Not Done With the Rain Yet

Dear Liza,

We have had a record-setting wet spring, and it’s not done yet!

After a few days of sun last week, when we went for walks and saw lots of flowers, we had a weekend of rain, wind, and even thunderstorms.

The Rose Festival -opening-Starlight Parade went on as scheduled after three years of being canceled for Covid, but it went on without us. We just couldn’t muster the energy to bundle up and take a bus downtown to stand in the rain for a few hours. The Parade was televised so we didn’t miss it, but it would have been more fun to be THERE. Darn old rain, anyway.

My garden seems to be enjoying the rain. The Dahlias are up and blooming, and the radishes are getting tall and peppery. No squash or carrots yet, but they aren’t as quick as radishes.

We are promised sun this week, and even really warm temperatures. Keep your fingers crossed, but keep your boots handy.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Pretty Planet

Dear Liza,

The weather is getting nicer here, with just sweaters needed most days. I had to get out for a walk.


Everything is blooming! This chestnut tree is about fifteen feet tall, which means it is just a baby. The pink blossoms stand straight up, about six inches tall, and the bees love them.

Banks of rhododendrons planted in the 1920s line the sidewalks of the Sunnyside and Laurelhurst neighborhoods.

Since it is almost June, the roses that Portland is famous for have started blooming, as well. They look particularly nice when growing a bit wildly by a wonderful old house.

And, of course, it rained a bit while we were out. Not enough to be miserable, just enough to decorate the roses and remind us of what makes this part of the country so lush and green.

I got home, a bit damp, but happy to live on such a pretty planet.

Love,

Grandma Judy

More Spring Color

Dear Liza,

I finally felt like going out for a walk after being sick for a week, and the spring flowers did not disappoint.

I did a short turn around the neighborhood as the sun dipped below the clouds on its way down. There were so many dogs out walking their people, I wished you were here to pet all of them.

The azaleas and irises are teaming up for a one-two punch of pink and purple.

Yep, it is mighty nice to be out in the world again.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Garden Journal in April

Dear Liza,

It has been a weird spring of snow, sun, wind, hail, and rain. I have tried to reflect this in my garden journal.

This is my favorite two-page spread, with April 10 showing the garden as it was that day, and the dramatic change wrought by the overnight snowfall. As my accuracy improves, I am capturing the details better.

Illustrating transparent containers is hard, but they have been an important part of this spring’s garden, sheltering my sprouts from two inches of historic April snow. The bits of sunshine during the day allowed the soil to capture some heat.

And now that the freezing temperatures seem to be gone, we have rain and more rain. I am hoping for resilient sprouts and just a few peeks of sun for the next week.

Fingers crossed!

Love,

Grandma Judy

The Microforest

Dear Liza,

While you were visiting, you found an old wall covered with wonderfully thick moss. Before I could say anything, you had pulled a chunk off the wall.

“What are you going to do with that?” I asked. You thought fast.

“We could plant it and keep it and you could write a blog about it,” you answered. So here it is.

As soon as we got home, we put the moss into a plastic box with damp soil. While I went online to find out what else we could do for it, you added some bits of the forest to keep it company…. pebbles, sticks, a fir cone. Somehow, the tiny pagoda from my bonsai forest found its way in.

Since the moss had been growing in the north side of a tall house, I knew it would need complete shade to be healthy. We have a spot in the master bathroom that is perfect, but small. The moss would also need slightly acidic soil (all moss does, according to a website) and constant, gentle moisture.

My first instinct was to use a container we already have rather than buying something. I have a big terrarium jar that would be fine, but is too big to fit.

Auntie Bridgett found this wonderful glass container in her studio, about five inches high and round like a ball. The project was on!

We laid some pebbles in the bottom, then firmly packed some soil from my veggie plot. We put in the pagoda, then the moss, then the pebbles and a tiny stick to be a fallen log.

