Sunday, April 30, 2017

Garden Produces Amidst it All

 Over the last few days of wonderful Spring weather & working outside on our projects, I noticed that the kale plants were starting to put up some flower shoots! I managed to harvest another 2 large bags of leaves off the plants & will let them go to flower so the insects can enjoy the blooms. I can also add those flowers to my salads or dressings.

And while out cleaning up things, I stumbled across an amazing find - lemon balm! I have 3 wee plants that I'm going to properly plant in my new herb garden and am looking forward to bringing this into the kitchen as well, maybe as a tea or addition to salad dressings. I rather love finding free herbs already growing in my space!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Rhododendron Season - 'Viscy'

 I found a replacement to a rhodo I had to leave behind in my old garden - it's not exactly the same, but still stunning & brings a warm feeling with the delicate colour.

This is 'Viscy' - a larger shrub than my dwarfs out in the front. I planted it in the back corner where we just installed our lattice panels and in a few years, it will grow to fill the space & bring a splash of colour.

I do enjoy the evergreen rhodos and am trying to steer away from the harsh reds or the generic purples & pinks. The older rhodos in our gardens are just that and we'll see how they perform over the next few years after being pruned & cleaned up last spring. We had a strange Autumn and half of them bloomed again, so I don't think we'll get much of a bloom this spring from them. I'm glad of this new addition.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Rhododendron Season - 'Blue Baron'

 I purchased a few 'unusual' rhodos a few years ago & brought 2 of them with me to the new gardens.

This one is another dwarf variety: 'Blue Baron' and is looking very happy in its new home.

I love the wee flowers & how you are drawn in to really take a look at them after they call to you from across the lawn.

It's nice to have a long season of rhodo blooms to satisfy the visual senses til the annuals start their parade!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Back Yard Project(s) - Part 3

Ok - am doing 2 posts in one day just because we accomplished so much today & I can't wait to share it with you!!

First thing this morning we got out to finalize the cementing in of the posts to the newly installed lattice panels.

A quick check on the back side of the fence shows that we do have a wee short chain-link fence in-between the neighbour's fence. There is 'just barely' enough room for us to squeeze behind to do maintenance or to push vines through or maybe to harvest food if it decides to grow on that side...

A look down the front side just to make sure it is all level. A good long length of south aspect garden space.

Now we move forward to about 10:00 a.m. & the arrival of our dump truck of soil!!!

Yup - a full 15 yards of soil for us to move around. I rather like this idea of bringing in a vast amount of soil in one big pile versus a bunch of bags full of soil. No bags to get rid of!

(I don't have a photo as to what is left at the end of the day - we'll see what I can get up to tomorrow!)

After a solid hour of duelling wheelbarrows, we now have a filled raised bed all set for growing vegetables & herbs this year!!

Wahoo!! This bed has been waiting for us to fill it since the end of January, but the weather just has not cooperated with us until now.

I estimate there is about 5 yards of soil in the bed plus 200 pounds of finished horse manure compost. I hope to have a few rains to settle the soil a bit before I plant for the season.

It might be a week or 2 before I put in transplants but I'm really itching to stick in a few seeds.

 I still would like to get some sand to put in around the stones in the walk-way to aid in stabilizing the stones. As you can see, when we finished this part of the project, there is plenty of sun in the raised bed - it was not yet 11:30 a.m.

I'm curious to see what amount of shade the lattice panels will provide in the summer, if any.

The next stage of today's project was to bring in soil to level out the back yard prior to the sod arriving.

This was a longer process than the veggie bed & there were some serious dips that needed a lot of soil.

The end result looks like something I just want to throw seeds out onto & grow flowers!!

The smell of fresh dirt & sunshine is such a great reward at the end of the day.

We are hoping to install a stone edging around all the flower beds, but that might not happen this year. Either way, I will be bringing in some more compost to top dress all the flower bed at some point in the next month or two after the sod is laid.

Things are really starting to look better out in the back yard for us & we are not yet done... We enjoy spending time out here & can't wait to start growing more of our own food.

Back Yard Project(s) - Part 2

The weather is finally cooperating with us & allowed for the installation of the lattice panels & posts along the back fence line.

This is a great privacy barrier, wind barrier, partial sun shade & vertical growing tool.

I have 1 & 1/2 panels to use directly in my raised bed, but will be making use of all the panels along the back for perennial vines & seasonal vegetables or flowers.

This time of year is difficult to be working in the existing flower beds - digging holes for the fence posts means bringing up soil that has a lot of clay in it, which then gets dumped on the plants that are growing. A lot has been trampled & buried but there is a lot of other plants that I can transplant into these areas or just throw down some annual seeds to fill in the empty spots.

