Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 is coming to an end

Each year seems to go by faster than the last. We have had a mixed bag as we head into winter here in Antigonish. Bill prefers to think of it as heading towards spring, since the days are now officially getting longer. We had a white Christmas(as if that really matters!), but now have no snow to speak of. 

The same scene as above taken on this sunny, cold day.

There have been a couple of very chilly days with the rhododendrons doing their barometric rise and fall to indicate their way of dealing with cold. 

The pond has gradually filled up through out the fall. It is also just about frozen over.

I fear we have had the last of the parsley harvest. It was looking quite crispy this morning. It might rebound when temperatures rise. Parsley has been so lovely this year it is a shame to see it go.

2011 was more or less a typical gardening year. The possible exception being the challenge of getting vegetables to grow properly . Perhaps the most disappointing being the potato blight which totally wiped out the potatoes for the year.
There were plenty of storms, but apart from the Halloween electrical fiasco, not much damage. As usual, there were lots of jobs that didn't get done.
Bill's baby rhodies and azaleas are spending the winter in the sun porch where they will hopefully survive and get a dormant period of sorts. They get to keep company with the bay trees, rosemary. a few buddleia and assorted other little plants that were not situated in the garden. Voodie pretends she is outside.

The next major item on the agenda will be dealing with the Atlantic Rhododendron & Horticultural Society's Seed Exchange. The seed list is off to the Newsletter, so an online copy now needs to be prepared and posted towards the end of January. There have been a few late contributions which will only appear on the online version. Deadlines don't appeal to all, it seems.
I have been mulling over getting a new computer, but haven't found a convenient window of opportunity just yet. I always worry I might not be quite as functional as needed. I should likely just do it!
Best Wishes to all for a Happy 2012.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Wreath

December has arrived in a very gentle fashion for the most part although we seem to have a "weather bomb" in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow.
We had a nice Christmas meeting with the ARHS folks in Halifax. Last week was busy "fudging" with The Jingle Bell Frolic held at St. Martha's Hospital. on Friday past.
There are a few Christmasy outings in the next few days which will seemingly require baking.
our festive wreath is courtesy of Beverley & Erin MacLellan.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our Early Season Snow

Here in Antigonish County we received a very significant snowfall yesterday and overnight. November storms aren't all that unusual, but this was a bit much.

The temperature has been zero or below, so the full load of snow hasn't yet fallen from the roof. 

Clearing the walkway is somewhat of a waste of time until the snow comes down. Some of the overhanging snow came down , but not all.

It also appears that our installation of a protective roof for our internet receiver seems to have done its job. 

We are putting off going out to clear off the car and BBQ for awhile yet.

Our neighbor who clears our driveway had been here already, even though no snowplow has been through.

Bill's tractor is under a blanket of snow. It will get parked in a snow-free zone later on. This is a bit early to declare no more tractor use.

Similarly there seems to be a wheelbarrow parked here somewhere.
It is also amazing how the dark, dreary day gives pictures which are essentially black and white!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hot Peppers and Other Things

Several days of this mid part of November have been a bit conducive to some outdoor chores.
Bill spent part of one day cleaning out the gutters. 
We can never remember when the last time was. We were at least not stuck doing it on a freezing day. Several trips up and down the ladder were a necessary evil.

The leafy debris seems partially decomposed. Not bad stuff to deposit on the nearest garden bed.

We had a couple of very cold days, but by this Sunday it was a bit warmer, although very breezy. Bill embarked upon the installation of a metal roofing shield to protect our internet receiver from snowy avalanches from the roof of the sunporch. 

No one seems to listen when told snow cascades off the roof periodically through the winter.We did have them come and lower the receiver somewhat so the top wouldn't project above the roof line.
While "watching" this installation, I decided to harvest the Ring of Fire peppers from the planter that has been in the sunporch for the last few weeks. 

Many peppers were nice and ripe, while some were still green. All the fruits can be used, so I sorted them according to their maturity.

The ripest are in the basket and will dry for a time just sitting on top of the refrigerator. When fully dry they can be stored in a glass jar and used when needed. Sometimes I grind up a bunch and use them as pepper flakes. A little trial and error teaches one how much is appropriate for a recipe.

The greenest were chopped and placed in freezer bags. 

It is easy to fetch a sample for any given recipe when a freshly chopped one is wanted. 
These are quite hot peppers, so I was a bit cautious not to get pepper juice on my hands or elsewhere that might prove painful.
That seemed to be the closest to gardening that got done today. I expect I could have done a few more things, but we just had a look .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Myriad of Fall Foliage

We have been having quite an admiration for the development and continuation of fall color all this month. Even with a few vicious wind storms, some plants still have interesting leaves to share. The range of shades is quite something. Sometimes I find it hard to fully appreciate November.
(Click on any image to bring another view or to comment on a pic)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November Tasks Almost Done

November has brought relative cooperation weather wise so we have actually got the majority of pressing tasks completed.
Carrots are still in the ground, but don't represent a very big job. I dug part and ended up with a nice bucket full.

