Thursday, April 19, 2012

Making Progress in the Garden

    Tuesday night we fulfilled a long-term commitment to gather red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea - or C. stolonifera at the MacPhail Woods). We borrowed the Family Truck and drove to the Victoria Road after supper, and dug up 10 pieces from the ditch. We discovered that they are shallow-rooted, and the stems root readily and send up new shoots. We did get involved with some deeper-rooted bits but they were really hard to get out with just a shovel - an axe would have been handy. Since they were in the ditch, they have been bush-hogged countless times, so we weren't destroying or even damaging the stock - we even took from four different clumps.
       Back home, we put them in several places, mostly on the outside of the spruce and pine hedges so they will get lots of sun, which they like. I watered them the next morning, because by the time we finished planting it was dark! I discovered that we actually have nine plants, so perhaps we put two in one spot. I put two in the "front" garden, one in the shrub border and one beside the rose bed, and one in the line of shrubs under the maple in the "back" garden - the row of shrubs now consists of: 1. P.G. Hydrangea; 2. Cotinus coggyria (purple smoke-bush), 3. Potentilla (white),  4. Cornus sericea,  5. Chaenomeles japonica, and 6. some sort of Spirea, scrumped from the garden opposite Sears.
The Six Flowering Shrubs - not yet flowering, of course!

     Quite a list. It's a bit dark under there, and I have to keep the spruce hedge trimmed or it would overtake the shrubs, but it should make a good display - sometime.  If necessary, the maple can go - it's a Norway, anyway, and I consider it a weed tree. The number of saplings I pulled up in the flower beds this spring! Some of them two or three years old!!
     The Ring-around-the-Rosey bed is looking good - the Rugosa roses are putting out buds and the one in the middle is just fountaining out, over all. I am not sure if the last-year branches will flower, so I shall keep an eye on them and if they don't, I'll prune them out. They remind me a bit of raspberries at the moment, so I won't be surprised if they don't flower on last-year's canes.
Thornless! Mystery Rose
      I had decided that it might be Rosa Pleine de Grace last year, but in reading about it just now (got to love Google!) they talk about how thorny Pleine de Grace is, and mine has no thorns, none at all. Back to the drawing board, then.
      If anyone has any ideas I'd be happy to hear them. Blooms early, once, in clusters of single small blossoms, no scent that I've noticed, no thorns, vigorous, roots readily, blooms white with a hint of pink, turns more pink as it ages. Blossoms long-lasting. I once thought it might be Rosa Banksiae but their blossoms, though small, are doubles.
    The greenhouse has had a re-vamp, I de-skinned it and worked on the strapping, replacing four broken ones with new, and then re-taped the plastic and pulled it over again. There was one bad hole where a broken strap had poked through over the winter so I just taped it up. The plastic is quite opaque, so I don't expect it will last another year, but I am hoping it will do for this one. I hoiked out the strawberry plants I'd sunk into the vegetable garden bed late last fall and they are loving the warmth of the greenhouse at the moment. They all seem to have survived, and the ones which were on the West side of the bed were much warmer and so have started into growth - much more vigorously than the ones which had been on the East. I am sure they will all catch up eventually. The outdoor strawberries (the ones in the ground) are looking well. I have uncovered one bed and am leaving the other covered, to see if it makes a difference. There were three degrees of frost last night, so the uncovered ones are shivering this morning.
Frosted Lady's Mantle, April 19, 2012
    I am uncovering flower beds gradually, and discovered that the Alchimilla mollis was coming along grandly under quite a covering of brown leaves. It was quite big, so I dug it up (with quite an effort, it had made a considerable root-ball) and used the two-forks method to divide it into five pieces. I put one in the north-door bed, two in the South, and two beside the rock steps on the side lawn bed, pulling out two huge phlox to do so. I'm trying to keep smaller plants beside the steps. I should re-plant those phlox, because they are probably the nicer-coloured ones (not the dull light mauvey-pink ones I have in such abundance) - either white or the darker pink. I must check last year's photos to be sure. 
    I located some flower seeds at WalMart (though the garden centre isn't open yet) and bought some - another package of Nemophila Total Eclipse, some Morning Glories, and Cerinthe, which I saw on Beechgrove last year and loved. I started the seeds yesterday, and some are indoors in the wee greenhouse, while the rest are in the outdoor one. Fingers crossed - it's rather late to be starting them, they say, but I think 6-8 weeks until the last frost could be now.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

More activity, of a scattered sort.

