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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Hip Hip Horray! New leaves are growing from a neglected plant!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

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This year is certainly speeding up.  Seems as if winter and spring stayed with us far longer than they should have.   Summer visits us sporadically and when it does .. well, time to enjoy!

Yesterday was predicted to be cloudy and overcast.  Well, happy to say that it turned out to be sunny and hot!

DH was spending the day doing flying things with his friends so that left me with the day to play in the yard.

So I spent it in a very relaxing, holiday kind of way,  In that I didn’t have an agenda.  I didn’t have a focus.  Just went to the timetable that I used when just a kid on holidays.   Which was, no planning at all!  Just enjoy the day as it unfolded.

Spent some time looking up at the skies and was rewarded with the cheerful posing of one of the Robins that frequent the yard.   Yesterday he posed on the little entryway to the veggie bed.

Then, its been awhile since I’ve been looking for the local eagles, so craned my neck back and there was one of them way up high.  Soaring in all of it’s magnificence and glory … effortlessly gliding through the air .. below a flock of seagulls.  All birds of a feather, as it were, taking advantage of the morning thermals for an enjoyable flight.

I stood looking till they were gone .. lucky to capture tiny shots of the eagle.  Oh, I am so looking forward to a camera with a viewfinder and bigger lens!!

Walked around the yard, looking at my latest efforts, massive weeding results in more sun and light getting to the base of plants.  Next week I’ll order more Magic Mulch (a fine mixture of ground up leaves and tiny branches.   No bark!)   All of the thick layering of oak leaves from last fall’s application has sunk into the ground and more cover is needed.  This mulch is lovely and I only use it in areas where I have decorative perennials, bushes and trees.

For the veggie garden, I use compost, oak leaves, seaweed .. all the good stuff.

Then I decided to tackle the other side of the yard.  The area where I’d originally planned to place my little bistro table and sit outside with a book and a glass of wine!   Terribly overgrown, so out come the clippers and soon more light is pouring through.

Happy to see plants flourishing, especially the Salmon berry, which I’d given up for lost last year.   This berry bush had ended up being just a bare skeleton of dried branches last year, so I was feeling bad about that.  But, it was flourishing despite the crowded conditions, so I’ve decided that these plants are tough and therefore, worthy of being in my yard!

Next, oh, joy!   I had bought 3 bushes from a plant sale.   Neglected them, they dried out and I was not feeling happy about that.  So, EM and water, kept them separate in a shady area for several months.  Last week, I decided to give up any hope of reclaiming them so they were on the list for the compost.

But, yesterday, just for the heck of it, I checked them again and wow .. new leaves coming from the base of one of them!  Did the dance of joy (just kidding) and just had to take pics.  Trimmed away the dead branches and now this little plant is again resting .. awaiting more growth before I plant it!  The other 2 plants .. well, I decided to wait a little bit more, to see if they will also sport new leaves.

Once the clipping was done, time to plant some ferns and also some salal that I’d propagated.   This area has a nice woodsy feeling.   And what a transformation from a few years ago.  One day I’ll post pics of the transformation.

That is what I love most about gardening .. it’s the transformation of areas from neglected areas to places of decadent beauty.    With hardy perennials that don’t need a lot of care.

I’ve recently been leafing through several of my pruning books and have decided that I’m really not the pruning type.  All those rules of what to do, when.  I much prefer plants left mainly to their own growing devices.  Ok, a few clips here and there, but no orderly, tidy plants will exist in my yard.  I much prefer the natural lines and free-flowing sculptures that breathe and live in a relaxed manner.


Watching Birds. Sipping on Yorkshire tea. Enjoying some quiet time. Nice.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

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Friday …. started off as an overcast day .. .which later on morphed into a sunny afternoon!

Spent some time enjoying the antics of the birds cavorting about the skies, in and out of the trees!   Visiting the bird feeders!

The female Downy Woodpecker visited one of the suet blocks .. I wonder if she and hubby had some babies this year?   I haven’t seen any, but they most probably are flying around in the wee hours of the morning so I might not see them for a while.   Still, I enjoy seeing her so close by.

