Xeric Girl to the Rescue Part II

by on Apr 18, 2014

So if y’all remember this post from a while back, I was contemplating a rather messy (and neglected, given my lack of rose-pruning knowledge) front flowerbed. Here’s a taste of what it looked like last winter:

I never promised you a rose garden

I never promised you a rose garden

Pretty blah, right? (Although, in the roses’ defense, this isn’t exactly their best side.) Yes, they were pretty last summer while in bloom, but it was impossible to really irrigate all them while watering the rest of the yard, the blossoms were hosting massive thrip conventions, and I didn’t care for the way the thorny canes made our front entry look bristly and uninviting during the winter months.  Although I love the sweet, nostalgic smell of roses, I also prefer plants that won’t draw blood on top of all my sweat and tears, thank you very much.

So, a few bribes later, my beau R. used his mattox (sorry, they’ll always be “pickaxes” to me) to pull the roses out. I wasn’t surprised that the plants weren’t deeply rooted, given the way water tended to run out of the bed into the driveway every time we watered them. After R’s plasma donation was finally over with, we picked roots  and then added some peaty soil mix back in to improve moisture retention. Voila! I had a blank canvas. No more thorns for this girl.

The plants I ordered that I’m most excited about are ones I’ve grown before, although I’m used to picking cast members that thrive in Royal City’s sandy soil rather than the heavier stuff we have here (so we’ll see how they do). I really like a bush salvia called “Maraschino” that gets about 3″ tall and has brilliant red flowers, and I had to have another pineleaf penstomen. And the cheerful little rose-colored perennial geranium I dug up from my garden in Royal (which survived a boiling hot trip here in the back of a U-haul last summer) has already happily reseeded itself under our birch tree.

Because I always garden with an eye to pleasing household residents, I included some Walker’s Low catmint plants, which our cat Notch really likes. I threw in some wildly-colored ice plants called “Fire Spinner” and a Pike’s Peak purple penstemon for R, since he likes bright colors as much as I do.

When I was unpacking the shipped plants in the garage last week, Notch (who was naturally supervising the entire operation) surprised me by completely ignoring the catmint and immediately attacking some Karl Forester ornamental grass –he actually started dragging the little nursery pot across the floor like a lion dragging a dead gazelle. So you never know. (I recalled a comment my dad made once after reading the back of a catnip seed packet. The instructions read: “Do Not Plant Where Cats Will be a Nuisance.” Dad:  “Where are cats NOT a nuisance?”)

For the record, I bought most of my plants from High Country Gardens, a company that I’ve ordered from for years. They specialize in xeric species, and they carry everything from expert-level cacti and prairie natives to more foolproof plants. R. also took me to the excellent Yellow Rose Nursery in Prosser a couple of weeks ago for a couple Hidcote lavender and rosemary plants (our rosemary and Spanish lavender didn’t survive the winter, which I’d expected). Unfortunately, the Denver Daisy I really liked that I got from Russell’s last year also didn’t make it, so I’ll have to find something else for that spot.

I didn’t want to buy any new landscaping materials because the plants were fairly spendy, so we just used rocks that we had in the yard and did a little rearranging. Thanks to a visit from my 6’5 twin sons, we relocated some heavy-duty pieces of basalt to add a little height to the bed while the plants are growing.

This year I’ll also plant a few basils here, since the bed gets a lot of light and heat in the summer. Of course basil’s not xeric, but because newly-planted xeric plants need a year or so of regular watering to built a strong root system, I think it’ll work out just fine. I’m one of those gardeners that tends to move things around a lot anyway, in part because I almost always plant things too close together. Yes, I know that crowding plants is probably the single biggest mistake that gardeners make…but I’d rather relocate the players every few years rather than spend my free time weeding a bunch of open space.

Besides, gardening is really all about learning from your mistakes and having lots of new projects to get excited about, right? Now all we have to do is start working on the BACK yard…

Front changes

Spring 2014







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Strapped in for fun at Meadowbrook

by on Apr 14, 2014

We have a 12-year-old gent in our household this week, so we old people have been doing some things that we don’t normally do.

