Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just a Few More Bulbs

Just when I felt sure, I was pretty well done with the mind kept returning to those discounted brown bags of bulbs at the local nursery. Surely at that price, I reasoned, I could find room for just a few more. Where though, where to plant the top of the drive perhaps!

Tulipa ‘Canadian Liberator’ was named in honor of the Canadians who liberated Holland during the Second World War. Described as an early to mid season red triumph tulip, I thought they could be perfect! 'The spring vision' ...sparkling red tulips, emerging Sum and Substance hosta, stunning under the white blooming bower of Cornus "Constellation". Forever the optimist, that's me)))  Instead of bouquets of  three, five or seven  tulips, I did the big scatter...this, I have never done before. Will it work? Will it look too loosey goosey...too rough? Only spring will tell.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Continuing our day's work in the garden...heavy snow, rabbits, deer and mice are always a problem in winter and early spring. Thankfully, we are again having some lovely sunny weather and so, dragged out the wire reinforcement team.

I really do think this is about it. We cleaned out the pond as well, took out all the dying water hyacinth plants, delighting in finding a dragonfly nymph. How wonderful is that!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Still Time Left to Plant Tulip Bulbs?...hope so)))

Bright flowers one day; a hint of Ole' Man Winter the next. sure was chilly today, however, no wind to speak of, so that was a blessing. Had a great walk with Chief stopping to photograph the ice in the bay.  There was a bit of skim ice as well, which didn't stop the ducks and loons from fishing. It was, in fact, a great birding day. Just when I walked to the back feeder (inadvertently frightening some goldfinch), a small hawk took advantage of their fear, flew down like a rocket...but missed it's prey. Chief and I, also inadvertently, disturbed a Great Blue Heron fishing by the drawn up wharf in the photo...flew off too fast for fumbling cold hands to get a photo. It's all very well to mention the birding experiences but when you don't have a photo to show...kinda sad)))). So you're stuck with the wharf at least.

Thoughts of planting spring greens in the summerhouse (we'll see))) and visions of sugar plums are dancing in my head. Now must get those last few dozen bulbs put in the ground. Yes, I weakened and bought more))))... on sale mind you, hard to resist. I know you understand........

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hanging In There!

Stricken with a miserable cold, it is hard to find joy in the garden...but the Chief still needs his walks and fresh air is a tonic for a drug addled brain, don't you know! Tomorrow is going to be a blustery snow flaky kind of day  but as a gift, today held sunshine. Some flowers are still hanging in there....a six pack of tall white snapdragons have shown their stuff since the spring and are still blooming!

Tiny pansies are jumping up everywhere; they have been here since we bought the property eleven years ago, a welcome sight in early spring and late autumn.

A Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' has also been putting on a show all summer long and still going strong. The tag says blooms May to June, and perhaps it did regroup for a month or so but  it doesn't show any sign yet of  closing shop. The purple black stems are quite striking....the blooms fragrant.

Thankfully, the garden did end up bringing me joy. It seems I was so caught up with the autumn harvest and taking care of food business, I didn't pay a lot of attention to the bloom business. Now I am missing them, just when they are off to bed for the winter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Harvesting Garlic

I've been harvesting garlic for the winter and well.... there is no disguising the pungent aroma inside the house. Yes, I know, most gardeners are planting their garlic cloves right now, anticipating garlic bulbs next year..and so am I! But unlike a lot of gardeners, I do not cut the garlic scapes from my plants in spring.  I use them when they form their soft little bulblets, and sprinkle those on my garden salads. Eventually they grow past that stage and get I leave them ..well forget about them really. So what happens...they fall around mother garlic..take root and make their own little bulbs.

So..there can be a few hundred of these, and they are just perfect for harvesting now. Covered in their skin, all dark and dirty, you dig the bulblet out of the damp ground,  slide your fingers over this and underneath, you are left with the glowing white baby bulbs. I freeze these in a baggie to use over the winter. They pack a punch that cured cloves sometimes do not. You could almost call these "garlic sprouts".

The crowded garlic was thinned out, and some bulbs were transferred to the new raised bed. Maybe next year, that will help with the earwig problem we experienced in spring.

This is how I grow my garlic. It might not be like others, but it suits me. I might not always get large bulbs but I am satisfied with those I do harvest. This is the first time in ten years I have really thinned them out, and I must admit, perhaps every three years might be a better idea))).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Dear Sister

JWC's letters and post cards from "The Great War", written to his sister .....soft and worn, etched in pencil... are precious to us. Our soldier, born in England, immigrated to Canada, then returned to Britain, answering the Nation's Call to Duty.

My dear sister:
I have just received your letter so I am answering it right away.  Well, of course you have heard all about us at Ypres. I tell you it is a hot place. I have seen some terrible sights since I have been here and have had some narrow escapes.

My dear sister:
Trust this letter finds you and baby quite well. Of course you heard about our boys taking Vimy Ridge. It was a splendid victory. I am sleeping in a deep dugout at the foot of Vimy Ridge. Since the attack, the weather has been cruel snow, hail and rain almost continually and it is still raining.

