Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Urns 2013

Balcony before

Balcony after
A group of retired teacher met to do a workshop on Christmas urns with me. What a crew upbeat, eager and open to ideas. In spite of the same materials each urn is as individualistic as the owner.
 RWTO Garden club 2

Example from Sheridan.

Friday, November 22, 2013

back in touch

All of the main buildings are open air.

Our little lOve nest
Definitely a Thai theme here, even the hangers are made of twigs.

the vista

That's us # 501.

After our days at sea we are once again on dry land. Actually it is a volcanic  island, very romantic and out of the way. If it weren't for the rain, it would be perfect. We had a bout of flu. The Handyman spent one day aboard flat on the bunk, not the best space to weather the flu. He missed a whole day of diving. He was a trooper about it and never complained, but i knew it was serious when he didn't' want to eat. I think one young man brought it aboard. I was congratulating myself on not getting sick, I had brought along Lysol wipes, when I was laid low as well, but at least I was back on dry land. I think we have used every one of the pills the travel doctor gave us. And we gave away Advil to those in need.
Tomorrow we are off to James Bond (or James Bon, as they call it here) island and the caves. We'll keep you informed...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Just loafing

I think my bathing suit is bigger than anyone else's on the beach. Mine is the niqab of bathing suits. The handyman said he is tired of looking at all the over 60 jiggly bits here on the beach. The staff are covered head to toe and the 'Farangs' (Thai for tourist) are all dressed in bikinis regardless of age and toning.
The sea is incredibly warm _ warmer than the pool. We swam in 3 out of 4 of the pools and bobbed in the ocean, but the surf was very strong.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chinese Lanterns

Once you get this plant from seed or seedlings, you have it for life.
Nothing says Fall like Chinese Lanterns,  Physalis alkekengi. The book says: "Plant where they have lots of room to grow." They will wander all over your garden and each year will emerge in a new spot.  It will drive you crazy if you believe in law and order with your plants.  Gardens must really match our personalities or its a battle you can't win.  I have them in a 'wild' section with ferns and don't mind where they emerge.
My trick to make them stand out is to pinch off the leaves that block the lanterns after they develop so that they are seen more easily.
Next year I'm going to put some seedlings in a pot in the Spring and then move them where I want them in the Fall.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Morning glorious

Grown from seed.  Every year I fill this planter with morning glories.
 I tried the new grafter tomato plants this year.  I choose cherry tomatoes one yellow and one red variety.  The grafted tomatoes are grown on heirloom root stock which makes them vigorous but has the superior taste of the newer varietials.  I was apprehensive about the final size of this plant. It is supposed to grow to 8 ft! While the red variety was not as juicy as I would have liked.  The tomatoes matured earlier and started bearing fruit very early in the summer.  Worth growing for that alone! I have a very shady location and the tomatoes probably only get 4 hours a day max. but they managed to produce a fair number of tomatoes.  At between $8. - 12 a plant.  You need a few salads to make it worthwhile!
The red varietal., firm flesh, like small plum tomatoes.

Yellow miniature tomatoes. Delicious!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fabulous Phlox

When people ask me what plant to add to the garden for Fall colour I have to mention phlox as one of the mainstays in the garden.
Don't know the name of this phlox, but  blooms first and furious.  It starts blooming in July and just keeps on going. 
 Not only is phlox a great scrabble word, but it fills in a provides a great background in the garden. The main problem with phlox is mildew. Phlox paniculata cultivars are very susceptible. Various home remedies (1 tsp baking soda to 1 liter of water) help in the early stages, but eventually the leaves just need to be removed. Local climate and soil conditions affect the fungus, but wet summers like this one, help keep the fungus at bay. Some phlox become more susceptible with age, so it is best to pull then out and start anew.
You can also reduce the chance of infection by providing lots of moisture, good air circulation and by thinning the clumps. So, thin mature plants every Spring.
But before the mildew sets in, enjoy the glorious beauty of this garden joy.  My favourite is the phlox above, but I don't know it's name.  It was a division from my sister-in-law and I have watched for it ever since.  It is usually finished blooming by the time mildew sets in, so you can cut it down and let something else take over.
My recommendation is that you plant phlox in spite of the mildew problem.  The plump greenery of this plant is a great backdrop in Spring and Summer to your other garden choices.
This phlox is a very old variety.  I received it from my mother-in-law.  It is probably from the 1940's or 50's. It opens next in my garden.  

Love the colour of this 'Starfire' phlox.  It has the added feature of emerging in Spring with a wonderful red hue to the leaves and then going green as Summer progresses.

This white phlox is has a almost indicernible pink star in the centre.  I gets badly mildewed as the season progresses.  But for now it is beautiful!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Scarborough Bluffs

Lots of erosion, so stay away from the edge of the cliffs. 

Great time of year to see the bluffs.  Vegetation has not come out.  Note the yellow of the willow twigs.

From Cathedral Park above the bluffs towards the marina.

Looks tropical, doesn't it

The beach at Scarborough Bluffs

Peaking down the ravine from the top
Wikipedia states the following about the geology of the bluffs:
They run 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the foot of Victoria Park Avenue in the west to the mouth of Highland Creek in the east, reaching as high as 90 metres (300 ft), the equivalent of twenty-five storeys.[4] However, the escarpment continues westward inland, running between Kingston Road and Queen Street East, pausing over the Don Valley, and continuing on the north side of Davenport Road. The escarpment forms the old shoreline of Glacial Lake Iroquois, formed after the last ice age, which left valuable geological records as the part of the escarpment by the lake eroded. The eroded alluvial deposits from the Bluffs then settled westward to form the Toronto Islands.

