Category Archives: gardening

August 18: A windswept fort and feeling stretched

Today I drove the forty or so miles down just past the modern-day town of Louisbourg, walked through a visitor center, and caught a shuttle bus into the past.

Louisbourg Fortress (a fortified town, as opposed to a fort, which is just a fort) was built by the French, back when they were battling the Brits for supremacy in North America. The current fortress is something like Williamsburg, only even more so. With Williamsburg they had a few existing buildings to start with. With Louisbourg they had archaeological digs and historians. What they’ve achieved with that is pretty astonishing. You really do feel like you’re walking through an 18th century (they’re portraying the 1740s here, the height of Louisbourg’s prosperity) walled town. You almost feel like you’re in France, not Canada, which is rather disconcerting.

Louisbourg Fortress from the shuttle bus across the bay.
Louisbourg Fortress from the shuttle bus across the bay.
The soldier who wanted to be bribed with rum to let us in [g].
The soldier who wanted to be bribed with rum to let us in [g].
The main gate into Louisbourg Fortress.
The main gate into Louisbourg Fortress.
Looking up the hill at the main town.
Looking up the hill at the main town.  The big yellow gate is actually fronting on the water.
A lovely tapestry in one of the buildings.
A lovely tapestry in one of the buildings.
A pantry exhibit in one of the buildings.
A pantry exhibit in one of the buildings.
A painting of what it must have looked like here in the 1740s.
A painting of what it must have looked like here in the 1740s.
One of the gardens.  I was rather surprised that lavender does this well in this climate (the cool windy summers as much as the cold winters), and ended up in a nice discussion about the local climate with a man working in the garden.
One of the gardens. I was rather surprised that lavender does this well in this climate (the cool windy summers as much as the cold winters), and ended up in a nice discussion about the local climate with a man working in the garden.
Piles and piles of slate shingles.  Those were for the houses of the rich.
Piles and piles of slate shingles. Those were for the houses of the rich.
I've never seen an oven like this one before.
I’ve never seen an oven like this one before.
Another bit of garden.  Not sure precisely what the yellow flowers are, but they may be Jerusalem artichokes.  They sure do look like the googled images of them, anyway.
Another bit of garden. Not sure precisely what the yellow flowers are, but they may be Jerusalem artichokes. They sure do look like the googled images of them, anyway.  The green bristly things in the foreground are teasel, used to card wool back in the day.
An interesting part of the church paraphernalia inside of the building in the next photo.
An interesting part of the church paraphernalia inside of the building in the next photo.
This was officially the officers' barracks, but there was also a church and a jail in there -- along with a huge exhibit on how Louisbourg was researched and rebuilt back in the 1960s.
This was officially the officers’ barracks, but there was also a church and a jail in there — along with a huge exhibit on how Louisbourg was researched and rebuilt back in the 1960s.

The living history part of the deal is toned down here, though. Not a lot of demonstrations, at least not today. But a good many of the buildings were filled with exhibits, about how they did the research and the rebuilding, and telling the stories of some of the people who lived here. I was surprised (although I have no idea why I was surprised) to discover that a few African slaves lived here. I was also fascinated by the hierarchy of the place, who was on top, and who was unfortunate enough to be at the bottom. I learned about the soldiers’ lives, and saw where they lived, and all in all it was another part of history that I didn’t know about. I also had a very nice chat with a gardener about the local climate, and another with a soldier on the ramparts about how most English language military terms come from the French language.

I’ve been charmed by the way I’m greeted with “hello, bonjour” ever since I crossed the border into Canada. I keep meaning to mention it, but what I’ve learned is that this is how they ask you which language you speak.  You’re supposed to respond in your language so that the person addressing you knows how to go on. Which is pretty nifty, IMHO.

I spent most of the day at Fortress Louisbourg, in a misty moisty morning and cloudy (and windy) was the weather, and then just in the brisk wind that made me glad I’d put my hoodie and my raincoat on.

