My Life is really in the Garden

Enjoying and sharing the daily discoveries of the beautiful nature that surrounds me in my lovely garden and everywhere else!


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Friday, January 31, 2014

A few days ago .. the day started off overcast and a bit gloomy .. but see what happened in the afternoon!!

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Our exercise group walked briskly along the Songhees .. here you can see some of the many floating homes that are located in this area.  A nice tidy life .. and many of them have beautiful potted gardens with flowers and veggies.

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This is one of the walkways that are situated along the route.  Quite beautiful and well maintained.  There is a lot of traffic in this area .. but on this rainy day we were almost alone!

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I love these beautiful coverings on the power boxes (some kind of electrical thingy)   There is a vast assortment of these floral and artistic coverings all over the city .. creating beauty on utilitarian things.  Here … it adds colour to the woods.08

 

Sweet little ducks .. I think these are Harlequin ducks.  They are used to people but prefer the water and that is where they are heading right now.

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This type of information poster is always helpful.

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And of course .. these signs are quite helpful.   This was a rather busy signpost though.

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I saw a small piece of Turkish facecloth down below on the beach .. too far away to pick up and it’s rather tattered at this stage.  Pretty, though.

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This gorgeous bronze was situated along the way …

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This is the daunting metal stairway to a higher level.  The hardier members of our group went up and down twice!  D and I went up and then did some stretches, waiting for the others to make it up the second time and then we descended.  Slowly, because these metal stairs were very slippery from the rain!
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Would you believe that this lovely stretch of grassy area was so close to …..

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.. this veritable village of high-rise condos!!!

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There are so many lovely interesting things to see along the water’s edge …

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There are a number of Arbutus trees everywhere in the city and surrounding countryside.   The wood is very strong, like iron .. here is a good web site with more information on this most lovely tree:

http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfd/library/documents/treebook/arbutus.htm

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Clever fence painting!  And wouldn’t you know it .. this home has a music studio .. so this is a fanciful and appropriate display of their art!  Now that is an easy to find home!
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This musical note is wired for light ..it must look very cheerful in the evenings.

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Here are some more lovely sky pics from that same afternoon.

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These were so enjoyable .. because yesterday, the rains just poured down all day ..

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So very beautiful and fresh ..

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Spring is approaching ..

13Such cheerful little flowers … growing alongside a sidewalk.

02 Anyway, that was part of my day midweek.   These exercise sessions are so very satisfying in so many aspects.  Getting up and out the door early to make my way to the different locations 3 times a week.   Socializing with the other ladies is very interesting and we talk about such a variety of topics.   Our walks are vigorous, followed by a series of exercises and stretches.  4 1/2 hours a week and that really adds up.

I must admit, though, that the other 2 days of the week I am a little bit lazy (don’t breathe a word, ok?)  ha ha ha …

🙂

 

 


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Monday, January 27, 2014

This sky is from yesterday .. it didn’t show up again today and so I really missed seeing it again and glad that I took some photos to look at later!

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Today was the first of 3 days of our exercise group.  The weather was a little chilly, the skies were overcast.  We were not really totally energized, for various reasons, not all of our group was there.  We walked and walked along the ocean .. so calming to hear the relaxing sounds of the gentle waves lapping at the shoreline.   Could see some seals off in the distance.  Then came time to do our mat work .. and the next 20 minutes or so were spent in various exercises.   And I again found out that skipping rope is quite a workout.

Anyway, some stretches were done and we all went our merry way.  Glad that we had made the effort to start the week off with exercise outdoors!  Oh and we saw many dogs out walking with their doggie parents .. that was lovely to see.

D  & I went for a little exploring in a local neighbourhood .. and when I saw this little train village, I just had to stop and take photos.   D had taken her son to this house when he was small .. and the owner had invited them through to the back yard to see the full train-yard effect.

