Monday, May 31, 2010

Bundled and joy

What is it about garbage collection that at times fills me with apprehension and awe? Today happens to be the day the city picks up our recycling and garbage. When my hubby and I were putting it all out last night he looked at me and asked  "Do you think they will take all of this?". 
We had worked most of the weekend in the garden. It was a great weekend. It was warm, almost hot at times, but with a slight breeze. My kind of day. Hubby had chopped down yet another dying cedar and prepared it for the pick up. He had also bundled up quite a lot of branches he had collected from last weekend. We put out three plastic garbage cans full of garden debris plus 7 bundles of shrub and tree branches. Standing at the side of the road it looked like we had hoarded for months. So I knew what hubby meant when he asked that question. Apprehension concerning what the collectors will actually take - all of it, or just some? What do  they think when they pull up to our place every week with that big noisy truck of theirs. Oh I am fully aware that it's their job to take it all away but sometimes I hide by the window to watch and see if they leave anything behind. But no, they always take everything. You put it out and they take it away. Awesome.

Our beech tree before the leaves turned that opaque purple.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lilac Festival RBG

Once again I was at the Royal Botanical Gardens volunteering, this time for the lilac festival. It was a beautiful day and quite warm, thank goodness, because it rained the entire day before. This time Claudette and I worked together answering queries about siting lilacs, lilac pruning, starting a lilac collection, as well as non lilac questions such as how to get wisteria to flower and how to prune a clematis you've met for the first time on a blind date.  

They had 3 female students giving a small talk and tour on the lilac, and I followed one group around for 10 minutes. Did you know that there are 21 species of lilacs - two are European and the rest Asian - and that there are over 2,000 cultivars. The scientists are not certain of the specific pollinators for the lilac but they believe that they are pollinated by night flying insects such as moths and some types of bees. It turns out lilacs are more fragrant at night and therefore attract night pollinators. White lilacs are more scented than any other colour. European varieties ( S. vulgaris) are sweet scented while the Asian varieties tend to be more spicy and musky smelling. 

 This white lilac is called Mme. Lemoine, a cultivar bred by M. Emile Lemoine. Emile  Lemoine was a French flower breeder who became famous for his double French hybrids and hybridized the first Hyacinthiflora lilacs. While he got the glory his wife apparently contributed her dainty fingers to the cause. Her small hands and fingers were needed for the first attempts at pollinating the now famous doubles. 

A lovely day. Here's a photo of the lilac dell.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spring garden

Often I am told by neighbours passing by that I have a lovely spring garden. I suppose I do. Although I don't really think of my gardens in that way. Over the years I have been trying to grow plants that give some interest year round - isn't that what the magazines tell you to do? And to some degree that is what I am accomplishing. However, it is obvious that come June there is a gap once the peonies have flowered. Ah well, you can't have everything and some things are not worth trying for. By the time May is over and we are into June I am starting to get tired. All the spring cleaning is over and the mad rush to move some plants around as well as add more and more plants starts to tucker me out. Anyways come July it all starts up again and all is well through fall.

Here are some photos of my spring garden.

Part of a border with wild columbine, perennial geranium and foamflower(and dandelions -sigh)

In another border the Father Hugo rose (Rosa hugonis) is in flower. It is quite early for a rose.

This is a view of my all native garden by the street. It was created 3 summers ago and has filled in very well, to the point I don't need a mulch for weed prevention. The foam flowers (tiarella) and the asters have filled the floor of the garden now deterring all but the most aggressive weeds. The flowering raspberry behind the birch on the left has overstepped my personal boundaries and I have to cut it back. It is swamping a cool looking grass, a coneflower and some bee balm.

And finally, in the back I have been growing a phlox subulata around the base of a walnut tree. I bought two plants a few years ago and have never found them since. So now I clip off about 3 inches of stem and plant them in the ground. Over time it is spreading and will eventually encircle most of the base.

