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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Friday was a rainy day but the sun came out in the afternoon

Monday, March 31, 2014

Amazing to me how quickly the days are passing .. especially since January just didn’t seem to want to move ahead very quickly.  I think that it just seems that time is moving too fast .. when I think about the lovely longer days with more things to do especially outside.

Take Friday, for instance.  The day was a long one and it started out in a rainy fashion.  Our boot camp group met at the designated location for the Friday session.   Brrrrr .. it was grey skies, a light rain and off we went.   I am glad I went but really I was sorely tempted to stay home.  And if I had stayed home .. then I would have missed seeing this Great Blue Heron looking for breakfast!


And as we went along the pathway, I turned and snapped another photo, so very glad I had decided to get out and get going.


Another one of those lovely bridges/footpaths .. leading us into another area of the forest.


I have recently been salvaging native plants (I belong to an official salvaging group) and had collected a good supply of Sanicula, which boasts the most beautiful yellow flowers.  Glad to see this plant growing naturally, to be left alone.

04Also lots of luxurious moss … with many tiny wildflowers waiting their turn to grow.05

A great grouping of Low Oregon Grape .. this is what I will plant at our next home .. mass plantings!


Dainty little ferns growing at the base of a moss-covered tree trunk.


After traipsing uphill through muddy sections and slightly steep (for a Friday morning!) walk .. we arrived at a viewpoint.  Lots of lichen on the trees .. a very tranquil spot.


And on our return trip .. we noticed how high the water was at Elk Lake.   Usually there were Mallards at this area .. but they must have relocated till the waters recede a little.


Oh, and here is another most wonderful reward for going outside!  What a very stately and handsome guy!


D said hello to him and he patiently stayed in place for that.


After a minute though, he had to race to catch up to his doggy-dad.  Enough time spent here … thank you very much.


Pretty shades of green … the pale green of the Indian Plum intermixed with the deeper shade of the Horsetail … again, Nature’s Beauty is best.


Can you see the laughing face in the tree?  and also the drooping mustache?    Quite a handsome tree.


The contrast of the light/dark/shiny/dull image of the lake/trees/background struck a most appealing sight.


That was the early part of my day … I then went to do some volunteering at Fort Rodd Hill .. and will share some of those photos tomorrow.

Although Friday wasn’t really a sunny day … I am pretending that the afternoon was like this .. what’s the harm, eh?  Smile



The Flight of the Monarch Butterfly

Friday, March 28, 2014

Awhile ago, my DH & I went to the Imax to see the movie “the Flight of the Butterflies” …it showed the 3 generations of Monarchs (yes, it took 3 generations) to go from Southern Ontario to Mexico.  A wonderful movie to see if you ever get the chance.  It will spur you on to grow butterfly flowers.   The film centers around Dr. Fred Urquhart (played by Gordon Pinsent) who devoted his life trying to figure out “where do the Monarchs go when they leave Ontario” and the happy ending.

Here is the trailer on the Ontario Science Centre web site:

And here is the web site of the film company that made the film:

I’ve donated $ to the David Suzuki Foundation to plant Milkweed in Ontario (the Monarchs only lay their eggs on Milkweed) .. it is being destroyed by pesticides and removal from fields (although animals are smart enough not to eat it).

And I’ve just received a letter from a Monarch butterfly (aka Mariposa Memengwa from the David Suzuki Foundation) with thanks and “butterfly kisses”.  It is written in the manner of a Grandmother (momma Monarch) asking us to save her grandchildren (the 3rd generation that actually flies to Mexico, this generation is larger so it can make the journey.)

Hope you explore the world of Monarchs and other butterflies and plant many flowers for them to visit ..

… with “Butterfly Kisses” .. .happy Friday!


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Music has great power if only we can listen

Much has been written about the power of music to help plants grow.  Studies have been done to prove the energy levels.  I know that constant heavy noise has a negative effect. Why do you think the birds will fly away to a quieter place?

I feed the birds and they flock around (excuse the pun!).

And I play music.  Not live, cause my fiddle playing would make the construction noise sound beautiful.

I charge up my little iPods with all sorts of world music, including music for plants. 

Here is a good site for more information on music & plants:

I’ve been busy with my plants, enjoying the “winter sowing summer seeds” in my little milk jug terrariums .. even the lavender has been sprouting!  I planted them on February 14/14 .. I’d tried growing them in previous years, but no joy .. look at this!


Enjoy ..

I’m away to the garden and will add photos later.


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Spring is here and the Bees are buzzing

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This week is meant to be a rainy one but … the sun is determined to shine and I’ve seen lots of blue skies.

I’ve also seen teacups for the garden at the Burnside Home Hardware:01

Yesterday morning I made a list of things to do and shop for and was all around the town.  At one point, the overcast skies parted and there was lovely sky:

02When I got home, I realized I had taken a sky photo with part of the logo of the one of the few Safeway stores that were being morphed into SaveOn stores the familiar Safeway logo will not exist at the Tillicum Mall any more .. I decided to keep it in the sky photo.  Memories.   03

Back at home I decided to take a little tour of the yard and to see what is going on.  Here is a flowering Salmonberry ..04

Seen from another view (note my “magnificent” water feature -a sump pump in a washtub .. very effective at drowning out traffic noise!)