I’d heard about this place years ago but had never visited it.  We think the owner must be ill or away .. because the beautiful works that he had created seemed to be in disrepair.  Ivy has started to take over areas.  Some buildings needed repair.   I can only imagine the joy that filled this man’s heart as he began the loving task to create the series of train tracks and the many buildings and scenarios in his yard.  The hours he must have spent, daily, to build, paint and decorate the many buildings that populated the project.  And I could only see the front area.  There were entrances through the fence where the trains would most likely have cheerfully made their trips.

I’ll just let you look at these photos … and make up your own stories … they are all there in the buildings …

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Hmmmm .. can you see something in the upper window?  Is there a little person peeping out the window?   A little faery, guarding the railroad station, perhaps?07 06 05Well, one thing I do know for certain about this most marvellous work of fantasy .. the gentleman enjoyed every single second of its creation.  The fulfillment of dreams that most certainly must have brought joy to many .. many people!  Of which I am one .. now that I have seen this little world.

Anyway .. we decided to continue on.  And then I saw this tree …it stood there, strong and tall.  And I could just imagine this appearance of a doorway was an entry to another world and time .. can you see it also?

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In the Estevan village, a lovely shopping area, character buildings and all that .. there was this mosaic wall outside of the barber shop .. stunning!!

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And here is a close up view of the tiny squares … can you just imagine applying these little pieces one by one?    Argh ….

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Ah … here is another fluffy blue sky from yesterday .. happy skies.

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I was sitting at the kitchen table, watching the birds .. and suddenly .. there he was!

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He saw me looking and turned around.

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See his little left paw tucked away?  I think he was getting ready to grab some sunflower seeds.  I’m trying to train him to not eat the sunflowers ..so I rap on the window, wag my finger and say “no … no  .. leave them alone” and then I throw out some peanuts.   Not sure if I’ll get through to him or not.

16I am in the process of decluttering.  This process has been ongoing and some days I’m better at it than others.   Still, as long as I’m making headway, that is progress.

Once I start, and I must admit, it is a challenge quite often, to just get started.  But .. once I do .. I find myself falling into the most positive state of mind as I deal with one item at a time.   Emptying drawers, spraying them with cleaner and wiping them dry.    Reconnecting with items thought to be long-lost.  Some I’ll keep and others I will add to the “donation” pile.

As I do this ..I find myself being lulled into a creative mode .. and I really love this.   Every time.  The challenge for me is to just get started.  And because tomorrow is going to be a rainy day .. I plan to just get started in the morning and spend most of the day in that creative place.  I quite look forward to this.

For now … it’s been a day!

🙂


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Saturday, January 24, 2014

Our Friday workout involved .. surprise surprise!  .. more steep stairways.  This was our second set and believe you me .. both stairways were workouts.  I went up and down only once for these and there were others who made multiple trips.   I bow to them.   A goal for the future for me.

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And as always we made our journey through pathways that I doubt very much I can find on my own.

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Some young deer making their way through the neighbourhood.  Someone commented that they belong in the wild.  Well, this was their wild till homes were carved out of this forested area.

08The morning had started out overcast .. and slowly we could see some blue skies.

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Some crows were having a grooming session .. taking time out of their day to just relax and watch the world go by.

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I am thankful again for this opportunity to explore the many beautiful places in our city.   Always new places .. always more tranquil settings.

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There was mesh fencing along the way .. and I’m sure there were pathways down to the ocean.  Perhaps another time.06

Couldn’t you just sit here someplace comfy and just gaze into these clear waters for a while?

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Then it’s back home .. and what do I see in the bird feeder!  A chubby little squirrel.  “get out of there” I said, rapping repeatedly on the glass.

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This one listened to me and swiftly ran away.  See his little back feet gripping onto the wood?  They are pointed backwards for speedy getaways such as this one.

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I’d purchased some burlap coffee bean bags from a local organic coffee roasting company.   The burlap is wonderful for all sorts of uses in the garden.  I always like to get the maximum use out of things, multi-purpose, you know.  So I was opening out the bags so I could get double the surface material to use.  Only problem was .. this material is as tough as nails to cut through, even with my large shears.  So, my sewing brain remembered my wonderful Olfa rolling cutters .. I chose my largest one.   Absolutely stunning!   I quickly cut through 10 bags.  So now I’m all set to be creative with this material in the yard.  And that will be for another day.