We had a beautiful day for our visit.  It was a great time of year to see the bluffs without the vegetation covering up the shore line.  We had lunch at Bluffer's Restaurant which is a beautiful setting. We need a restaurant like that in Port Credit!  The serve was off slightly, but not enough to really annoy you, but on a busy day, it might be a problem. 

You have to see the bluffs, especially in the Fall when the monarchs butterflies are massing to fly to Mexico!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Drat those squirrels!!!

Squirrel damage!  No wonder people hate them!
 I decided to pot up some tulip bulbs in the Fall so that I would be able to bring out an urn early with some beautiful  unusual tulips in the early Spring when every gardener is dying for some colour.  So, once the carefully planted and stored bulbs started sprouting, I decided to move the innocent, succulent shoots outside.  Just what the squirrels were waiting for I guess, because the next morning you can imagine my horror when I went outside to see the ravages of my careful work. It wouldn't be so bad if the squirrels actually ate them! But to just bite the tops off!!! That is a cruel dashing of hope. I salvaged what I can and put a cage over them. Why oh why didn't I do that from the beginning?  Live and learn.
This is what I was hoping would come up.
Squirrel barrier

Oh, the horror, looking out to see a bitten off top. This unattractive barrier has seemed effective so far.  Only one bitten off shoot.

Friday, April 5, 2013

It's for the Birds

Snowdrops and crocuses are the only flowers in the garden right now.  Note the clever use of a branch in the base to provide cover for the birdhouse. 

I can't get over the ingenuity and creativity of some people.  They have gifts that the rest of us can only appreciate. I bought this bird house at a craft sale and just hope some wrens move in for the season. I love watching birds and have my feeder positioned so that I can see it from every part of my kitchen.  The orioles are visiting now so we started putting seed in the feeder earlier than usual. The orioles are just starting to put on their richer yellow colour.  But the bright white bars on their wings are a dead give-away to identifying them.  
Grosbeaks, purple finches and yellow orioles in addition to our resident cardinals, are visiting right now. Of course we always have chickadees, nuthatches and  sparrows.
I love the fact that these bird houses look so natural and hope the birds will too.  I have many 'pretty' bird houses that remain vacant all year, so hopefully something will move into these homes. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Signs of Spring

The crocus are up and very encouraging.  Especially since I heard more snow is on the way. Everyone is getting a little tired of winter this year. Last year Spring came so early that we are finding it doubly hard to wait for the earth to warm up this year.

 I went to Canada Blooms and got myself a new baby for the garden.
 I have wanted a helleborus for a long time and  this new variety called "Pink Frost" has upward facing blooms.  By the time time I get to plant it outdoors I know it will no longer be in bloom, but it will have lots of time to settle in and spread for next year. It gets to be 30 - 45 cm tall and up to 60 cm wide and blooms in early Spring. I am taking a chance in this area, because it is only rated for zone 5 and I am strictly speaking zone 4, but I will chance it and let you know how it goes. Anticipation in the garden is a fine thing, and so a little tredipation over whether or not this plant will survive will make me anticipate Spring even more.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

More x country

Mostly we see one another's backs!
We start out in a group, but ultimately, each must do it alone.

One of the things I enjoy about x-country skiing is the hills. The trails at Hardwood all have names based on Olympic Skiing sites. The hill names are designed to intimidate you. After trekking up Sochi, we came to the Eliminator.  That's not the bad part, going down, the bad part is climbing back up.  I should have known that anything called the 'Berlin Wall' on the map would be hard to climb.  All I can say, is that my heart got a good workout that day. 
It's not the downside....
Yes, it goes straight down!

The wine and cheese made up for the exercise, and the good company was the icing on the cake!
but the upside, that gets you!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Xcountry Skiing

Our cabin for the weekend - lovely.
The view across the lake.  Great skiing, you just glide along! The weather was -20 C but you don't notice when you are skiing.
The dining room in the main lodge. Just a hop and a jump from our cabin, but you had to wear your winter gear for the walk across.

21 intrepid skiers had a great 'retired weekend' (Sun, Mon. Tues.) in Huntsville. Bright, sunny days more than made up for the cold weather. The group was very convivial and we even played Scrabble! Sigh, perfect!

Setting off on the East River Trail. There were 21 of us and yet we didn't run into anyone else.

The warming hut where we ate our packed lunch from the lodge.  It had a wood stove with drying racks over the stove.  Picnic tables were provided for lunch. 

The winding river.

Time to take the skis off and investigate.  A bridge over the river afforded a great view.

Bread crumbs from our lunch to lure the wildlife.
Now those are happy faces!.

The highlight of the day for my XC buddy was feeding the chickadees.  Those noisy little birds demand attention. As we rested at the crossroads pondering which way to go, a chickadee landed on XC buddy's hat just to let us know there weren't many seeds around. So after lunch we had to go back with our crusts.

A little red squirrel was desperate for a piece of the action. It was so fast, it darted in and out like it was in some Disney cartoon.  You could only locate it by its chatter.