I can hear the tiny Bushtits  .. their cheerful little piping cries sound out from the interior of the trees!   Haven’t seen the Nuthatches but do see the Chickadees flying around.  They are so sweet.

Admiring the growth of the plants, bushes and trees in the yard!!  Spent a good few hours digging away at one side of the yard which had become very weedy.  Found a few more garlic bulbs from a couple of years ago.  Clipped and weeded and soon was rewarded with a tidier bit of yard.   Noticed the raspberry plants have been taking over.  Sigh.  Thought that I’d removed the majority of them last spring!  Well, I’ll just dig them up in a few months and will transplant them into the berry section.

Spent some time looking at the garlic harvest.  Plan to save the largest to plant in the fall.  And have been looking at the garden, thinking of how I can change the layout of this area.   And, not that I’m getting too obsessed or anything .. with garlic ..but am visualizing a slightly larger block of ground for the garlic.  This year I’ll plant them in rows in a more rectangular shaped bed.

I can plant lettuce, tomatoes and potatoes in containers next summer.  This will leave me more room for garlic.   Toying with the idea of ordering a few more varieties from Richter’s herbs.  And this time, I’ll carefull label them.

Noticed the squash, cucumber and zucchini plants are flowering and growing.  I’ll be happy with a few fruits from each . .I’m not greedy.

Picked more cherries and froze them, washed, with stems and pits in them.   After having spent hours pitting them with a single pitter .. I’m done enough.  Saw a great multi-cherry pitter on a blog site a few days ago.   It neatly pits about a cupful of cherries in one go, and the pits are neatly contained in a little square holder.  How decadent!

The highly scented lavender-hued Buddleia is flowering away at the side yard .. this explains the presence of some butterflies .. seen hovering around the yard.   So pretty.  Am sure that I saw a Monarch, all lovely in yellow hues.  And then there is the brownish/black/cream butterfly that has been flitting about.  So pretty.

Enjoying quiet time, sitting on the back steps, in the sunshine.  Mug of Yorkshire tea.  Sudoku.  Relaxing music playing on my iPod.   Watching the birds fly around.  Looking up at the skies.  Seeing planes travel about.  Seagulls soaring by.   Crows with their nasal screeching.

Having a good time.



What I’ve learned about gathering seaweed .. is that, really, you must use it quickly! Or .. just dry it in the sun for later.

Friday, July 20, 2012

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So Thursday was hot and sunny, the whole day .. once the skies warmed up in the early morning.

Perfect day to dry all the seaweed that I’d collected a few days ago.  It was now or never.  So I spent the whole day fluffing and turning and unfolding the sea lettuce, Turkish towel, a few pieces of Iridea and 2 battered pieces of bull kelp.  I knew that there were only a few hours of pure heat before the day started to turn chilly.

This batch was my final collection for the year and so I just had to dry it all.   I’ll use some of it in the compost .. some for bath soaks.   And again, some I will soak in a container of water so that I can water the lawn and garden with it.

I’ve taken a workshop on seaweed, and we learned the importance of gathering seaweed respectfully, how to clip growing leaves and not to rip the seaweed from their growing sources, so that the plants may continue to grow.  Mostly, I take the seaweed that is floating near the shoreline.

I’d collected a variety of seaweed during the late spring and early summer with my friend D.  Such fun outings!   She showed me the “weed” Lambs Quarters and now I know the plant very well and that it contains lots of minerals and is very good for you!  I’ve used it in lasagna, instead of spinach.   And tossed it in salads and in sandwiches!  I do want to go and collect some seeds so that I can grow it in my back yard .. so maybe I can convince her to go to the beach again in a month or so and we can collect the seed.

Hmmmm .. seeing as I’ll be at the beach .. perhaps I can gather more seaweed that is tossed upon the shore .. and dry that for the garden.

I like using the fresh seaweed on my veggies .. but really, I’ve found out the hard way . .that one must use the seaweed right away.   I learned that in the springtime .. when I had left the seaweed filled containers in the yard .. for days and days!  Then when I came to use in the garden .. peeeeyeouwwwwwww.

So, next time, I put some on the garden and the rest I dried in the sun.   And that, really, is the best way that works for me.