After I left Louisbourg, I wasn’t in the mood to make a decision as to what I was going to do the next day, so I stopped at a provincial park campground nearby – and promptly got read the riot act for speeding in the campground. I had not been speeding. I’ve been paranoid about the whole kilometers vs. miles thing ever since I crossed the border, and I know for a fact that I was not speeding. But I didn’t argue with the man, and he didn’t do anything more than fuss at me.

I’ve already been feeling sort of weird about Cape Breton ever since I got here. I’m not sure I can explain it, but I’m more than ready to leave. It’s almost like I’m a rubber band, with one end fastened in western Washington, and apparently Cape Breton was just stretching me just a little too far.  That’s also part of the reason I didn’t go on to Newfoundland.

There’s more to see here, and I could have stayed another night or two, but I’m ready to head west. Not directly west, not yet, but west.

August 5: Strawbery Banke and LL Bean

Which was an interesting juxtaposition…

Anyway. I started my morning by navigating the c/o/w/p/a/t/h/s/narrow, winding, one-way streets of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, trying to find Strawbery Banke. I did, after less travail than I expected, and actually arrived before they opened (I tend to get up with the sun and go to bed with the sun when I’m camping).

Strawbery Banke is another living history site, but this one’s different. Instead of concentrating on one era the way Williamsburg and Mystic Seaport did, it covers almost all of the almost four hundred years Portsmouth (whose original name was Strawbery Banke) has been a community, concentrating on the old neighborhood of Puddle Dock, on which the modern Strawbery Banke now sits. So, from the mid-1600s to the 1950s.

Each building, from the oldest one, built in the early 1700s, to one that had most recently been remodeled just after WWII, represented a different time period and a different level of wealth and social class. And there were gardens! No one (ahem, Beth!) told me there would be gardens! Everything from a Victorian greenhouse and bedding garden to another adorable Colonial dooryard garden to an herb garden. There were stores and craftspeople, too. I got to try my hand at a loom, which was fun, and wander into a WWII-era grocery store, complete with ration points as well as the price marked on each item.

Victorian bedding garden with a greenhouse in the background.
Victorian bedding garden with a greenhouse in the background.
The parlor of the Victorian house that went with the garden. A future governor of Maine lived here.
The parlor of the Victorian house that went with the garden. A future governor of Maine lived here.
Elderberries. Wine, anyone?
Elderberries. Wine, anyone?
This wallpaper looks like it was inspired by a kaliedoscope.
This wallpaper looks like it was inspired by a kaliedoscope.
I covet this bed. Also, I really want some quilt fabric that looks like that bed curtain fabric (sorry, Loralee [g]).
I covet this bed. Also, I really want some quilt fabric that looks like that bed curtain fabric (sorry, Loralee [g]).
Another gorgeous cottage garden. I want a garden like that so badly...
Another gorgeous cottage garden. I want a garden like that so badly…
Mrs. Shapiro, a Jewish lady from 19190, talking with some visitors.
Mrs. Shapiro, a Jewish lady from 1910, talking with some visitors.
A shipping jar from 1700-1750. The rope netting is to help minimize breakage.
A shipping jar from 1700-1750. The rope netting is to help minimize breakage.
Food for sale in the WWII era grocery store. Note that Campbell's soup hasn't changed a bit, that Aunt Jemima is seriously politically incorrect, and the ration point numbers next to the prices. Also, my mother had some spice containers that could have been about that vintage.
Food for sale in the WWII era grocery store. Note that Campbell’s soup hasn’t changed a bit, that Aunt Jemima is seriously politically incorrect, and the ration point numbers next to the prices. Also, my mother had some spice containers that could have been about that vintage.
The WWII era Victory Garden, complete with chickens in the coop.
The WWII era Victory Garden, complete with chickens in the coop.
One of the houses was set up so that you could see what it looked like before and during restoration, which was quite amazing.
One of the houses was set up so that you could see what it looked like before and during restoration, which was quite amazing.

I spent a good chunk of the day there, and had a wonderful time.