13I so enjoyed the time spent working away on this project.  For the sun had come out and I could feel the lovely warmth on my face as I cut away.  The birds were singing.  The massive construction noise  in the neighbourhood was dimly heard through my temporary water fixture (a sump pump in a big wash tin) .. this works wonders at drowning out superfluous noise!  Plus my little i-pod, playing Ravi Shankar.   It was bliss.

I noticed these notices on the coffee bags and thought I would share them .. as not everyone would have the opportunity to view these!

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See .. organic .. ethical …and I thought about all those people involved in the process of tending and harvesting the bean crops.   The persons who manufactured the burlap bags.  The machines that filled the bags and weighed them.  The office personnel who created these papers, after much research and documentation ..kept in files somewhere … the persons who stitched same to the bags.  Those who loaded the bags onto trucks and moved them to ships for transportation here.  If those bags could talk.  Well, they can’t so I’m left with my wild imagination of the steps involved.    And as I played with cutting the material I couldn’t help but think of those hard-working individuals who were involved.    All that energy in this material.  And I respect that energy and embrace that material which will help my yard in so many ways.15

See .. here is that lovely blue sky I was talking about …

10I had forgotten about this little Hellebore .. growing away in the shady part of the yard .. happily growing away, I should say!

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And, since I had a few extra 2 Litre empty milk jugs, it was time to plant some more seeds in that lovely “winter sowing of summer seeds”   Notice that one shows “Coffee”18 17

Well .. amongst some seams in those burlap bags .. I found some coffee beans.  Now, I have no idea if they will ever grow, but I thought … what is the harm in putting them in one of the containers to see if they grow.  So I will wait and see!

16Well, that was pretty much my day.  Aside from walking around the yard .. observing some tree branches which need to be clipped.   And sundry other things to be done.

Another day.

🙂


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Visiting with old friends, watching birds … enjoying being lazy for just a little bit more

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

This brand new year is just speeding along!   Here it is the 21st day of the new year and I sometimes just have to stop and think about what is going on in my life … really .. not much!  And then my days started to fill up with activities and I suddenly felt like –  hold the phone already .. I just want these long lazy days to go on and on.  At first I fought against the lethargic laziness … it wasn’t just right to not be inspired to do things.  I found myself visiting so many creative sites for inspiration.  Many hours spent there!  I did feel the tiniest bit guilty, searching for innovative ways to garden and lovely crafty sites.  This wasn’t something I normally indulged in.

And then I just gave myself up to the sheer luxuriousness of this unaccustomed state of non-doing.  And then I remembered that a few years ago I went through the same thing.    And I know that this laziness, morphing into energized activity is a normal start to the year.  Soon enough .. I will be spending my days outside, lamenting the sunset and eager to rise with the sun the next day.  So time to enjoy this brief interlude of low activity.

Anyway, a few days ago, DH & I made the trek to the Mainland.  This involved driving to the ferry terminal, boarding the Swartz Bay to Vancouver ferry, disembarking and driving for an hour or so to our destination.   It is kind of fun to do this once in a while and I’m so glad that it is not a trip we often have to undertake.

Getting around on the newly built expressways “over there” admiring the new bridges and overpasses .. I really felt like the little country mouse visiting the big city.  It’s interesting and energizing . .however .. I prefer the slower pace of life.  Anyway  .. here is one of the new bridges .. it was a foggy morning and I just loved this dreamy effect:

02and from the middle of this span:

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The highlight of our trip was visiting with old friends.  Old .. meaning .. .friends for a very long time!!!  It is such a joy to reminisce with such good friends.  And every time we visit I fall in love again with the beautiful items from the Netherlands.   I took many photos a few years ago of their fancifully painted dishes .. and so I couldn’t help doing so again.  These cheerful cups are so very sweet.
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And this cup is designed by a famous artist in the Netherlands (sorry, I didn’t write down the name.  Such beauty makes the tea taste so delicious.

