Flora and Fauna Friday


It’s cold, dark, and dreary now in January, here in the Pacific Northwest (but not as cold as most of the rest of the country). The birds need extra food these days. They go through the seeds almost quicker than I can put it out, and they can destroy two cakes of suet in less than a week. The deer have been more in evidence lately – probably because they are running out of forage in the forest. I’m beginning to dream of daffodils (or I would be if I could ever get my bulbs in the ground), and fresh tomatoes, and berries from the farmer’s market. Only two more months for the daffodils, and four more months for the tomatoes.



Advent: Renew #EvergreenAdvent

Isaiah 43:18-19

Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.


This is a picture from Butchart Gardens near Victoria, British Columbia. An old quarry was landscaped and renewed, creating beautiful vistas and wonderful fountains, waterfalls, streams, and lakes, surrounded by trees, bushes, and flowers.


FTJ Does Vashon Island

One of the really great things about living here at Franke Tobey Jones is the fact that we are on the hill above the ferry to Vashon Island. If you are as old as I am, perhaps you remember the Betty McDonald books written in the middle of the 20th century about her life on the Olympic Peninsula (The Egg and I), Seattle (The Plague and I), and Vashon Island (Onions in the Stew). I was a big fan as a teenager. The Egg and I was made into a movie and that’s where the characters of Ma and Pa Kettle came from.


One of our favorite trips from FTJ is to go over to Vashon. It’s really an island with no bridges connecting it with the mainland, so you have to take a Washington State Ferry over.

Here we all are on the bus.

DSCN0643We got to the ferry loading place, and there were lots of logger trucks with us.


Finally, the ferry pulled in to the slip,


and we were loaded on. The cars get to load first, and then they put the trucks and busses in the middle. The folks who direct the loading are really careful to keep the weight balance correct, so the ferry doesn’t get too heavy on one side or the other. Even with the trucks, there was plenty of room as you can see looking back at the dock as we pulled away.


The water was as smooth as glass, although it was pretty cloudy and cool.


And before we knew it we were approaching the slip on the other side of the Sound. The ferry runs every hour and it takes about 15 minutes to do the crossing, and 15 minutes to unload and load again. On the way across, I saw several sea otters swimming, but I couldn’t get my camera up in time to take a picture of them. They looked just like logs, and by the time I realized they were otters, they would dive under.


Our first stop was an old country store.


It was interesting, with just about anything a farmer could want, from food to seeds to garden tools to clothing.


All kinds of “stuff”


There was “garden art”

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and plants.


After we had poked around there for a while, we loaded back on the bus and went to the town of Vashon which is located just about the middle of the island. There are lots of interesting shops there and an old Presbyterian Church.

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There were craft shops

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a historic building, housing a restaurant (it’s a restaurant, not a hardware store, contrary to its name),DSCN0696 DSCN0697some elephants on the roof,


and at least one interesting character. (Note the bare feet, even though it was 60 degrees.) He said he was reading Gulliver’s Travels.


After lunch at a pizza place, we returned to the ferry and waited in line for the boat to come in. During lunch it had cleared off and turned sunny, so the ride back was beautiful with the sound matching the sky for deep blue.

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As I looked to the East from the deck of the ferry, I was treated to the sight of Mt. Rainier drifting in what remained of the clouds above the Port of Tacoma.


And before we knew it we were back at the slip, and ready to drive up the hill, safely back to FTJ.




I only have a few minutes, but I wanted to update y’all on my current fixation.

I got the landscaping guys to dig me a garden so I could put something pretty to look at across from the windows where Al and I sit all day at our computers. They did, and I’m working on it.

I promise to take some (more) pictures tomorrow and show them to you.

FTJ had a trip to a really big greenhouse/nursery planned for today, but not enough people signed up for it (what’s up with that? – really? – It’s a beautiful 73 deg today, and the sky is a wonderful blue).

(Oh, by the way, the mountain is OUT in all its glory.)

Anyway, Big Al and I drove over to the greenhouse since I couldn’t go on the bus and I spent enough to cover half the national debt, but everything is going to be SOOOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL.

