Friday, October 26, 2012

I Should Be Packing

Xmas Knitting
          We are off for a short holiday that will involve quite a bit of driving, and when we return it will be the eve of our annual Guy Fawkes Night party, so I should be cleaning, and then packing. But I will linger here a while and then get on with it.
          Speaking of Getting On, the third series of this excellent show is on, and I watched the second episode last night. What a wonderful, understated, funny thing this is! I heartily recommend it to everyone. Jo Brand is an amazingly versatile human being.
         Yesterday I closed in the greenhouse, and brought in to the house some plants that I feared might be frosted while we are away. I also planted the fastigiate oak seeds in one of the vegetable beds, in hopes that some of them sprout before I have to plant vegetables there next year!! I will pot the successful ones up in the spring. There are a few strawberries on the plants inside and out, in numbers more suited to decoration than actual eating, but still! Strawberries in October! I am thrilled.
       We have been exceedingly lucky with the weather so far, and many things are still blooming and lovely. I gathered some cuttings from the Osteospermum and potted them up, in hopes of having some survive the winter and be around next year. I also searched for some way of growing "Yakon" - actually, Smallanthus sonchifolius, which was discussed recently on GQT. It's available from a source in Oregon, I think, for $7 per plant. I am going to look further into it, as opinion on the 'net is a bit mixed - one site suggesting that it can't be grown anywhere under Zone 10. But it's from the Andes - I bet it gets chilly up there! The product itself - or rather, Yakon syrup - seems to be rather more readily available.  I am also determined to grow quinoa next year, the seeds being much more readily available than the Yakon (which has to be grown from rhizomes). You can plant the quinoa seeds you buy to eat! How great is that?
     Because it's been a bit chilly, I have been getting into knitting again, producing Xmas presents of mittens, gloves and neckwear in DK weight, which just fly along in comparison to those socks in teeny fingering-weight. However. I must prepare for driving-knitting, getting out the dull greys and browns and planning a couple of sock projects for the men on the list. Ho hum! and Ho Ho Ho.  The mittens above are Patons DK Superwash (off-white) and Belfast Mini Mills BFL (Rose). And unlike the ones I made in sock yarn earlier, these I can actually put on.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Cape Daisy (Osteospermum)
          Yesterday I was doing some gardening and discovered this lovely Osteospermum blooming. There are plenty of blooms to come, as well! While planting out things I've been sheltering in the greenhouse I put in another one, up at the west edge of the big shrub border to the west of the house.     
            But, now I've read up on them, I discover that they are "half-hardy" perennials, meaning they won't survive our winter. So, I am going to dig up the little'un again, and take cuttings of this beauty, and hope that I can get them through the winter. I'm pretty cocky about my propagation skills, but my biggest successes were in the spring, when the sap was rising strongly and almost anything I stuck in made roots quickly. I just hope that we have a bit of frost-free so I can see more of these glorious blooms! Of course you can see some of the regeneration of the Tanacetum parthenium (White Bonnet I think). They have had a great year as well. When they finished their first bloom period I cut them right back, and some of them are blooming for the THIRD time. But of course they are fully hardy perennials.
            There's a big pot of turkey soup on - I'm trying it with rice and curry, rather than potatoes, this time. And there will be plenty of baby zucchini and perhaps some green beans, for colour. The beans have been producing again, since the rains came. Today I also have to plant some garlic, provided last night at dance class by Lloyd. I think he actually dug them out of his own garden - they are rooted already, so they must go in right away. I am going to put them in at the top of Bed #5 - a new spot for onions, so I hope they do well. It wasn't planted this year, so it should be pretty fertile. 
              My Actaea has been doing really well, in the new shade bed under the snowballs that Anne made - in fact, it is covered with seeds. Anne suggested that I bag the seed head, with one of those organza gift bags from the $$ store... because they let air through so the seeds won't rot, but I don't lose any. Brilliant! But *where* are those bags? I know I have some.

Cosmos seashell
               It is certainly time for seed-collection. My seashell cosmos have done really well, so I must check and see if there are any mature seed heads I could bring in. And of course the Cleome are finished blooming, and their seeds are ready for collection too. The cosmos fell over quite badly, I must remember to put them in the BACK of the border _ or some other spot with support - next year. I had forgotten how much I love them, though - I must look for some shorter varieties as well, since the starting-from-seed worked so well.
             We gathered some acorns from a couple of fastigiate English oak trees (Quercus robur ver. Fastigiata) last weekend - they are on the Brackley Point Road, and must have been in someone's garden before the whole area went commercial. I just think that, if you want oaks, fastigiate ones are the sort to go for! So, more propagation. I am going to take over the east window of the office (all that paperwork has got to GO into the archives [closet]). It's the best spot to nurture all my babies!
       I finally decided that I HAVE to have the book "Making Bentwood Trellises, Arbors, Gates and Fences" by Jim Long. So I ordered it from Amazon and it came the other day. I am going to make *many* of the lovely things in this book. But it is a bit discouraging (though not surprising) that these structures don't have a very long life-span. However! The section on making wattle fences to retain raised beds is a winner for sure. This could be my answer for the remaining beds in the vegetable garden. And the passage from the "pretty" garden in the front to the "productive" garden in the back could really use an arbour with something nice climbing up. I have to source some small, but long, cedar trees for the posts. This can be a winter pastime.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Glorious Autumn

We've had a couple of frosts, and the light levels are lower, so the trees are starting to colour up. This is a Manitoba Maple (Acer negundo) which usually only turns yellow, so it's nice to see that it can have a more interesting look, occasionally. It, the larch and the spruce are the reason that the "rose mound" isn't doing very well any more - they are taking most of the sun, even in mid-summer, and so the bloom is getting less every year. My plan is to move the roses to more hospitable spots, starting with the more refined ones, and perhaps leaving the more robust rugosas to take over and do what they can in the matter of bloom. I also noticed quite a bit of black spot on them this year, surprisingly, since they are supposed to be immune! But I have found a couple of packets of sulfur treatment so I shall begin in the spring and keep them dosed up. I think moving the ones which are already defoliated might be the ticket NOW, and leave all that spotty foliage behind.
I've put in 40 pastel tulips, in various spots, and quite a few daffs under the maple tree. My hope is that they will come up before the bishop's weed (Aegopodium) and perhaps make that spot a bit more interesting. I think the tulips will be nice surprises wherever they come up. I put them mainly in the beds, but used a bulb planter, so it wasn't the big digging job it usually is.
 Because it's getting colder, things that have been sitting in the greenhouse must be put into the ground as well, so I have an oriental poppy (from Anne) and the two eryngeum offsets, and a couple of other things. I am planning to colonize more of the big central shrub bed to the west of the house and stick them in there. I've already moved quite a few foxgloves and blue iris up there. 
The gladioli are still lovely, and I really appreciate them as cut flowers - in the Peter Jansons ikebana vase, you can stick two on the needlepoint holder, and as the lower blooms fade, you can just shorten the stems. They last for days and days this way.
We are insulating the garage to be our cold room, so there will be a safe place to put our gladioli bulbs, and dahlias as well. And, of course, onions and carrots and potatoes! The big garage doors will be the real challenge. We are considering rigid sheets, or making a framework to hold fibreglas batts. I think the former is the easy route, but it is expensive.
Today is glorious, and I got out to take some photos (and do some watering and planting) but the colder and wet weather has been good for knitting and sewing. And cooking! We had the usual Thanksgiving get-together, but we cooked our own turkey the other day, so now we have the potential for all sorts of turkey-leftover meals. Mmm.