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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I Love Surprises in the Garden!!!

Some people have billions (really!) of Lily of the Valley (my most favourite of all flowers, ever, ever!) and I do envy them!  I’ve planted them throughout the yard and this is the first year that I can see them growing in little clumps .. I am so Happy!  Here are some growing away at the base of the wild and crazy tree.  A little fern is their neighbour.  Those green chunks of glass are slag that I uncovered in our yard .. many years ago (before our house was built in about 1937) there used to be a glass factory on ours .. and surrounding properties.  I love the glass.May 6, 01Sunshine on the Lily of the Valley leaves … sweet. May 6,02

Yummy swirling .. ephermeral  .. beautiful May 6, 23

The elusive little yellow bird that visits our yard daily.  This lovely little bird was about 15 feet away and this is the best photo I’ve been able to take.  (thus far)May 6, 03

A few years ago I was part of a group that were able to save some native plants and I was surprised to find this lovely Fawn Lily growing away, quietly, in a pot.  It must have been in some of the soil that I used and I will label and save this precious beauty. May 6, 22

I must have planted tulip bulbs years ago, they keep popping up everywhere!May 6, 12

Nearby some white Bleeding Hearts (what a name for such a pretty flower!) ..May 6, 13

Blossoms drifted onto a nearby branch ..May 6, 11

I think that there will be another bumper crop of fruit this year .. more apples to share with friends.  Fruit leather to make.  Dehydrated apple slices.  Applesauce!  thank you .. trees …May 6, 17

Squirrelly .. looking for some peanuts … May 6, 07

Wanton decadence .. cherry blossoms drifted to the mulch below May 6, 04

LIttle JaneE, sitting on her favourite little bench with some kitty treats.  She loves that!May 6, 08

Nearby, little Squirrelly nibbles away on a treasured peanut.  We all enjoyed some sun and tranquility for a space of time.  It was lovely.May 6, 09

Another of my favourite flowers .. Sweet Woodruff.  Grows in whorls .. easy to type but not so easy to fit into a conversation!  Anyway, dried, it smells like vanilla.  Eons ago (before everyone had showers) people would place a few whorls into a little container so they could open it and sniff the lovely vanilla perfume.  I’m just glad that we now have showers and can just enjoy the beauty of the flowers!  🙂  May 6, 19

Little baby girl, tired out and having a cat-nap.  She’s 21 and loves being outside with me.  May 6, 10

Every year I change the layout of my veggie garden.  And every year I misplace a garden tool.  No worries, I have lots.   This little trowel lasted quite well during the winter and spring and is in great serviceable condition.   May 6, 20

Yum .. more overhead decadent beauty …

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Sweet little garden fairy gently sniffing a nearby strawberry flower.  May 6, 18

As you can tell, I love my garden.  Every year I change the layout and this year is exciting!  I’m getting rid of my makeshift raised beds and am creating a special little secret garden.  A place where I can sit in privacy, sipping on Yorkshire Tea or a glass of wine.  Depending on the time of day.

To do this, I’ve moved the tubular forms that I used to grow beans on.   Placed them as a sort of wall at the back of the veggie garden.  About 3 feet in front of that, I’ve transplanted some delicious tall raspberry canes, to form a semi-circle.

Around one side of this area I’m transplanting white currants and gooseberry plants.

Then some tall bamboo forms for more beans to grow.  Some chicken wire potato columns.  Giant sunflowers.

I’ll post pictures as the plants start growing.  For the present, I need to go outside and dig up the remainder of my raised beds, dismantle the lumber and move the soil.

And as the day is lovely and sunny . .I must go now and continue with  my shape shifting garden!

🙂


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It snowed last night! And the angst of memorizing music!!!

Happy New Year 2017!   Looked out the window today .. it snowed last night!!  Brrrr …

Then I look out at the back yard and see some birds are pecking away at the thistle seed and the bits of suet remaining in their containers.

The darned squirrel(s) have been feasting on the sunflower seeds that I place in the new wooden open feeder .. I plan to purchase a squirrel baffle this week to stop that practice!

