The Gazebo and Kitchen Garden on the Poplar Street side.

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This rather stunning photo is of a winterscape at Hidcote Castle.  It is in England–where they take gardening pretty seriously.

In case you were wondering, the strong geometric influence behind the twin gazebos–one of which you can walk through to reach the other if you were to approach from the side–is a group of pleached Hornbeams.

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Pleaching.  A task outside my vision, and one I am sure would not excite Rick, who often gets the “heavy labor” side of inspiration.  Still, it is an interesting effect.

We got our square and circular effects in a slightly less labor-intensive manner.  (This was of course by cheating: copying the already nifty architecture on our corner.)

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I ran across the formal Hidecote garden while looking for design ideas for the Odell House gazebo and kitchen garden. We’ve had plans to build something for years, but just got ’round to of late.  We also wanted to enclose the space and on the side of the house that, well, originally had the central kitchen.  The Poplar Street and south face.  But we didn’t want to create an eyesore–which can be a problem when the uneducated (us)  plop something down in the middle of the work of people who did know what they were doing.  Our answer?  Careful research and hiring someone who could build on site in the manner of the original carpenters.

And that would be Dave:

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One of Dave’s gates.

On to the Gazebo!

A small structure in a garden is not a new idea by any means.  Below, the little kitchen garden pavilion at Monticello–the home of Thomas Jefferson, who experimented expensively with horticulture in the Colonial days of America–a lot of the focus was in growing vegetables.

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Of course, by “cultivators of the earth” Jefferson is referring in 1790 to his 118 slaves who actually did the work in the garden.

Their plot is of course a lot more elaborate than ours. . .

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Back in Spokane, we decided to have fun with the Gazebo roof structure, mimicking the Odell House roof lines, attempting to give it a feeling of “always there.”  This is also a common hope that the smaller “outer house” will mimic some features of the larger one

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(Practical note: A more recent photo of the same area: below to the right of the gazebo we installed a gas grill. This is common space–please go cook whatever you cook. That area over the lawn is also a good place in nice weather to smoke–which  is not allowed within 50 feet of an opening window or door of the main house.  The advantage of course–assuming it is not raining is that one need not sweep up ash.  Small flower pots make ash trays–please to not transport any of these items into the house or house trash cans.  The general refuse area is just behind the parked cars. )

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Here is the gazebo creator, our carpenter Dave, on the job, if notoriously camera shy.

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You will note no construction debris.

This is because every single day when Dave left, the place was neat as a pin.  (Part of his day is cleanup.)  And so he would go off in the evening, taking with him yet another chair for regluing, appearing again in due time to tackle another phase.   And in the garage I would find the repaired chair, and on returning it to its mates, pick another for a trip to “Dr. Dave’s”.

(There are few things more wonderful for beefing up maintenance than having a dedicated cabinet maker regularly on the place.)

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We painted the interior one of our lesser used trim colors–Templeton Grey.  It makes the interior recede a bit.  The door with circular window was a chance find at an architectural salvage place.  We like how it mirrors the main house details.  The second little landing deck makes the step up less severe, and is offering another place to grow food instead of lawn.

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Back to Dave and the details of the project.  People actually stop to take photos of the fence all the time.  Not that it is fancy. It is very simple, made out of cedar and simple 2×4 inch rectangular woven wire.

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But like everything Dave does it is well crafted and every detail thought out and executed with care.

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The self closing “cannon ball” gates were his idea.

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The clenched fist hitching posts (there are a pair) were popular c. late 1800 when there were actually equines to be tied up.

The gazebo soffits (under the roof line) are antique bead board–just like the main house.

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Dave created trim to match the house as well.

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The siding is cedar, identical to the original.

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The decks are redwood to resist rot.

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We think it fits nicely.

Looking across the kitchen garden to the Wakefield.

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So why a gazebo?

Sitting outside, with just a little protection is wonderful.  Part of our nature.

But the the apartments on the south side of the house have no porch.

Attempting to share the main porch, if you have not rented apartment A or B means you are sitting right next to the current residents bedroom.  That just doesn’t work.

Seeing the need across multiple tenants, I wanted a common space that was easy to access for everybody, but not connected to any one unit.  I wanted something that took advantage of the beautiful view north to the Wakefield and bluff.  A place to take shelter from either the sun, or the prevailing wind, depending on the day and season.

Thanks Dave!

