Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Now Finally Winter

 I'm slowly getting back into my gardens - strange, now that it's the end of the gardening season... But I am finally finding the time & the energy to explore & see what's happened while I've been 'away' - not physically, just mentally.

Winter sunshine is also that much more special, so I try to get outside to enjoy it as much as possible.

Things take on a different look too. Like the frosty mornings - love how everything sparkles - even if there isn't much colour in a leaf - it's got some great shapes to appreciate.
 There will come a day, very soon, when I won't be able to go outside to nibble on fresh raspberries. I see that the Stellar Jays have finally found them & are eating those they can find, but I really don't mind sharing at this time of year.
 I love calendula - I wish I had planted up a few pots that I could have brought up to the deck for the winter. They usually flower right on through the cold dreary days, as long as they are protected from too much rain & are able to warm up during the day. For now, I'll enjoy the remaining blooms out in the garden & hope that all the seeds that I didn't save, somehow make it through to the spring & reseed themselves.

Primroses are darlings too - tuck them in any dry or rocky spot & they'll survive with minimal care. Again, another plant that if protected from too much rain or soggy soil & able to warm up during the day, will flower right on through winter. 

I'm still not finished with all the garden chores - there are a few plants that need to be cut back & other random tasks to be done, but for now, I'll just enjoy the sunshine & the frost as it melts.

We'll see what this week brings - I can tell there is a storm brewing because we are holding our community Craft Sale on Saturday & it's tradition to have snow & a power outage on that day! Well, it just wouldn't feel very festive if it were sunny & warm, now would it?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Last Minute Garden Chores in the Near-Dark

~ gunnera ~
 Yesterday was a wonderful West Coast day - full of sunshine & unexpected warm temperatures. It was pure torture having to work inside all day!!

I'm lucky that I was home shortly after 4:00 so I could run outside & play for a very short time. My main goal was to cut back my gunnera. Sunshine in the winter on the Coast = frost the next morning!

So, this is one of my older gunnera - about 3 years old now & finally starting to take to it's place in the front yard. I don't have anything to show the size of the leaves, but they are almost 5 feet across - well, the biggest ones are. The stems are thicker than my wrist & I really should dig out my machete for when I need to cut these down - the pruners are really difficult to use!

~ gunnera ready for winter ~

This is how my gunnera will survive the winter on the Coast. It is important to cut back the stems & leaves & cover up the main body of the plant as it is a 'tropical' plant & will be damaged by frost & freezing.

Most of the plant lives above ground (you'll know if you ever have to transplant & move one), so ensuring winter protection that still allows for drainage is key to having them last for years.

So, that was me running out right at dusk last night to cut them back and I have about 7 of these on the property.

~ gunnera in the frosty morning ~
This is the protected gunnera about 10 minutes ago in the frosty morning just before the sun peaks over the horizon.
~ frosty gunnera ~
I love the frosty mornings around here - they are pretty to see & they disappear so quickly in the morning sunshine!

Monday, November 12, 2012


~ fresh picked just hours ago ~
I am simply astounded that I am still harvesting raspberries from the garden this late in the year! They are a little water-logged but check out the size of them! Once they warm up to room temperature, the flavour will knock your socks off - they are much more flavourful than the raspberries I was harvesting this summer & actually, much larger too!

~ fresh raspberries & raspberry-lavender jam ~

 I found enough to fill a sandwich bag - which went into the freezer after a few nibbles - mainly because I just don't know what to do with them today & I don't want to put them in the fridge, or else they will be forgotten & go bad within a day or so.

But it reminded me that I have to start getting my jams & jellies ready for the Christmas Craft Sale that is being held on December 1st at our community school.

This year I made raspberry-lavender jam & I put it into small 'sample' size jars (the 125 ml Bernardin jars) & I have it matched up in a 'hostess gift' set of 3. The other 2 flavours are either: Seville Orange Marmalade & Loganberry Spice jam or Spiced Pear Jelly & Loganberry Spice jam.

Hmmm - now that I'm thinking of all these different flavours of jams & jellies, I am thinking I should have made some raspberry scones & cracked open a few jars & had an afternoon tea!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Seeking Help for my Hoya

~ hoya ~
 I really need some help with my hoya plant. The poor thing has this white stuff growing in the crevices, under the leaves & along the flower buds.

This has been going on for many months & I'm now starting to wonder if the fate of my plant is not a positive one.

During the summer I have left it outside for a few days & hosed it off to rid the plant of whatever this is, but obviously I'm not doing enough.

~ hoya~
Now that I've finally taken an up-close photo, I can see that it is not necessarily a fungus but rather an insect!! Aphids??

When I squish/clean them off, they leave an orange residue.

This is not good & I'm very concerned for my poor hoya. I've had her for almost 9 years, grown from a cutting from a neighbour up the hill. It took 7 years for her to flower & every year, she blooms more & more.

She still seems relatively happy - dropping a few leaves now & again & she has gone through a bloom even with these nasties on her.

Anyone have any suggestions?? I've got her hanging outside right now & will hose her off, but I'm not too hopeful for her return to the house...