I am very happy with our new tiny forest. It sits right by my sink and I can have that wondrous feeling of walking in the woods every time I brush my teeth!

Thanks, Liza, for adding this tiny, peaceful place to my life.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Trees in Lacy Petticoats

Dear Liza,

Spring in Portland is so extravagant, it takes my breath away. Every year we say “It’s never been this pretty before!” The trees just go nuts, it seems, after a few months of cold and wet. They want to show off.

I grew up in Southern California, where the common opinion was that evergreen trees and shrubs were more practical, and easier to take care of. Trees that bloomed or shed were ”messy”.

I suppose evergreens are easier to care for, in the same way that a statue of a dog is easier to care for than an actual dog. But if a garden never changes, where’s the beauty?

Anyway, I am a fan of Spring.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Next Steps in the Garden

Dear Liza,

I am going by the vegetable garden just about every day now. I have even started keeping my gloves there, so when I stop by on a walk, I can dig and not get all muddy.


Here is a picture of the basil plant we just put in. I am hoping to make pesto this summer, so it needs to get growing!

One of my latest jobs has been weeding the south parkway of a pretty (but destructive) weed called Lesser Celadine. It comes up in spring, with shiny round leaves and pretty yellow daisy-like flowers. It fills in areas where “nothing else will grow.”










The problem is, the reason nothing else will grow there is that Lesser Celadine had small tuber-like roots that actually poison the soil, so nothing else CAN grow there. That way, the ground is clear, the next spring, for more Lesser Celadine to grow. To pull them out, you need to get all the roots. It is tiresome but satisfying work.

Once I had enough weeds to fill my trash bag, I headed home. It was even warm enough to enjoy lunch out in the balcony!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Lots to See in the Neighborhood

Dear Liza,

Spring weather is here! The flowers are popping, birds are singing, and the days alternate between sun and showers.

On a walk through the neighborhood to Collage Art Supplies, we saw our first tulips, hanging out with their friends hyacinths and daffodils


Down in SE Division Street, the employees of our favorite vintage shop, Artifact, are protesting unfair promotion practices and pay. We waved in support of the protesters and will shop elsewhere until the management figures out how to treat its staff better.


Grandpa Nelson was very patient while I picked out my birthday presents, two jars of Mod Podge, two pencil sharpeners and some Liquitex acrylics, which will fill in some gaps in my art cupboard. Then we walked to The Daily Dose coffee shop for a pick-me-up. Nicole Little’s art on their walls was intricate and colorful, showing real skill with a bandsaw and showing the peace sign from my childhood.


Heading back home, we ran into a free roaming duck and chicken, wandering up 32nd Street.




And just to put the SPRING stamp on the day, we saw our first tulip tree blooming! This variety of Magnolia, which popular here in Portland, is not as bulky as those I knew in Salinas. I like them so much better!

Have a great day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Spring Confetti

Dear Liza,

In between the rains, we had one spectacular, sunny day. The trees looked like they were dressed up for a party because of their bright colors.

Pink cherry blossoms, yellow forsythia, and white plums are not just blooming above, but dropping lovely confetti on the sidewalks.

And knowing that the storms we have coming are going to blow these petals all away make us love them even more.

They say “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” Right now, we seem to be going back and forth between lions and lambs about every three days.

Happy Spring!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Changeable Spring Weather

Dear Liza,

I have been writing about the weather but every time I write about it, it changes!


Last week, I wrote a nice blog about how blindingly clear and freezing cold it was. Then the weather changed. It was rainy and chilly. So now I will just tell the truth.



The weather in Portland is currently… well, changeable.

When we headed out for the zoo, it was pretty and clear. We visited the eagle under grey clouds and the lions under real rain.

On the way home there was grey clouds ahead of the bus and at the same moment, beautiful sunlit clouds behind us. These three photos were taken within three hours of each other!
It never gets boring, anyway.

Love,

Grandma Judy