Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's bulb planting time.

Went to the Veseys warehouse sale last week. All bulbs were $2 per bag (except the really big ones, which were $4), and there were perennials (also $2) too. I spent $44, so now I have a huge task ahead, to get them all in before the ground freezes.
Some of the perennials are pretty spectacular: Peonies "Santa Fe", "Barrington Belle", and "Callie's Memory", Iris, petrovska, papaver "Harlem", as well as bulbs alliums, fritillaries, crocus, daffodils and tulips. I'm leaving the tulips until the end.
A gardening friend had told me about the sale, but I didn't really believe how amazingly cheap everything would be, so I didn't plan ahead and prepare planting areas. Suffering for that now, but next spring should be spectacular if even half of the things survive. And next year, I shall be prepared.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Weather's Turning

          The return to standard time and the arrival of November has ended our long warm autumn, and we've had quite a bit of rain and wind to herald the coming winter. Brrr!! But I still have many bulbs to plant, and while there have been a couple of light frosts the ground is still unfrozen, so I hope that the tulips are still going to get into the ground. I'm just not sure where...
        We didn't have a bonfire for Guy Fawkes, because of the wind and the wet, but we certainly did have costumes. Here is Kate, channeling the late Queen Bess, complete with farthingale and ladies' maid, Joyce. 
        We were certainly blown away by the ingenuity of our friends, who dressed everywhere from Elizabethan to the present day! (Of course Guy Fawkes has been celebrated all through the centuries, so anything would be appropriate!)

      Our friends Anita and Trish came along in their Jane Austin outfits, with Hallowe'en accessories. Luckily these dresses are quite dance-friendly. Others had to doff their outfits later when the dancing commenced. 


     The gents looked quite well too, and Bruce in tights was a revelation. We all thought he should dress this way all the time.Don't know how they would take it at the office, however.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Costume Party!

Last Year's bonfire was a great one!

           Our Guy Fawkes party this year will be the Saturday after Hallowe'en, so we decided to make it a costume one. Everyone seems to be thinking Elizabethan styles, so I'm going with Simplicity 3809: Misses Costumes with a full skirt, peasant-style blouse and laced bodice in a glitzy gold tapestry fabric. The hat with veil is interesting - definitely square-headed. I have a comb to sew inside to help hold it on, though I am dubious about how long it will last.

Men Costumes
        Fred's is a more sober black pants, white shirt and black (long) doublet with silver threads in a zigzag pattern. I cut the doublet last night but haven't sewn it yet, though the pants are done. They have laces in the cuffs instead of elastic - I may modify that. I gave him a zip instead of buttons as well. I think I'll find a velvet for the hat in a bright-ish colour to cheer him up.
        We have to get through The Ghost Walk first, however. It is tomorrow night, and as usual it will be raining. Gives a real spooky sense to the night, of course, but a bit mizzerubl for the ghosties waiting in darkened places. Brrr.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Picking and planting

l to r: gold false cypress, green false cypress, weeping beech
      The weather has continued summer-like, so I am still at the planting, with several things still to go in before the frosts come. I did put the beech below the white pine, along with two Sawara cypresses which I had bought over the summer. The first (Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera' (Greenthread False Cypress) I got at a great nursery in Berwick, NS - The Briar Patch, an absolutely wonderful place with every imaginable plant, including the false cypress which I have longed to have for a while. It was $45 for a really good, large specimen, and it travelled home in the trunk of the car quite happily. Then, when the new Kent store was selling off its plants at the end of the season, I got a quite small one, the golden variety this time (Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera Aurea Nana' – Gold Threadleaf Sawara Cypress), for $5. So, $50 for two. A terrific price!
Ageratina altissima ‘Chocolate', blooming!
        This week I planted my garlic crop (quite large this time, with some of Lloyd's Music, and some unnamed ones from the 70 Mile Yard Sale in Caledonia, along with a tiny variety they called just 'hot' garlic. Maybe that means they stole it? ;-) I have also cleared a couple of beds to put in a cover crop - probably mustard? My tomato plants succumbed to blight again this year, but the ones I kept in the polytunnel are still green and healthy - and better - producing! As long as the weather holds. So I have decided to keep them in the polytunnel next year - I just can't bear to lose them again, after all the hard work of choosing varieties, planting them indoors and growing them on, etc. It will also provide a lot of growing space in the vegetable plot freed up for other things. I think I will do a bed of annuals for cutting. I've been choosing varieties and sourcing seeds.
       I have also planted out seven little willow seedlings (probably salix alba) that had been in the cold frame last winter. They are from cuttings we took the summer before in Fortune. It's a really interesting variety, grows in drier spots than willow usually does, with lovely rounded heads and the usual shiny, shiny willow leaves. There's a spot on the 48 Road where several houses have them along their driveways and they are gorgeous. And I put in the twelve oak seedlings (Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’ (Columnar English Oak) I grew from acorns the summer before that - just in a row behind the new fence that's going to support the espaliered apple trees. All these trees are just there to grow a bit before being moved to permanent positions, I have no idea where.
Don's Rhododendron
           Also in, and from the Kent sale for $5, are two hybrid lilacs, Sensation and Agincourt Beauty. I put them just to the south of the big white pine, reasoning that the pine's lower branches will go as the lilacs grow upwards.  I put the rhodo from Don under the pine, just at the edge so it gets sun but with lots of the pine needles it loves. I put a lot of them into the planting hole as well.
        I did finally put in the two posts for the wire supports and the two apple trees - the honeycrisp I almost lost through leaving it in the polytunnel in a pot all winter, and the other one I bought this spring, bare root from the apple orchard and potted up. I just have to wire the posts and tie in the apple trees. I am debating what to do with the hardy peach I also bought there...I want to keep it in the pot but I think the roots will be at risk if I leave it above ground. I may plunge it in the garden and then hoik it out and put it in the polytunnel in the spring to get it started early. That should be fun.
    The climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) which was planted by the white oak a couple of years ago has started to climb! The tiny branches snaking up the trunk are clinging on as hard as they can with advantitious roots.  Can't wait to see the future glory. It is obviously in the "creeps" phase at the moment. 
    And, as far as picking goes, I am lifting leeks and carrots, and picking cranberries (in the wild). Our domestic crop of cranberries amounted to just 12 this year, or one per square foot of bog. Lots of vines there now, though, do I am very hopeful for the future crop. And the garden is still producing zucchini!

