Friday, November 16, 2012

November is Proceeding

November is not renowned as the favorite month of the year, but this year we are having quite an enjoyable month so far.
It seems we have the usual annual chores that need to be done.
Bill embarked on a gutter clean out a few days ago. The biggest virtue being that it was a nice warm day (Bill will wear his toque regardless!).

The potato pit has had its insulating blanket of leaves added and covered.

This group of baby rhododendrons and azaleas are settled in for the winter. They are not in the usual nursery bed arrangement, since they were very small in early summer. Hopefully they will survive the winter this way. We may put some evergreen boughs over the area to give a little more protection.

After two lovely summery days, we are back to cooler, wetter conditions.
Before that we were the proud recipients of two truckloads of old horse manure. They were added to the manure area. 

Now if time and energy would cooperate, we might get some distributed before winter descends.
Each walk around the garden seems to yield some little surprises. This rhododendron seems anxious to bloom . It would normally bloom towards the end of May. 

We have been trying to conjure a name for this rhodie, which we had propagated a few years ago. It has rather interesting "peppermint " stripes when flowering, plus doubling of the calyx.
Most of the leaves are down , but the red oaks and several shrubs still are in the process of changing color before leaf drop.

This little Rhododendron dauricum has lovely foliage with different coloration at different times of the year. This species is considered semi-deciduous and will retain part of its leaves and lose others.

Some of the deciduous azaleas have lost their leaves, but others are still vibrant. 

This is a nice time to admire the flower buds which will hopefully add to next spring's show.
Some of the Magnolias have pretty buds as well. This is from 'Butterflies', a nice yellow magnolia.

Others don't seem to set their flower buds out in prominence.
We were amazed that these seedlings of Magnolia macrophylla are still very green.

There are always a few little blooms here and there. Some areas of the Vinca minor have a few flowers.

We always admire the Pieris in bud. 'Dorothy Wycoff' is getting fairly well established and is very attractive in the fall. Pinker buds are logical, since she blooms quite pink.

She is much pinker in bud than the "regular" Pieris.

The theme of browns and green is offset by so many things, but is attractive nevertheless. This is Heuchera 'Lime Ricky' nestled among fallen leaves.

The permanent green provided by the rhododendrons is really appreciated this fall into winter time. The good foliage plants will look good most of the year. Some of the heavily "tomented" rhodies are starting to have that surface tomentum worn away as the seasons progress.

The rest of the month will have some birthday celebrations(Ava's and mine) plus the annual Jingle Bell Frolic sponsored by St. Martha's Hospital Auxillary. That event is on November 30th at the  Marie Clare at the hospital. I am in charge of the "Fudge" table, so hope there will be another good year of volunteerism. Lots of calls to make this week regarding donations of baking and fudge.
Winter tires are getting installed today, so perhaps that will ward off winter for awhile longer!
Here is a slideshow of these and other images from our mid-November garden.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ditching the Orphans

We have been blessed with two days of wonderfully warm weather for mid November. This seemed like the best opportunity to stow all the miscellaneous potted  plants in our dry storage ditch. It is one of the last fall jobs that needs to be done. It is not an especially photogenic story, but such is life! Our soil lends itself to creating such an area, since it is sandy and nowhere will get soggy. We sometimes have to worry that it is a bit too dry here, since the big spruce tree shades and shelters part from normal rain.
This area seems to be populated with plants year round, which doesn't speak well of our decision making abilities. We cleared all the existing plants out and cleaned the extra dirt/compost mixture from the bottom and sides.

A few areas were made a little deeper with the result that we removeded about six wheelbarrow loads from the ditch.
Bill dug a bit more from the end closest to the driveway.

These got piled nearby to be used to fill some material in around the plants after they were repacked. I used this sandy material mixed with old horse manure to make a reasonably light filler to add to the spaces around the pots.

The ditch is almost 3 feet deep in spots and about 2+ Ft. in others. Some of the smaller plants don't need quite the depth. I somehow managed not to fall in during the time spent cleaning out and refilling!

There is quite a variety of plant material  stowed in here. Some plants are quite ragged looking, but may get a chance to rebound next season. Several rhodies seem to end up here for years and bloom in spite of us.

We have a Magnolia tripetala that was destined to be planted this last season, but that didn't happen, so back it goes. Same story for our English Oak.
We used Bill's wagon to fetch the various plants.