The Call to Duty is surely a Nation's heavy burden. However, sometimes the burden can be lifted, as evidenced by Britain's outstanding National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire. Over 150 acres are planted in trees and gardens; a "living tribute to war time generations of the 20th Century".  

"A Living Tribute"..I liked that very much. Located in the heart of England, you can copy the link below to read it's history, view the monuments and plantings or  follow the map to visit.  Attendance is free I might add.

The above photo, courtesy of friends R and D, show young trees, each having an identifying memorial plaque; the  magnificent Armed Forces Memorial is in the background. There are in excess over 50,000 trees which have grown rapidly since our first visit in 2005, many having relevance to the Memorials around them. Additionally and comfortingly, the landscape is home to natural flora and fauna found in meadow, woodland and emerging marsh.

A "Call to Duty", softly echoes in the plantings and memorials at the National Arboretum; today most especially, thoughts of remembrance fill hearts acknowledging those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"More Rain"...the Mourning Doves Complain in Disgust

"Heh guys...don't look so down... and just ignore those ravens!! "

Gosh, they looked so forlorn; you can't see the sheets of rain in the photo but trust me, it was a horrible wet day, not fit for birds let alone bugs. However, it was (at least for me) unusual to see one of the rotting crow pecked apples covered in insects on such a miserable day. What are these??? They are on all the windfalls.
It's hard to leave the house when it's dark in the middle of the day. I would rather be inside...but the Chief needs his walk and heh..grab the camera Bren!!

A little brook not far from us, is thundering...the noise quite deafening..but oh how beautiful it looks coursing over the rocks and flowing into the sea beside the little cottage perched perilously close to the outlet.

The water table is really high in the garden...well, there is simply nowhere for the rain to go anymore. I keep hoping the Oak Island Treasure will bob to the surface)))).

Oh well...just light rain all day tomorrow and cloudy with showers the next day and rain on Wednesday, Showers on Thursday and SUNSHINE on Friday. (Captain weatherman says subject to change without notice) but...Gosh I sure am looking forward to Friday..

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cleaning UP and Last of the Harvest

The last pages are turning; the final chapters are being read. In March we were so delighted to realize we could eat new sprouting Kale .....  here we are in November, picking what I feel must be close to the last of the fresh greens.

Two days ago, the nasturtiums were evicted from their raised bed abode and composted. I tell you, it was hard to take them out; as bad as they looked, they were still alive with blooms in deep pockets near the soil. Do all gardeners feel this way?

The raised bed ledge, was decorated with nature's mono prints...revealing the true essence of  nasturtium leaf structure. Oh how I miss them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cold Frame on Raised Bed

The burning question was..what angle to build the cold frame. This set us on a journey of discovery... we do not get enough sun in our garden during the winter to have a four season garden so is a late winter/early spring cold frame of any use to us? I think now..yes.

Having found at discount, a piece of Lexan left over from a local greenhouse job, the Capt. built the cold frame. A few weeks back, we set it on the raised bed, sowed seed and waited....

The radishes are growing, and greens have spot germinated...about sixty percent...but not bad.

Here is what Eliot Coleman had to say on the angle of the cold frame for midwinter input:

"Some experimenters have built frames with the lights at a 45° angle facing south to maximize midwinter sun input. Such frames don’t work as well as the traditional low-angle models for two reasons. First, you don’t need maximum heat in midwinter for hardy crops. All they require is the protection of the frame. Second, there seems to be some benefit to having the glass roof near the plants as if it were a covering of snow. The environment inside the traditional low-angle frames better meets the needs of hardy crops."

So again, it's a learning curve. We are thrilled to actually have plants germinating and growing at this time of year.

I do want to leave you with an absolute joy I saw today visiting a garden friend, also with the same first name as myself. This below is the second year for her chard. She says, she harvested last year right up until she couldn't get through the snow any more and it survived the winter. For Nova Scotia..this is pretty darn awesome.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thoughts on Books

Reading hasn't always been a pleasure. In fact, I grew up in a home that had few books... mostly, because owning a book was a luxury. We did have a few How To, religious, children and comic books later on, but a proper book case with books on a shelf, just didn't exist.

I was thinking that today as I was sorting what to send out west to my mother in law. She is in her eighties and a voracious reader. When I do send her books, I know they will be read, enjoyed or not...but most especially, gratefully received. I wonder how she will get along with Des Kennedy's "The Way of a Gardener"; he lives on an island not far from her. That's the other thing, you get to talk about a book you have both shared and that is a comfortable delight akin to gossiping.

So the books piled up today..those half read, those just started, some almost finished and those ready for a new home. The thing about showing your book pile is, you sort of share your soul. Or, at least your soul right now. Mine seems to be a gardening soul, with a hint of fiction history.

There is no way to remember the name of the person who plied me with paperback books in High School, and no way to thank him these many years later. But, I distinctly remember the book that made me realize there was a whole world out there I didn't know about...and that I could so easily be taken away from the insecurities of becoming a young woman by reading.

One book...just one book can change a life. This I know.