Then I drove on north on I-95, because it was getting late and I wanted to get to my stop for the night – plus I’ve been to this part of Maine before, and I want to spend most of my time that I’ll be on the coast northeast of Acadia since I’ve never been to that part of the state before.

My destination for the night was Freeport, which is basically a factory outlet town surrounding the original LL Bean store. Not that I’m a huge fan of factory outlets, but LL Bean has a free overnight parking area for RVers (which I count as, since I don’t pitch a tent or anything). It was nice and shady and cool(!), and I ended up parked across from someone from the Tri-Cities (southeastern Washington) of all places, which was kind of hilarious.

So that’s where I am tonight. Tomorrow I’m going to Augusta, the state capitol, to visit the Maine State Museum, and then it’s on to Acadia National Park and Down East to Canada (yes, that’s the local turn of phrase, and no, that doesn’t sound right to me, either).

Starting to worry about Canada, for some reason, not sure why. It’s not like I haven’t crossed the border before. But I’ll never have spent that much time there before, either. And Quebec’s got me just a tad freaked out because of the language thing, too. Oh, well. ‘S good for me. Builds character.

July 30: Ahoy, me mateys! And what’s a casino doing here?

Last night was fine, and this morning I got an early start and arrived at Mystic Seaport just before it opened at nine a.m.  I’ve got so many photos of the Seaport that I’m just going to put them all at the end.

It was just as good as I remembered, although I have to say I don’t remember a lot about it. The highlight was the Charles W. Morgan, which is the oldest whaling ship left in America. She just turned 175 years old a few days ago, according to the docent who told me. It was built in 1841. I got to board her and look around, and watch a crew launch one of the little boats they actually chased the whales in. That was fun.

I also went through lots of reconstructed period maritime businesses and a couple of homes (one of which had a garden I fell completely in love with), and went through a really wonderful (and air-conditioned – while the temperature is only in the low 80s, it’s even more ridiculously humid) exhibit on whaling history. It sorta took Moby Dick as a jumping off point, but aside from that (Moby Dick is one of my least favorite books I ever had to read in college) it was enthralling. Some of the technology they used for the exhibits was stuff I’d never seen before, too, which fascinated me, too.

Oh, and I got to see the one thing that made an indelible memory for me the last time I was here, which was the exhibit of ships’ figureheads. They were so cool.

I finally left Mystic Seaport about the middle of the afternoon, and came back to the Indian casino camper lot, where I decided I’d go check the casino itself out. Why not, right?

Well, it’s the biggest casino I’ve seen outside of Nevada (and presumably Atlantic City, although I’ve never been there), and certainly the biggest Indian casino I’ve ever seen (which is saying a fair amount as we have a number of them in Washington). I thought I’d check out the outlet mall attached to it, just for the heck of it (since I’m not a gambler and also because they don’t believe in smoke-free casinos the way they do at home). It was the biggest outlet mall I think I’ve ever seen, too, and it was only one small part of the casino. Anyway, I was really glad they had a shuttle running out to the parking lots, because my feet were dead by the time I was ready to leave.

Tonight I’m camped here again, but tomorrow night I have a reservation at a hostel in Newport, Rhode Island. I’d have had one tonight, but the Newport Jazz Festival is this weekend, so lodging was hard to come by. So I’ll go drive around where all the mansions are, and tour one or two (I’m thinking of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s The Breakers, in particular), which is something I’ve always wanted to do, then I’ll spend the night and head north in the morning.

I will also have knocked off one more state (Rhode Island), probably the last one that I’ve never been to for this trip, since the only two left after that will be Oklahoma and Hawaii [g].

Then it’s on to Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and Maine. And Canada!