Many were leftovers from our spring plant sale plus some miscellaneous rhododendrons that were dug in June. Others are small plants that were discovered as layers and need a year or two to get bigger. There are several very pretty little Pieris in this category, plus some azaleas from Spicy Lights and Homebush.
Every thing is back in and just needed watering and material added to fill in spaces.
Here is a little slideshow with some additional  images from this adventure.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Halfway Through October

It is now about mid-October and we have had very little cool weather to let us know winter is coming. Even the development of fall color seems a bit slow. The days are definitely getting shorter. Perhaps hibernation isn't far off.
Most of our veggies are harvested. We had quite a nice group of squash, both Buttercup and Butternut. They are currently the favoured vegetable. We prefer the Buttercup as a usual veggie and appreciate the Butternut for roasting and for making soup. A blend makes for great "pumpkin" muffins or other baking.
The potatoes came through in good health, unlike last year's dismal blight event. The Pink Fir Apple will give us enough for a couple of meals plus some for replanting.

The tomatoes were in moderate supply(by design) and have all been used except for a few Sweet Baby Girl cherry type.
For the first time in my life, I made Salsa. I "hybridized" a couple of recipes and came up with quite a satisfactory product. There were two batches, the second had slightly better texture than the first. I uploaded the recipe to share.

The Begonia bed at the front of the house has been emptied of both regular tuberous Begonias and the B. grandis. 

The B. grandis have made a lot of little bulbils this year. This might be due to the tremendous amounts of moisture in the last month or so. I "harvested" a few and will allow them to eventually make new little plants indoors.
There are still quite a few in the garden, but there is no great rush to dig them. They haven't had a hint of frost and are still colorful.
Bill did the hard work of digging up the septic tank so it could be pumped out. 

That event has transpired and the hole is pretty much filled in.
After the wet days in the middle of this week, we are destined to get Garlic planted. I separated the heads into the cloves, ready for planting. There are 3 types of hardneck  plus a couple of new additions should arrive soon from Botanus.
Speaking of Botanus....I ordered bulbs from them for the first time ever. We have been watching the progress of the parcel via Canada Post's tracking system. 

Hopefully it doesn't take eight days to get from Montreal to Antigonish.
GOOD NEWS! The bulb package arrive Oct18th. Now to get them planted. Labels have been prepared, so a bulb planting day is definitely in the works.
I vowed not to plant bulbs this fall, but that hasn't been too successful. I succumbed to some at Pleasant Valley Nurseries and then did the Botanus thing. Hopefully the weather stays nice for bulb planting.
Bulbs seemed to be in the forefront the last while. We gave a presentation to the Garden Club on Spring Flowering Bulbs which seemed to be well-received. It was rather a combination of information and "eye candy".

Looking forward to spring seems to be a thing all gardeners do.
Spring comes to mind every time we look at the rhododendrons. They seem to have phenomenal bud set this year. This is Scintillation, wet and shiny and well budded.

The annual "bring in the plants" event has happened, so the sunporch is even more cluttered than usual. The big Bay tree monopolizes the space. Here is a bit of a slide show dealing with Bay tree and leaves.

There are some hot pepper plants in as well. They will finish ripening and get picked to dry. The Ring of Fire peppers are always very dependable. We grew a cute ornamental pepper this year called Calico. It has been lovely as a containers plant. The little purple peppers are fairly hot. 

Hopefully I may be able to save some of their seeds to plant again next year. If not, there is always Lindenberg Seeds!
Fall is therefore proceeding as usual. Bill has started a bit of wine making. There are, of course, still miscellaneous plants to properly stow somewhere for the winter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Hiatus

It would seem that summer is half gone and we have neglected to do much blogging. Rhododendron season has pretty much come and gone, with only a few blooms left on the late blooming azaleas and R. maximum.
We went through a reasonably painless transition to a new computer last week. Some new things need a bit of practice or just need to find a slightly different approach to old things. One of the new things I came across was Microsoft's collage maker. I have been having a bit of fun experimenting with a trial version of the software. I have succumbed to a little purchase of the full version.
Here is an image representing late rhodies and azaleas(~July22). These look quite nice when viewed full-screen. New pics don't have the less than aesthetic waterspot!

Our weather has been very summery, but also quite dry. All would benefit from a good rain. Daylily season is upon us, so they are a bit different each day. 