Speaking of practice .. I’ve pondered which spelling to use, just searched and found this explanation:  “practice is the noun, and practise is the verb” .. ok, that makes sense.

I’ve been practising my fiddle music and have been hitting a few hurdles.   Searching online I find many theories as to why this happens.  And in my lesson yesterday, I played the beginning section of a song quite well (according to my teacher) and then I floundered for the second half.

The reason?  Well, he was right when he noticed that my 2nd and 3rd fingers were over the A, and my inner critic was saying .. 3rd, no, 2nd, no, 3rd and it all went downhill from there.

Frustation, yes.  Overcome this?  Yes.   And the satisfaction that I will feel when this happens?  Great joy and incentive to learn more.

So now is the time to practice, practice and practice some more .. and this I will do.  The more I practice, the more enjoyable the music is to me.  The songs begin to seem like friends to me, the kind I’d like to know better.

Here .. I’ll share a photo from many years ago .. my pen pal in France sent this to me yesterday.   What a gift.  I used to take my Muscovy Drake, Huggers, my dogs and cat .. to the SPCA Santa photos.  I was thinking about one of these photos and wasn’t sure where to start looking and decided to put this off for one of those thousands of “to do” things in the New Year.

Well .. the photo that he sent gave me such joy .. I’d forgotten how sweet my pets were.  JaneE Kat is still with us, although my Huggers and Muffy had since made their way to the Rainbow Bridge where they frolic with Sam, Sadie and Little Guy.

I loved dressing Huggers up with my red and silver Egyptian scarf, edged with silver bugle beads … he looked quite handsome.  Plus the generous bows that I made for Muffy and JaneE .. very festive.

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How many years ago?  Does it matter?  I was younger and thinner (weren’t we all) and I used to be a bit more stylish in my dress.  There is that inner critic!  Begone you!   Happy memories and I am grateful for these.   And my little violin is there .. happy now that I am really learning how to play it finally!!

If you are reading this, Thierry, thank you .. so much!

Anyway, yesterday at my lesson, I was learning the finer points of bow placement, music timing and feel that I’m making hard won progress, yea!

So we are just getting over really bad winter colds so we are into day 2 of Pyjama Day and binge watching Funny TV shows .. right now it is Fawlty Towers.  It is good to laugh.

Anyway, I must put on my winter outerclothes and go outside to fill up the birdfeeders and put fresh water into the bird baths.

Then .. I plan to brew another mug of Yorkshire Tea and practice for a bit .. the first in the New Year.

🙂


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I met the most wonderful dog named Buck. And I’ve re-discovered the joy of dehydrating fruit and veggies!

One day last week, I started my adventures in a garden center!   This is Cannor’s at the Sears Mall .. a lovely gathering of the most wonderful plants and delightful things for the garden.  This sign caught  my attention, cause that is what gardening is all about, right?

I noticed some male and female Sea Buckthorn plants!  I have one at home, but darn if I know which sex it is.   So, after talking with the very knowledgeable Manager there, I learned that it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between the male and the female plants, besides – the plant tags showed that they both bore orange berries.

After learning that the plants were on sale, 50% off … the decision was easily made for me and so I bought one of each.  So now I have 3, either 2 male and 1 female or the opposite.

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A lone crow flies overhead, flapping madly to join his pals …up in the wild blue sky.a08

Later on I made my way to a local Starbuck’s and happened to meet this most wonderful dog named Buck!  He is so very sweet and I fell in love with him.  I learned that he was born in England, has travelled all over the world and now lives here in Victoria.  I felt so very honoured when he showed his trust by rolling over and offering his tummy to be rubbed and then sat up and leaned into me for a good hug.  And I felt so happy hugging him and feeling all that honest and innocent doggy love.  I miss having dogs and so I value all the dogs that I meet in my life.  All are so very special.