Anyway, at the end of the day, yesterday, I’d crumbled as much of the dried seaweed as possible into airtight containers.   Then I dismantled my temporary work area, which consisted of 2 worktables, interspersed with framed lattice panels, propped up on up-ended Rubbermaid containers.

These things provided me with lots of surface area to dry the seaweed and when I was finished, all was put neatly away and it was as if I feng shui-ed the yard .. all was tidy.

DH just lets me be .. he’s wonderful!

So . .yesterday .. was quite a sea-weedy kind of a day.


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The magic of roots and the tranquility of a misty morning visit to a local beach.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

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Spent some time on the weekend, while DH was flying .. to relax in a decadent bout of reading.   Time to relax and just explore the pages of my gardening books.  There never seems to be the time to do this during the week so I look forward to these lovely indulgent weekends.

Looking through my treasures .. one of a handful of gardening books that I truly treasure .. this one is “Living Earth” by Peter Farb, by Pyramid Books .. entitled “The Words of Science, Biology”.

Now I hadn’t studied biology in school and I don’t know if this sort of thing is being taught nowadays, that is, the subject of the magic of the root system of plants.   And in such a down to earth manner of explaining!

Peter Farb’s book is fascinating.  First published in January, 1959…. this copy that I hold reverently is 50 years old!  A real treasure. I picked this one up at a local library book sale. One of those magic moments, you know .. when you see a little inconspicuous book, pick it up and open it up and it’s one of those OMG moments.

Words pop out of the page. Worlds open and enchantment begins.  You see, I have a very active imagination and can visualize what I am reading.   Most of the time this is a good thing.  And that is why I mostly read positive things and steer away from nasty things.

Anyway, Chapter 4 “The World of the Root” … describes the importance of tree roots  How they pry and twist beneath the forest soil  The strength of the system.  More than half of the tree’s bulk is underground …busy growing, feeding ..busy roots that have enormous power that we do not see on the surface.

He describes how a healthy root system can “scarcely be destroyed” … chop down the forest giant and its roots sprout dozens of new saplings.

Tree roots grow best in adversity, when the soil is poor and water hard to come by.   Experiments in laboratories have shown that “a rye plant , grown for only four months, developed an underground system of 7,000 miles of roots”!!

And he goes on to tell us that roots go back in the history of the soil about a third of a billion years .. plants have greatly modified their aerial parts, the stems and the leaves in the past 350 million years, but the root structure shows little change.  He states that perhaps in the conservative environment of the soil, there has been little need for  adaption.

Next, he describes 3 areas of the root system which bring forth the magic to me!  These are:


This is at the very tip of the root, it fits like a thimble and takes the brunt of pushing through the soil.   Constantly renewing itself, it bears the brunt of the movement through the soil.

The Zone of Elongation:   Now I first heard of this in my recent Master Gardening course and the phrase pulled me like a magnet.  Here I discover more about this zone.  It sits directly behind the cap, seldom more than three-tenths of an inch long and this is where rapid cell division occurs .. it is the only part of the root that increases in length.  In all roots.  And finally:

Felty Root Hairs:  Right behind the Zof E, is the only place where the roots feed!  And these are followed by the corky brown roots, older sections, once they fed the sapling, now they are no longer taking in water but now act as pipelines connected to the tree.  It has the same cork covering as the tree bark, but is much thinner.

This book references specialists for further studies and I am so very grateful for their work, enabling me to further understand the magic beneath my feet!

After reading about the root system, I found myself wandering around recently ploughed soil .. and saw root stems lying hither and thither.  After much debate with myself, I finally decided to gather up some sections.  Simply because I normally do not see tree roots in my normal day-to-day living.  And these alder roots were lovely.  So I quickly gathered some up and formed them into wreaths.  To hang them in the trees in my yard .. to add to the natural beauty.

As I pulled some of the tips out of the ground, I could see the tenacious spreading of the root tips and smell the earthy smell of the mycorrhizal fungi as they clung to these areas.  Just doing their job.  Reminders for me as to the magnificence of nature.

I could go on and on about more information contained in this chapter, but, another time!

A few days ago, when I went to a beach up-island, I was fortunate enough to be there at a time in the morning when there were only a few others around.   The morning was misty and a surreal fog was gently engulfing the water and shoreline.