There has been a continuous presence of he red lily beetle all season. some lilies have suffered some damage, others are relatively unscathed.
We were surprised to find a group of trumpet lilies in bloom a day or two ago. They are seedlings Bill planted a few years ago, presumably from Pink Perfection. They seem quite uniform from plant to plant, but are a bit darker than the parent lily. Bill added some staking so they wouldn't flop too much.

Lilium canadense is also in bloom right now. We wish they would get a bit more robust within the group. There is another with more stalks, we think is L. superbum which will bloom a week or two later.

The hot sunny weather seems to agree with the bees. They have been quite abundant amongst the coneflowers and lavender.

We were blessed with a lovely addition to our family in late June. Little grandson Nate was born June 25th. Quite a change of lifestyle for the new parents, but all are getting along very well.
The other half of the family has headed west, so had a little farewell visit a week or two ago.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Adventures with Cecropia

Friday morning(June8 th) presented us with a very interesting surprise. Several weeks ago while digging plum trees Bill came across a chrysalis on one branch. He cut it off and stuck it in a pot of soil on the end of our outdoor potting table. En route to pick up tools in the shed, I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye. Lo and behold the chrysalis had a full fledged moth emerging. It was still clinging to the stick and remnants of the pupal sac, and gently opening and closing its wings.
I rushed to get my camera and took quite a few shots.

My brain didn’t clue in as to the species for awhile, but eventually Cecropia came to mind. Checking on internet images, that notion was reinforced. The species is Hyalophora cecropia.
It is one of the largest moths in North America.

It was quite interesting to note the typical moth characteristics. The heavy body, which we feel is indicative of a female; the feathery antenna, which upon some research also seem female-like.

This link has a very nice pictorial of the lifecycle, but I had to look long and hard to actually determine a usable comparison of the male and female antennae.
Most of the pictures were taken in the morning, but I went back in early evening to see if it was still there and took a few more.
I rotated the pot holding the stick and moth and was promptly “peed” upon, or so it seemed. I returned it to the original position and it shot another stream against the side of the shed.
We are wondering if this was some defense mechanism or the emitting of the pheromone stream done in the evening to lure a male mate.
The presumed “lady” was gone by Saturday morning. It would be nice to think she has a chance to mate and lay her eggs during her short life. It certainly had no toxic effects upon me, nor have I been deluged with would be suitors!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Spring Update

Blogging has been pretty much neglected as this spring has barrelled along very speedily.
We had our usual business getting some plants off to Halifax for the ARHS Member Sale plus the quite large task of hosting our sale here at home on May19-20th. That event went well. The entire weekend cooperated with lovely weather.

Here is the view of some set up....Magnolia sieboldii potted up.
Plants arranged in the front yard....

We found quite a nice rhododendron while foraging in the nursery beds. From the ARS2003#113....'Helsinki University' x 'Kalinka'. The plant was dug and actually replanted in a proper spot.

The blooming of the rhododendrons is charging along, although this season has quite diminished flower buds. Some weather weirdness of last summer is likely responsible for far fewer flower buds on many plants. Still lots to look at and try to keep some tabs on.
We came across a very pretty bloom on a 2006 seedling. Records show it was from leftover seed from a 1999 exchange. 'Goldfort' x R. vernicosum(peach)....cross made by John Weagle. A branch was broken , so we brought it in for a bit of a bouquet.

The editor for this Blog is acting very strange today. Hard to say how this may actually translate!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Back to Reality

We really did enjoy those few days with temperatures in the mid-twenties, but now we are back to the real spring. Well below freezing last night and a cold wind blowing today. The sun seems like a moot point.
We did a few outdoor things in the last few days.
Bill started his annual rake up the sticks campaign. It is truly amazing how many branches from birch trees can be deposited here and there.
I did the usual massacre of the grape vines....such a waste of time, since they really don't do much anyway. One PeeGee hydrangea got pruned. These pruning jobs seem like a safe way to get at some outdoor jobs.
Bill has eyed some black knot in the plum trees , so that will need attention very soon.
The spring blooming Heaths are blooming. We have very few. One quite large patch of pink and a little bit of a white one. If they had ID's , they are long gone.

It was cool enough yesterday that the crocus had gone back to sleep.
The snowdrops don't seem to mind the vagaries of these spring days, They continue to pop up everywhere.
Since it is forecast to remain quite cold for the next week or so, I expect it is time to get some seeds started under lights. This is usually the week I start peppers, parsley, basil and celeriac.