We returned to Oregon March 18 and have since finished up removing the remaining sod in the backyard, an additional area approximately 8×20 feet, bounded again in landscape timbers. There is a small area of turf left on the east side of the house for Billie and picnics with Hannah. With the surge of spring grass growth, and being lawn neophytes, we were caught flat-footed and had to methodically ruminate on possible solutions (get it? ruminant, ruminate…hahaha — this is literally a cow town, after all). And it’s true, watching the neighbors tackle their lawns spurred us into action — keeping up with the Mooks, as the residents of Tillamooks call themselves. Ultimately we went with a battery-powered weed-whacker hybrid thingy on a wheeled chassis that works fine on the small amount of turf in the back and the handkerchief-sized portions in the front. Not a jot of work has been done yet to the front of the house, other than whacking the lawn back, and that may be true for some time…
It’s all very flat and vegetable gardenish. I won’t be planting much large woody stuff, trees and big shrubs. All growing surfaces have been mulched with local crushed bark, cheap and plentiful, and the back garden drains freely and is now mudproof. The weather is volatile, changeable, mercurial — one steps outside after a downpour into blinding shafts of sunlight. Planting has tentatively begun in the ground, though a couple of the stock tanks were planted in October. The rubber mulch used by former owners under playground equipment in one-fourth of the yard was ultimately bagged up and sent to the dump. Bags and bags of it. Marty handled this chore. My preference was to keep mostly everything on site, but a clean sweep seemed the best approach for materials made from used tires.
This image by Claire Takacs of Andy Salter’s garden in Kent, England, gave me some much-needed courage. This is all I want, to be surrounded by a surge of growth in spring and summer. No need for year-round interest because we most likely won’t be here for much of the winter. But I’ll definitely be making a bigger bulb order this July/August.
Lots of plants came up from the Long Beach garden, but there are a few mail orders still awaiting delivery and a bit of local shopping. I managed a trip to Hortlandia in early April and had so much fun debating what plants to buy that the camera never left its pouch.
I did visit a nearby independent nursery, Monkey Business 101, that centers its business around growing Monkey Puzzle Trees, Auricaria auracana. There is a large Monkey Puzzle Tree in my neighborhood, and I’ve since found out that Portland has more of these trees outside of its native Chile than anywhere else. Apparently, John Muir was a huge fan and traveled to Chile to see native stands of this relic of the ages, Chile’s national tree. The cool and rainy coastal conditions are apparently to its liking — makes me want to further explore Chilean plant lists!
Bulbs and rhodies are coloring up the neighborhood, and the recent snow event hasn’t seemed to slow them down. We are very much strangers in a strange land, but working out how to make a garden seems to me to be a great way to get acquainted. More soon, AGO.
You are gardening up a storm! I’m sorry I missed you at Hortlandia. I read years ago that many of Portland’s Auracania date to the Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1906, when lots of seedling trees were given away (by the Chilean Pavilion?) I’m already seeing the difference between your truly NW coastal climate and my Columbia Gorge-influenced growing conditions in Astoria. That, and the deer; they evidently haven’t found your Bupleurum fruticosum as they have mine, poor thing. I’m loving your progress!
You always enjoyed experimenting with your SoCal garden, so I imagine you’re having a grand time doing so in the entirely different climate presented by Tillamook. I’d be going bulb-crazy too in that environment. I’m glad to learn that you weren’t badly battered by the PNW’s unusual April snow event. I expect you’re happy to have missed last week’s SoCal heatwave.
I look forward to future developments in your new garden!
@Jane, I was scanning for familiar faces at Hortlandia on Saturday! It was a last-minute decision but so glad I made it. I assumed the bloggers would be there Friday for the preview. Thanks for the encouraging words!
@Kris, I do love messing around with new plants! The big snow had melted by noon and then it looked like it never happened. Helps to have a young garden with nothing to break or damage! I brought up one of your Renga lilies and so far it’s hanging on in one of the stock tanks. Hope you get a break from the heat — that was crazy!
A whole new galaxy of plants to grow, and no worry about water(?). What fun!
B&N barked back at Billie when I played your video.
@Hoov, it’s a different kind of worrying about water up here! Billie sends hugs to B&N. She’s played with some big dogs at the local dog park and really works on her cattle dog/evasive moves when they chase a little too hard!
Spring in the PNW is unrivaled anywhere. So much fun exploring a different plant palette. Everything looks great so far. You have made good progress in a short period of time.