Overlooked, and often grumbled about, by me. You don't have to look far within this blog to find me complaining about dumb old boring grey.
It gets a bad rap most of the time. It's the muddy shade you end up with when mixing all your old leftover paint together; the color of naval ships, scratchy old wool, parking lots, badly-done laundry, the ashes left after the embers have cooled. It's the color of winter in the Pacific Northwest: the dull absence of bright, cheerful color purportedly responsible for our high rates of depression, madness, suicide.
What grey does, however, is make every other shade around it seem that much more exciting, beautiful, and dramatic.
I was reminded of this recently on a visit to Long Beach, WA.
It says, "Hey, don't mind me, I'm just Grey. But check these other colors out!" It's sort of selfless that way. Thanks, Grey.
I've gone on here many times before about my love for our Northwest beaches in the wintertime. It's just part of me, inside me. I feel whole again when I hear the surf roar and that icy wind whips across my face, the wet sand and seafoam blows across my boots.
A few days later, on a ferry ride from Seattle, I was struck again by the beauty and drama of a dull grey day.
What a gorgeous Indian Summer we've been having here in the Northwest. The days have been clear and blue, the mornings and evenings especially golden and pinkish, and the nights crisp and cool. I'm not usually thinking about the garden this time of year, since pretty much the only thing that's happening is the last of the tomatoes and squash are ripening while the rest of the beds sit sort of neglected and dry, waiting patiently for someone to finally clean up spent blooms and do some pre-winter mulching.
I may not typically be thinking gardening in October, but for the past year my sister has been telling me about this amazing nursery over on the Kitsap Peninsula, and we've been saying we'll go. It's closed during the winter and this month is our last chance for the year, so we finally scheduled a day and I hopped on a ferry to meet her there.
It couldn't have been a bluer morning out on Puget Sound.
Everyone was taking advantage of the warm October sunshine.
Gulls and cormorants at the ferry dock preened and sunned themselves.
As I pulled into the long driveway toward Dragonfly Farms Nursery for the first time, I knew it was going to be cool. I parked my car under a fish in a tree
and started to soak in this late-season wonderfulness.
We wandered through the extensive paths and gardens before heading up to the retail area.
In October I expect to see dramatic grasses
interesting dried pods
and colorful foliage and berries
but I'm always surprised by what's actually blooming. Around my neighborhood and in my own yard, the roses are all having a second (or third) go at it, but wait, there's more...
...and if these tall and fabulous blooms and giant showy leaves aren't enough, you could always plant flowers made of big rocks and rusty metal. I am loving these and want a whole bed of them.
The beds at Dragonfly Farms are full of giant rusty machine parts turned garden sculptures; I can't get enough of that stuff. I just love it.
And this one surprised me by being the coolest birdhouse ever.
There were a few of these great benches built into raised beds.
Note to self, find some gargantuan pipe sections and a giant slab of slate and make a bench out of it. Yeah, I'll get right on that...
More fun surprises that pop up this time of year: cute little baby perennials and spreading pansies that just show up at the edges or even right in the middle in the garden path
and bottle borders.
I love bottle anything. It's a hereditary thing for glass, my relatives and I can't help it - we just came this way.
I also love spheres in the garden.
Gazing balls, armillary sundials, giant sculptures, floats, old bowling balls, anything round just makes me happy when it's nestled into the landscape. And there are plenty here.
the mother of all garden spheres
and then that sphere's mother.
Yes, the mother of the mother of all garden spheres. Really. There are quite a few amazing sculptures by this local artist scattered throughout the grounds.
And if rusty metal isn't your thing, there's always mirror glass.
I am also a big fan of Seussian trees. You know, ones that remind me of beloved characters from my childhood. But I'm not sure I've ever seen a tree that reminded me so much of Snuffleupagus.
I sort of want one as a pet.
But this one lives here with his whole family, so I wouldn't want to break that up.
Everywhere you look around here there is personality
and more personality.
Just look at the shape of this planter. I am afraid to build stuff because I think it will turn out this shape, but now that I see this, that wouldn't be so bad. And see the broken pot behind it? Placed as though that tree just busted out of it overnight.
There are hidden treasures everywhere,
many of them were once useful objects...
...hidden deep under this burst of growing goodies is a claw-foot bathtub used as a planter.
More paths wander through semi- to deeply-shaded areas
all filled with artisticly quirky treasures,
and growing ones.
Wandering through the subtle, dark, shady paths, you suddenly come across the most inviting doorway
to another little world, this one in technicolor.
An adorable old gingerbread-covered house peeked through the shrubs and trees telling us that we might have stumbled onto the owners' private space, so we headed back out through another path that meandered through more gardens and eventually brought us back to the nursery
filled with locally-sourced goodies
gorgeous fall color
and friendly and helpful planting advice.
I can't wait to go back in the spring and summer and enjoy a completely different kind of show of colors and textures.
After we had our fill of gardeny goodness, we enjoyed a delicious lunch outside on a deck overlooking the waterfront with a couple new friends who didn't seem to understand why we were both talking to them so nicely but not offering them food (it was way too good to share).
With my belly full of yummy food, my car full of new plants,
and that warm nice feeling from spending a great day with someone I love I headed home again across the amazingly blue Puget Sound.
What a great day!
If you are here in Western Washington and are into gardening, I suggest you head over to Dragonfly Farms Nursery between Kingston and Hansville and wander, discover, and stock up on great plants and unique garden art - you won't be sorry you did! The owner is super nice and has cute dogs, it's a woman-owned small business supporting other local small businesses, and one of the neatest places around.