You can see Spook - our constant companion out in the gardens. Curious as ever & not afraid to get in the way for attention.

At least the fence is low enough to still allow us to have conversations with our backyard neighbours on occasion.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Medicinal Herbal Syrup

~ start of Violet Honey Syrup ~
 I attended a wonderful day course just up the island in Cumberland at Black Bear Herbs where I was introduced to some hands-on learning on teas, decoctions, tinctures, poultices, salves & syrups.


I'm experiencing a bit of Gardener's Anxiety (thank you TJ for that definition!), so this was exactly what I needed.

Remember all those lovely little violets I have growing in my yard? Well, one thing I gleaned from everything we talked about was that violets can be used medicinally in teas & in a honey syrup.

~ darling violet faces ~
So I gathered up as many as I could find first thing in the morning & let them steep in boiled water over night. The colour was this lovely green...

The following day I removed the spent flowers & warmed the liquid up again so that I could add the honey. I found another cluster of blooms in the backyard & tossed them into the bottle & the mix went a fantastic shade of purple!

~ completed violet honey syrup ~
I've now placed the cooled syrup in the fridge & am looking forward to a nice glass of sparkling water with violet syrup at the end of a busy day in the gardens.

I will gather the next harvest of blooms to dry & use in teas this summer.

Next month I am headed back to Cumberland to partake in another day course about growing a Medicinal Herb Garden - which is perfect timing as I am redesigning & replanting my entire growing space.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Back Yard Project(s)

Due to the unhealthy state of our back yard (years of chemical treatments, poor drainage, moss, renovation debris & slope), we decided to strip the lawn & top layer of soil off & start fresh.

What a mess! But in a good, positive way...

Day One was focussed mainly on cutting the sod down to the proper depth. The sod cutter was a tricky machine to use, but sure made the job go by quickly! Could not imagine trying to dig up the lawn with a pick & shovel!

Yesterday the last 2 loads of lawn was hauled away & now we can see some of the bones of the landscape.

There is a big dip in the yard towards the back corner right where the plum tree is planted. We'll be bringing in a load of fresh top soil & making everything level before bringing in some sod.

To plant grass seed vs sod... pro's & con's on both sides, but for ease of having a quick lawn & for the pets, we chose to go with sod.

Shows what the current flower bed outline is & has me thinking that maybe I should widen them a bit more while I have the chance...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Rain Drops on... Tulips!

A morning stroll through the gardens with the cat & a cup of coffee are such a great way to start the day. Thankfully, it seems we are finally getting some warmer weather & are being rewarded with plants that are eager to show off & get growing!

It is tulip season right now & I have a plethora of red. A stunning colour in the gardens but very difficult to capture with a camera, especially in the sun light.

Our potted maples are also starting to finally leaf out & have wee blossoms hidden under the leaves. Hopefully I'll be able to capture a few as the days go by. I do know our Big Leaf Maples are now blooming & am looking for a nearby tree where I can harvest a few bunches to add to a salad or an egg scramble...

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Magnolia Blooms

 This wet & chilly spring weather has not given us much of a bountiful Spring bloom. Everything is delayed - some by weeks & some by a full month.

Mother Nature knows best.

Mother Nature is also messy...

My Star Magnolia in the back yard outside the kitchen window is a bit of a disaster. Well, this whole space is a bit of a disaster - which will soon be fixed up.

There were rotten cedar stumps along the fence line from a previous cedar hedge. The hedge was cut down years ago, but we just removed the stumps last week. Thankfully, they were rotten & came out easily. It revealed that there is a layer of soil on top of black plastic... I have some work ahead of me if I want to rejuvenate that 2 or 3 feet of space all along the fence line...

This Magnolia is in the front yard along a flower bed that we worked on last spring. We actually removed about 3 over-grown rhododendrons & pruned the Magnolia hard. The wee azaleas have yet to bloom & there is very little soil in which to plant this things just yet.

We will be working on this once the back yard is more under control - I have pots of bulbs & transplants from the back yard that I want to move into this bare & neglected space. It will first need to have some serious digging done - move the azaleas into more appropriate positions & hopefully dig up what we can of some horrid orange plastic that someone thought to lay down when originally planting things. What a disaster...

BUT, it will look so much better with a load of top soil & plants in a few months.

Once the weather warms up & dries up...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Jungle in the Sunshine

 Sort of feels like spring out here this morning! The sun is shining & it is actually warm!

We are preparing for an overhaul of the backyard & I thought I'd take a 'before' picture before things start to change...

As you can see, the raised bed is waiting for soil & we have lots of lumber for our privacy & vertical growing projects. We've not bothered to mow the grass yet this year so things are looking more lush & healthy than they really are.