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Now time for a little rest … sweet little Buck.  I learned that Buck is named after the travelling dog in the book published in 1902:  Buck

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Last week, when I dug up a huge container of potatoes, I found a strange green lime-shaped object.  It was something I hadn’t planted and so I was quite puzzled, but brought it into the house anyway.  Before discarding it, I decided to just peel away the outer green covering and lo and behold – found this walnut.  Mystery solved,  a squirrel must have hidden this treasure for a winter treat.  I’ll plant this in a pot (with a label!!) and will wait and see if it will grow for next year.  Those squirrels.  I’m constantly finding peanuts in the shell that they have planted.  For whatever reason (I don’t want to think) the squirrels don’t return and so the peanuts either grow into plants or just fall apart.  I wish that they would just enjoy the peanuts now but that isn’t their way.

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Darling little JaneE Kat, water beading off her fur, she has just had another wash tub sump pump shower and now is munching on her treats.  Life is good.

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During one of my random wanderings in the back yard, noticed this tiny pink geranium flowering away.  I hadn’t noticed the little bee, though, till now .. love such surprises!

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Another sweet surprise, tiny flowers quietly bursting forth ….little trumpets for the bees.

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Last week, my pal D and I went out for a day of gathering seaweed and thrift store shopping.   More about that another day, but just wanted to share a lovely find!  She is always discovering the most amazing little treasures in the shops and here is one!    At first I didn’t pay any attention, but, as she pointed out, this broom was made entirely of bamboo!   As I have a lot of bamboo growing in the yard, this caught my attention quite quickly.  So I purchased this one.   Back at home, I gathered the necessary materials and made one of these brooms for myself!    Tying bunches of the bamboo side branches securely around a length of the solid length of bamboo, using flexible coated garden wire, I soon had it done.  These brooms are just fantastic for sweeping up fallen leaves – I tested them.  More gentle than a rake.  Now I have an interest in trying to make brooms out of fine branches pruned from trees .. these would make a slightly sturdier broom for sweeping.   Another interest to pursue, love it!

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And I’ve fallen madly in love with dehydrating!   Haven’t done this for many years and it is just so much fun to rediscover this again!  I bought a great little dehydrator from Lee Valley .. it works like a charm and was not expensive at all.   Our freezer is full to bursting with a surplus of frozen fruit so I removed about 10 bags which included plums, blueberries, raspberries and pureed them all together.  I then added home-made applesauce and a little bit of liquid honey which was given to us by friends.

This is the result and it is delicious . I’m so excited.  At Lee Valley I also bought the most amazing book on dehydrating,  by Tammy Gangloff, Steven Gangloff & September Ferguson  – full of details on every aspect of dehydrating.   Normally I do not buy books unless they are on sale.  But when I find a book that is so full of information, I do not hesitate to buy it.

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I cut the large circles into 2 sections and rolled each one up in waxed paper, nice and tidy.  Easy to pack in my purse and take along for a quick energy boost throughout the day.a05

I’ve been trying a variety of things to dehydrate.   One mixture has beet leaves, sorrel, nasturtium leaves and kale – dried and powdered and in a jar, ready to sprinkle into stoups or stews for the winter.  And these tomatoes from the garden dry & powder so well!   Hadn’t thought I had many tomatoes at all but it seems there are sufficient.

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Right now I’m waiting for the “Longview” organic red/orange and green pepper slices to dry and I’ll be crumbling them up into little flakes for future dishes.   And there are a dozen ears of corn to be lightly cooked, then the niblets cut away and into the dehydrator.   Dried items take up way less space than frozen food and I really need to make more space in the freezer.  I know there is enough frozen fruit to make a few more batches of fruit leather!   Some for us and some to share.

This is a big bag of greens that I bought from Silver Rill farm last week .. long since washed, cut up, dried and now ready for adding to meals.  What fun.

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So recently my life has been chock full of new discoveries outside and in the kitchen.  Exciting adventures in dehydrating foods and just loving how things are turning out.  Plans for future mixtures are dancing away in my imagination.  In the dehydrator book .. there are ideas for making fun shapes of fruit leather with various colours of fruit puree.  I was just too impatient to try this out at first, but think I will attempt this another day.

