Monday, May 9, 2016

May Gifts

Continuing with the theme of giving, and gratefulness....a man with the kindest eyes came to visit on Tuesday. We met only once before, two years ago, after he contacted me about my quince posts here on blog. Realizing he lived nearby, an invite to visit his orchard was offered; the highlight for me was to visit his quince tree!
"Would you like a quince tree I grafted" he emailed not long ago...and also, by the way, "a small Chicago Fig". Quince trees are not readily available in the nurseries near where I live, so you can imagine my delight.. utter joy upon receiving two gifts of promise. May I introduce to you dear reader, the newly grafted and newly planted Portugal quince. Ta DA
It actually had two enormous blooms when delivered but these we removed. How I hope and pray it thrives. (clear direction has been offered on making this possible) At present, because we could still have a cold night, or a visiting nibbler, there is a steel cage around it and around that we place fleece. Will there be roasted quince in my future? I hope so!
As for the Fig....it's getting the in and out treatment, and will for a week or longer, until I am convinced it won't drop its leaves in the cold. But as a new fig mother, this is a learning experience. Chicago Fig, welcome to your new Canadian home.
Swollen buds are everywhere, anxious to feel the warm spring sun and rain. An Eastern Redbud species waits to be planted. Three new challenges for an old gardener like myself, wanting to TRY rather than not try.
The handsome Chestnut 'Briotii' is also about to unfurl it's leaves. Later, its red candles will glow.

"Better than Vegas" I say!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Find Your Joy

Spring came to Nova Scotia in one big blowing swoop. Warm windy day after warmish cool day, the weather held.  Here on the South Shore, it nursed the bare ground awake, encouraged blossoms to open, charmed the heart and mind, restored the soul. Although Witch Hazel 'Diane' has been the first star to shine the past few years, it was the native Nova Scotia Daphne that truly stole the show. You only see it in retail nursery shops on occasion and often, expensive but mine was a humbling gift, a multibranched fist of sticks from someone who knew the value of what she was offering. I did not! So every spring, I bless my dear Ms. Vicki, breathe in the deep purple pink Daphne's, sweet modest scent and thank God there are good, dear, kind and thoughtful people in my life. Because, you know, we can sometimes forget their blessings on us and how even if they are far away now, or not with us anymore, the gifts they gave make the difference in a life full of moments.
The bees were captivated and equally grateful to find the blooms. Oh to hear that buzz again after so long. A sound you miss, but don't realize until you hear it again.

Four years ago I was offered another stick...a single rooted branch of something called a Cornus Mas "yours for only five dollars" sold as a fund raiser. Thanks to Ms. Niki this amazing stick has grown into a five foot tree in so short a time, even the giver was amazed. Not only is Cornus Mas covered in deep yellow spring flowers, they will turn into dark red fruit which, if the birds are kind, I will get to try later in the year. If the rabbits stay away from the bark, which they can't seem to do regarding the Witch Hazel... this tree should grow into a beauty.
Then, there is the gift to myself, from the garden. Branches of the Quince Japonica, that tried and true early blooming shrub of all farm houses and quaint gardens are cut and blooming ahead of time, in the kitchen. Our well water must contain something that keeps the blooms very pale as they should be deep pink or orange, but for some reason, they are on the pale side, forced inside. Maybe that is just the way it is and no fault of the water at all. But oh the joy, the gift of just being in the same room with blooms to favor your eyes.
So even with a troubled heart, or a worrying soul, there are gifts all around us I suspect, that sometimes, we forget to see. Our eyes can grow dim in beauty, when in fact, every bloom has a story...every tree, every berry. Find your joy, as they say.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sometimes Its Just the Little Things

SPRING IS just around the corner and each day, ignoring the foot or more of snow we have, my eyes are on March. Here in our area of Nova Scotia, we were blessed with a day full of sunshine at the end of January. Most of the snow had melted in that interlude since Christmas and it was actually really WARM. Well, nine degrees warm ;-).  Protected in sheltered spots the soil was soft, damp and rich with the scent of spring. Gathering eager little bulbs, showing points of green, the sun beating down on my back, has to be one of the most lovely individual pleasures of a gardener. These were mostly snowdrops and that little blue flower that seems to be the star of early beds, "Glory of the Snow". They came to visit one day and never left.
The above were photographed last spring, but those tucked in the little pots on that warm January day, are doing quite well also. "Woodie" is doing a great job protecting them.
You might notice the beautiful hand thrown vessel in front, which was made by fellow blogger GZ . When I saw it on her Etsy shop I knew it would be perfect for my well being. In fact, it has a twin. Second to a garden, I love ceramic pots, but then, they are both of the soil and happen to go joyfully hand in hand. Gathering sea glass is another natural pleasure.
I look more to my garden for joy than anywhere else. Always something to do, and never a dull moment. Honestly...never a dull moment.

