Friday, December 25, 2015

Waiting...


Contemplating... our new home, a new garden, a new phase in life. We sit here in limbo in Portland, Oregon, as we endure the agonizing slowness of purchasing a house in nearby Vancouver, Washington. Thankfully, things have moved smoothly. We located a house on our third day out - the process has transpired fairly smoothly with a few hiccups but I am told that it is going remarkably well. The first few weeks was a hectic flurry of downloading and e-mailing documents, faxing them, mailing them again, signing, signing, signing...


Then a period of silence and boredom. Some inspection issues are currently being addressed. After those issues are resolved, we hope to close on the house in mid-January. 

The weather was calm and clear for the first several weeks that we were here. Then rain set in - lots of rain - more than average. In fact, a record was recently set for rainfall during December.  Lots of days though are rain-free, even though rain may fall in nearby communities. Usually periods of light rainfall are followed by breaks in the clouds, and sunshine. Temperatures stay in the 40s during the day and 30s at night. There has not been any flooding in this community although there have been issues in other parts of Portland. We hear that there are storms and tornadoes and temperatures in the 70s in Alabama but Christmas day here was sunny and cold.

We have not ventured out much. I did go through a period of cabin fever a few weeks ago and braved the rain to get out and explore a bit. Last week, I went to nearby Forest Park and took a muddy hike to take the photos you see here. These were taken with my camera phone. It was exciting to get out into the woods. The greenness, moss and crisp winter air provided a much-needed dose of adrenalin. 

I have immersed myself in books about gardening for this region. Ann Lovejoy's books have been particularly helpful. I realize that I am in for a totally new experience - a different climate, challenging issues with soils and plant choices - but it is an exciting one. I can't wait to begin planning the new garden. I try not to get ahead of myself - after all, the house is not ours yet and anything can happen - but I confess plans have been whirling about in my head. I will have to pace myself - there will not be room enough for all I want to have and do. I also have to face the fact that we are going to be on a limited budget. It is, however, a dream come true for me.

To be continued...




ForestPark6
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ForestPark7  


ForestPark5

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ForestPark10

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Saying goodbye


This is a difficult post to compose. First of all, I must apologize to readers and followers of my blog for not keeping you updated. The reason for this is that Michael and I are so superstitious that we were afraid that broadcasting what was going on would jinx everything. But the day has arrived - as of this morning, our house is sold.

So, how do you say goodbye to a house and garden that you have lived in for 23 years and loved with every fiber of your being? I am not sure. I thought I would have a literate philosophical essay about that but the truth is I am rather numb at the moment. Both of us are emotionally and physically exhausted. I think that is probably for the best. I think it is better not to dwell on the issue. Just writing this and selecting these photos has been a very somber experience.

However, I know we are in for wonderful experiences ahead.We are moving to the Pacific Northwest, an area that I never dreamed I would ever live (but always knew that I would love). I am not officially retired yet so I will be returning soon to finalize those plans as well as get our belongings in storage moved out there. Keep your fingers crossed for us - neither one of us has ever lived outside Alabama and we are both a bit apprehensive. 

First of all, we have to find a house. We have been very fortunate so far - the next-door neighbor to our friends in Portland is letting us rent his house at least through December. This really relieved some pressure and we are happy to be so close to people we will know. Hopefully, we will find a house quickly - the market out there is really competitive.

I am of course excited to begin the creation of a new garden. This blog will continue - I will just be changing the sub-title! As for this home and garden, it is being inherited by some wonderful people who absolutely love the garden. I know they are going to love and care for it as much as we have.

So, for now, I will end by sharing some of my favorite photos of the garden, taken over the years.


rose-veilchenblau
borders-pergola-2 rose-new-dawn Rose "Nearly Wild" japanese-maple-leaves













Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Topsail Hill Preserve

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)  
There are numerous state parks around the Destin area and on Hwy. 31, the scenic stretch where we stay. We have been to a few in the past but somehow missed Topsail Hill on past trips. It was the prettiest that we have seen. Parks along the coast consist mainly of pines and assorted low-growing shrubs that grow well in sand. Topsail featured a wide paved road, spotted with joggers and hikers, that ran one mile to the white sandy dunes and beach. It had more of a "forest" feel with denser plantings and taller trees.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)

Topsail Hill Preserve is also considered a major bird sanctuary. We heard birdsong constantly along our walk and saw a few birds in the open although most of them remained quite shy. There was also a sign warning about bears but fortunately we didn't see any of those.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)

After leaving the forest area, a long boardwalk takes you to the beach. Sandy dunes with wildflowers dotted them.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)

The city of Destin in the distance.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)  


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Santa Rosa Beach

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 

We are home from our annual Florida vacation - this year we stayed in Santa Rosa Beach. The weather was rainy the first part of the week but then it cleared out and we had sunny skies for the remainder. We actually did not do that much - we spent more time in our beach house and just ventured out for food. After visiting for over 15 years, I think we have seen just about everything but we did visit a park that was new to us (photos coming later). 


Santa Rosa Beach, Florida  


Santa Rosa Beach, Florida



Santa Rosa Beach, Florida




Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Coleus "Kong"


Earlier this summer, I was looking for a colorful annual to go in a large pot next to our back door. The spot is shady and under a small porch roof. I was going to go with the old stand-by - impatiens - but saw this at the nursery and decided to try it. It has been spectacular.



Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy