Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Grasshopper And The Ant?

We feel a little like the grasshopper!  Our mutual roof has leaked during winter melts for the last couple of years.  When it's summer and there's no leak, we forgot about it.

As winter approached, we remembered the leak and decided that we should do something about it.  Would you believe they will shingle a roof in this cold weather?

The roofers arrived this morning and shoveled off the roof before they could begin to remove the old shingles.  By 10:30 the old shingles were gone and the roofing could begin in earnest.

This time we are having them put a membrane under the edges to prevent ice dams from leaking into the roof proper.  They are going to put a couple more vents in and reseal around the chimney.  The chimney, I feel, was the major culprit.

Poor workers having to be up on the roof.  Lucky us that they will do the job.  An ant would have had the job done in September -- the grasshopper, in December.  Happy Christmas.

Friday, November 8, 2013

What Time Is It?

It's wintertime
I woke up this morning to a blanket of snow.  The first snow of the year is the best snow.  A topping of snow alters your viewpoint. Common things are changed overnight and the garden is brand new.

Garden elements that you didn't notice yesterday are precious the morning after the first snow.  The flagstones are outlined with puffs of white where grass or moss existed yesterday.  Old seed heads become delicate ornaments in the garden. Rocks and benches and bits of leftover gardening look like dainty additions. Snow dresses up the garden.  

Flagstones with grass look great
Tree branches stand out much more with an icing of white, and my neighbour's roof seems to be waiting for someone to make snow angels on it. Photographs become black and whites.

Culver's Root with snow
Of course, this glorification of snow will only last for a week or so.  Then it's into a long Canadian winter of boots and shovels.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Solomon's Seal -- A Plant For All Seasons

Solomon's Seal in the spring is a wonder to behold but in the fall it's magnificent, too.  As the leaves prepare to fall, they turn a wonderful golden colour.  Sun on Solomon's Seal in the fall shouldn't be missed.

Solomon's Seal does really well in dry shade -- one of the few plants you can use to liven up a dull and shady corner.  Because it is a native plant, it's not choosy about the soil quality nor the planter's expertise.  Plunk it into the ground, and it will grow.

In Spring, before the leaves are out, the growing points of Solomon's Seal peek out of the ground.  That's the time to divide the clump and give some Solomon's Seal to your neighbours or spread it around to other parts of your yard.

Bees love the flowers that Solomon's Seal produces in the spring.  Bumble bees especially like the fragrant bells that hang from each branch.

So there you have it -- a plant for dry shade that is pretty in spring and fall and stands up nicely for most of the summer.  A winner, I'd say.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Coming or Going?

This picture from Carole Sevilla Brown shows a scene often repeated at curbsides across North America.  But the question is, are the bags put out to be collected by the municipality or are they the results of gleanings the evening before?  In other words, are the bags of yard waste coming or going?

I hope they're not on their way out to the municipal dump.  Imagine growing a crop and tossing it away.  Good stuff taken in by the plants and resident in the leaves is so often gathered up a thrown into bags to be taken a way to the civic compost pile.  And then...we pay to get the compost back!!  How silly is that?

My wish is that these bags have been gathered from neighbours and will be chopped to be used on the gardens.  All the good stuff stored in those leaves will be taken into the garden over the winter and next spring.  Sustainable gardening in action.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Late Fall Nuances

Ballerina -- polyanthus rose
The end of October in the rain is beautiful.  For some reason, the last of the blooms in the garden seem the prettiest.  The Ballerina rose has bloomed all summer and is just showing its last blooms.  The Japanese anemone, on the other hand, is at its peak.  How pretty both plants are against a backdrop of drab  and drippy endings.

Japanese anemone -- a fall plant
The dwarf cattail at the side of the pond really stands out with its fall colour.  All summer it hangs about as a green pointy accent but come fall, it shouts, "I'm here!"  The rusty colour of the cattail shows so well against the dreary backdrop of late October. If the cattail was that colour all year, I wouldn't notice it.  Its only in the fall when it looks its best.

Fall is nostalgia time.  We look at our garden with the eyes of a lover saying goodbye.  Every little nuance is prettier than the last.  Fall is for photographers.

dwarf cattails in fall

Monday, September 30, 2013

Great Balls of Seed

Seed balls drying
The seed ball is a little garden all its own with the seed, the compost to nurture the seed, a little chili powder to deter pests, and the clay as its soil all mixed together.  A post in the blog, Heavy Petal, was the inspiration for my seed-ball-making interest. http://heavypetal.ca/archives/2011/01/step-by-step-how-to-make-seed-balls/  Surely this was a super way of putting native seeds into unused spaces.