This afternoon when I come home from class (more on that later), we'll be taking the potted maples & stones off the yard in preparation for stripping the sod off the back yard tomorrow.

It's rather sad to have to scrape off the top layer out there, but the soil is very compacted, full of moss & paint chips & nails & goodness knows what else from last year's reno projects & years of previous abuse. It will be leveled (a really good low spot is right where the plum tree is planted) & a fresh layer of top soil will be spread out. Will be a good move to start creating a more healthy space for plants & for the pets who roll around in the grass & sand.

Hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate with us & give us a few days grace from the rains...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!
Just in time for a wonderful long weekend with some sunshine (I hope) are my pots of late-last-minute planted bulbs. I will be planting these in the fall into a bed that is lacking in so many aspects, so it is nice to see that they have survived a few seasons of neglect & are enjoying some spring sunshine at last.
Have a great weekend!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Creepy Crawlies

~ Western conifer seed bug ~
Finding insects in the house is not always a wonderful experience. But I try to identify as many of them as I can before they get squished or chomped on. I like to know what sort of 'good guy vs bad guy' population I have going for me in the gardens.

This particular insect had me going for a day or two and after some digging on-line, we figured out that it is a Western Conifer Seed bug - not a true stink bug, but there is that stinky back-side explosion potential waiting for an unsuspecting chomp from the cat or squish from the squeamish.
I look at this particular bug as a traveller through my garden (here's more info) and will keep my eye out during the season to see if there are more as we do have some large Douglas fir trees in the neighbourhood.

The legs and colouring on this insect are rather interesting - I might have to invest in a magnifying glass AND a proper insect ID book. I always want to know before hand if the cat is going to chomp on something that might injure her... or at least give her a shot of something nasty.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Dwarf Rhodo

 My 'Mary Flemming' dwarf rhododendron is in bloom right now!

I'm so glad I brought her with me from my previous garden & that she is taking to her new home.

Rather makes me wish I used the front door more frequently which is why I always make a point to take the long way home & walk slowly up & around all my flower beds when I come home.

I love the way the rain drops hold onto the delicate blooms & make them look like antique tissue paper. I can see that the shrub is loaded with lots more blooms & I'm hoping for some sunny days to take a few more photos.
Am enjoying more Spring every day!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Garden Stroll Through Milner Garden

Milner Garden
 We went for a garden stroll the other day, just for a change of pace. It's a wonderful heritage garden on the seaside just minutes from our home! I love the 'old world' feel of the forest & the giant rhododendrons that are every where.

I highly suggest a stroll through here if you are ever on the island.

Here are a few things that are in bloom right now:
~ salmon berry ~
~ trillium ~
~ rhododendron ~

~ rhododendron ~
~ witch hazel ~
~ camellia ~

~ camellia ~
~ stinging nettle ~

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring Blooms

 I'm watching the rain fall this morning & I know it's good for the garden. Still, I wish it were warmer & drier & sunnier on my day off...

That just means I'll be working on other aspects of the garden - like staining the lattice panels so we can get them installed.

So here are some hyacinths that are blooming in pots that I planted in January when I realized I neglected to plant them in the flower bed last fall.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

First Harvest of the Season

 Late last summer I planted a few things to overwinter & managed - with the winter we had - to keep 2 kale plants alive.

We've been nibbling on the leaves for a few weeks now & they are so sweet & tender! Great for a change in salads, especially since it is difficult to find lettuce in the grocery stores lately due to weather issues where they grow.

This morning I decided it was time to harvest

Friday, April 7, 2017

Garden Gadget

In my current stage of 'Garden Obsession', I am taking 2 gardening courses. One is on-line & I actually won a garden gadget! It is called the Roo Gardening Apron.

I just learned some cool tips & tricks on how to actually use this helpful gadget from my on-line mentor here: Garden Gadget.

I am looking forward to using this for when I harvest herbs & greens & edible flowers & all sorts of other amazing things that will eventually come out of the garden later this season.

THEN I can show you a picture of me actually wearing it & using it.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Peas Planted!

A few days ago I picked up some more herbs for the gardens, which included a pack of sugar peas. I've been feeling rather down & out with gardening lately - no time, no energy, overloaded with obsessing about my garden plans for the year  & putting a bit too much pressure on myself to get things done before they need to be done.

But the peas... why keep them in the window?!

So I planted them today while the sun was melting the frost off the roof & warming my back.

They are planted under the lattice panel we installed last year along with the chamomile that is coming back & some foxgloves & columbines & toadflax... all a random assortment of seeds that I spread out last year to fill in all the wide open holes in the flower beds.

(on a side note: I'm having some issues with my blog posts being uploaded & am not sure if it is the picture size or the internet just hates me right now. This is where garden therapy is so dearly needed...)