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Their backyard entertains quite a variety of birds .. and I learned a bit more about the behaviour of the Stellar Jay!  Peanuts were carefully left out for these birds to munch on.  These birds are crafty!   They will quickly push food out of the feeders onto the ground just so the other Jays won’t know .. and then they go back to retrieve the food.  Here is a Jay who has just selected a peanut that was put on the roof for him … he’s thinking “where can I hide this”??04

Back home  …. it was time for me to check out the feathered friends in our yard.  This bird intrigued me.  He flew in a rather ungainly fashion … clumsily latching on to a branch, awkward flight patterns.  He was a bit larger than other sparrow types and his head seemed to be a bit large .. I was perplexed and watched him for quite some time as he made his ungainly way around the yard, from feeder to feeder.
18A little Chestnut-backed Chickadee stopping by for a sip of water.

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My garlic is growing oh, so very well!!!  Loving the sunshine.13

R’s cat .. looking outside, thinking .. well, I would love to come outside and play with you .. except .. I’m nice and warm inside.    Nice fluffy cushions .. lots of food, many places to curl up on for a comfy snooze or two.    The merits of staying in far outweigh any adventures that I might find out there.  Sorry, Charlie.

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Yes .. staying inside was a good decision.

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Look at this most lovely lemon tree!!  R has carefully wrapped Christmas lights around the tree and has covered it with an overlay of fabric to retain the heat during the winter.    This very happy tree is covered with many flowers and tiny lemons.

09And many large lemons also!  How very exciting this would be .. to go outside and pluck a lemon from a tree!  I think I want one!!!

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Blue afternoon skies .. how joyful this was!   I found myself outside in the afternoon … clipping branches, watching birds, admiring the garlic growing away.  Making plans for the spring.  Dreaming of garden transformations.
19All those things that gardeners think about.  Dreams.  Plans.

sigh.

🙂


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I did it! I winter-sowed some seeds today!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I first heard of winter sowing last year on Kevin Lee Jacob’s blog:  A Garden for the House:  http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/11/winter-sowing-101-6/

His is the most amazing blog .. with delicious recipes, very witty writing and such very helpful ideas on what to do, in the house and in the garden!

So a few days ago I dumpster dived for some empty milk jugs .. having recycled absolutely every one that we had in the house!    And I found 6 and rinsed them out thoroughly,  cut them as Kevin described and drilled holes in the bottom .  Filled the bottom halves with coir, watered thoroughly and left them to drain till today.

Well .. today we had some sun so naturally I had to stop everything I was doing and just gaze skyward:

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And I saw a little plane flying overhead .. oh how I wish DH & I were up there now ….09Sigh .. but we weren’t .. so I turned my attention to my newest gardening adventure.   I went through my seed stash .. omg . .there were so many to choose from.   Seeds from years and years ago and some from last summer.  I chose mainly some exotic type seeds that I’d purchased at Seedy Saturdays over the years.  Here are the containers:

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Where I had only one type of seed ..I wrote the plant name on the container and the container number on the packet.  Otherwise, I wrote the plant name on small sections of cut-up milk jugs for labels.  Very advanced system, you see!  I even planted about 10 of my most precious Luffa seeds!06Even though some of the seeds called for the oh so very carefully treatment, I decided to just try the milk jug method.  It seems easy-peasy.   And my seed stash is so large I just have to start using up the packets.  For some reason I guess I fell in love with Orach, I have 2 packets of red and one of purple.  I think my attraction was that the plants grow large, self seed and look dramatic in the garden.  Good enough reasons for me.

Here are the jugs, all closed up.  I might add strips of duck tape to keep the lids closed on cold days.  A quick application of EM was done before I closed the tops.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how this experiment works!

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Some more sky views … I love this one ..

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and a closer view ..

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Here are some photos from a walk near the end of November .. stairs!  Always stairs .. but that is a good thing!  I love the curve of these stone steps.

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All the hiking and steps were worth it to see this view.

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D discovered this beautiful many layered section of ice crystals …

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This beautiful stone bridge is such a classic … solid and full of character wouldn’t you say ..32

 

Hmmmmmmm …..