And normally I make a paste out of garlic that is left over from planting and sharing.  And freeze the paste, great to add to anything (but not ice-cream!)   This year I will try drying the garlic and powdering some of it.   Delicious garlic grown in the best organic way in my garden.  Yum yum yum!

Oh the endless possibilities of dehydrating.

Now I must go and empty the dried tomatoes & greens and prepare the corn.

On y va!

🙂

 


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Relaxing times and some things that bring me great joy .. throughout the year and every day, as a matter of fact!

Oh, doesn’t the time fly by sometimes, though!  I was taking a “few days” away from my blogging and how I have missed it.  This is my chance to write my daily thoughts, my dreams, my joy … and I love looking backwards throughout the year to see how my daily life unfolded.  My photos help me out a lot.  Sometimes life is so busy and so it is nice to look back and see what was happening.

Still having fun learning how to take photos with my Panasonic 30x camera … bringing little worlds up closer to look at:16And even closer … such tiny little flowers growing away ..

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While in the back yard …I think this is little Squirrely’s daughter …hungrily munching on a peanut …they have to survive.  Little Squirrely was a frequent visitor to our yard last year – we haven’t seen her for a long time.   This little one has lovely white markings .

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The new eco-friendly (aka bamboo) bird feeder is a welcome addition to the yard …  below is one of my impromptu “raised beds” planted with lots of garlic.  I was going to be more moderate in my plantings of Elephant (sigh, yes, a member of the leek family) and Kazakhstan garlic.  However, I ended up just going a little crazy and began planting like mad.  More photos in the next few months showing their progress.  Also, I’d learned in a garlic class that we shouldn’t plant sprouted garlic.  I was abiding by this wisdom until I saw the many sprouting garlic cloves.  And I remembered that last year I’d planted sprouted cloves in December that grew quite well so I succumbed and planted many more garlic cloves.13More eye candy .. a fallen oak leaf .. splendid in its natural beauty and natural surroundings.  I have a billion such leaves covering my garlic beds at home …..treasures, each and every one!

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And then .. DH & I went flying … thank goodness for digital cameras .. I click away as the beauty unfolds ..

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This was on Christmas Day … lovely skies …

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We flew over the old racetrack .. soon to be partial development, part common gardens, I believe .07

Low clouds, fluffy and soft …

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Sky art … lovely and fresh ..

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Such beauty …

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Time to land …after a number of circuits …

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Well .. that is where some of my time has gone over the past few days.

Time to get on with the day.  Things to do .. one of which is quite important and that is to make a listing of the oh so many Heritage seeds that I’ve purchased from Annapolis Seeds, Salt Spring Island Seeds and .. drum roll…. Richters Herbs.

I actually visited Richters Herbs in Ontario, during November.  Having ordered various seeds from them over the past 30 years, I was thrilled to actually visit this venerable seed company.   And …. yes .. I did take lots of photos.  That is for another day.

Speaking of another day .. another Seedy Saturday is coming up in February.  I am so looking forward to volunteering in this annual event.  This year I shall purchase more Heritage potatoes … i grew fingerlings last year in large pots and they did grow well.  I took photos of each pot’s harvest as I unearthed them.   That is for another day.

Today is here and I’m up up and away!!!

🙂


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A lovely sunny February day ..

28 February, 2014

We have had several days of sunshine and cheerful skies ..

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I find it challenging to “not” look up at the sky .. it is so addictive when there is such incredible beauty up there …

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Constant changes, artistic shifting of fanciful clouds …

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See that  little mark up there against the blue .. that is a magnificent eagle.  I could see clearly with my binoculars 

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lovely …

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Isn’t this a peaceful sight .. the owner has lovely veggie gardens, he used to keep bees, and see the rustic old fence … and the magnificent trees in the background.1

Sadly .. this is a fuller view .. big box homes being built onto the hillside adjacent from that pastoral view.   Wonder how many trees were cut down for these boxes.  Creepy. And that is what is happening around this town, all over.