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Above, our version, lacking several hundred “employees,” of a raised bed–the straw bale garden.  If you want to read more about that please see:

https://odellhouselodging.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/be-there-and-get-square-straw-bale-garden-seminar-april-26-may-24/

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Oh, and PS, (don’t tell Rick,) thought daunted by tree pleaching, I am somewhat interested in topiary. . .

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The missing trees and the west yard garden on Poplar Street

This post is really more for the neighborhood than our guests, though return visitors may be interested at the change in the landscape.

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In the past six months  eleven huge trees have gone missing on the corner.

I hear some neighbors are angry at us about this.

(My first response is sadly a little sharp:  Weren’t you listening in the past four years?

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(Signs tied to trees for a year and a half as they slowly finished dying from growth retardant applied by Avista to keep them from having to trim so much.  Not that they didn’t do a lot of that too.)

 

As much as I resent (a mild word) our treatment by Avista over the years as we fought with them about killing our internal trees with growth retardant–and probably thousands more over the city–sometimes you have to move on.

Truth is that hundreds of trees were planted a hundred years ago, and if they all die out at the same time we are left with–no trees.  Sometimes you have to plant a new generation, and that is what we and the City–department of Urban Forestry–are doing here on the corner.

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The picture above shows the two new Bur Oak (in fall foliage) that the city helped to plant in the yard last October–well away from the power lines.

The one below in the spring, not yet leafed out but with our new gazebo and straw bale garden showing to the right.

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We lost the two internal trees and four parking strip trees in March,  a few weeks ago.

The parking strip group on Poplar were planted directly under the lines and really had no future.

This is all annoying the neighbors and walkers who enjoy the corner and feel some ownership of this historic and beautiful part of the city.

But beautiful or not–and it is–please, please, please fellow Tree Huggers, LOOK above when you plant a tree destined to grow to more than 15 feet tall.  It may be cute now in baby tree form, but a Norway Maple wants to be a big tree and it is a death sentence to put it directly under the wires.

We have plans for three new smaller trees in the parking strip: Japanese Lilac. They mature at about 20 feet, bloom a bit later than a standard lilac shrub around here.  More tree like than shrub like.  I think they will be pretty.

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And they are.

And then, because there is really only room for one large tree in the central yard–again keeping well away from the power lines, we’ve opted for a Dawn Redwood.

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According to The Arbor Day Foundation:

“An ancient tree that knew the dinosaurs, but is well-suited to modern landscape plantings. Likes full sun, is easily transplanted. Deciduous. Prefers moist, deep, well-drained soils. Fast growing. Grows to 70′ to 100′, 25′ spread. (zones 5-8)”

Also known to live to 1,000 years.  (Take THAT Avista!)

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It may take a while to get to this point.

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One thing I have learned about trees in the long process of watching ours die is they do not do anything in a hurry.

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The yard, as you might imagine, has taken quite a beating through all this.  And there will be a lot of change over the next years as the roots of the old trees decay and things shift and settle.

So we had an idea–at least for the Poplar side of the house.  Plant a kitchen garden  Amid all the Poplar (still bravely standing!) roots?  Yup.  A straw bale garden in an enclosed kitchen garden sitting area.   We want something see-through,not a stockade.

 

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Non visually obstructive fence, still grass, and a raised garden of straw bales growing vegetables and flowers.

You can see the start of this behind the little redwood.

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A straw bale garden is a neat idea–it enables you to have a temporary raised bed in almost any location with sun–even pavement.

Terese and I are going to teach a little class on it down at the Blue Moon Nursery and Garden Center in a couple of weeks.

May 24th, a Saturday at 11 AM is the next one.

http://www.bluemoonplants.com/

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Their tag line: Nice Plants. Nice People.   Really, it is true.  Go get stuff from them rather than the big box places.

 

If you want to read more about this, this fellow wrote a book–my copy is down at Blue Moon.

http://strawbalegardens.com/

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Anyway, neighbors, don’t panic, we do have a plan.

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In fact we’ve been working on it for a while now.

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Cress and chard awaiting transplant. . . .

I’ll give you a post about it next.  We are getting lots of staring. . .

 

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The chicken came first.

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We know this for a fact, because before we had hens there were no fresh eggs.

When Rick and I thought about selling our little place down the hill from the Odell House and have them live on site, we worried slightly about how a hen house would look, and about neighbor response.

Then it occurred to us: other people might like chickens too.  And even if they are indifferent to chickens, many like eggs–the fresher the better.  So we asked our neighbors, and they were enthusiastic.  We consulted zoning laws, determined lot size and numbers allowed and then began working on coop design.

Here was the inspiration:

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A glorious one human building/art object on display in Canada.

