Tag Archives: Bill Maas

Pleasure Grounds

By KIMBERLY MAYER

 

In my last post it was one step forward, two steps back with the deer ones eating nearly all my plantings, and in the process of watering those plants, thistle grew. An insidious, obnoxious weed.

Sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back.

And every now and then, a leap. My theory is that if we weren’t plugging away step by step, we would never reach the ledge where we can jump like that. Leaps are what we live for, after all.

I had been blogging on remodeling for a year before I realized I hadn’t included any “before” and “after” photos, which must be the bread and butter of remodeling blogs. So here it goes:

Back yarrd before

our scrappy lot when we moved in

Stumps and picnic table with view

the Pacific Northwest pleasure grounds it is now.

This is where we weeded, framed the areas, and put down a weed barrier underlayment. Where we carried gravel in 5 gallon buckets, one in each hand for balance, from the driveway where the truck had dumped the load, down a long flight of stairs to empty on the underlayment. Three days of doing this, four yards of gravel. My husband’s FitBit read 12 miles each day. We have a friend on island who sent her gravel downhill by constructing a chute out of tarp. In our case it was a staircase, and so we had to carry.

This is where we dine on an oversized Western red cedar table made by our friend Bill Maas at Egglake Sawmill & Shake. Where we will sit around bonfires at night whenever the drought ends, and otherwise just sit around. Where we wrap ourselves in Pendleton wool throws at night and place our beer or wine or Moscow mule glasses on cedar stump tables beside each chair.

The cedar stumps too came from Egglake Sawmill & Shake, rough with bark. First the edges were routed to create a smooth bevel at the rim and base, then the bark was peeled, and the stumps were sanded–first with a belt-sander, then fine sanding. Finally, multiple coats of a clear polyurethane coating, and when dry, they were good to go.

Stumps on deck

There were eight stumps in total. Four around the fire, three on a deck between Adirondack chairs there too, and one was so grand in size and particularly good looking, I placed it in the living room. My thinking now is that every French bergère chair should have a rustic cedar stump beside it.

Stump in living room

So what if it slants a little?

Outside again, this is where we have every intention to play bocce ball—once we get the right material in the court and compact it with a lawn roller and do everything right. For a premium surface—where the balls roll fast, track straight, and absorb bounce–building a bocce ball court is much like constructing, and maintaining, a Japanese Zen garden. In the end it is covered with crushed oyster shells and dusted with “oyster flour” made from pulverized oyster shells, for proper texture and drainage.*

Who knew?

What a difference a year makes. In Seattle it was all about fine dining, theatre, and literary readings. In the islands, crab boils upon picnic tables, gravel, and oyster flour.

*Note: Ours will be less than perfect. Paul calls it a drunken bocce ball court because it is not completely level.

 

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under pleasure grounds

Gardening Around Deer

 Deer eating

 

Summer came and our attention moved from inside to out. That, and when a house is on the water, everything gets turned around and the waterside becomes the front. So we are focused on the water now and we’re off in kayaks and guests of ours are coming by in boat. We are digging for clams, growing oysters in the water, and all our salad greens in planters on a sunny deck.

Let’s just say that summertime in the Pacific Northwest is so nice, everyone would live here if it were like this year round. So we’re glad it isn’t.

Similarly I am grateful for all that the deer don’t eat. It seems to me in gardening, with all the choices available, we need some restrictions. We need to plant native, preferably, drought-tolerant, and living on island, deer-resistant. Our smart nursery at Browne’s on San Juan Island has a few long tables that fulfill these requirements. Put in the right plants, and no need to see deer as menace.

While palates can differ among deer, I think it is safe to say they dislike strong-tasting plants such as herbs. Likewise they will leave euphorbia and poppies alone (milk sap), they avoid foxglove and daffodil (poisonous), lupine, Jerusalem Sage, Meadow Rue, Bigroot Geranium, lamb’s ear, salvia, foxglove, Shasta daisy and Iris. (Cosmos were on this list in my first draft, but they were chomped in the night so now they’re not).

Who can’t paint a picture with all that?

I’m planting Shasta daisy along the 134’ fence that lines the edge of the property from the steep grade bank to the beach. Our bonfire pit encircled with Adirondack chairs is before this fence, soon to be joined with the picnic table Bill Maas is constructing for us at Egg Lake Sawmill & Shake. Plus a Bocce Ball court we’re going to build on soil because our daughter gave us a handsome set for Christmas. The Shasta daisy lined fence will be background for all this activity, attracting butterfly by day and illuminating the night. And the deer have given us this.

This house had been standing empty for a couple of years before we purchased it, thus the deer made the property part of their park. It is their land and I am not about to fence them out. Surrounded by forests and farmland, pastures, lagoons, quarries and marshes, miles of trails and a winding country road, all this natural beauty—the deer are a part of it.

Native to the San Juan Islands, the Columbia black-tail deer graze about, their big black eyes following us. Where we live never a shot is heard, so this trust has been built up for some time. I just walked into it. Yet I now consider myself a deer whisperer. Talking softly and moving slowly, I assure them they are safe and that I love them. Attentive ears, they listen to me. Then go back about their grazing, grooming the woods, and munching all the pesky dandelions.

Wild gardening.

2 Comments

Filed under gardening with deer