splattered cookie there has to be a hand-excavated sod – that’s what life’s all about.

    • linniew says:

      But b-a-g, that would be so balanced. Surely things are NOT balanced. Seems to me for every lemon-iced chocolate-spattered cookie there should be a tall glass of fine beer and maybe some warm socks because one lovely thing deserves another. So where do the hand-excavated sods fit in, you might ask. And actually they don’t. Which is why it’s okay to whine about them. xo L

  10. Linnie, Spring appeared to be arriving here a couple of weeks ago, however Winter has returned, hope it is short lived. On this post my mind has been fully taken up with your Rhododendron Cilipenense. The next post which I have prepared for posting is profiling the Rhododendron Praecox. I have been having my doubts and owing to your well informed post I realise now that I had mistaken cilipenense for Praecox, what a Silly Penance I am.

    • linniew says:

      Dear Alistair
      You are the wise man at the top of the mountain of shrub knowledge, while I am typically confused if not actually in that other reality which I find so comfortable. So anyway I am just so happy (and astonished) that my blog can be of use to you in plant identification. I hope the snows subside and the trilliums peek up soon at your house and especially that the R. Silly Penance performs well.

  11. Alberto says:

    Hi Linnie! I’m glad to see something is moving in your garden too! I love the part of your garden where you are preparing the pine bed although you shall be a little braver and dug up a wider border in that corner… Mr. O and his cricket team will get over it, sooner or later…
    I can see a box hedge too in that picture (left corner) am I right? Has it been there for ever or is it new?

    • linniew says:

      No worries, I shall certainly dig more, cricket team or no. The bed is pathetically minimal at present.

      How observant of you to spot my little box hedge Alberto. It is a few years old, and has four bushes in a line. I am trimming them regularly in spring (after the forsythia blooms fade–advice I read someplace) and I think of shaping them beyond just bush-shaped but so far not. My gardens are far from formal…

  12. Cynthia says:

    One should not rush into lawn removal. Not for fear of white-clad, croquet mallet-wielding lawnsters, but because it is incredibly hard work. I salute you and your efforts so far! I would probably call it good for the year, if it were me. I sense you are a more ambitious gardener, however.

  13. Lawn removal sucks. Big time. I don’t know what’s worse. Doing it now, while it is completely water-logged or waiting until say around mid-August when it rivals the Sahara. It seems that we Oregonians are only privy to those two extremes and neither are conducive to good lawn removal. I hope the beer was tasty and removed all of the stiff and sore muscles. Your garden looks great. Those little chickies are adorable. Did you bring some home for Max to romp around the vast expanse of lawn with?

    • linniew says:

      I will clear that up for you Gracie dear: now’s the time! I’ve tried both and concrete is way worse than soggy clay. No chickie for me these days, so Max must make do with the bunny outside the fence, so frustrating.

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