It was one of those very rare moments of peaceful quiet in a beautiful surrounding and I felt honoured to be there at that time to enjoy this lovely gift.    The only sound was that of a few gulls crying out and the sound of the water lapping against the rocks.

So I’m sharing a few pictures of my special time there in all that quiet beauty.

Now .. I must go outside to spread out recently acquired seaweed.  Today is predicted to be hot and sunny and I need to dry out this crop as soon as possible!

On and on with this day!


Sunny days, blue skies .. it’s shaping up to be a lovely summer

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

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Lovely sunny weekend up-island .. temperatures in the 30’s and hot, hot, hot …. Till we came back home to the rain.  However, the sun returned here yesterday and continues so that is a good sign.

I had added quite a lot of EM to the garden on Friday and so it was nice to see that the plants are growing well.  Especially the squash and the tomatoes.  In particular, a tired sunflower, missing the companionship of the garlic, had begun to lean over an topple to the ground.  So I braced it up with a garden fork …   but the pore ole thing still continued to topple.  So I watered it quite well with EM … and today, 4 days later, the lovely plant is doing much better and the flower is starting to open.  Pics tomorrow.

Lots of cherries .. and lots for the birds.  I froze some and dehydrated some in the oven.   Lovely to have fruit from the garden.

There will be a surplus of apples in the garden .. so we’ll be sharing them with friends.  If I had a cider press, I would think of having cider made .. but .. perhaps I can find out the details of having them pressed somewhere .. something to check out.

I was quite content this afternoon to work away outside in the yard .. until the “noisy” neighbour decided to used his shredder outside.  I can only imagine that he gathers branches from nearby yards, cause he really doesn’t have much left in his little tiny yard .. to shred.  He is the type that leaves the machine running while he tip toes around the yard, sweeping up leaves.  Not exactly true, but you get the picture!    So instead of trying to have yet another “conversation” with him .. I decided to come inside for a little peace and quiet.

Funny  how some people feel a need to make noise with machinery in the faint pursuit of gardening, while others are content to mulch and garden more quietly.   It’s a world, though, isn’t it.

Today I’m drying sea lettuce and some bull kelp, freshly gathered.  The yard smells quite ocean-like and the time was quiet while I was carefully drying my lovely garden gold!

Reminds me of a conversation that I had recently with some visitors from the Netherlands.  The whole family, except for mom .. flew sailplanes .. so we had the opportunity to talk a little about gardening.  Sadly, seaweed is not readily available in that country and when it is . .it is quite expensive.  I  feel  so lucky that I’m able to just get in my car and go up-island to gather some.

Ah .. lovely lovely summer days …. So energizing to just go outside and enjoy the quiet …. Yes .. the quiet .. my noisy neighbour has finished his machine work for now .. so I’ll take advantage of the restfulness of this time.


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If I hadn’t gone shopping for a cherry pitter, I would have missed the most luxurious vehicle I have ever seen in my life!

Friday, July 13, 2012

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Friday .. the 13th .. is such a lucky day for me!

After the surprise hailstorm of very early morning, the day developed into a lovely sunshiny day!

I tended the gardens at Dakota, ruthlessly clipping away at vegetation .. then a lovely soak with water and a generous application of EM!  I look forward to next week to see the difference.

Finally, I’ve been applying EM to our yard .. and about time!   Everything is growing so well.   The seaweed adds a lovely perfume to the yard … a delicate ocean scent.  And the amazing minerals are feeding the garden.

Picked more raspberries, blueberries and a few tiny red currants.   Then, a few hours picking the cherries … the ripest are beyond my reach, even with a ladder .. so the birds will continue their feasting for a while.

Finally splurged on buying a cherry pitter.   Since I long ago give away the one I had .. because I didn’t need it.  sigh.  So I’ll keep this one.  A few nights ago I spent hours at the kitchen sink, busily cutting open the cherries in preparation for dehydrating in the oven.  Let me tell you, the cherry juice was all over the counter and a bit of a mess.  So I splurged tonight.

So very happy to see the Downy Woodpecker back in the yard!    I missed you .. I whispered .. welcome back.