A cigar store Indian standing in front of the grocery store.
A cigar store Indian standing in front of the grocery store.
Appropriately enough, the quilt on the bed in one of the homes I toured is a Mariner's Compass pattern.
Appropriately enough, the quilt on the bed in one of the homes I toured is a Mariner’s Compass pattern.
Calling Dan Reilly.  This is just like the police lantern he used in Sojourn!
Calling Dan Reilly. This is just like the police lantern he used in Sojourn!
Did you know they used to make sewing machine lubricant from whale oil???
Did you know they used to make sewing machine lubricant from whale oil???
A chunk of ambergris, which is a whale product.  One of my favorite fictional characters is described as smelling faintly of ambergris, and this is *not* what I was expecting it to be!
A chunk of ambergris, which is a whale product. One of my favorite fictional characters is described as smelling faintly of ambergris, and this is *not* what I was expecting it to be!
That globe is a projection screen, believe it or not.  You could choose one of three documentaries to watch on it.
That globe is a projection screen, believe it or not. You could choose one of three documentaries to watch on it.
The Charles W. Morgan, 175 years old.
The Charles W. Morgan, 175 years old, and the oldest whaling ship in existence today.
Crew's quarters in the Morgan.  Can you imagine spending several years straight sleeping in there???
Crew’s quarters in the Morgan. Can you imagine spending several years straight sleeping in there???
Another view of the Morgan.
Another view of the Morgan.
Lowering a whaling boat from the Morgan.
Lowering a whaling boat from the Morgan.
The garden I fell in love with.  It's the mishmash of flowers, the whole dooryard thing, and the picket fence, I think.
The garden I fell in love with. It’s the mishmash of flowers, the whole dooryard thing, and the picket fence, I think.
Aren't these the most beautiful rose hips you've ever seen?
Aren’t these the most beautiful rose hips you’ve ever seen?
Figureheads.  One of the few things I really remember from the last time I was here.
Figureheads. One of the few things I really remember from the last time I was here.
Tiger lilies!  Blooming full blast with all the stops out.
Tiger lilies! Blooming full blast with all the stops out.
Part of a whole display of miniature figureheads.  The biggest ones are about six inches tall.
Part of a whole display of miniature figureheads. The biggest ones are about six inches tall.

no annual annual shopping

You know what’s been really hard about this?  One of the silliest things that’s been really hard?

No annual annual shopping.  This is the time of year when I normally go to my local garden center and buy up my annuals for the summer.

No annuals for me this year.  It’s a small price to pay.

I’ll just have to make sure and hit lots of gardens on my journey.

The back garden of my condo, in early May 2006, almost two years after I moved in.
The back garden of my condo, in early May 2006, almost two years after I moved in.

 

 

spring is coming!

It is the first of February, and astronomical spring is six weeks away.  However, it is starting to look like spring at my house, and here’s the proof.

First, indoors, on my kitchen windowsill.  My local grocery store sells pots of sprouting forced bulbs this time of year, and they’re so inexpensive I can’t resist.  I’ll find a corner of ground to tuck them into once it warms up a bit.

Miniature daffodils, already a bit past their prime but still pretty.
Miniature daffodils, already a bit past their prime but still pretty.
Reticulata iris.
Reticulata iris.

And outside.  Please forgive the weeds.  I still haven’t cleaned up the garden yet.  Soon.

The primroses I fell flat on my front porch buying last week. They're a bit bedraggled because of all the rain we've been having, but they're awfully cheerful next to my front door.
The primroses I fell flat on my front porch buying last week. They’re a bit bedraggled because of all the rain we’ve been having, but they’re awfully cheerful next to my front door.
Species crocus struggling up through last year's dead stalks by my front door.
Species crocus struggling up through last year’s dead stalks by my front door.
Hellebores blooming by my back door. There's also a hardy cyclamen in the lower righthand corner.
Hellebores blooming by my back door. There’s also a hardy cyclamen in the lower righthand corner.

Oh, and something unrelated to plants, but definitely related to the weather:  yet another needlework experiment.  Someone posted on Facebook back in early January how they were going to make an afghan by crocheting one row every day.  The color would be determined by the day’s high temperature.  So I thought I would do it, too.  Anyway, here’s the yarn:

Purple (below 45dF/7dC), blue (46-55dF/7-13dC), green (56-65dF/13-18dC), yellow (66-75dF-18-24dC), orange (76-85dF/24-29dC), and red (above 8dF/29dC). The green is much brighter than it shows in the photo, and the purple isn't quite that light.
Purple (below 45dF/7dC), blue (46-55dF/7-13dC), green (56-65dF/13-18dC), yellow (66-75dF-18-24dC), orange (76-85dF/24-29dC), and red (above 85dF/29dC). The green is much brighter than it shows in the photo, the purple isn’t quite that light, and the red is more cherry than the tomato it looks like.