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This was magnificent .. although I must admit .. I hadn’t noticed this Mallard Drake at the time!30

 

I have to keep taking photos of sign posts as I just follow the group’s direction and mostly have no idea where I am, ha ha ha …

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And suddenly a path appeared before us and we entered the woods ….

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And yet another sign so I can get my bearings later if I ever walk this way by myself (I think I will stay with the group though!)

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A water source for all the deer and other animals who pass this way ..

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Another interesting walkway as we made our way to the top of this section.

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Such beauty in our city .. tucked away … it must be sought out, as all such treasures must be!

21Well, even though it is just the middle of January, I’m getting a good feel for Spring!  Yea .. I’ve planted seeds outside in containers!   The garlic is growing so well.

All the birds are out chirping away.  And I do miss that fluffy grey squirrel …. I haven’t seen him for a few days … the peanuts that I put out for him are always taken away, but I must admit, I miss this little guy.

Still .. another great day!

🙂

 

 


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Monday, January 13, 2014

Funny how life changes as we go along … 6 months ago I had no idea, no inkling that my life would change in such a positive way that it has.

I had a lifelong aversion to any type of group activity .. yet, through the invitation of a friend … I found that there are exceptions to any rule.

There was this group, see, that used to exercise 3 times a week in a boot-camp scenario.  The founder of this group went along another path in life, a very creative and ambitious one!  And the group wanted to continue the exercise regime that she had started.  They all get along very well.

So my friend R invited me to join and at first I sabotaged myself, in many ways .. grumbling all the way .. any excuse would work.  The location(s) were too far away and on and on .. so I missed a few.  Then I attended one and I was hooked, line and sinker!

I can’t remember when I’ve had such a good time and enjoy great conversations with everyone.   And rigorous exercise .. up steep hills that I doubt a goat would even go.   By myself .. I wouldn’t attempt some of the climbs, but when I look and see the rest of the group just going ahead, well, that gives me the confidence to tackle it.   And though I’m out of breath, I still go on.

And parks .. well, I know Victoria, B.C. is the “City of Gardens” but, really  … I had no idea there were so many!   So very many incredibly beautiful locations, tucked away .. with the most beautiful views at certain places.   So I’m rediscovering my city of choice.

So I’d like to share bits of todays exercise … we went through Mystic Vale.

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Such a tranquil place to be .. the moving waters rippled and flowed and filled the air with the most pleasing sounds …

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I just had to keep stopping to look and snap a few pictures of this lovely nature.09

So very tranquil …
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And the splish-splash of the tumbling mini-waterfalls were delightful ..07

Acres, it seems .. of lush ferns …mossy tree trunks .. interesting textural bark designs and bumps on the trees …nature has texture .. it isn’t all smooth and unlined like glossy magazine photos are.

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Love this one ..05

Here is the same little waterfall, a few steps back ..

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And so we continued …02It truly was a wonderful early morning session … 2 more this week and I’m already looking forward to them.

Oh, this is just so fun …how could I not stop and feast my eyes!!!

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Another mixed weather day .. some sun and then the skies clouded up … I like this one though!

11Finally … I spent some time in the yard .. preparing to “winter sow” seeds!

More about that tomorrow!

🙂


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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Well .. we’ve been having a spell of rainy weather here in Victoria, BC lately!  See my lovely Silverberry ..  I’ve searched for information on this plant and have found many sites, with many variations.  I really had no idea there were such a variety.  Here’s a site that shows the plant that I have:  http://www.deeproot.co.uk/pbo/plantdetail.php?plantname=Elaeagnus+x+ebbingei

08Now this plant is one of two that I purchased maybe 15 years or so ago.   They are much tougher than the plants of the same type that I purchased a few years ago.  My original two stayed in the original pot for maybe 5 years at least .. placed in an area to be planted, but forgotten about.  No attention to these two and they thrived!  I could not believe my luck one hot summer’s day .. when I was clipping some plants nearby and found these two.  Sad little specimens, growing despite my neglect.  Bravely stretching their roots where they were.  So I carefully removed them.  Planted them by the fence and they are thriving.  One of these is actually flowering (it gets more sun) and the one in the shady back hasn’t flowered.  I’ve read that it isn’t easily propagated from cuttings, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying.  I’ll see next spring if my confidence is justified.