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On a happier note .. our group had just finished an energizing walk/hike for nearly 1 1/2 hours and now we were doing some warm down stretches.  When suddenly .. Casey appeared!

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He was a very social dog and made a point of going to each of us, to say a cheery hello!   Isn’t he so sweet … and loving …

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Back at home .. I fed Squirrely some peanuts .. here she looks like she is going to score a touchdown, left arm to the ground, right arm poised to throw the football .. ha ha ha
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And now she is taking her treasures elsewhere, playtime is over.

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Then I spent a happy few hours, shifting leaf mulch/hay from an area where I had tucked a lot of potted plants into a protected area against the winter.  Now it was time to move them aside and dig up the composting material.  I drilled holes in the bottom of several waste bins …and later filled them up with the material.   Lots of holes so the water can drain and breathe a bit, before I use this lovely stuff throughout the yard.

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I discovered this lovely packet of Irish Shamrock seeds & Irish dirt, a gift from my SIL years ago.  I’ll finally plant these in a pot .. tomorrow!12Well, I realize that I didn’t talk about my trip to the Llama farm … so will do that tomorrow!
🙂

 


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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Today the weather was sunny and a bit of overcast ..but last Sunday, there was snow!  My garlic is all covered … but it is very resilient.

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My winter sown summer seeds are safe in their individual greenhouses

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Monday .. more snow and some rain .. here is my wonderful garden cart … I really should have put it away from the elements .. but it is a tough little cart.12

My little crop of lettuce, spinach and Mizuna and other greens were doing well, during the snow/thaw/snow/thaw routine.   And a few days ago I removed all of these containers from the old hot tub cover and took down below to my potting area.   There was lots of cilantro .. I potted some of that up .. will show later.

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These stair photos are from last Friday .. here is a view at the top looking down (and thank goodness we only made one trip down and one trip up!)

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This is the view from the bottom (at the beach part) .. lots of stairs..

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Last Wednesday, as we walked briskly along .. I happened to notice this beautiful formal pond and statuary down below .. can you imagine having such a garden?  So peaceful.

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We continued on to the most wonderful Finnerty Gardens at UVic

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Ok, this was a bit funny to me .. this is obviously an oak stump .. talk about excess signage .. still, rather sweet..

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I believe this is a deer tongue fern ..2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in the city of Rhodo’s .. here is yet another …There is another park, Playfair, in Victoria, which has a forest of rhodo’s .. the park is also a doggy park and I spent many many hours there with my lovely dogs.

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Back at home, I noticed many daffodils, snowdrops, tulips and other bulbs that were preparing to show their flowery wonderfulness .. here are some daffs …

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Our neighbourhood squirrel was trying to get a drink of water out of this bucket .. however, I had emptied it .. so she was a little surprised.   There are lots of water sources in the yard for the birds and squirrels.

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Here she is, attempting to hide her cache of peanuts .. oops .. she sees me ..

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Yesterday’s glorious skies …

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Lovely …. sky art ..20So, some snow, some rain, some sun, some rain.  Typical Victoria weather .. aren’t we lucky!

And today I went to get some lovely Llama manure .. more about that tomorrow.   Today also I attacked my triple compost bins .. emptying, sifting, mixing, spring is definitely on its way!
🙂

 


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Saturday, February 8, 2014

We actually had a smattering of snow yesterday!  I was going to cancel out of going to the Friday workout and actually called my pal D… who convinced me to go and R would drop by and pick me up.  So despite myself I went exercising with the others and it was so very beautiful.  I took lots of photos and will post them tomorrow.

Anyway .. look at this beautiful sky!! I went outside this morning to re-fill the hummingbird feeders (otherwise they freeze) and replenished the bird feed.  Looking up .. what sky eye-candy!

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more….

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and more .. and then I really had to get going … although the sun was a little warm, the air temperature was not!