R’s son (whom we will refer to as R2 for the purposes of this blog) is an athletically gifted kid who spends a lot of his time on the ski slopes. He can do a standing backflip, something amazing called a “720” on a mogul course (a move that makes him look like an upside-down helicopter) and now here in Yakima, God forbid, he’s working on his skateboarding skillz. (The ‘z’ here is my lame attempt to indicate my level of hipness and connection to skate culture.)

Now, I have three grown sons, including identical twins who would regularly do things like fling themselves out of second-story windows when they were R2’s age. But I never got used to this kind of behavior. There are some things that I’m very good at as a mother—and one of them happens to be the ability to remain calm during injury emergencies (doctoring exposed leg tendons after bad horse accidents is good for this sort of thing). I’ve bandaged amputated fingers. I’ve witnessed what happens to a kid’s eye when his brother accidentally sprays WD40 into it.

I once tried to treat a bizarre gardening accident involving my ex-husband all by myself…at one point trying to use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to pry huge orange chunks of carrot wedged up underneath his thumbnail while he hopped around telling me how much it hurt (he wound up in the ER, by the way, and will forever be known to the staff at Samaritan in Moses Lake as “the carrot guy”). R. has also managed to require my services on several occasions. He’s an impatient cook, which means he often manages to slice and dice more than onions and red peppers.


R2 gets ready to rock on the Meadowbrook go-cart course

But it’s all the anticipatory stuff that I can’t stand—the standing by and watching a kid jumping his skateboard off a 4’ drop onto hard concrete. I know risky moves are a regular thing for R2 (by the way, we do make him wear a helmet and pads). But watching his antics makes every nerve cell in my spine fire. It’s as if every knee scrape, every dislocated tailbone, every busted bone, burn and concussion flashes in front of my eyes. (And thanks to living with all these pillars of testosterone the last twenty years, that’s a lot of flashing.) After we took R2 to the skate park along 40thAve.  Sunday morning, I was starting to hyperventilate.

I had to shake my head when we got home. Don’t get me wrong; R2 is a good kid, even if his shins are covered with bruises from his ski boots and skateboard flip-mishaps. He cheerily eats potato chips and M&Ms by the bucketful,  hauls around our mellower cats (they’re nearly as big as he is), and insists that he’s of “mature audience” caliber when it comes time to decide whether we’re going to watch something that’s PG-13 or not.

But it was rather a relief when R. decided to treat R2 and his buddy to a round of go-carts Sunday afternoon. At least, I told myself, they’d all be strapped in.

Naturally R2 and his friend had a blast, even though they both skidded out around the same corner (they blamed it on the wet track). I was surprised to see how many fun things there were to do at Meadowbrook Fun Center—I had no idea they had bumper boats as well as a mini golf course, batting cages, and an arcade tucked back in there south of Nob Hill.

So I think we might be taking R2 back over there at some point this week. Mini golf has a nice, peaceful ring to it…don’t you think? No helmets or pads required…at least if there aren’t any identical twins involved.

Meadowbrook Fun Center is located at 7200 W. Nob Hill Blvd, tucked back behind Dairy Queen and the shopping center. More information on prices and hours of operation can be found at yakimafamilyfun.com

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Out to Lunch–Get Zombiefied at Shorty’s

by on Apr 10, 2014

I’ve always wanted to try a cheese zombie at Shorty’s, and thanks to a friend at work (Playdate coordinator Trish Henning), I finally got the chance this week.

Trish was in the know about when to show up at the little bakery (it’s right around the corner from the Herald’s office) on zombie day which meant a) we got a place to sit and b) we also got zombies. You’ll have to get to Shorty’s before noon if you want to try one, because they usually sell out.