Our vacation this summer was as perfect as a couple weeks at the beach should be.
There were bright foggy mornings
and soft, pink sunsets;
bright blue mornings
that turned into golden afternoons
and fiery golden sunsets.
There were blue skies
and lazy afternoons;
and once my brain finally came around and fell into "lazy afternoon" mode, that's when it was turned off just enough to start making stuff. For fun. Not because I have to make a living. But because I have to make.
I did sort of have a making-stuff agenda, a small one: there was a wedding gift I wanted to make, and I had something very specific in mind. But the rest was completely random.
So what do you get when you pull out the Paperclay while you're munching on pistachios?
Hungry baby birds, of course.
I actually giggled out loud while these took shape. I can't really take credit for what they look like, I mean they sort of made themselves.
And they totally made me giggle, the whole time. I couldn't help it.
There were still pistachio shells on my plate. Why not, a sea monster with pistachio scales. His head was pretty heavy while he was wet, so I propped it up with a little seashell until he dried.
Nerd alert: yes, that's the Millenium Falcon hovering over my freshly-made sea monster. Yeah, so? Doesn't everyone have that?
There was this float on the table outside with sticks jammed into it; I'd been thinking it reminded me of a bird's body, and, well, there were babies to feed, so...
Meet Flotsam the Crow.
Another float became the perfect sturdy little skull 0n which to build her clay beak.
In spite of her Western name, Flotsam is, apparently, a Japanese crow.
Her existing stick-tail seemed a little thin, so a few other flotsamy jetsomy pieces of rope and fishing net scraps filled it out a bit.
Since she was already outside for her first photo shoot, she joined us for Happy Hour.
Then on to the wedding present. This was to be a specific bird that the recipients know personally, but I wanted her to have a piece of our beach incorporated somehow. So she got a scallop-shell tail.
A couple days later they all got their first coats of paint.
And the sea monster got sparkles
and seashells and barnacles.
The hungry babies got a shell nest to live in.
I won't mention how bad Flossie was when she got mad that we were outside on the deck without her. How she knocked the babies out of the nest and played with them on the floor, breaking one's beak off. Oh wait, I did just mention that. Not that I am usually in the habit of shaming my pets on the interwebs, it's just - well - she so did this out of spite, it was pretty obvious. I only wish I'd have seen what fun she must have had while we were outside with our backs to the windows; those poor little birds were spread all over the place behind us. And the beak was easily fixed . . . so all was forgiven.
Again with how these things make themselves: Flotsam turned herself into the happiest crow ever.
Maybe it's because she has such a cute family.
And they all get to live there at the beach cabin together forever and ever.
I guess that would make me smile like this, too.
I was pretty happy with her scraggly tail
but then my brother found a crow's feather while weed-eating the yard, and he was right: it was just what she needed.
And finally, this is White Wing - she is all ready to go to her new home.
Thanks for visiting; and if you haven't yet, go to the next post where I'm having a fabric giveaway! You have until Sunday morning to enter the drawing, good luck!
Time to stop and breathe, stare at the sea, romp on the beach, and draw, just for fun. Time to spread my supplies out on my big table and make stuff. Time to quietly celebrate that party we threw on this very beach 19 years ago, when we made all those promises about commitment and a lifetime together in front of a bunch of poeple we love.
Dog walks every morning and afternoon are an every-day attitude adjustment around here, but on the beach, forgetaboutit. It turns into an ear-to-ear grinning until my cheeks hurt thing.
At the beach, little things become fun events.
Some birds. A boat. A pattern.
The perfect latte in the morning is enough to bring a smile to my famously-grouchy-morning-lips (yes, we actually pack up the Breville and take it to the cabin) but it's even more fun when I pull a random mug from the cupboard and realize it's designed by my talented friend BJ Lantz! Her cute beach design made me smile every morning (those who know me well will attest, this is a tall order).
And finally, 2 weeks of perfect sunsets, how can that not make someone smile?
Finally going through my photos from last month's amazingly restful, absolutely-perfect-in-every-way vacation at the beach, I was struck by the colors and suddenly needed to play Brenda Pinnick's fun color-palette game again (ok, maybe it's not supposed to be a game, but those of you who dig colors like I do understand exactly why I think it is).
From the subtle foggy morning shades on through that crazy-dramatic changes-every-few-seconds sunset smorgasboard of color, I'm now finding even more inspiration in my simple little shots of the beach...
There's an awful lot of grey outside my window right now.
Just last week, though, it seemed to me that the whole world was blue and gold. And deep purply red and vibrant fiery orange and every shade in between. Then the wind picked up and the clouds came in and now it's more than apparent that winter is lurking just around the corner...
Sometimes you just need a day at the beach. Sometimes you need to stand and stare into the surf. Just stand in one place while the waves wash over your feet. Like this guy. Sometimes you need to watch the birds and search for treasures in the sand. Like this guy. Or have fun finding tracks in the sand like this raccoon's or this deer's or even the little tracks left by grass in the breeze.
Sometimes you need to fantasize that there's no one around and you could just live in a fort. Sometimes you just need a day at the beach.
Just for fun, a few more bits of eye candy from the beach a couple months ago...
As a kid I was fascinated by monster-sized bull kelp. I guess I still am. Extreme tides exposed all sorts of treasures, mostly tied into knots by the waves. One super-low tide exposed a magical sugar-frosted wonderland, it just sparkled in the evening sun.
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Please don't use or reproduce anything you find here without permission.