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A chubby little Robin flew past me and settled onto this little gate post.  This is one of my new raised beds full of garlic .. see the lovely green leaves.  And this funky gate is so lovely and I plan to use it as a little feature all throughout the garden.  Then you can see the pvc loop (I put green plastic mesh for climbing plants) and then there are those wonderful garden trellis planter things .. I have 3 and they are very portable to put throughout the yard.   I’ve just left them here for the winter.

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Here is a longer view of that same photo of the Robin.   All those pots you can see in the background have garlic growing.  Even those little buds from the bottom of the Elephant garlic are planted in shallow pots.07

Then I caught a glimpse of the little grey squirrel, racing up the sidewalk and heading for the stairs … excited to fetch two more peanuts from the sundeck above.   They have to eat .. theirs is  a precarious life and so I am happy to provide them with food during this freezing weather.  Can you imagine if humans had to travel so far for so little and survive on these few peanuts?  I thought about that last night as I grabbed a handful of peanuts from the large bag that I bought (for them!) and thought how easily I can provide them for myself, compared with the little squirrels, who value these treasures and travel far and wide to gather them, cache them and save for future meals.

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I was still watching the little Robin when I caught sight of the squirrel racing away with his treasures.  I clicked the camera and hadn’t expected to actually get a good photo!  He’s racing like mad.

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Oh, I must share these photos.  Dh & I had this ficus for many years.   It flourished well .. except for a time last fall .. when all but a few leaves survived on a sad looking dried branched tree.   It had developed soil mites .. they were little little fruit flies.    I searched for remedies and tried them .. like putting a layer of sand on the surface of the soil so the eggs wouldn’t hatch.  That didn’t work.   I put the plant outside for weeks .. .the mites were still there.  Drastic measures called for a new pot, new soil.  I removed the figus from the old pot, washed the rhizomous roots in a light solution of Ecos laundry soap and then rinsed thoroughly with clear water.  Into the new pot, with new soil. And .. a good application of EM .  I didn’t bother to even trim away the dry branches, as I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  Well .. a few months later and we are astounded at the tiny little new growths and now these have become leaves and stems!   I believe it was the EM that saved it and encouraged the tree to grow.  Isn’t it lovely!  I’ll trim away any dried stems in a month or so.  We are so happy .. DH, myself .. and the ficus, all three!

11Then there is another success story.  This plant below, was purchased from a “big box store that I will not name” over 10 years ago.  I don’t know the name of the plant.  If anyone could identify it .. I would be most grateful.  This plant is tough.  It has survived on no care, no water and has been moved about a lot.  For the past 4 years, it has sat in the back room of the basement.   I moved it outside for the summer and back inside for the winter.  Then, a few weeks ago, I felt so bad for this living plant that just wanted to keep on growing and wouldn’t die.  So I added a bit of soil to the top surface.  Gave it a liberal dose of EM and some sunlight.  And look!  It is so very happy and is growing so well.   The power of a tough plant and the magic of EM!  I love you little plant.

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Just can’t get enough of this beauty ..

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Thank you .. lovely skies up above for this glorious display!  I could look at you all day!03

And finally … a friend told me about a little bird that was drawn into a Buffalo (airplane!) which was flying low and slow .. the little bird perched on the Captain’s finger .. I found this to be such a fabulous photo & story and I’m sure you will agree:

http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/news-template-standard.page?doc=search-and-rescue-crews-take-unusual-passenger-on-board/hkdonpzz

The tiny bird sitting so confidently  .. while flying inside the mighty Buffalo!

I sent the photo to Ann Nightingale, a birder extraordinaire, based in Victoria, BC.  !  I haven’t met her in person yet, but whenever I have a photo of a bird that has issues or a bird that is unusual, I always e-mail her and she always has the right answer for me.  I look forward to meeting her someday.

Anyway, here is Ann’s information on this little bird:

“It’s a Kinglet … perhaps (because the photo is from July) a baby Golden-crowned Kinglet .”  How magical!!!

Sigh .. what a wonderful world!  And such amazingly wonderful people!

🙂