U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8b. Sunset climate zone 5

Friday, March 26, 2010

On The Water. Camera Critters

Entering Oregon, a sign welcomed us on this long bridge leading to Astoria.

Look at it! Isn't it majestic?

Soon after crossing it and following the watefront, we heard loud screams -
seagulls, thought I.
The screams got louder and louder - hungry seagulls, thought I.
The screams were somehow different from the usual seagulls' shouts.
They sounded like very angry dog-like barks. Very hungry and very upset seagulls, thought I.
We got out of the car and moved to a huge dock.
On both sides, we saw dozens and dozens of big animals with shiny chocolate skin.
Seals? Walruses?
No. They were sea lions.

They occupied all of the passes and looked very comfortable.

How would people get into this boat?

And into this one?

At some point, we saw a person riding a bike toward us. When he was passing the sea lions, they made aggressive moves, but it looked like he had made this ride before.

What is the guy on the next picture saying? "Oregon sea lions are the best
sea lions in the world!" Or maybe, "I am the best!" I won't argue.

What a view from the restaurant where we had an early dinner! Love that

And at last, back out on the Astoria streets.
Don't you like this window on the left? They tricked me! I thought it was real.

Now, you know where to go if you want to see about a hundred sea lions at
one time. Astoria, Oregon is the place.

Copyright TatyanaS

Sunday, March 21, 2010


This picture was taken in February when we were returning from our skiing
trip in Oregon. Riding in the car, I was watching these
incredible clouds, so dark and heavy, almost tragic looking. I asked
to stop the car when I suddenly saw this scene. On the side
of the road, a huge tree with its fresh chartreuse buds stood apart from the
other trees - dark evergreens and sleeping deciduous ones, some of
which were naked and some covered with last year's dry leaves. Suddenly,
there was a blue clearing in the sky with a pile of white clouds which
created an unusual
background. It seemed like the clouds were pushing the darkness, moving it
away and lightening the air. Some structures, fence and wires, showing in
the picture just made the impression stronger. They were permanent,
unchangable elements. The tree was alive,
awakening and saying: Spring is coming! What struck me was that it was not a
garden, groomed and planted with beautiful plants where
an owner works hard and looks eagerly and lovingly every day for the first
signs of a long-awaited spring. What I saw was a part of the
wilderness not touched by human efforts. Winter was still there and people
were minding their everyday businesses; but, the tree knew - the time of change was coming! The whole scene was a hymn of nature awakening.
This is my entry for GGW Picture This Photo Contest : Awakening. March 2010

Copyright TatyanaS

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Fluffs

Weeping Pussy Willow (Salix caprea 'Pendula')

Also called Goat willow or goat sallow, Salix caprea is a small tree native to northern Europe and northwest Asia.


Pussy willow is a name given to many of the smaller species of the genus Salix (willows and sallows) when their furry catkins are young in early spring. These species include, among many others,
Grey willow or grey sallow (Salix cinerea), a small tree native to northern Europe,
American pussy willow (Salix discolor), native to northern North America.

Before the male catkins of these species come into full flower, they are covered in fine, greyish fur, leading to a fancied likeness to tiny cats. The catkins appear long before the leaves, and are one of the earliest signs of spring.

Pussy willow used as Lunar New Year decoration.
The flowering shoots of pussy willow are used both in Europe and America for spring religious decoration on Palm Sunday, as a replacement for palm branches, which do not grow that far north.
Ukrainian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Polish and Bavarian Roman Catholics, and various other East European peoples carry pussy willows on Palm Sunday instead of palm branches. This custom has continued to this day among Romanian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Polish Catholic, and Ukrainian Catholic emigrees in North America. Sometimes, on Palm Sunday they will bless both palms and pussywillows in church. The branches will often be preserved throughout the year in the family's icon corner.

Gredits: Wikipedia

Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Monday, March 15, 2010

Playing With March Blooms, Frogs And Others

A frog’s a very happy thing,
Cool and green in early spring,
Quick and silver through the pool,
With no thought of books or school.
Oh, I want to be a frog,
Sunning, stretching on a log,
Blinking there in splendid ease,
Swimming naked when I please,
Nosing into magic nooks,
Quiet marshes, noisy brooks.
Free! And fit for anything!
Oh, to be a frog in spring!