ZombifiedThe Zombie Combo is a thing of comfort food beauty…it consists of a cheese zombie (more on what a zombie actually is in a moment), a cup of tomato soup, a drink, and a dessert. Basically, it’s enough food to get you through the next apocalypse. (Linda Davis, the owner, is known in these parts for her inventive cookie/bar recipes, and some of her bars are big enough that they could more accurately be called “slabs.” I’ve personally spoiled my appetite for dinner on more than one occasion with a Shorty’s lemon “slab” while on an afternoon walk. )

Apparently I missed the zombie era of school lunches and/or I grew up in the wrong part of the country. The closest thing to a zombie we had back in my day in Colorado was something called “runza”….basically a roll with an onion/meat mixture baked inside. (A true German knows these as “bierocks,” and in a traditional bierock, diced cabbage makes up part of the meat filling. I suspect our school runza did not contain cabbage, given the pickiness of our middle-school palates.)

But zombies are simpler. Basically it’s a dinner roll with a generous slather of American cheese in the middle, and it tastes divine when paired with tomato soup. Three employees were kept hopping trying to keep up with the demand  with phoned in and walk-in orders at Shorty’s when we were there, and Trish says it’s not uncommon to see a a line out the door at Shorty’s on Mondays. (By the way, Shorty’s offers other lunch fare later in the week, like baked potatoes on Tuesday.)

You can read more about Shorty’s (and even get a recipe for cheese zombies) here.  Shorty’s Sweets, Treats and Cakes is located at 115 N 3rd St. Call before 9:30 a.m. if you want to guarantee a zombie for your lunch at (509) 969-1334.

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Maryhill Concert Lineup Announced

by on Apr 8, 2014

Maryhill’s 2014 summer concert season information was just announced this week, and there are some household names in their lineup (at least for those of us of a certain age).

Concerts this summer include Styx and Foreigner, Peter Frampton and Buddy Guy, and Ian Anderson will be performing the Best of Jethro Tull.

“The talent that has crossed our stage over the years has been incredible, and this year is no exception,” said Craig Leuthold, owner of Maryhill Winery. “We started the summer concert series 10 years ago with a pop-up stage, but quickly realized that by combining great music with our stunning location and exceptional wine, Maryhill could become more than just a winery for our fans. It’s now a tradition.”

The summer concert lineup includes the following musical acts:
•  Aug. 2 – Styx and Foreigner, 7 p.m.
• Aug. 23 – Frampton’s Guitar Circus featuring Peter Frampton and Buddy Guy, 7 p.m.
• Sept. 13 – The Best of Jethro Tull performed by Ian Anderson, 8 p.m.

Maryhill Winery

Maryhill Winery

Located along the Washington border of the Columbia River Gorge, Maryhill Winery boasts seating for 4,000 built into the natural slope of the outdoor lawn.In addition to its summer concert series, Maryhill Winery also offers free live music on the terrace every weekend from 1 to 5 p.m., from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The winery’s tasting room, which closes 90 minutes before gates open on concert days, is open throughout the summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with the Reserve Room hours varying by season.

Maryhill has been a popular summer hotspot for nearly a decade and continues to add new attractions, such as four world-class bocce courts and a Reserve Room. Maryhill is the tenth-largest winery in Washington State, and produces nearly 40 different kinds of wine.  

Tickets for the concerts will go on sale this Friday, April 11 at 10 a.m., via Ticket Fly and the Maryhill website. Prices range from $49-$150.

Concertgoers take in the show and the view from the rail section of the Maryhill Winery concert venue in 2010. Photos by Andy Sawyer.

Concertgoers take in the show and the view from the rail section of the Maryhill Winery concert venue in 2010. Photos by Andy Sawyer.

Photo courtesy of Maryhill Winery

Photo courtesy of Maryhill Winery


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Ready for a Walk?

by on Apr 7, 2014

We asked folks last week what their favorite thing was about a Yakima spring…and, not surprisingly, several people mentioned flowers.

I took a spin around Yakima last Friday and took some pictures of some of the gorgeous trees and flowers we’ve got blooming here in town. Some of these were shot downtown; others were shot at Calvary Cemetery and in the historic Barge-Canal neighborhood.

It’s too bad we don’t have smell-o-vision on the blog, but let your imagination do the work for you. I don’t know of a better way to spend a gorgeous spring afternoon than driving around enjoying all the hard work of other gardeners. Enjoy.

St Joes





Tulip tree

MLK trees


Rock garden


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