The last time George and I walked in the woods, he lagged far behind and acted like he didn't want to go.  I didn't get the feeling he was wary about coyotes.  Usually, he would stay by my side if that were the case.  He just wouldn't follow, and sat on the trail waiting for me to come back to him.  I guess cats get tired of walking the same path too.  We haven't walked for a couple of weeks because of that, and so on Friday, he was all ears and eyes about it.  He was ready to go again.  He's nine years old this year.  I think his age is beginning to show in his activity level.

We nearly missed the blooming of the wild tiger lilies.  They are the flower I look forward to year after year, and I protect them as if they were my children. 

Fortunately, they are off to the side of the path.  Mike hacked paths through the woods many years ago.  They were a tangle of ferns, undergrowth, and vine maples, and they were completely impassable.  Now, he rides the ATV through them occasionally to keep the path clear.  Sometimes we take a saw to cut off dead branches that fall from above.

Lately, I've been reminding him not to run over a new foxglove that has grown up in the middle of the path.

There are a lot of foxglove growing wild by the side of the road, and there are some on our neighbor's side of the fence.  Only a few wild ones have graced our side of the line (although I have planted a few).  This one is new this year.  Hopefully, Mike won't mow it down on the ATV before it has a chance to seed itself for next time around.

Aside from the tiger lilies and the foxglove, there isn't a lot blooming in the woods this time of year.  Right now, it's the ferns' time to shine.  They are huge, lush, and green right now.

I am forever trying to get under them so that I can see their lines of spores.  They seem prehistoric when seen from this side.  There are a lot of interesting things growing in the woods.  One of the things I love about photography is that it reminds me to pay attention.  I think of it as visual highlighting.  If I'm looking for my next picture, I'm looking out for what's new, beautiful, or unusual.

Speaking of lush and green . . . (Not!)  This is one of those years when I'm going to need to be grateful for whatever grows in the garden.  I want to tell the tomatoes to hurry and grow.  Time's a wasting.  They do have some flowers on them now, but honestly, I wonder if I'll get any tomatoes in the garden this year.

I gave the corn and Brussels sprouts big beds.  As you can see, only about 10% of it actually germinated.

Is that a sad sight, or what?  And isn't corn supposed to be "knee high by the 4th of July?"  Hm.  Maybe if you're George.

Another thing I've learned about gardening at our place is that I need to plant about four times as many seeds as I'm hoping for just to get as much as I really want.  But again, I've learned to be grateful for whatever I get.  There won't be enough for canning this year, but we'll get a few meals out of it. 

The only thing that is doing well in the garden this year are the beets and the lettuce.  I'll have plenty of beets for pickling, and I'll probably start harvesting leaves off the lettuce in the next few days.

If I just pick off the leaves and let the root alone, they will continue to produce lettuce for quite a while.  And I usually plant a second and third round as well so that we have lettuce for the whole season.  In fact, it's time to plant the second round now.

These are the trials of gardening in the Northwest and at a higher-than-optimal altitude than the rest of my Portland neighbors.  Fortunately, the tomatoes and the cucumbers in the greenhouse are doing well, but I've learned never to count my tomatoes before they've ripened.

As for the rest of the yard, there was one ripe cherry on the cherry tree.  The rest are all green.  I have no idea why this one is so chipper.

Our hydrangeas were really knocked back this winter.  They were one of the first things we planted when we started landscaping our place, and so they are well-established.  Still, this year, I cut out almost 90% of the plant because it was nothing more than dead wood.  Now they are small plants again.  Nevertheless, this one presented us with its first bloom of the season.

A few days ago, I was looking at images that were taken when we first looked at our place way back in April of 2002.  The previous owner was also the builder, and he was a concrete contractor.  The place was littered with the trash and tools of his trade.  One of the conditions of our offer to buy the place was that he clean up all the stuff that had been casually tossed all over.  That's an aside to explain all the litter in these "before" shots I'm about to show you.  On the positive side, he had planted a lot of beautiful, but tiny trees.  I don't remember thinking that the landscape was barren at the time, but when I look at those pictures now, I can see how much work we've put into the place.  We moved in June 1, 2002, so we've been here just a little over nine years.  (Time sure flies.)

Here's how the front of the house looked before (There was snow on the ground in April!):

Here's how the front of the house looks now:

Here's how the side of the house looked then:

These next images are taken standing on the deck and looking in the opposite direction, but I think you can get the idea.