And here’s the afghan at the end of the first month:

At the rate things are going, it's going to be about 12 feet long by the end of December. Oh, well...
The first of January’s at the bottom.  At the rate things are going, it’s going to be about 12 feet long by the end of December. Oh, well…

 

Almost autumn

It won’t be officially astronomical autumn until the 22nd, or unofficially autumn until after Labor Day weekend, but still.  It’s been feeling like autumn all week, cool and showery (and we had a very autumn-like windstorm on Saturday).

You can also tell because the hardy cyclamen are blooming beside my front door (please excuse the weeds).

Hardy cyclamen. I don't remember if it's hederifolium or neopolitanum or coum, sorry!
Hardy cyclamen. I don’t remember if it’s hederifolium or neopolitanum or coum, sorry!

So today when I went for my walk along the Nathan Chapman trail, I decided to take my camera and see what I could see.

Here’s a shot of the beginning of the trail.

The northern end of the Nathan Chapman trail in South Hill, WA.
The northern end of the Nathan Chapman trail in South Hill, WA.

Here’s some blackberry foliage already beginning to turn color.

Blackberry foliage.
Blackberry foliage.

I don’t know what kind of berries these are. Currants, perhaps? The foliage does not say pyracantha or serviceberry to me.

Unidentified (so far) red berries.
Unidentified (so far) red berries.  ETA:  according to the Hardy Plant email list, they’re feral (and rather invasive, alas) white hawthorne (the white refers to the flowers, which indeed did come in big lovely white clusters last spring).

The photo below is part of the result of our very hot, dry summer this year. Things are starting to green back up now that we’ve had some rain, but some things won’t be back till next year now.

What the end of a hot, dry summer looks like.
What the end of a hot, dry summer looks like.

The vine maple will be flame-colored in a few weeks, but for now it’s still green.

Vine maple leaves.
Vine maple leaves.

There are even a few flowers left.

Wild pea flowers.
Wild pea flowers.
Wild asters.
Wild asters.
Goldenrod gone to seed.
But the goldenrod has already gone to seed.

I found some blackberries, too, but the only ones that hadn’t been picked and eaten were up high enough to be at an awkward angle for photographing, so I’m not going to inflict my blurry efforts on you.

No Mountain today, either. Mt. Rainier is visible from where I took the picture below when the sky is clear. It should be out when my friend L and I go to Sunrise on Saturday!

Mt. Rainier hiding behind the clouds.
Mt. Rainier hiding behind the clouds.

Off to the Canadian Rockies, Day 8

A grove of aspens at Pyramid Lake.
A grove of aspens at Pyramid Lake.

Thirteen days ago, June 19, 2015.

Exploring around Jasper townsite.

It was another misty moisty day and cloudy was the weather, as my mother would say (in sharp contrast to what we’ve got here in western Washington as I write this — we just came off the hottest June on record, and it’s supposed to get over 90F today, which is 20 degrees above normal), so I decided to start with something indoors, to give things a chance to improve.

But first I stopped at a Tim Horton’s in Jasper townsite, where they sold me a large hot tea and Timbits (doughnut holes) for breakfast. I’d never been in a Tim Horton’s before (I’ve seen their ads on the Canadian TV station I get on my cable at home), but they do very good tea and doughnut holes.

Jasper townsite has an active historical society, and an excellent museum telling all about its human history. The woman staffing the museum told me about at least one place I wouldn’t have known about otherwise, too, and was very friendly and informative in general. I am a big fan of local historical societies who are lucky enough to have volunteers like her.

A display at the Jasper Historical Museum telling about where the local First Nations lived.
A display at the Jasper Historical Museum telling about where the local First Nations lived.

It had cleared up a little by the time I left the museum, so I headed out to a pair of lakes, Patricia and Pyramid, which turned out to be a lovely short drive. I don’t know who Patricia Lake is named after, but Pyramid Lake was named after one of the mountains that looms over it, which is sort of pyramid-shaped. If you squint at it from the right angle. More to the point, Pyramid Lake has an island, accessed by bridge, with a pleasant walking trail around it. Even the rain, spitting and spatting, didn’t ruin the pleasure of that walk.

The bridge to the island in Pyramid Lake
The bridge to the island in Pyramid Lake
A robin and her nest on the island at Pyramid Lake.
A robin and her nest on the island at Pyramid Lake.
Pyramid Mountain.
Pyramid Mountain.
Yellow gallardia, white non-native oxeye daisies, and spiky butter and eggs, on the highway just outside Jasper townsite.
Yellow gallardia, white non-native oxeye daisies, and spiky butter and eggs, on the highway just outside Jasper townsite.

My next goal was Maligne (pronounced Ma-LEEN if you speak English, Ma-LINE if you speak French, according to the lady at the museum) Canyon, the third of those slot canyons I saw on this trip. More deep narrow recesses with water thundering down, more all but unnecessary bridges because it was basically close enough to jump if you were crazy, more wildflowers, more thundering waterfalls. And a sign telling all about how this canyon, at any rate, was created because I was standing on a karst formation. Karst. Here. I always associate karst landscapes with Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave. It seemed very odd to run across it way off up here, for some reason. And the landscape was so green and lush. I’d had it in my brain that the whole of Jasper National Park was going to look like the area around Athabaska Glacier, but it doesn’t. Not at all.

The karst exhibit at Maligne Canyon.
The karst exhibit at Maligne Canyon.

Just after I turned around (the trail and canyon go on for several miles, but I only walked down to the third bridge and the waterfall, about a kilometer, mindful of the steepness of the trail going back uphill), the skies opened up. If I hadn’t been wearing my raincoat, I’d have been drenched. My feet absolutely squelched, though.

A view of Maligne Canyon.
A view of Maligne Canyon.
Another view of Maligne Canyon.
Another view of Maligne Canyon.
The waterfall at the third bridge on the Maligne Canyon trail.
The waterfall at the third bridge on the Maligne Canyon trail.

While eating my lunch in the car after, I discovered Jasper must have a repeater for the Edmonton CBC radio station, because I got to listen to a gardening show, which was fascinating. Seems to me like it would be an uphill battle to garden so far north (although many of the houses in Jasper have nice gardens), but apparently it’s worth it.

And so on to Maligne Lake. I passed Medicine Lake on the way, which, because of the karst, drains completely by late summer.

Medicine Lake, which had not disappeared for the summer yet.
Medicine Lake, which had not disappeared for the summer yet.

Maligne Lake is another of those jewels dropped into the middle of a forest, with mountains all around, and should be part of the seven wonders of the natural world, not Lake Louise, IMHO. If it weren’t for the mosquitoes and the rain continuing to threaten, it would have been almost too perfect. But about the time I got back to my car, I got showered with ice pellets. In late June.

Maligne Lake, seriously, utterly gorgeous.
Maligne Lake, seriously, utterly gorgeous.  That’s a historic boathouse on the left.
A view of Maligne Lake from the bridge at its outlet.
A view of Maligne Lake from the bridge at its outlet.

On the way back to Jasper townsite, I saw four bears. One lone male, then a sow with two cubs. Pretty exciting stuff, and by far my best bear photo of the trip.

Mama bear and one of her babies.  The other one was out of sight at that moment, alas.
Mama bear and one of her babies. The other one was out of sight at that moment, alas.  This was taken with the zoom, from the safety of my car, just so you know.

When I got back, I prowled town for a bit, ate supper (better than the night before, thank goodness), bought some candy called naked bear paws (cashews on caramel), and headed for the hostel. Back down the Icefields Parkway tomorrow, the first step in heading home <sigh>.