Spring Wish By John Farrar











Pictures can be enlarged

Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Poorman Rejuvenated

Please, tell me that you love Gooseberries! Or at least that you know what a Gooseberry is! Is it true that many Americans don't know this plant? If to believe what the Raintree nursery catalog says, gooseberries which are highly prized in Europe, "have been sadly neglected in America, probably because most people remember gooseberries as tart and mouth puckering".
Gooseberry standard Poorman is one of the first plants I acquired for my garden. My childhood gardens always had gooseberries. The thorny old plants never failed to give us sweet berries to enjoy fresh and as a jam. Raintree Nursery, where I bought my plant, describes Poorman gooseberry as "a highly flavored, sweet table variety which can be eaten out of hand. The berries are green but turn red when ripe. Considered by many to be the best American gooseberry".


I chose a standard, i.e. a plant trained to resemble a small tree. I preferred it to a bush type because it takes smaller space, is easier to weed around, and is easier to pick up the berries and also because I like how it looks.
My plant reduced productivity significantly during the last several years. I neglected this poor man which grows in the far corner of the garden. The place is sunny but requires constant clearing of salal and blackberries which try to fill the space around it. Our Homeowners Association requires keeping green boundaries between the lots, so I can't just remove all the greenery around my gooseberry plant. So, regular control of the spreading salal and blackberries is needed.
In the picture below, the plant I am talking about is behind the bean tower. It blends with the surrounding salal and blackberries.



Another reason for its declining productivity is my failure to prune the plant.
The plant became tangled and unhealthy without regular pruning.
I also didn't provide regular watering which is critical for light, sandy soil.
This January, while the plant was dormant, I removed dead, damaged and crossing branches and also shaped the crown. I tried to keep the center open for light and ventilation. Several main branches, well-spaded, were left. Following the plant growing directions, I cut back to the young shoots and pruned the arching stems to upright sideshoots. Shortening new growth by half and removing lower side growth gave my plant its original tree-like appearance.
If these measures won't help and the plant won't give us a decent amount of berries in the near future, I'll replace it.
I hope for the best, although, because gooseberries are long-living plants, I don't want to lose my well-established plant.
I didn't have an intention to propagate my gooseberry, but the plant did it itself. I think it realized that with such a lousy caretaker as me, it needed to take care of itself.
So, the roots formed where the stem got covered with soil. I was able to separate a small plant. It's sitting in a container so far, waiting for when I prepare a spot for it. They say that with proper care, goosberries can be grown in containers. I might try it since there is not much space available.
It was useful for me to refresh my memory and find information about what a gooseberry likes and doesn't like. I think I'll write it down for future reference:

- Gooseberries like cool, well-drained and fertile soils. Heavier soils can be actually better for them, since they retain more moisture and keep cool. My soil is not heavy at all. It is sandy with lots of rocks. I need to provide regular watering. Uneven watering can result in the fruit cracking.
- Shallow roots should be protected by organic mulch which will also keep the soil cool and moist. - Moderate need for nitrogen. I need to remember this, because I use well-rotten horse/chicken manure in my garden. Excessive amounts of nitrogen can promote mildew and other diseases.
- Exessive nitrogen can lead to a high requirement for potassium. Scorching of leaf margins is a sign of potassium deficiency. An annual dressing of a half-ounce of actual potassium per square yard is recommended to avoid potassium deficiency.
- A fairly high requirement for magnesium. Using dolomitic limestone, which adds magnesium as well as calcium, is recommended.
- To get bigger fruit, some sources recommend composting and frequent cultivation of the soil around the roots from the moment when fruit just appears.


Plant information:

TYPE: Hardy deciduous shrub
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ribes hirtellum (American)and Ribes grossularia (European).
ZONE / HARDINESS: Hardy to zone 3
MATURE PLANT SIZE: Up to 60 inches high
LIGHT: Full Sun (or partial shade in warmer summer areas)
SOIL TYPE: Well-drained, fertile soil. Soil acidity is not important as for other small fruits.
PESTS: Gooseberry fruitworm & currantworm
DISEASES: Leafspot & mildew
I should remember: Gooseberries bear fruit primarily on 2 and 3 year old wood, that is why equal numbers of 1, 2 and 3 year old shoots should be maintained to provide a renewal of fruiting branches.


Vitamin C in gooseberries is not diminished by cooking! Wow!
Gooseberries consist of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins (C and complex B), and 80% water.
Among the gooseberries' benefits are: anti-aging (due to its richness in vitamin C), eye care, diabetes control, hair loss control and even the prevention of heart disease.

Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Outdoor Sowing In March

Vegetables and herbs for outdoor sowing in March in the Pacific Northwest:

Fava Bean
Pac choi



For a list of vegetables and herbs for your area go to

There is an information there for the following areas:
Central/Midwest, Gulf Coast, Maritime Canada & New England, Mid-Atlantic, North Central & Rockies, Pacific Northwest, Southern Interior, Southwest.
According to this site, these are the top ten crops for Pacific Northwest:
Pole snap bean
Snow/snap pea
Cherry tomato
Summer squash


Happy sowing!