May I share with you something that is niggling at the Captain and I. The fence pickets are rotting at the bottom and all getting rather shabby. Definitely in need of a new lick of stain and perhaps some replacement. But...we have been thinking about removing the garden as it is, and doing a low raised bed arrangement that is still welcoming and will still have some bones (structure) in the winter months. Not sure we've got it in us this year as it would have to happen (begin) soon. But he did bring his BIG measuring tape home from work, .....and I am trying to find a large piece of graph paper, .....and I do have an idea of what we'd like which involves galvie. If you don't hear about this again, you will know, it was a no go. ))))  For now


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Just a Few Words


Dear mom, she never cared too much about gardening. It was dad who had the green thumb.. just more work for her, having both hands full with us kids. Bless her. What to do with "all those tomatoes" for instance. Surely that thought came to her one blistering hot day in late August thinking of the job ahead; canning the back garden harvest. That summer day is my earliest and most vivid tomato memory.

A lady from church came by to visit and Mom, generous as she always was, but going a tad overboard, gave her the whole lot from the garden. I mean every single one of dad's cherished red tomatoes. I don't think she really meant to give it all to our visitor but, caressed with encouragement she just, got carried away. Well you could have lit a match and no more fireworks could ever erupt from that house then when dad arrived home from work! I smile now at the unfortunate memory but some days, when I am here working in the kitchen trying to 'put by' as they say, I feel perhaps mom had a good idea there. (Sometimes fireworks are worth enduring, if you don't have to can tomatoes ;-) By the way, I did speak up to mom and the church lady that dad 'won't be happy' in my quiet be a good little girl voice...and the lady with her three bags full did have a glimpse, just a tiny glimpse of guilt on her face, but only for a moment...then she walked out the front door like a queen...the 'tomato queen'.
Life is turning to a new normal here. Most of dad's old seed catalogues, given to me decades ago are read year after year. As for the new catalogues of today, they've been poured over, penciled and stuck with fluttery sticky notes. Needless to say, that first list is the "I want all of it" list. After that, is the "smarten up Brenda" list. But soon, the orders will go in and soon, we will start our own tomatoes and the new growing year.  Never to be like any other year before; a new beginning built on the past, including its loss.
You see... mom passed away days before Christmas eve, so you can imagine what it was like saying goodbye to the matriarch of our family who LIVED for Christmas. Her generosity was overwhelming, all of her life. "Do good and be kind". Those words would sum up my mother's life. Someone recently said to comfort: as long as that person lives in you, they are not gone, nor are they forgotten. I do feel her there, inside, in my heart and mind, and although she doesn't respond to my questions, my pleas or my jokes, she is there. Thankfully.

Magnolia blooms are asleep, warm in their furry pods. Witch Hazel 'Diane' has been feasted on, but the rabbits own the garden too, and the birds and the squirrels. We must provide for the littlest among us. Hope, and promise, the words and value of spring shared recently here. We must have hope and there is promise. For now, that is what sustains.


Linked to dear friend Pondside.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Of Cabbages and Things

As the garden winds down preparing for winter sleep; the oak and beech around us begin to drop their leaves, floating ever so quietly, blanketing the ground. The dogwood trees are especially lovely, their leaves turning a beautiful purple, fading to red and finishing so slowly they cling until they can hold no more. Their red berries have been snached away by squirrels, chipmunk and crows so it's usefulness in our garden landscape serves many purposes.

This is my favourite time of year. The robust earthy smells of composting, the crisp cool air reminding us winter is but weeks away, the hurt your eyes blue sky that only autumn seems to display and often, days full of the sound of wind and rain..."time to sleep, time to sleep".
Over the years we've noticed how much more purple we see in the garden especially this time of year. Purple Cabbage is one vegetable garden plant that has not performed really well in the past, and yet other brassicas do alright. But I couldn't resist a few six packs of transplants last spring and in they went. Was the secret this year, a long wet winter and short spring? The result has been a grand harvest.
We forgot how crisp and sweet, cabbage can be when it has been touched by frost, and shredded for slaw or braised with apples, sultanas and malt vinegar. A sprinkling of caraway seed is a nice addition.
Even on overcast days, the autumn colors glow; a good time to re-evaluate the bones of the garden. This year, we've made some tough decisions about what should go and what should stay. As I prepared to put my bulbs in, I felt I had lost my initial vision of a perennial bed surrounding the veg garden. Grasses had morphed into monsters, baptisias were failing, bee balm that is work year after year and this year, totally out of control....needed attending. So while the weather holds time to get the shovel, rake and barrow out, and get dirty. Well, at least there will be a nice rustic cabbage soup waiting for me after a long day if I make it before I go out ;-).