What a great roof line!

Here’s the chicken house version: created by “mad tiny house designer” Mike Ross:

http://www.mrcustomcreations.com/previous-projects.html

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Tucked back by our new raised cold frames near the garage.

 

Eggs from the hens are available by the end of the Poplar Street drive–there is a cooler–and though “the ladies” enjoy visits, they are located in a an area that is private, so you have to ask for a “chicken audience” should you or your favorite small child like to make a visit.

 

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This young guest is a repeat visitor whose manners and demeanor we always appreciate.  (His parents are nice too. . .)

Anyway, notice also allows us to corral the poodle pack.

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Who are only asleep for gaining energy waiting to leap on a stranger–which although probably not dangerous is not the manners we expect from them, so we like to be in a warned rather than surprised in theirs and the chickens yard.

Dale’s number is 509 879-4619 and it is just fine to call and ask if her and her highness are accepting visitors.

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Anyway, we wanted fun, but not obtrusive.

The chickens love it.

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It has an electronically controlled door so the local raccoons will not be tempted by thoughts of chicken dinners.

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She’s the ring leader, a two-year old Black Australorp.

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The Buff Orpington in the foreground likes to be held.  (They really are the sweetest chickens on earth).

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One of the Silver Lace Wyndottes escaped on their first day and Dave, our wonderful carpenter, and I tracked her down, finally found glowering under a bush on Pacific, headed toward The Elk.  (Fence repairs ensued.)

They are pampered.

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But what’s not to love?

(I’m not sure, but I think we are the only hotel or B&B in Spokane with a EV charger, composting program and a coop and laying hens on site.)

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If you’d like some fresh eggs when you are visiting, just say the word–or look in the cooler.  Poplar Drive.

 

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Note re The Health Department regs winter 2014.  The Health Department now says I can provide you nothing that requires refrigeration–which fresh eggs actually don’t, but they made the  HD forbidden list anyway.  (If any egg you get anywhere–grocery store especially–is cracked you should discard it immediately, but an undamaged, unwashed egg with the natural protective covering left on will last a very, very long time–they are designed for this as a bird has to lay one egg at a time until she gets the 10-20 that some want to make a hatching effort–they all have to hatch within hours of one another so the chicks can start foraging.  It is only when she sits non-stop that the fertile eggs begin to develop, which of course means they can’t go rotten in the three weeks it takes her to collect them secretly under the bush.  And our eggs are of course not fertile, as roosters are not allowed in city limits.  Very wise rule.  In any case, in a cool dry place an egg can last six months–something egg processors are happy about.  They are of course much better when new–that is why we take the trouble.)

And the chickens like visits, so please give us a ring to corral the poodles and come say hi.  There are usually treats left by the gate.  A small handful will do them no harm.

Leftovers?  With the exception on onions and citrus they can eat anything that you healthily can, but do remember how diligent they are at this–no avocado skins or pits–they really will eat them and those would not be good for you either.  (They are toxic)

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This is chicken for, “Yes, please!”

Electric Vehicle Charging Station: Bring your Tesla (or Volt!) to Spokane. . .

The Odell House Lodging, operated as a B&B, offers furnished apartments for both short and longer stays.

http://www.theodellhouse.com/

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Built in 1898, on the Registry of Historic Places, the house has a history of cutting edge technology: telephone, gas, electric and public sewer from its inception–it now has an electric vehicle charging station.

(Never mind laying hens and an organic vegetable garden for guest use. And a very comfortable Gazebo to sit in and read or check your mail;)

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What do you need to charge your EV here at the Odell House?

First, we need to know you are coming so the right area for your car will be clear and ready.

Call us 8 AM to 8PM and ask if it is available.  (It probably is.) 509 879-4619

Or, you can reserve the charger yourself:  https://reservations.frontdeskanywhere.net/odellhouse/

(We put a default cost of $10 on the reservation form.  Charging is free to our guests and they will not be billed.  We really do appreciate donations from folks who just drop by to charge.  Power is pretty inexpensive here, but as you probably know, it costs over a thousand dollars just to install these chargers. Amusingly, the only “drop-in” charger who did not generously assist our cause of helping their travels, was a pair of “investigative journalists” who arrived in a donated Tesla model S, sporting a large dent. 😦  They were promoting their new movie about fracking.  We gave them a pass on cheapness, not being particular fans of fracking ourselves, but are still entertained by the memory.)

What’s the equipment like?

40 amp 240 volt (NEMA 6-50P) plug, supplying GE Watt Station charger.