Credits: Mother Earth News
Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pampas Grass - A Bad Guy?

Have you ever dated a person whom you liked a lot and then suddenly found out that person was dangerous, deceiving and obnoxious? You've been happy with him/her, admired his/her beauty, then one day opened a local paper and saw a familiar face with a "Most Wanted" sign? Fortunately, I didn't have an experience like this in life, but this is how I feel after making research with regard to composting pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana 'Pumila') clippings.
I had a feeling that it might not be a good idea. I thought the blades were too thick and would take a long time to rotten. Well, it's true - it's not recommended to compost pampas grass, but for a different reason. It's considered to be an aggressive colonizer, dangerous to native plants. Thousands of seeds produced by Pampas grass even without pollination can travel long distances by wind (up to 40 km from the parent plant as said here: Each pampas grass is capable of bearing over a million seeds during its plant life.
Pampas grass is a large perennial grass, native to South America, which grows in large clumps 8-10 feet high. Silvery-white or pinkish silken plumes grow up to 12 feet high. *
I have only one plant - a dwarf pampas grass, growing in the back of the garden.
It's very ornamental, a good eye catcher and certainly creates visual interest in that part of the garden. This spring, I trimmed it as close to its baseas possible.

Last year, I disposed of the clippings. This year, the pile of trimmings was so big, I felt sorry to get rid of such a big amount of green material.
I decided to check the Internet, and the information that I found was not what I expected. In Australia, Pampas grass is declared a Noxious Weed in many areas under the Noxious Weed Act of 1993. It must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
Pampas grass can reshoot from its root and shoot pieces. For this reason, plant matter must not be transported or dumped ( ).
I read that it is banned in New Zealand as well. There, people are prohibited from selling and planting Pampas grass. I also read that it is considered a pest in California because of its rampant spreading, and thus cannot be grown there.

I have three questions now. Is it prohibited in your state or country?
Second: are the nurseries, garden centers, landscaping companies aware of this issue? If yes, then why do we hear: "Superb for fresh or dried arrangements!", "Add interest to your garden with Pampas grass!", "Quick landscape fix! Great privacy screen, windbreak, sound barrier!" and nothing about its danger to native plants?
Third: If I cut the plumes right after they appear and never let the seeds develop, will it be safe to compost Pampas grass clippings?
Recently, I read that the Oregon Department of Agriculture announced the ban of the sale, transport or propagation of English ivy. When we drove home recently from the Mt.Bachelor in Central Oregon, I saw a sign: "Fight Noxious Weeds! It's Your Responsibility!"

I am not going to get rid of my plant. I will watch its plumes and remove them before the seeds ripen. Is it responsible enough? Tell me, please!

Pampas Grass in winter 2007

In the pictures below, my dwarf pampas grass after trimming in 2009 and recovering a couple months later. This year, I cut it much more drastically.

To compost pampas grass or not to compost? That is the question!
2012 - looking-at-my-pampas-grass
2011 - pampas-grass-little-observation
My today's answer is No to composting Pampas grass.

***Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Whites

What are these trees?
Take a guess!






Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spring Works and Blooms in February

Pussy Willow
I need to write down what I have done in my garden in February. Otherwise, I won't believe later that I was able to do these garden chores which I usually do in March and April.

- General garden cleaning. Removing perennials and grass remnants left untouched in fall for winter interest.

- Gathering dry leaves left for plants' protection. The winter was so warm, they were not actually needed. The leaves go to the compost pile or get mixed with the old soil in the garden.

- Pruning berry bushes - raspberries, gooseberries, black carrants.

-Trimming hedges.

- Weeding and removing patches of grass for turning those areas into places for perennial planting.

- Unloading a composter and spreading compost under the plants.
- Digging up old strawberry plants.

-Clearing the back of the garden from blackberries and salal.

- Planting some perennials and grasses that were bought in containers last fall.

- Adding horse/chicken aged compost to vegetable beds.

- Winter sowing.

- Picking up zillions of pine cones and mess left by squirrels.
- Digging out crocosmia bulbs that took more time than any other job.
The following are the February blooms, some of them started to bloom in January (primrose, viola) and even in December (Hellebore):

A Hellebore got some brown spots, but still blooms profusely:

Self-seeded Violet (Viola) has long-lasting blooms:

Primulas (Primroses) are happy. I didn't forget to put slug baits around them, so nobody chews on their leaves:

Vinca minor (Creeping Myrtle, Periwinkle, Vinca) shows several blooms. Next year, I need to cut it low and clean since it's getting too tall and leggy.

Daffodils ( Narcissus ) are blooming earlier this year:

Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

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