More tomorrow – with pictures.


Summer is Winding Down

Several weeks ago we began the saga of the rebuilding of our deck. Apparently they had decided last winter before we moved in that it was time for it to be refurbished and rebuilt, but we were still in the rainy season, so they put it off until this summer.

They did a really nice job of it, although it was stretched out for longer than I was happy about because the workers kept being pulled off of my job and sent to ready another living space for new residents.

I appreciate that, BUT I was not happy that they moved all my plants off the deck, took the steps apart, and then quit working on it. I couldn’t easily get to my plants (I would have had to walk all the way around the house) in order to water them. Anyway, I finally got to them when they were almost dead from lack of moisture, and I’ve been trying to baby them back into blooming, but they still (after a week or more of TLC) look a little sad.


The verbena seems to have succumbed and the petunias are dried up.


The begonia is still not doing very well.


Although this begonia has mostly recovered. The trailing things are coming along fine, but the cone flowers are pretty well gone.


And the window boxes/rail boxes are not doing well at all.

They have probably reached then end of their really pretty blooming life, so I’m starting to think about replacing them with fall color.


I got a couple of pots of chrysanthemums yesterday, and the nursery says more will be in next week. I’m seeing visions of orange, and rust, and yellow, and gold.

I’m a little frustrated though, because many of my potted plants are perennials, and I hoped to keep them until next year. I’ve been asking for some help creating a flower bed back by the fence, but they say they’re going to replace the fence this summer, and I don’t want to bother with planting stuff out there if the workers are going to trample all over it while they’re working on the fence. Apparently the fence is in line behind my deck, and I’m beginning to wonder if it will be done in time for me to plant some bulbs for spring.


We just have this bare expanse of fence (yep, one of the sections blew down a year or more ago, and it was replaced but never painted). It would be much nicer to have that space occupied by blooming flowers and ferns. I guess I can always do it next year if I don’t get it done in time for plant spring bulbs.


Summer Flowers

I promised this post to you yesterday, but it was so gloomy and rainy and blustery and cold I didn’t even want to go out on the deck to take pictures.  Today is beautiful, so I hope these pictures come out well. They might even be too bright.

I spent the family fortune at the garden store on Saturday, but I got most of these plants then, and got them planted before the weather changed.


These are cute little fuzzy purple flowers. I have no idea what they are called but I liked them.

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These are three lupine that I got about a month ago. I think the first and third ones are going to be blue and the middle one will be white, but we shall see. They were barely seedlings when I brought them home, but I’m assured the deer won’t eat them.

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These are two daisies of some size, shape or description. I have no idea what color their flowers are going to be, but the top one looks like it’s going to bloom any time now, so I won’t have to wait to long to find out. They also arrived as seedlings about a month ago, and you can see the bottom one got bent over, either in the wind or chasing the sun, at some time in the past. They are also guaranteed to be anathema to deer.

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These are two new window boxes that are going to be hung up with brackets on the rails. They are mostly verbena, I think, and the deer supposedly don’t like it. They are also supposed to attract butterflies. I have more of it in the hanging baskets.

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Two more verbena, in blue and red. They spread out all over the place (as you can see) and should be great to fill in around the bottom of other pots.


This hanging basket was here when we moved in. It was originally filled with all different kinds of succulents, but most of it had died from lack of water while the house was empty. I cleaned a lot of it out and the two tall things grew up from whatever rootstock was left. I added the blue-green and lime-green mounding things. I think they are a relative of Hens and Chickens, but I’m not sure what they are called.


I got this little pot of viola at the spring Women’s Association meeting for the church. They are thriving!

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These are two flat bowl-shaped containers that I put begonia, and more verbena in. There also a little white flower that I can’t remember the name of, and there’s more of the dwarf petunias in the bottom bowl. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know they aren’t dwarf petunias, but I don’t remember their names either).

I know I said I’d never have begonias again after they were the only things I could grow in the shade in Dallas, but aren’t those flowers the prettiest things you’ve ever seen? I just hope I have enough verbena sprinkled around that the deer won’t be tempted to come up on the deck to nibble the flowers of everything else down to the ground.