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My Aunt Billie (Lesley) passed away this evening at age 96, my Mom’s cousin and last living relative.

She was like a sister to my Mom, having spent part of her adolescence living with my Mom and her parents. As an adult, she and her husband ran the radio service connecting the primitive areas of Idaho. Billie lived a full and fascinating life and was still feisty at 96. I remember talking to her some years ago and mentioned Mom felt herself slowing down at 77. Billie said, “Pffuh, I could kill a snake at 77″. I’m sure she could have, too.

We went to see her in Oregon in May and had a great visit over two days, for which we are very grateful.

I took this photo a few hours before we saw her for the last time.

Everyone’s time comes – no one is exempt. She kept going for almost 97 years and if anyone could have beat the system, it would have been her. Or my Dad.

Farewell, dear Billie. We love you and will miss you so. I hope your next journey is full of adventures and happiness.

– g

Hydrangea, Lily, Lily, Rose

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These three flowers dominate my thoughts, gardening and photography this week. Weather continues to be close to perfect. Warmer than it has been but clear and breezy.

We have twelve hydrangeas, five of which I planted in the autumn of 2007. One of the important things to know about hydrangeas is that if the emerging leaf nodes get damaged by an early spring frost, you will probably not have any blooms for that year, which is a perilous thought to a hydrangea lover. Hence, with the wacky (cold) weather we’ve had for the last two springs, I’ve spent many an hour outside wrapping the hydrangeas in felt blankets and frost cloth, driving stakes into the ground and winding the white fabric around until they resemble so many miniature ghosts dotted about the property. Once you’ve done this a few times, in blustery wind/rain/sleet/or snow, it gets really old. But it is worth it come July when the amazing flowers explode into melon sized balls of lacy petals of remarkable color.
Another nerve-wracking thing about hydrangeas is that the flower color to a large degree depends on the PH of the soil. Thus, two of my new plants, “Pink Parfait” and “Zaukonig”, which were pinky pink last year, have, due to the acid in the soil, emerged lavender this year. Very upsetting. The handling is to add lime or aluminum to the soil, but that won’t do anything for this year’s blooms.


My favorite Oriental lily, and the only one I grow, is the Stargazer. The three blooms I cut are still in vases on my desk. I can hardly bear to leave the room, the fragrance is so intoxicating. At night I put them in the fridge which really helps them last longer. The blooms that are still outside survived the heat wave and are perfuming the upper front lawn and wafting into the open living room windows. See early post on these luscious and addictive flowers.


My roses are loving the recent heat.

David Austins: ‘Graham Thomas’ shot up a new stem covered with FORTY new buds. Like wise, ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ is covered in multiple blooms, providing plenty for cutting, while leaving the white picket fence nicely covered. I also have ‘A Shropshire Lad’, ‘Gentle Hermione’ and ‘The Shephardess’ but Graham and Emma are the top performers this year. I water daily and fertilize with organic fertilizer every two months.

Knock Out:

I have Knock Out and Rainbow Knock Out. Going strong, more blooms from the Rainbow but better fragrance from the original Knock Out.

As well, my Rosa Rugosa ‘Hansa’, which was the first rose to bloom this season, is having a second flowering, nice new buds and blooms. Heavenly fragrance.

This is Seafair weekend, which means airshows, hydrofoil races, fireworks and other summery activities. Last night we went over to my brother Robb’s, who lives near Lake Washington, for a barbeque and viewing of the late evening aerobatics-with-fireworks show over the lake. Very lovely and festive.

It’s Official!

Screen grab from my computer and lead article in local news
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We’re having a heat wave!

What else to say? We’ve spent the day watering EVERYTHING in between getting some work done. That might seem extravagant but our property is our outdoor studio and we can’t let everything die/wilt. We pretty much have three hoses going all day and our conversations are along the lines of “Are you done with the sprinkler on upper lawn because I have to do the hydrangeas” or “Can we turn the hoses off for a few minutes so I can have a shower?”

Nearly all the Stargazers are open now. I cut three today and have them in the fridge so I can enjoy them tomorrow. The ones in the garden I will leave and enjoy from the living room window, but I don’t think they’ll last through tomorrow in this heat.

Still, no complaints from us. We love the sun and the wonderful summer we’re having. The office is sweltering with all the heat our equipment pumps out so tomorrow I’ll probably relocate to the entry or living room. It’s too hot outside for the laptops.

I’ve been so busy on some rush design projects (now finished) that my photos have been neglected. We have a number of shoots that I haven’t posted or uploaded anything on including an heirloom rose garden and a medicinal herb garden I shot on Monday.

Oh, and I finished setting up our blog for Garden Photo World.

Wildlife update:
In addition to the garden, we’ve been keeping our feathered friends cool by running fresh water in their baths twice a day as well as running the sprinklers which they LOVE. Especially the chickadees, who chitter and chatter non stop as they dive in and out of the spray.
(And…shhhhhhh, …there…is…a…Robin’s nest in the camellia.)

– g

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