    I'm working too many hours this week to make a proper start on anything. I did get the greenhouse tidied up a bit, although it's not yet reinforced with new strapping. I moved the southern-most 'feet' inwards about 30 cm. and that makes it taller - and also gives me a bit more room on the edge of the strawberry and cranberry beds. I hope that it will shed snow more readily as well. Today the weather is not conducive to being out, so I am doing some domestic engineering this morning, as I have to go to work for 1 pm.
     I think the cherries - when they come - will go nicely where the blue tarp has been sitting since last year, discouraging the grass and weeds a bit. That is South of the greenhouse and East of the raspberries. I still have to figure out the fruit cage to keep the birds off the cherries. Surely I can find an old fishing net or two down at the wharf?
    I have been working on a little booklet of bead and sequin techniques, based on one of my favourite books from the library - Bead and Sequin Embroidery Stitches by Stanley Levy.
     I must see if I can get a used copy somewhere. I have borrowed it a lot! Anyway, I am trying out some of the techniques in my little booklet, to see if I can do them, firstly, and secondly, in case I can't find the book, I shall have a record of the techniques. Luckily, Fabricville has been going out of beads at the same time, so they have been really cheap. Now I have many colours of flat sequins and quite a few of the cupped ones - they didn't have many of those. Of course I already have lots of beads.
The bathroom continues, sluggishly. I painted the closet inside - two coats yesterday alone - because it's 90 cm. deep and I don't think it will be much fun to paint once the frame and the doors are on. I cut some of the face frame, it looks good, but I think I need a longer drill-bit - it needs to go through the 1 x 3 edgewise, and into the cross pieces a bit. I have decking screws long enough to fasten them together once the drilling is done.
     In any case, it is coming up to completion (if only I could get some time at it) and then it's on to the cradle for the tub, which is a bit terrifying at the moment but which will turn out to be possible once I get started on it. The tub has been sitting in the living-room since I started on the closet. It looks a bit Bohemian in there at the moment, I have to say.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Knitting Again - and dancing too.

A wonderful thing happened when I snuck out of set dance on Saturday at lunchtime - I went to LK Yarns in the Hydrostone and they had the Balmoral yarn I'd used for K's hat and mittens - and they had it in the purple I used! Glory! So I finished off her mittens. The missing one can show up now if it wants to. The mittens and hat turned out to be useful, as it snowed! in Halifax on Saturday night, so we got up on Easter Sunday to a snow-covered world.
   We went to Sage (Saege, if I knew how to make a dipthong) for Easter Brunch and it was lovely! One of those all-you-care-to-eat things with literally everything you would ever want to try.  The only bad thing I had was a slice of ham that was a bit grisle-y. I had a egg Benedict and skipped the English muffin on the bottom to save room for more interesting things, and I must say that the hollandaise sauce was something I really didn't enjoy. It's amazing that they can do them and hold them at just the right consistency. The egg was perfect. There was also lot of fresh fruit and a really nice bread with apples inside and mini Easter eggs on top, which I had twice. Delicious.
    But there was salmon - smoked and baked - leg of lamb, a veggie pasta - luckily Katie eats fish so she was fine. And the dessert buffet was grand too - I had a slice of lemon cake and some homemade gelato - vanilla and raspberry. Delicious! We may need to try making this at home.
By the time we were finished eating, the sidewalks were clear of snow and by the end of the day it was mostly gone. We found a bit of blowing snow on the Cobequid Pass but after that there was a lot more snow on the ground but none in the air, thankfully. There was quite a bit on the Island, though!
    The new car - we are calling her Brigid - has cruise control, and that made the drive much more enjoyable. It's amazing how much work is involved, accelerating and decelerating all the time. It's meant to be good for mileage too. I found it a bit stressful on the divided highway, if you got up behind someone going slowly and the passing lane was occupied. And left-hand descending turns (especially in the hills) were a bit white-knuckle - I must usually slow down going into them, because my brain was saying "too fast! too fast!" all the time. But I learned to hang grimly on and I was fine.
    We were 12 Islanders at the event, and I think it would have been a pretty small gathering if we hadn't been there! Of course the locals can drop in and out as other priorities take over, while we are all there to go to the event exclusively. Pat is talking to Elizabeth about coming at another time of year - possibly the Labour Day weekend, as he is free for the first couple of weeks of September, and then he could tour around in some better weather than most Easters in the Maritimes can provide. It sounds like a good idea, as we never have anything special to do then. We will have to come up with something else to do at Easter! Now that Pat is retired, he doesn't have the Easter holiday to save up, and I am sure he could spend time with his family too! He may be thinking that there will be more people around then as well. I wonder if they are thinking of starting this year?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter in Halifax again

We're off with quite a big group of our set dancers to see Pat Murphy in Halifax for the Easter weekend. I must remember to google Pat and see if we can guess which dances are "hot" at the workshops he's given recently - I promised I would do that in time for class tonight.
I was quite right about the plants in the cold frame - dead as door-nails. Ah, well -plenty of time to start again. I bought Burpee seeds for peppers yesterday - two kinds of hot (Jalapeno and mixed) and sweet, mixed colours. I hope *they* survive.
I've begun to fix up the greenhouse again - bought two pieces of conduit to replace the broken one and the one that's bent the worst - and I have strapping to brace them more thoroughly this time. I may be back in the greenhouse business again! But the weather is *not* conducive to being out - we are having the "March" winds in April this year - the horrible cold northerly ones that keep the temperature just above freezing. Brrr.  It's not fit to be out!
In the bathroom I have finished the seam-filling in the closet and put up the shelf supports - carefully measured and level as I can make them. I bought the 1x3 oak to make the frame for the doors, and decided to build it into a face frame - cutting carefully first and then drilling and screwing it together before fastening it to the shelf supports and the shelves. This should take care of the problem of there being nothing to nail the frame to at the top. I think the table in the garage will be big enough to assemble and screw it together - I could even glue it! I'm just paranoid that I'll make it and it won't fit ;-(.
But I'll go slowly and carefully and perhaps the worst won't happen!!