Our whole crop!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Summer planting catch-up.

Long time no blog.

My first PG, second hydrangea. Propped.
       It's been a busy summer, gardening. I added three new hydrangeas to my collection, making ( I think) 12 in all. The new ones are Vanille Fraise and Limelight, both PG-types, and Glowing Embers, a macrophylla. The Glowing Embers is an especially good do-er, as the Brits say. Blooming since planted, and lovely colour changes. I also have three propagated ones - one macrophylla and one probably PG-type, which I managed to do, and one Anne did, macro, from scrumpings at Cotton Park or Home Hardware, I am not sure which. These are all very small so far, and as I'm not sure a) what they are, and b) if they will survive, I'm not counting them in the 12! All my commercial ones, except macrophylla "Cityline Mars" bloomed this year. Not many blooms, it's true, but a sign of things to come! And they have all put on growth.
Glowing Embers
       I got three new rhododendrons this year - One early in the season at WalMart (for which I can't find the tag), one Lepidote Dwarf "Karen Seleger" at an amazing Kent sale in September, and one from Don, who is moving one of his which has gotten too big. His is in full sun, and is doing very well, so I'm not quite sure where to put mine! The "Karen Seleger" I put in the bed beside the drive, in a spot cleared out by removing an overgrown clump of shasta daisies. More shastas went to make space for a "Coppertina" ninebark, and a couple of ecinaceas. Anne gave me a Pieris, which I put beside my one surviving tree peony, after removing a huge clump of iris.These are all in the same bed. Anne also gave me a purple-leaf birch (Betula "Royal Frost") for my birthday, which I put in front of the spruce hedge just beside the PG hydrangea above. It should be amazingly beautiful when it gets older and the bark turns white.
       Anne just gave me a "Mixed Nursery Planter" she got at Home Depot, on sale for $12.50 and marked down from $50. It had a Fagus sylvatica "Purple Fountain" (weeping purple beech), a spirea, a cotoneaster, and quite a large eunomous, all crammed into a 12 inch square plastic pot. The beech will be 30 feet x 15 feet at maturity. Naturally we have pulled it all apart and I am looking for the perfect spot for the beech - it is a fastigiate specimen, not too huge, but requiring full sun to create those purple leaves. I may have to put it below the big white pine, in the spot we're considering as an "Alpine" area. It's sunny, or at least *will* be when we take out the Norway maples in the ditch, and a couple of Pinus niger that are looking quite sickly.
       We went to Cornhill Nursery in the spring, and I bought an Amur Maple (Acer ginnala) which was blooming there at the time. After dithering all summer, I put it in the "Shade Garden", which has lost all its shade. The viburnums which have hitherto provided shade were cut down this spring, after the third year in a row of being totally defoliated by the nasty larve of the viburnum beetle. Our highbush cranberry bushes have fared a bit better, but they are related, so I expect they will go as well. I am suppressing regeneration of the snowballs with carpet. Hope it works. I really don't want them back. 
Cedar waxwings, feeding!

     The one good thing about the nasty larve was, before we cut the bushes down, a flock of cedar waxwings came and had a great feed on them. I think there were 12 waxwings in all! But, lovely as they were, it wasn't worth having these buggy specimens in my garden to attract them. We have left a few smaller bushes around the other side of the house uncarpeted, so if they regenerate, and the bugs do not, I'll leave them alone. Otherwise, I'll look for resistant varieties. There are a few, I understand.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Possibly Not Spring Quite Yet...

