Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!

As you've most likely guessed, I've taken a blog break.  Every time I sat down with the intention of blogging, I just didn't have the spark.  So this year, I am going to start as I mean to continue - a little more communication with my blogging buddies, and a few more changes to my garden that I hope to show and tell you about in the months ahead.

So without further delay, here are a few of the things I did during my silence:

The Royal Winter Fair.  Now that's a pumpkin!  There was a family holding a dear little baby, and Joan and I were so hoping they'd ignore the "do not touch sign" and gently put him down in the wonderful scoopy depression.  Alas no.  Good parents who read and follow sign instructions.

Aren't these birds darling?  Sadly not for sale.  They are real and pigging out on the delicious dried material at Sheridan Nurseries.

 And from the magical shady section of my garden - a puff ball to end all puff balls.

This hand fits a size 7 glove...

There were escarpment walks.

And discoveries.  I took this photo from my living room window.  I did not know that birds adored Hosta seeds.  This one is H. 'Empress Wu'.

Bart in his favourite costume and my $.99 pumpkin.  The white ones were deeply discounted the day of.

Every other year the Eastern White has a huge crop of cones:

After the warm summer, the colours were a bit subdued.  But those trees that were bright, were stunning:

You really need to plant this in quantity to look really good.

Solidago with my little J. Maple:

The light is excellent for photos at this time of year:

Reminder to all of us to exfoliate during the winter:

Beside the Lake.

A newer garden with some older plants.  These Hamamelis are not the showiest - the early spring blooming varieties are much better.  But what a wonderful thing to find in a garden in late fall.

Then the dark and cold moved in:

So Bart and I decided we'd stay here for the winter.....

Kevin decided to trip over the Blue Line playing hockey and try out our new hospital.  He made a good recovery due in good part to the good care he received.

But as all Christian women know, December is not a time for couch surfing.  There are gigantic ornaments to blow up.  There is the Christian woman's fat and sugar exchange.  There is tree decorating.  This is the tree that Kevin hunted, killed and brought home for me.  It is from Ikea.  It cost $20.  You buy it blind.  You pay your money - you get a giant green furry thing wrapped in heavy twine.  The plastic bag at the base is $2.50 extra and goes to charity.

It's at this point that the man of the house leaves the little woman to do the next part.

And, I wonder why I'm tired.  Anyway done and sparkly.  My godmother's angel on top - care of the man of the house and we're ready for more cooking, baking, wrapping and entertaining.

I'm curious to harvest these to see if there's any flavour.  I know that frost is good....

Looks so pretty when it's all sticky.

 We had visitors:  Ray on his crutches post-new-hip.

A lovely new baby Fiona with her mum Michaela visiting from Switzerland.

 Bart didn't stray too far from the fire.

And the cat as claimed the tree as his own.

So between shortbread and naps I think that brings you up to-date with just about everything.

May you and your family have an excellent 2017!  A very happy new year to you all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Putting this Hot and Dry Summer to Bed

There's a fine line between a chronicle and whining.  I must have abandoned more posts than I wrote this summer - my writing drought mirroring the weather.  Yes, I know I am a mere amateur in the professional world of hot and dry experienced by my southern gardener friends, but this year it has been fierce.  The only good thing about the summer was the lack of maintenance the garden needed:  the lawn was dormant; the weeds stunted; no need for dead-heading the annuals - those seeds that germinated and became plants, never bloomed.  The only exception was the pots that needed to be watered often and for greater periods of time.

Fortunately the winds and weather patterns have shifted over North America - there are cooler temperatures and weekly water in the forecast.  I thought it might be a great idea to give you a little taste of the summer and, like a less-than-perfect meal, put it behind me and get on with all the garden maintenance I need to do now that life has returned to the garden.

Rather than my own garden, let's take a look at the happenings at my mother ship, the Royal Botanical Gardens.  On August 8th, when the temperature finally dipped below 32C (90F) - Kevin and I headed over to the Cherry Hill Trail.  The trail, that is often wet in spots was cracked and dry.  Look at these water lilies - normally these pads would be floating on the water.  On this day they simply stood naked above the muck.  (Several weeks later, they had all collapsed into a black mess.)

Although, I suppose it might have been a little easier fishing for some of the birds.

And there were more places to sun for the turtles.

While it wasn't as obvious that the water was low here....

Take a look at this:

To compare, here's a photograph I took exactly a year ago.  Obviously this area dries out somewhat in August, but this is really extreme.

What is doing well is the new Rock Garden.  There are big masses of low maintenance plants meant to withstand hot and dry - perfect for this year.  The mass plantings designed by Janet Rosenberg are doing what they're supposed to be doing - thriving.

The water features all had to be re-built as well - this was the first time I saw some of the fancy tropical water lilies blooming.

Best of all, every time I visited this summer, the parking lot seemed fuller - just had to capture these folks and their pretty daughters using the hibiscus as temporary hair ornamentation:

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend an event put together by the Ontario Invasive Plant Council and the Royal Botanical Gardens.   The OIPC are the folks who put together the terrific Grow Me Instead Guides with Landscape Ontario.

It was an event primarily for landscape professionals/growers to learn more and exchange ideas about invasive plants for the horticulture industry.

The Royal Botanical Garden because of the size of its collection and acres of undeveloped land can be the canary in the coal mine when it comes new invasive species.  There are various factors including the change in weather and loss of species (what moves in when the Ash trees leave?).  So off we set to the edge of the Magnolia collection to see first-hand a potential new invasive.  We were given a presentation and shown thickets of Magnolia kobus establishing themselves both by seed and by underground roots.

Here was a fun discovery, our guide Jon Peter from the RBG showing a native Apios strangling an invasive....

Aren't these cool flowers - great scent too.

After our hike around Cootes Paradise we all sat down for lunch.  Can you say lunch-bag-let-down?  I suspect they've seen the size of my hips - my lunch:  one fork, one straw, one peach (fabulous this year), one bag of apple chips and one granola bar.  Dear Anne Marie Van Nest shared her peach with me.

Proof positive it has been the year for plants that like it hot and dry - a parking-lot display garden outside the RBG.

I'll be going outside shortly to start to work on my garden (and hopefully plant some red and white tulips in honour of Canada's 150th birthday!).  I will make my notes and take some pictures.  I need to see what's done well, and what's been a bust.  Nothing better than having my own laboratory right outside my door.

I'll leave you with one last look of a typical summer evening this year in downtown Oakville.  I'll keep this photo in mind when the snow begins to fly.