Saturday, February 11, 2017


      We managed to get through January without much snow, but February has been a different beast altogether. We have had two significant snowfalls this week, and there is another expected on Sunday night/Monday. Ah well. I don't care because I don't have to try to get out to go to work!
      This is the snow on the roof from the second snowfall - hub cleared the first one. Why do I care? Because the solar panels which heat our water are under there. If we want free hot water we have to remove it.
      This is after I got busy and scraped it off - it had blown hard from the NW so that front curl, especially, was hard as rocks! But I persevered, and once I got close to the surface of the panels, the snow came off in big chunks. I was on my snowshoes, so it was hard to get out of the way quickly! But no harm was done. The hard work requires I get a ladder and get up to clear the photo-voltaic panel above the left-hand water one, as it runs the pump. Until that's clear, the water doesn't run through the panels.

This final shot shows why the last snowbank to go in the yard is directly under the solar panels. 
      Because spring is in the offing, despite the snowfalls, I have been planting up some seeds. I did peppers (sweet and hot) indoors, and some hardy flowers in milk jugs for outdoors. I didn't do much winter sowing last year, but now I have the time I'm giving it another go.  I also had a lot of bulbs, which spent 10 or 12 weeks in the cold room, and are now sprouting, so I potted up a few to see how they do. I just put one per pot and I think they are hyacinths and tulips; if they bloom it will be a bonus, and if not I'll fertilize them and put them out in the garden somewhere - the hyacinths at least. I also had a LOT of tulips from last year's pots (they were done for the wedding) which I dried off in the summer and put into the vegetable plot in the fall - another if they bloom, great! If not, compost.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Post Retirement

       I should now have more time for knitting, gardening, and to a lesser extent cleaning and cooking. Yes, I was retired at the end of November. Hurrah!
       As I haven't posted since July (last year!) I shall do some catching up.
       We had a terrific raspberry crop again this year!
I was surprised because I thought they were on a good year/bad year cycle. However! A generous application of horse manure in the spring might have had something to do with it. They're an unknown (to me) variety, with very tall ( up to 3 metres) smooth canes which produces fruit from August first or so for a good three or four weeks. I have a lot of jam and frozen raspberries in the freezer and so do many of our friends! Despite this success (or perhaps in case something strikes them down sometime) I've started another bed of raspberries, from some canes I got from Anne. Again, unknown variety, but hers are more typical, with thorny, shorter canes, but are a bit later and have huge pyramidal fruit. She also has the golden fall ones (called "Anne") and they are suckering up all over so I may get some of those too. Problem is where to locate them, as they need a permanent spot with lots of sun. Our original ones are getting to be shaded by some growing trees so they may have to be relocated sometime in the future. So far so good, however. 
In addition to "Primuland", I developed a new bed at the entrance to the woodland garden this summer. It has things which like a bit of shade. I visited a garden which had a load of geranium macrorrhizum bordering the beds, and, as I had a shedload of these seedlings, I bordered it with them. There were a few things which had to come in for the winter (fuchsias, etc), but the other day I was out looking and the hart's tongue fern is still there, and still green. The painted Japanese ferns have of course disappeared for the winter but I'm confident they'll be back. I had a couple of little tiny seedling Japanese maples which I put in here as well. Maybe it will be my Japanese garden? I have a couple of rhododendrons in the woodland garden, and one of them was viciously attacked by some beastly insect (I suspect) so I don't know if it will survive. It was an Elphidote - one of the miniature ones, like Karen Seleger but white blooms, and it had bloomed a lot in the spring.

        Other lovelies: In the bed in front of the lilacs, a  
nice mix of sweet William, geranium, and rose campion. These are the ones which I am sure will bloom again next summer (they grew many sets of basil leaves after blooming) and which I have very successfully grown from seed - in abundance, waiting in the vegetable plot to be planted out in the flower beds. There is a really lovely bright magenta one which looks superb with the grey foliage, but we can't seem to get it - or the white one - to survive/bloom. Luckily I like pink, but I'm not giving up on the others! Loads of people have them.
        Five years ago I started a new garden, based on shrubs, to the west of the house. I wanted to collect many of the superb hydrangeas which have been developed recently. It takes a long time! But I have many of my favourites and am now impatiently waiting for them to develop and bloom. This one is a big fave, as the blooms last a long time. I think it is "Nikko Blue" macrophylla hydrangea. In the past few years I've added some rhododendrons to this area too, two last year: Rhododendron "Roseum Elegans" and a "Minnetonka" which is the only one of the lot with buds on. They are all in a line above the path at the top of the west garden. I see many more places for rhododendrons, including a spot where we've cut a hole in the spruce hedge to be able to see the water again from the deck - the rhodos will fill in the hole and cover the spruces' dead lower branches, but not block the view. That is the plan at any rate.

         Last but not least. I've been wanting one of these
veronicastrums for years, and now I have two! They are still very small, but I hope they will settle in here and develop. They also come in white (mine are both pink) and they are very tall.Perhaps I need some white ones too.