We almost didn't buy the place because of this "before" garage.  We needed more room than for just one car, not to mention all of Mike's stuff. 

Then, I got the bright idea to build a garage.  That turned out to be quite an undertaking, but I'm glad we did it.

The old garage turned into an office for Mike.  When people come into the room and remark on how large it is, we always say, "Yes, big enough to park a car!" 

Finally, the previous owner was thoughtful enough to plant trees along the side of the shop that we see from the house.  They were tiny when we moved in.

And now they've grown big enough that they almost obscure our view.  By next year, I think they will have grown enough that the shop will be completely hidden.

So that's a little tour of our place before and after.

Today, I'm sewing the last row of blocks on my "Dave's Not Here" quilt.  And yesterday, I scored some pie cherries at the Portland Farmer's Market.  If I have everything I need, there's a cherry pie in our future.  How's your weekend going?

7 comments from clever and witty friends:

Susanne said...

Love your landscaping. Isn't it amazing how little by little things just seem to fall into place....well, that is with a lot of hard work and some muscle :)

LynCC said...

It all looks marvelous now. :) We've got a bit of that going now, with trees finally coming into prettiness. We lost 9 trees out of our front yard to Hurricane Ivan in 2004 (just a suburban yard size, no acreage). So we planted some trees to grow back in. We've been lucky to be here this long, but the Air Force will make us move next summer. The "regular" maple grew fast and has been tall and beautiful for 3 years, now. The mimosa likewise is growing quickly and made a nice mid-size canopy this summer with a gorgeous sprinkling of the pink-tipped fan flowers for the first time. The japanese emperor maple is still very small, but his color this year was incredible and his foliage is very full and beautiful. The redbud is looking good, perhaps mid-size now, and the crepe myrtle as well. The hickory and the sourbark are slow growers that won't look like anything much for another 8 or 10 years, so those will be gifts for the next owner to enjoy later on.

oops - sorry to carry on! We do love our trees and it was a gut-wrenching heartbreak to lose so many that year when we'd had a beautiful canopy of trees.

The Vegetarian Hunter said...

That is so cool that you can take your cat for a walk! I think I could take my one cat if we lived someplace like yours, but not in the city.
Your before and after pictures are fantastic. I really enjoyed them, thank you for sharing them. Bummer about your garden, is it just too hot where you are? I cannot get a garden to grow at all, but it due to there being too many trees in my yard! The previous owners had two huge white willows in the back, along with a very tall "hedge" of cedars and lilac trees, then there are two cherry trees - not edible ones. There are also three more trees in the back that I do not know what species they are - all these trees in a 40 x 60 foot area - to say there is shade is an understatment! When it rains, I can stand in the back yard and not feel a single drop!
My weekend started out great, I sewed Friday after work, Saturday I prepped to continue sewing but my machine kinda lit on fire. ... .. its in the shop now. I am hoping it can be fixed.
I hope your "Dave's Not Here" quilt is going well!

Stray Stitches said...

WOW! You have done so many beautiful improvements to you property and home!!!!
Thanks for sharing all of the beautiful photos of the flora/fauna in your area. Tigerlilys have always been one of my favorite flowers since I was a child. Unfortunately, they do not grow well around here. I hope you get some tomatoes in your garden soon.
Hope your weekend is going well!

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Love what you’ve done with the place. Do you plan to stay there now? I am hopefully in my last home. Altho my soulmate and I may spend some retirement time traveling about the West during the cooler parts of the year.

Sarah said...

Enjoyed the walk in the woods. As another poster said, I can't just walk with any of my cats altho the girls will let me carry them around the yard without trying to jump free. My boy won't even let me carry him towards the door - he's just a little wuss in a big kitty body.

Your poor veggies. I know we've discussed that your garden is behind mine in the growing season so I hope it shows some growth soon. I harvested a *couple* snow peas yesterday and noticed one spaghetti squash growing.

quiltzyx said...

I do so enjoy tagging along on your walks! And my feet & knees never hurt.... ;^)

What a difference a few years make! It is fun to look at before & after pics.

Just yesterday one of my friends said that her DH picked a GIANT bowl of cherry tomatoes from their plant, and that her SIL & GS were picking the bigger tomatoes, rinsing them off at the hose & eating them like apples out by the pool! Poisonous Wolf Peaches are not my idea of a fun snack, but it's been a good season for them in SoCal this year!