The Chickadees love the fat that I placed in the feeders …. trying to keep the sparrows away, they are drawn like magnets when I place the suet block there .. so I’m taking a break from them.

Started reshaping the yard again . .now that the garlic has been harvested.   Digging a path by the raspberry bushes …. the yard directs me and I follow, shovel in hand.   Kind of fun and surprising.

Then I planted a few squash plants .. ready to grow up a meshed area.   EM’s like crazy.

Really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the yard today … playing music that I purchased last year when I visited the Sequim Lavender Faire …if I go this year, I’ll buy a few more dvds.

When I was returning from my trip to the supermarket, to purchase the cherry pitter .. I saw the most amazing car I have ever seen in my life!!

It was across the road, waiting to turn right and I quickly took out my handy camera and clicked away .. as the light changed to green, suddenly the road was filled with traffic and I wasn’t able to get a pic. So, the lovely driver, waited, after the light had changed .. and remained in place while I clicked a few pictures!  Thank you!!!

So, here is the car in all of its majestic classic shiny black beautifulness .. and .. if anyone is able to identify this luxurious motor vehicle for me .. well, thank you in advance and I’ll post the name with the picture.

And I owe this lovely surprise to my decision to buy the cherry pitter.   If not for that, I would have missed this amazing spectacle.

So .. remember .. acting on a whim results in lovely surprises!

Enjoy your weekend ..


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Flying over eagles, gathering raspberries, blueberries …. cherries .. lovely summer

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

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Where on earth does the time go??????

We are finally enjoying some hot weather here .. so that means the veggies in the garden are growing .. I can see some pumpkins and squash, flowering and fruiting .. that is a good sign.

The garlic .. well, I dug it all up today.  Except for some in pots.  There are a variety of sizes and I’m at a loss as to figure out why.

The first bundle that I dug up were mostly large.  And today, there was a mix .. some healthy sized bulbs, some medium-sized, some rounds (which I’ll plant in the fall, for large bulbs next summer) and a lot of smaller bulbs.

The cloves that were planted were pretty well the same size.  And I think that spacing the cloves out a bit more gives the roots the opportunity to spread out and grow more.  I was just antsy to plant as much garlic as I could last fall.  So this year .. I’ll try to be more mature.  But, not by much!

I do know that the EM & the seaweed made a big difference as all the bulbs were much larger than last year’s crop.

I’ve been picking raspberries, blueberries and cherries.   For the past few days I’ve been drying cherries in the oven .. they dry like raisins.  And I’ll use these in my granola .. that I’m going to make.

The winds had been so strong in the past few weeks … I was despairing of having enough fruit from the cherry tree for us to eat .. as the winds were causing quite a few fruits to drop to the ground.  I’d gathered up lots from the ground, so as to dissuade the wasps from visiting.

Anyway, 2 days ago, I noticed that the lower branches were dripping with ripe cherries!  That was a great surprise as I hadn’t noticed them before!  So I gathered quite a bit and pitted them, dried them in the oven and now have a good supply in containers, for my next batch of granola.

Today I gathered more and am waiting for a few more days for more to ripen .. and then I’ll make up some cherry pie filling!

Lots of cherries at the top of the tree for the birds and enough for us at the lower edges.

Last weekend we went to Port Alberni for DH to go sailplaning …. beautiful weather .. except we saw lots of cloudy weather which turned out to be the outflow from fires in Siberia!!

Anyway … DH arranged for me to go for a flight with the lead instructor … we were up in the air for over an hour .. sheer bliss!

At one point, we were flying over a pair of eagles who were soaring a thermal .. how utterly exciting was that!  I took pics, but they are only dots in the screen.  Suffice it to say that this was a wonderful moment.

And as if that wasn’t enough .. soon, we were flying close to DH .. that was utterly fantastic!    He was flying along at the same height .. and it was so lovely to be in the air at the same time!

A few dips and turns and such a lovely time.  I just didn’t want to land .. rather, I wanted to stay up in the air for a few more hours.

Look forward to a self-launching two-seater sailplane .. a gal can dream, right?

Well, outside to hang up the garlic .. or rather, to find a place where I can hang this lovely crop .. to dry!