December 2016
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  • house at christmas
  • Last Visit to the Lower Garden

    Since virtually nobody ever reads my blog, I am posting these pictures I took only yesterday. We felt it would probably be the last time this season we’ll be able to go down the hill before the snow and ice take over.
    It is my all-time favourite place. I feel so peaceful when I’m down there. The world and all its cares just disappear.
    Next Spring, once the frost is out of the ground we can start creating that rain garden, take some chairs and tables down, plant out some new trees and shrubs.
    Some day I’d like to build a Japanese tea house somewhere on this enchanted plot of land.

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    Two large burn piles. Charlie and Ralph will be doing this once there is a layer of snow . That way the burn is safe and won’t spread.

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    Two piles ready to be burned.

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    Over the last 7 1/2 years, Charlie cleared the entire acre of huge ugly Manitoba trees, bushes and scrub singlehandedly. He is in such great shape, he’d put men 20 years younger to shame. Make that 30. I think it’s all that back-breaking work that put him in this shape. Now the trick is to stay in shape over the long winter. Well, there is shoveling snow but that’s not nearly enough.

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    More Misty Mornings in October

    I wish this time of year could last for at least a couple more months. It is so wonderful outside. I don’t have to go far – just step out the front door and there it is.

    rose hips

    rose hips

    fallen tree, lilacs and maple

    fallen tree, lilacs and maple

     

    Burning Bush

    Burning Bush

     

    birch, spruce and maples

    birch, spruce and maples

     

    Maples in the Morning Mist

    maples-in-the-morning-mist

    Thanksgiving is Almost Here

    This is always the most beautiful time of year. Summers here are usually way too hot, especially this last summer. I hate being sweaty and uncomfortable. Working in the garden can only be done for a short time since the heat just drains you.

    Ah, but autumn is here. I look forward to this time of year – all year long. It’s a pity it isn’t longer. The leaves are turning those magnificent colors – everything from gold to orange and vivid red. It’s a feast for the eyes. The temperatures are so comfortable, it’s good to be alive.

    The second Monday in October is Thanksgiving Day. It is so appropriately named. The harvest is in, the colors of the trees are eye candy, the temperatures are ideal and there isn’t any of that crazy present buying. In fact, we don’t exchange gifts except maybe something small and fun. We buy what we need for each other during the year.

    This year I made rose hip jelly from the hips growing on my rosebush. It’s labor intensive but worth it and in the rush you get all this terrific vitamin C. I also made elderberry syrup. It was my first time but it won’t be my last. I like it a lot. Maybe I’ll try making elderberry wine next year. It’s just that I don’t care for the fermenting berries or grapes or anything fermenting.  Well, I’ll think about that next year. Meanwhile, here are a few photos from my garden. More will come, I’m sure.

    Steps and bench

    Steps and bench

    Maples and lilac

    Maples and lilac

    Hydrangeas and Coleus

    Hydrangeas and Coleus

    Elms and Maples

    Elms and Maples

    Coniferous and Deciduous

    Coniferous and Deciduous

    Begonias

    Begonias

    A Little Good News Despite Drought

    It’s been a very disappointing season. There are people who say this is the new normal. I hope not. However, I am taking a different stance on gardening. Since I have to depend on rain water for the garden, I have to get a lot smarter with the way we use it. OK, the cistern is very large but it gets fed by rainwater gathered on the roof and funneled into the tank. No rain, eventually the tank will be empty.

    So, plants that need very little water or have deep roots and therefore able to fend for themselves in time. Trees and evergreens come to mind. For annuals, keep them in pots and planters. So, now I will hunt for perfect planters.

    Also, anything in the Sedum family. They are succulents and are great at absorbing water and retaining it in their leaves.

    Also, plants with silver foliage. I have no idea why but they tend to hold up much better in a drought. For example, lamb’s ears and Artemisia to name two. They won’t necessarily thrive in a drought but they will stay alive until the next rainfall.

    For shade gardening I love ferns, coral bells, hostas, Solomon’s Seal, bleeding heart, forget-me-not, etc. It’s easier to water these as they don’t dry up as quickly as those in full sun.

    For the window boxes, the coleus really shone. They have such brilliant foliage, you never miss the flowers. I bought them at a nursery. I will overwinter these to replant in Spring. They put on such a great show and don’t need special treatment to make a wonderful display.coleus coleus2 coleus3 coleus4

    The Summer of the Drought

    I just looked and discovered I hadn’t posted anything for exactly two months. Since my last post we have had the worst heat and drought that I can remember. All my plants are looking worse for wear. Some of them are on life support. My youngest trees look really bad and have lost most of their leaves. One of them is in danger of dying.

    It has been a vicious summer with endless blistering heat and very little rain. Although I have a large tank, it needs to be refilled occasionally. Since there was so little rain, I had to carefully distribute that wonderful liquid over all my beds and window boxes. I started to worry about my well. What will happen if that runs dry?

    Last Saturday, it rained all day for at least 12 hours. Yes, I am somewhat relieved. Still, we need more – much more of the wet stuff to put the drought behind us. “No Fire” posters are all over the area. That means no open flames of any kind.

    We are expecting more rain tomorrow, so they say. We’ll see.

    A Walk in my Garden

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    Back porch in the early morning

    Not much to say today. It’s quite warm – in the 80’s F. Took a few pictures and here they are:

    Native to mountain areas in central and southern Europe, Rosa glauca is a species rose that is grown in gardens today for its attractive glaucous purple foliage and its tiny, soft pink flowers

    Native to mountain areas in central and southern Europe, Rosa glauca is a species rose that is grown in gardens today for its attractive glaucous purple foliage and its tiny, soft pink flowers

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    Peonies in full bloom

    Fabulous, dramatic white fleeceflower great for back of border. Meant for northern gardens. Mine is Zone 4a.

    Fabulous, dramatic white fleeceflower great for back of border. Meant for northern gardens. Mine is Zone 4a.

    chipmunk

    Chipmunk on Elm

    A beautiful large shrub or small tree. Can grow to 12 feet.

    Sutherland Gold Elderberry. A beautiful large shrub or small tree. Can grow to 12 feet.

    Fabulous, dramatic white fleeceflower great for back of border

    Giant White Fleeceflower. Fabulous, dramatic white fleeceflower great for back of border

    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.

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