September 2016
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  • house at christmas
  • 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.

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    A very cold hoarfrost morning

    A very cold hoarfrost morning

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    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.

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