Yesterday, the rains kept a’comin!   With brief spells of almost sunshine.  I went outside to replenish the bird feeders.  Here is a plant saucer that I keep filled with water for the lovely birds to bathe and have a little drink.  Can you see the rain drops?

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You know .. I read somewhere .. that .. if you have sun chokes in the garden .. you will always have them.  I kinda scoffed at this.  Now I believe!  Last fall I had dug up a great supply of these.   And gave them away to those who love this bulbous root of a plant that looks so much like the sunflowers.

07I was just looking for a site so I could show what the plant looks like .. and came across this very funny experience of someone who had cooked them … you gotta laugh at the author’s story …she writes so well: http://www.hungrycravings.com/2009/06/my-first-and-last-sunchoke.html and here is another blog: http://www.thekitchn.com/why-you-might-want-to-take-it-slow-with-sunchokes-bon-appetit-186516

And finally .. here is a blog that shows the sunflower-like plants:  http://www.commonsensehome.com/before-you-plant-sunchokes/

All of my plants were gigantic.   (I’d originally thought that some of the sunflowers had developed club-root until I discovered what they really were).  And all mine were not planted by me!   They were volunteers from the birds, I think.

While I was outside yesterday, in the chill of the backyard, umbrella in hand during the bursts of rain .. I discovered these mushroom-type plants growing merrily from the bale of hay .. kind of pretty, I think.

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One of those “darling” little squirrels stored some peanuts here … you can see the spot that is missing the green growth of garlic!!!!!!  (lower left area)

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And then .. I just had to step back and look at my impromptu garlic beds.   This is the result of learning that garlic cannot be grown in the same area for more than 2 years (rust and all that) and because this is the sunniest area of the yard, I needed to be creative in planting them.  Thus all the containers!  And I was being so firm with myself, just planting enough garlic.  Except, every time I found a sprouting garlic in my cooking stash, I just had to plant it (them).   Plus, I have my Irish garlic and some from a friend (both labelled) I just, you know, had to plant them.  Thus, I have a lot of garlic.   Just so you know .. all my garlic (except for these two types) are all grown by me.   Organic and all that.  Fed well with seaweed and EM.

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Yegads and gadzooks! I’d nearly forgotten why I was blogging today!  It was to share some special recent purchases.

After looking at my knees when I was wearing shorts, I was shocked.  I had “gardeners’ knees!  (we all know what that is like!)  So … previously I’d given up on knee pads .. had bought a few pairs and they all slid down.  They were fine at first, but the more I moved around the yard, the more they slipped down and the more I had to adjust them.  Enough of that!

But, during a recent visit to our lovely Lee Valley store in Colwood .. I decided to look at what they had. And I decided on this pair.  They seem to work quite well .. they fasten easily and don’t seem to slide.  I’ll test them out well this spring.   Gardeners just have to get down on the ground and look closely at plants and I am tired of moving a kneeling mat around the yard.  So here goes.  And if my knees are lovely and beautiful .. well, so much the better, eh?????

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However, aside from the above knee pads .. look at this most beautiful basket that I purchased from a thrift store.  I know .. I was going to curtail unnecessary purchases this year.  But, since I was at Lee Valley .. the thrift store was .. oh, so close .. and I decided to go there. And I am so very glad that I did!  For only $4 … I have the most lovely basket.  Already it is quite handy .. I’ve found myself loading it up with things from “upstairs” that need to go “downstairs” .. and I just know that I will be filling it often with my garden produce next summer.  Oh, what fun this is!  I just love baskets and this one is number one my favourite.
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Well .. that is it for now.   Happy with my recent purchases.  And looking forward to sunny days.  But in the meantime .. laziness calls me ..

🙂