Second batch of seedlings survive

It turned out that the fungus my seedlings have did not give them damping off disease. They are alive and doing well. Strange because there is definitely something moldy looking attached to the peat pots they are growing in.  I did manage to mix up the labels I made for their names. I am not overly surprised as they went in and out of the fridge for 8 weeks before they made it upstairs. There is definitely one rattlesnake master seedling. Then there about 6 of something and about 20 of something else (either Gillenia or Chelone). It will be a surprise.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Garlic mustard

Today I will finish the culling of the Garlic Mustard  (Alliaria petiolata). It is one of the great trials we face in our garden. Nine years ago when we moved to Pomona there was very little of it, and I was probably not really aware of it at the time. That changed quickly. It started arriving in the border between us and the neighbor to the north. That neighbor is an older gentleman and is not able to keep up with that part of the property. Despite my warnings about the dreaded weed he only pulls out what is directly interfering with his flowers. And so nine years later the back end of the property is a field of garlic mustard.

I used to get quite upset at this time of year when I knew it was time to face my worse enemy. I knew it was a battle I could never win and I despaired, a lot. Time has allowed me to come to terms with this foe and now I am able to look him in the four- petaled- flower and know I am winning small battles. I also approach garlic mustard time as just another chore that needs to get done in the garden. By the end of May it is done, over, finished for the rest of the year.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hunched over a book

I do love to read. Usually you will find me curled up on the sofa or in my chair by the window book in hand. I can be there for hours. Ask me if I read in bed and I will give you a qualified yes. It is not my favorite way to read. I am always fiddling with the book, especially big hardcovers, and turning from one side to the other. So when I bought Richardson Wright's book, 'The Gardener's Bed-Book' it was with mixed delight. It is a book to be read in bits. A little bit every night. There are long and short essays on gardening and sometimes not on gardening at all. One for each day of each month for a year. It is very easy to read in bed since I only have to hold the book (a paperback) in my hands for a few paragraphs before putting it down until the next evening. You see reading in bed can be enjoyable, just in small doses. 

Anyway, for May 7 he writes about the various postures gardeners use while getting their work done in the garden. He writes,
" Did the arid and fanatic anti-Evolutionists of Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas ever study the favorite gardening postures, they would cease questioning our simian ancestry. There are stoopers and the squatters and the sitters and those who flop. There are those who hoe upright and those who push a hoe as though it were a perambulator. There are weeders who hunch along a row as if doubled up with cramps and there are those (myself among them) whom the Bon Dieu has endowed with a firm foundation and who use it to advantage. The sitting gardener may not appear active but his posture by no means limits the scope of his work."

It got me thinking about my posture while gardening. I definitely stoop and squat and I am a huncher too. What is your gardening posture?

 Pictures courtesy of Laura Stoddart

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Time Flies

Already almost a week has gone by- hard to believe.
I have accomplished some things but the list is still long. Gardening list, that is. I spent three hours last week weeding two smallish beds to prepare for the compost mulch they received. Weeding soil that feels like cement is no fun. I guess I should have waited until we got the rain that we did, but I had a list to get through. After the weeding was the shoveling. Shoveling out of a large bag of mulch, those square yard ones, into a wheelbarrow and then shoveling the mulch out of the wheelbarrow onto the flower beds. My arms were sore the next day. Then rain for a day. And then other things got in the way. Today is really windy with occasional rain. Not much gardening done.

One great thing happened yesterday around supper time. I was looking out the window and what did I see? A bird, which bird, why a Titmouse golly gee. Never seen one before in the nine years we have been here. I did manage a blurry photo ( I am considering posting it) while it jumped from telephone wire to tree and then branch to branch. Now I can add the Titmouse to the Pomona bird list. This is a happy list, not like the chores list.

Some bad news about the seeds that were stratified; the seedlings that just put their heads up this week got damping off disease. I think that the medium was too wet too long and then with the cover got mildewy or perhaps a straight forward fungal attack and so voila, damping off. I am leaving the cover off for now as not all seeds have germinated. Perhaps some will grow and survive and perhaps not. There's no risk at this point.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tulip Festival at the Royal Botanical Gardens

On Sunday I did a stint of volunteering along with Marg, for the Master Gardeners, at the Tulip Festival at the Royal Botanical Gardens which lies on the Burlington - Hamilton border. The weathermen threatened us with rain and thundershowers all day but we stayed dry at the RBG. The tulip festival takes place at the Rock Garden, a large sunken garden with a wonderful assortment of trees and ,yes, tulips. Almost a riotous variety of colour as the photos will tell. Also on display are all the cherry trees which were in full bloom this weekend. The air sent wafts of fragrance from the trees all around us. Wonderful.             

Many thanks to Barry who took these lovely photos. Barry is Marg's husband.