Flowers of May

Otherwise known as, why spring is my favorite time of year, hands down.

First, my front flower bed.

Blue lithodora, pink/purple thyme, yellow sedum, round-leaved cranesbill.
Blue lithodora, pink/purple thyme, yellow sedum, cranesbill seedlings, iris foliage, a lavender creeping campanula, and the last creeping phlox blossoms.

This is at the very front end of my flower bed.   I love the tapestry this has become.

The mama round-leaved cranesbill, and Tiny Rubies dianthus.
The mama round-leaved cranesbill, and Tiny Rubies dianthus.

This is about halfway down the bed to my front door.  The ferny foliage in the upper lefthand corner is threadleaf coreopsis, and the tall spiky plants in the upper center are lilies.

The only iris that bloomed this year, alas.
The only iris that bloomed this year, alas.

And, no, I don’t have his name.  But isn’t he gorgeous?

This is the backyard.

Hosta and coral bells -- if I ever knew the variety names, I don't anymore.
Hosta and coral bells — if I ever knew the variety names, I don’t anymore.

Another cool combination.

Whoa, Nelly.  Nelly Moser clematis climbing the fence and the vine maple.
Whoa, Nelly. Nelly Moser clematis climbing the fence and the vine maple.

This was a tiny seedling about six years ago.  Those flowers are bigger than my hand.

The purple clematis (no variety name, alas).
The purple clematis (no variety name, alas).

This was the clematis I thought I’d dug up a couple of years ago.  Apparently I missed some root fragments.  I figure if it survived that, it deserves to stay.

Columbines are supposed to be blue.  I also have a yellow and a white that aren't in bloom yet.
Columbines are supposed to be blue. I also have a yellow and a white that aren’t in bloom yet.

I love columbines.

And that is May in my garden this year.  Well, except for the bleeding heart that ate New York, but something fell on it and crunched part of it, so it’s not looking so great right now, alas.  It is still blooming, however.

In search of spring

The outside of the Seymour Conservatory, unfortunately looking into the sun.
The outside of the Seymour Conservatory, unfortunately looking into the sun.

So. It’s Groundhog Day. Some famous beastie back East saw his shadow and says we’re in for six more weeks of winter. Maybe back East they are, but we really haven’t had winter here in the maritime Pacific Northwest so far, at least with respect to the usual lots of rain in the lowlands and lots of snow in the mountains. We’re going to be hurting for water this summer if the snow doesn’t start accumulating, and soon.

But that doesn’t mean the primary colors outdoors right now aren’t gray-green, tan, and just plain gray.

Now that the Super Bowl is over (and this 12th woman really is done mourning the disaster yesterday), it’s time to be looking towards spring.

So I made my annual pilgrimage to the Seymour Conservatory , an antique greenhouse in Wright Park in Tacoma.

And this is what I saw:

Looking back down the main walkway towards the entrance.
Looking back down the main walkway towards the entrance.
Azaleas and amaryllis (which I always have to pronounce with a lisp a la The Music Man).
Azaleas and amaryllis (the latter of which I always have to pronounce with a lisp a la The Music Man).
A Meyer lemon tree in both bloom and fruit.  Those lemons are about the size of grapefruits, and the blossoms smell so good.
A Meyer lemon tree in both bloom and fruit. Those lemons are about the size of grapefruits, and the blossoms smell so good.
Koi in the conservatory pond.  The nearby sign says not to throw coins in -- they dissolve and poison the fish.
Koi in the conservatory pond. The nearby sign says not to throw coins in — they dissolve and poison the fish.
Coleus.  I want some quilt fabric that looks like this.
Coleus. I want some quilt fabric that looks like this.
A frog statue, peering out of the foliage.
A frog statue, peering out of the foliage.

I think I’ll make it till spring, now. Especially since I actually have a few blossoms in my own yard, too:

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Last year’s primroses have just started blooming again in a tub by my front door.
Hellebore blossoms by my back door.
Hellebore blossoms by my back door.