     The snow has (mostly) gone, and quite quickly, too, considering how much of it there was. But Spring is still being a bit coy. Today, for example, we have light freezing drizzle and a minus one big degree outdoors. I had erected my poly tunnel and put out some seedlings a few days ago but I brought them all back indoors yesterday. I suppose I could run a power cord and put the electric heater out there, but it seems like a recipe for conflagration or other disaster...  
     The crocus are doing their best to cheer me up, coming up everywhere under the viburnums - as soon as the snow cleared away they bloomed, the brave things. Some of the daffs and the tulips are poking up as well, but no sign of blooms as yet. Very sensible of them, I'm sure.
Some slugs of unmarried parents have nipped off my hellebore beside the front path - I saw the buds unfurling, went back the next day to trim off the last year's leaves and the buds were gone. I don't have slug pellets but I put down grit, and then put it around the new hellebores I planted in the front yard as well. (I hope the slugs are enjoying the freezing drizzle.) I am planning a trip to Veseys this afternoon and hope to get slug pellets there - or somewhere. They don't deserve beer.
    I have quite a few varieties of tomatoes started - I am going to try to beat the dreaded blight spores this year, including growing them in the poly tunnel in pots. If the Brits can do it, so can I! I got "Defiant" and "Sweet Million" at Veseys, "Sasha's Pride" and "Super Italian Paste" at West Coast Seeds, and Anne sent "Legend" and "Stupice". I have pricked out most of them, and have about a dozen of each. Anne will have to take quite a few - or we'll have to plough up the lawn.  I also have sweet peppers up, and am trying to grow quinoa - the first seeds I planted have germinated, but they got quite stretched indoors. I tried to pot some of them on, but they didn't have their first true leaves yet, and, combined with low light, they have all expired. I have started a few more!
    Anne has sent me some seeds of white plants from VanDusen Garden and I am putting two of them into the cold frame - now that it is out from under the snow. One of them needs 16 degrees ("Asarina procumbens") so I'll keep it in, but the other two are OK for outdoors - "Aquillegia alpina 'alba'" and "Cardiocrinum giganteum". Fingers crossed.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy spring 2014

    This has been a winter to end all - snowstorms began in December and came along quite regularly afterwards, at a rate of one or two - occasionally three - a week thereafter. We have a lot of snow piled up around us - a couple of thaws have reduced them a bit, but then more storms come and the levels are restored, or built up even further. The City is in even worse shape - the practice has been to truck snow away from parking lots, but I think this must have gotten steadily more expensive; so this year they are just piling and going on piling. The big WalMart lot has a HyMac earth-mover in the middle of the pile, and it is heaping the snow up even higher than the bulldozers can get it. Parking spaces are becoming more and more limited, and in some lots you dare not go down certain lanes, because there's no exit at the end and you may have to back out.
       Spring has brought no respite - this past two weeks schools were cancelled for five days in a row, making 12 days in all this winter. I seem to remember that, last year, we had garden preparation going on by now, and some vegetables planted by the end of the month. Not so this year. The garden is buried, the polytunnel is collapsed under the snow (as it has been since December) and it never gets thawed out enough to even *try* to clear it off and pop it up again. I *wish* I had  thought to de-skin it last fall - it is the only way it will survive, especially with snow like this.  I just checked with the government weather site and they have recorded 400+ cm of snow from December to the end of March. and 25+ in April - so far. Today is foggy and +2 degrees, so there is melting, but this stuff is going to take a *while* to go away.
    The iPhoto app has a "last 12 months" photo list. Last April 11 I was photographing my very first hellebore, unfurling. This year - it is somewhere under that snowbank, just on the right. Not unfurling, if it knows what's good for it.
    It has been a good year to get work done indoors, however. We got the sink and tub in the laundry/bathroom hooked up and I spent a couple of messy days tiling and grouting. I think they look pretty good now. We still need a tall book-case to put beside the washer, to hide all the plumbing and stuff behind it, and hold a few towels and so on. I have an IKEA one picked out, but IKEA is just too far!
Sink, nearly finished
Tub, in the mudpie phase (grouting)
Tub, complete with "Bathsheba" print
     There are just a couple of things left to do - seal the grout, fill in some cracks around the tub with expanding foam, and then silicone seal between the tile and the tub and sink, and, if I can manage it, a tiny bead between the tile and the wall. Our sink installer suggested a bead around the pedestal and the floor tile too. And I think, once all that is done, I'd like to spray expanding foam around the tub, to insulate it and also to firm it up a bit. Oh, and build the cupboard doors for the linen closet, and the panels for under the tub. How many years did this project take? I really love it, though.
     But I would love Spring more.