One was very peculiar with three prongs. We get very few mis-shapen ones. Jodi got to snack on those that were very puny, assuming he didn't help himself to any he liked.

We grew celeriac this year for the first time. I harvested a few to see how they were doing. They certainly have a lot of rootiness and a lot of tops. I must ask around and see what to really expect.

I trimmed them up, washed them ans used some to make a Potato and Celery root gratin.

This has been a super year for parsley, so I picked some more along with some thyme. I shall miss the parsley when the real cold comes.
Bill stowed all the peony pots in the back garden until spring. 

The in ground pic isn't particularly interesting!

The bulbs are planted and almost all the "strays" are safely in the ditch.
We do have to install a bit of a snow protector for our internet receiver so it doesn't get demolished by snow coming off the roof of the back porch.
We had a very windy, wet Remembrance Day, but no damage was incurred. Today we are back in the chilliness mode, but nice and sunny.
There is still quite a lot of nice colour out back, although things are getting quite worn.
Fall crocus are still popping up here and there.
The birch trees are pretty well denuded, but look nice against the blue sky.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day 2011

Remembrance Day always has a personal significance since my father was a veteran of World War II. Like so many, he seemed reluctant to tell many stories of his time overseas. One can only imagine the memories that would exist.
We grew up with the annual ritual of the Poppy campaign, which my Dad looked after in our community. There were some jaunts to the Royal Canadian Legion in Hillsborough, about a half hour from home.
One rather tangible record of some things that were brought to our attention was a cache of almost 500 letters sent to my mother during the years Dad was away. I received these after my Mother's death and read through all of them. They were all numbered so the proper sequence has been retained.
I think I was most surprised at the literacy of these letters, as my Dad gave very little indication of that part of his being. This is one of the most poignant excerpts....

" June 10, 1942
....... it must be great there now in the mornings about the time you go to school. I can just see the spider's webs and dew shining in the early morning sun, and the bobolinks would be nearby bursting....and the gardens would be just showing lines along the rows where the seeds are just coming through the ground. The hard working beans with their bent back. Did you ever take notice of seeds coming up? Well there is a lot of fun looking at the different ones as they start though the ground. You will have to look twice to see the skinny onion, and the squash jumps right out of the ground at you. Hey, what am I getting down on this paper anyway, asking a farmer's daughter if she was ever in a garden, and only a dozen years ago i hardly knew a carrot from grass. You will have to blame it on this I told you before, at times I have no control over it. So maybe I had better put it in my pocket for awhile......"

These were in no way a record of war, but rather a journal of the day to day, or week to week activities of life in the Army.
All soldiers knew they couldn't give much information of actual military activities since they would be censored out.
Dad had a bit of code that as Mother received letters let her know where he had been in recent history. The mundane tasks of staying alive and reasonably comfortable make up much of the focus. 
The other main theme was one of extreme homesickness. Dad missed home and family very much. My older sister was only a baby when he left for England. The highlight of any day or week would be the arrival of letters and the precious parcels that brought a bit of home to the boys.
There also seemed to be a continual need to obtain a supply of cigarettes, a commodity that was in a constant state of flux...too many borrowed, too few arriving!
My Father was joined by three of his brothers overseas and remarkably all returned home in reasonably good  shape. Such was not the case for many .
Watching the history of the Silver Cross Medal today brought home that fact.
Remembrances now cover many generations both past and present.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November is trying to be enticing

Except for a couple of days on the past weekend, November has been quite a pleasant month weather wise. Daylight savings has come and gone, so apart from being dark at 5 PM , it is nice to have a little more light in the morning. Bright sunshine has been the order of the day for a few days, so we have been stimulated to get at some of the remaining fall jobs.
Stowing all the miscellaneous pots in the "storage ditch" seems to be an annual pursuit. There are always a lot of strays that need to be overwintered below grade. 

Grace and Jodi were very faithful "helpers" during the whole procedure.
The ditch needs to be cleaned out a bit each fall. 
The soil/compost blend is either used to repair a spot or two or sifted back in around the pots. Bill used some today to fill in a few of the tracks made last week by the small excavator installing the new power pole. 

We were also heartened to find the lovely seed pod on our Magnolia tripetala had finally started to burst, indicating some degree of ripeness.

I picked the pod in case critters might take a fancy to it. The seeds have an interesting little attachment to the pod. 

Our walk about saw lots of rather interesting colours today. Our Enkianthus have chosen to turn a beautiful golden colour this year, rather than the red they sometimes do. 

The azaleas are showing quite a lot of red, but perhaps not as vivid as some years. 

This Japanese Maple goes through a number of red shades as the year progresses.

Even the green of the Hellebores is nice in contrast to the fading gold of the hostas nearby. 

There are still lots of golden leaves attached. Some beech trees, no doubt. 

There are lots of fall crocus still popping up. they look quite perky on a sunny day.