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Our design was for overnight guests, who in less than the time it takes to get a decent sleep, can have a fully-charged car for travel the next day.

Where are we located?

On the map below, left side at the star, just west of downtown Spokane.   The nearest exit from I-90 is Maple/Walnut WA I-90 EXIT #280  We are only ten blocks from the highway: north on Walnut, left on Second,  right on Cannon and cutting over two streets north will get you to First.

The circle on the map (5,6,7,8,9)  below is where the very nice places to eat are at at Cannon and Pacific.  The MAC museum would be #4 on our map. The corner of Spruce and Second by the Coeur d’Alene Park is the bus stop both to downtown and the airport. Route 60.

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We are a very convenient place to stay: ten blocks from the highway, twenty from downtown Spokane, a superb walking neighborhood.

That said, people now do sometimes drop in for an electric top-up to reach the new Tesla super chargers in Ritzville, or Ellensburg:

From “running on empty” in a Tesla, you only “need” two hours at the Odell House to gain 62 miles fuel to get to Ritzville

(I’d want a little cushion on that distance on a highway, particularly traveling from the west to east where there is a bit of a climb.)

Of course if you have stayed overnight with us and drive thoughtfully, you’ll have more than enough to skip Ritzville and refuel in Ellensburg

We are not ready to talk yet about travel more than 100 miles east of here. Right now (September 2014) the nearest super charger to the east is 540 miles away in Billings.  Billings, MT I-90 exit 443 Billings Big Horn Resort

(Lots of welders and RV parks in the meantime.)

And keep in mind that there are very little, if any, fast charging opportunities in Pullman, so plan accordingly. (If any one knows differently please let us know!)

 

More on equipment: we have a “normal” 240 V 30 amp level 2 fast charger, that works directly with the Leaf or Volt needing no adapters.  Teslas seem to come regularly with the right ones–even on maiden voyages.

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The picture above was taken during installation–you will note there is a plug hanging down to the left side of the charging unit.  A few hours later there was a 240 v 40 amp “welding type” outlet just to the left of it.

(NEMA 6-50P)

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You CAN unplug our charger to use proprietary Tesla adapters to get the full 40 amps.

If you want to access the 40 amps that the wall plug provides, you will need a male adapter that would work with this type of set up–and of course a long enough cord to reach the car.

In reality, using the provided charging station seems to deliver the roughly 30 miles of juice per hour that is promised from these welding type of plugs.  People have done it both ways–30 amps and 40 amps.

Using the equipment as provided at 30 amps seems the most reliable.  The Watt Station sometimes takes a couple of resets to come back on after being unlpugged, so if you do unplug it, make sure you’ve got the right cords!

 

Where to park? Two options. We sit on a corner and have two drives that can access the charger.

Option #1 2325 West First drive.

A Tesla, charging on the left rear, is easiest to charge by backing into the 2325 West First Avenue gated drive. This is the dedicated drive for unit B.

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This is an example of the correct parking placement for the Tesla–quite close to the porch and garden wall. There is enough cord for this–but not a lot to spare.

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Option #2 the 105 South Poplar Street Drive

Volt below, charging on the right rear is easiest in the 105 South Poplar Street location.

 

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As is the Leaf, which can pull in easily forward in the Poplar drive.

If you rent unit C, or no one is parking in the space for unit C–where the dark blue or black car is shown below–it is possible to back a Tesla in close enough to access the cord.  But it is close.   First Ave is the easier location, near unit B.

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 Why do you want to charge your car here–or stay?

If we do say so ourselves, we are a great place to charge your EV.  (And actually, other people have said this, though secretly wishing for an even faster and covered service. )

Why so great a charging place?

To charge, one has of course to leave the car plugged in.  While that car is plugged in you will be within three  blocks of public transportation, walking distance to places to eat and shop, and across the street from a museum.  https://odellhouselodging.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/local-places-to-eat-and-drink/

Getting to downtown or the airport is easy.  Some individuals have actually left cars here to charge while away for the weekend on flights from the Spokane Airport.

If you visit in summer there is also a play ground in the nearby park with a fun water feature for your shorter friends.

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Rick and I have a Leaf (Nissan all-electric vehicle) which in real practice has a range of about 75-80 miles–given typical Spokane terrain and weather.  We admire the cross country trekkers who appear every now and then with an  EV.  We hope you will be one.

 

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Ten blocks from the highway, on the most western edge downtown of Spokane–and all slightly down hill. . .  🙂

(We understand range anxiety. . . .)