May 2016
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  • house at christmas
  • Grass - A Pain in the Ass

    It’s started already. Commercial after commercial spent on grass seeds and how one brand is better than the other. Oh how your neighbours will envy your lawn if you use this or that particular product. We see ads for rider mowers, push mowers, power mowers, electric mowers, robotic mowers and manual mowers. Did I leave anything out? Oh, let’s not forget fertilizers, aerators, thatchers, eco-friendly weed killers and let’s not forget all that gasoline to power the mowers.

    And then there is your water bill. After all, you must make sure that grass is never thirsty. Perhaps you’ve gone to the expense of installing an automatic sprinkler system.

    How about the whole sod industry and the lawn maintenance services industry? Remember “Weed & Feed”? They used to come around door to door selling their service. I could go on but you get the idea.

    In the back of my mind I hear, “ka-chin, ka-chin.” Exactly how large is this industry? After doing some research on the numbers, it turned out in Canada alone; we spend 3 Billion a year on lawns. That means in the US they spend around 30 Billion. Those are staggering numbers. All that money just for the dream of a golf-course looking lawn. It’s an outrage!

    And then there is clover. White clover to be exact. It never needs fertilizing, never needs cutting, survives on rainwater generously provided by Mother Nature, stands up to drought, chokes out weeds and has a beautiful rich green color. When in bloom, it attracts honey bees. What’s not to love? Yet some people view it as a weed.

    Some people are idiots.

    Don’t you have enough to do with weeding your vegetable patch and your perfect flower beds?

    Come on folks, wise up. Don’t let the grass mafia run your life.

    Picture this; it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. You’re sitting in your favourite lawn chair – a cold one in your hand, a Tilley on your head.  Across the street is your neighbour grunting, red in the face and drenched in sweat while manoeuvring his mower around shrubs and trees.

    Your other neighbour is on his rider, churning up more dust than grass because as has been my experience, people who use riders are generally not too concerned about a perfect lawn – they just keep cutting the weeds low and figure nobody can tell the difference from a distance anyway, or so they think.

    Meanwhile, back to you.

    As you take a sip, you look around at your own lawn and can’t help but admire your perfect rich green carpet of clover and you didn’t have to break a sweat, your back or the bank to get it.

    Yes, life is good.

     

     

    Bridge Over the River Trent

    All bad things come to an end. This Friday, April 29, the bridge will be open again for through traffic. Every merchant in town will be breathing a sigh of relief. It’s been very hard on them and business is down 50-60%. That could be the death knell for those who couldn’t hold on. After all, construction of the new swing bridge was started January 4 2016 but is being completed before the due date of May 21. Well, that was the deadline because boating officially starts and by law that bridge had to be completed.

    For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the swing bridge allows boats through since the Trent is part of the Trent-Severn waterway.

    Well, here’s hoping everything gets back to normal quickly.

    And Then It Turned Cold Again

    Typical Spring weather. It warms up and then cools down. Lots of rain which is good, then warm again – then cold. Spring is a messy, muddy time of year.

    It Sure Looks Like Spring Is Here

    It got quite mild today so I went out and pruned some of my hydrangea. They needed a good pruning. I had never done it before – just trimming down a little – but this time I took it seriously. There was a lot that needed removing. These hydrangea grow on new wood so Spring is the time to prune.

    I also noticed some of my bulbs are poking their little heads through the soil. Life renewing itself. This has been a very strange winter due to the el nino. I don’t like it. I like winters to be friggin’ cold and very snowy. I’m just worried that after the blossoms are out, it will turn real cold and kill everything just like what happened three years ago. That time we had no lilacs and fruit production was hit badly. Well the old saying is “in like a lion, out like a lamb”. March came in like a lion but we’re nowhere near the end of March and it’s lamb weather already.

    IMG_5378

    The newly pruned hydrangea just sticks now but wait a few weeks.

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    The intense green is due to that location having been my kitchen garden. The soil is super rich amended many times, hence the deep green

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    I wonder how they will look once they leaf out. The two trees in front got some major pruning.

    IMG_5381

    My latest junk shop find. They will be painted and maybe I’ll make cushions. Don’t know yet but even in the state they’re in, they are so comfortable. They’re metal but the strapping isn’t.

    Mar 9 '16, It's mild but still so bare.

    Mar 9 ’16, It’s mild but still so bare.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Reality Check

    OK, so a few seeds have germinated and I’m feeling very optimistic, the truth is it’s still February and there is a lot of winter left. Just to remind us what we had just a week ago and what is coming next week, here are a few shots to keep us humble.

    The swing bridge is gone, a new one is being manufactured as we speak. This means the whole bridge is closed and the only way to get from one side to another is to walk across on the pedestrian walkway. Many have parked their cars on one side and walk to the other for whatever they need. Since the north side is where the stores are more people walk over from the south side. Some people have bought an additional car so they have one on either side of the bridge.

    Well, it will all be done by May 24th if not sooner.

    While out taking pictures, we spotted a “junk shop”, my favourite place to visit. There I found 2 cast iron chairs that someone didn’t want. We scooped them up and brought them home. They will be perfect for the little nook under the elm where we can sit with a coffee or a cocktail.

    Life is good.

    _MG_5316 _MG_5319 _MG_5327

    A very cold hoarfrost morning

    A very cold hoarfrost morning

    _MG_5331 _MG_5339 IMG_5342 IMG_5344

    Russian Sage Has Germinated

    I could not believe my eyes. Germination has taken place. I’m just waiting for another day or so to take the cover off and place them in our “greenhouse”.

    In case you wonder why I have greenhouse in quotation marks, it’s because I’m referring to our jetted bathtub upstairs. Above it is a skylight. It has the most sun and light in the whole house. Since I have yet to use the tub, it occurred to me to change it into a makeshift greenhouse.

    Why didn’t I think of this before?

    Who has time for lying in a bathtub with candles burning? I guess I could make the effort but I always seem to be in a hurry.

     

    First Banana Seedling Raising Its Green Head

    Today is a good day. Finally, after about 6 weeks, I have my first banana plant poke its head through the soil. I’m betting the others will follow soon. I can’t wait to get them into the ground for a tropical feel – something different in the northern garden.

    I hope I can get them to overwinter.

    I also hope that soon my Russian Sage plants will germinate. I need some color other than yellow for the autumn garden.

    Also, I hope my castor bean plants will germinate. They are so dramatic.

    Banana Plant

    Today I finally planted my banana seeds. They’ve been soaking for about 4 days so hopefully they will thrive. I planted six of them in individual pots in moist potting soil and covered them with Saran Wrap. I had some success last year. However, only one ever germinated and I planted that one in the big pot on the porch. It grew into a lovely plant that I gave to a friend at the end of the season. They are using it as a houseplant.

    If they all germinate and thrive – and that’s a big if – I will plant them along the South Side of the house. It will get lots of sun and then I hope I’ll get them to overwinter too. I’ll do as my cousin in Austria explained and see what happens.

    Banana plant

    Banana plant

    Christmas 2015 – Tshirt Weather

    It’s Christmas Eve. At 5:30AM I looked outside to see a big orange moon slowly setting. There is a very warm breeze. It’s 15 Celsius or about 60 Fahrenheit. Did I mention it’s Christmas Eve? What is going on?

    There are many who are so happy with the weather. Golfers mostly. Although I am enjoying it somewhat, I worry what next summer will bring. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Where is the snow? I want snow.

    Window Boxes

    back porch arrangement

    back porch arrangement

    IMG_4734 IMG_4732 front window box black shutters

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