A bit of research resulted in learning that seed balls are used in third-world countries as a way of planting crops. Masanobu Fukuoka has developed the seed balls as almost fool-proof way of planting vegetables and wheat.  See a video here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_5eoUojVpI

Seed balls in boxes ready to give away
I made my seed balls using seeds of native plants harvested here in Ontario and purchased from Tallgrass Ontario:  blue vervain, tall coreopsis, culver's root, grey-headed coneflower and showy tick trefoil.  All these seeds need some stratification so fall is the best time to "toss" them.  

When the seed balls were dry, I packaged them in little boxes and give them away as gifts to native plant buffs.  I've also placed some seed balls in my own garden and will watch for their development in the spring.  The squirrels move them around a bit but, perhaps because of the chili, don't damage them.

Seed ball planted and waiting for spring

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

You Can Stay

The plants in my garden must now be useful to native insects or very beloved by me.  All others will be taken out.
Because of my new-found interest in bees, I watch to see which plants the bees like.  The aster pictured here is/was Alma Potschke -- a vivid magenta hybrid of New England aster.  Last year it began to revert to its native stock -- a purple aster.  Today I noticed that the bees were constant around the purple flowers but none were attracted to the magenta ones.  Another bit of proof that bees prefer native rather than hybridized plants.
The aster can stay because of its reverted parts.  Next year, I will cut out any magenta stems and let the plant go completely back to its purple origin.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Some Years Are Good

Clematis can be moody.   I have 5 of them against a tall fence.  Each year all the clematis are "nice," but every year one really outdoes itself.  This year is  good old Perle d'Azure's turn.  The plant is really magnificent.  Perle got the same treatment as all the others -- a good load of manure at the first of the season --  but for some reason it really is strutting its stuff.  The whole section of fence is aglow with blue.  If you ever are thinking of replacing an underachieving clematis, wait a year.  It just may surprise you.

Friday, July 5, 2013


Roses are most interesting to the bugs in my garden.  The sawflies, of course, love to crunch on the leaves and the petals of new buds.  The Leafcutter Bee takes portions of leaves to make its nest.  And the spit bug leaves its little puddle of spit.
Spit bugs are the nymph stage of a  little hopper bug.  The nymph covers itself with a froth of sap from the plant.  You can sometimes see the little bug in the froth.
This picture is from a spit blob at Wildflower Farm but is identical to the little bug on my roses.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Plant That Wouldn't Leave

I had a lovely tree peony for a couple of years, but it seemed much too big for my small garden.  I dug it up and gave it away to a friend. 

Most tree peonies are grafted onto herbaceous peony root stalk and when I dug the peony, I must have left some of the original root stalk in the ground.  Now, three years and one gift later, I have a really exquisite peony.  It is a single peony coming from a piece of the original root stock.   I think I like it better than the multi-petalled tree peony. Sometimes nature just makes good decisions for you!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May = Marigolds & Bees

May is the time that old friends and new experiences occur in the garden.  This morning the Marsh Marigold is looking its best.  We've had this plant for over 10 years -- since the time when we had a tiny, wee little pond and every year is has given us a wonderful display.  The flowers last about a week and then it's downhill from there.  By July, I don't even point it out to visitors because it looks so scraggly.  But in May it is wonderful.  Sort of like us, eh?

This year while looking for signs of life around the Hakonachloa grass, we discovered that a set of solitary bees has found the area enticing.  Pictured is one of the holes they made.  There are about 8 in all.  I know they are bees not ants because I've watched them go in and out.  Tried to get that in a picture but they wouldn't cooperate.

I'm a bee person so this discovery is exciting for me!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tired of Waiting

My bunches of daffodils from the Cancer Society got tired of waiting for Spring.  Actually, I like daffodils this way and let them dry on purpose. When they are crispy dry, I take the stems off and put them into a glass container to keep them  Then I have Shades of Spring all year long.

Dried daffodils retain much of the original colour and shape but also have a beauty all their own.  Perhaps it's the brittleness or perhaps it's the recognition of the true essence of the flower.

Dried flowers give a permanence to the flower that it never had when it was fresh.  Freshness is fleeting.  Sort of like life, eh?  We aren't seventeen for ever, but with the passing of youth comes substance and a lasting quality.

So, I dry daffodils to enjoy their beauty longer and to remind me that all stages of life are lovely.