The dwarf weeping willow (I have 2) is in full pollinating mode and there were several  bees, one big fat one which didn’t like me being so close, I was wearing a black and white shirt and forgot that black is a threatening colour to bees .. and a smaller, thinner bee .. both just bouncing off the flowers.  I took lots of photos, but none show the bees.  I had fun taking them though!

06Again with the blue skies overhead!07The Broccolini is growing away:


And the shallots are looking healthy also!09I see a flower on the Red Currant .. the Anna’s will love these.


Finally .. memories of yesterdays blue skies …


And now it is time to dash out the door.

I was just practising with Windows Live Writer to see if I could create a quick posting.  A bit of a learning curve and it seems to be quite efficient!  (Thanks Timethief!!)


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A Lovely Walk Along the Galloping Goose Trail

Ah, Sunday is but a memory and it is a good one.  It was an overcast morning so DH & I went for a bit of a walk along the Galloping Goose Trail … we made our way towards the Burnside area.

We are so lucky to have this series of interlocking trails.   The names change according to the area but I am lazy and just call them all the Galloping Goose!  Here is a link to the official trail guide:

There had been a few oil tank leaks during the last year and remediation was still taking place.   Crews and volunteers have been working very hard to keep the oil from entering the Creek:


Hard working volunteers are restoring native plant habitat along the way:


Now, this is a most amazing piece of work .. see how the woven sections of branches have been installed on the far bank …to stop the erosion of soil and to provide habitat for growing plants (and of course, insects for birds to eat!)


I just adore pathways, curving bridges … mysterious and inviting.  Not to mention, a safe way to cross a waterway!  This is spacious enough for walkers, bikes – for everyone to traverse with lots of space.


The oil spill is nearly cleaned up and these are for delineating the area (I believe)06

The presence of the Mallards is a good sign that the water has been saved from the oil.


The tree is majestically growing and see how the presence of the rock has not stopped the roots from taking over.   Trees are such gifts.  We must do our best to protect them.


I love these stepping stones.  There were quite a few along the trail.  I wondered if they were the result of a school group .. they were quite pretty and brightened up the trail quite a lot.


Tempting to cross over on these stepping stones .. but the moss would make it a slippery adventure.


More clever trees hugging the soil, growing despite the challenges.   A good example of tenacity. Nature continuously teaches us if we can only see the lessons hidden in plain view!


Another interesting section along the Creek ..


Lovely ferns and moss decorate the rockery .. Nature’s gardening.  Effortless and beautiful.


Another portal tucked away … to a distant, mystical world?


And what a treat it was to meet this lovely dog!  Her second name was Marie, so of course, I was doubly enchanted!  She gets to go to work with her doggy-daddy all the time!  What a lucky dog .. And this was at the end of our walk so it was a nice treat to meet her.


Shortly after we came home .. the sun came out .. so I ran outside and played in the garden.  Another gift!


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Grubby Thoughts: Be a Good Egg…

Good post. I spoke with someone who works at a local health food store. She commented that when she went to a local farm, to purchase “free range” eggs .. she was told that the eggs were sold out and so the worker went to the area where the hens were kept. Dirty area with the hens in a small enclosure, crowded. Terrible. I want to search local egg sources to see what the conditions are like. Thus far, I know that Rabbit River eggs are good (expensive) but they treat their hens respectfully.

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Teachers come in many forms .. I am finding . .as I make my way along the path to understanding more about native plants in the Pacific Northwest!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Busy life lately …lots going on .. including my boot camp activities 3 times a week.  Funny .. me .. who dislikes organized, planned group activities .. I don’t know what I would do with out my boot camp buddies!  Three times a week we meet at various locations throughout Victoria.   And out we go, brisk walks, hikes, mat exercises.   I’m always learning new beautiful areas in our city, always see the most lovely dogs and sometimes, as seen below, local wild life!  This was last Wednesday, it was raining.  I was lost,  trying to find the meeting location  … following my GPS and missed a street, so, upon correcting my route .. I came across this young deer.  Walking very stiffly .. and slowly .. I stopped my car to watch and take a photo.


Just a short momentary pause and then we went our separate ways.   The deer looked at me … and when he/she realized that I was not going to block the road …continued on.  I found my boot camp location and soon we were on our way.


I want to share my passion about native plants.  Many (too many) years ago I became interested in native plantings.  As I was spending more time outdoors in the countryside and mountainous areas, and I accumulated some illustrated books on native plants, flowers etc. of the Pacific Northwest.  These books stayed, unread, on a book shelf for years.   From time to time I would open them, flip through the pages and put them back on the shelf.  They almost made it to a donations box at various times, but, something kept me from getting rid of them.   I was curious as to what part of me was wanting to hold on to them.

Well .. here is one of the reasons!  I had joined the Saanich Salvaging group, had attended the orientation and received my official paperwork.  When I hadn’t heard anything for a year, I was ready to recycle my papers .. then, I received an official e-mail stating that there was a salvaging opportunity.  I was there.


Here is the area that was able to be salvaged .. the first time I went there, it was on a rainy Saturday.   The photo was sad (the sky was crying) so I took another photo on a not so cloudy day.


Sad as I was that this portion of forest was destroyed to make way for construction of a building ..I realized the heaven-sent opportunity to salvage plants.   I met some very wonderful people and have been learning all sorts of wonderful information & identification of native plants.  Here, a fellow-salvager had just dug up a flowering Fawn Lily.  This is impressive, as they take about 6 years to reach the flowering stage.  Lovely.


And so I carefully dug up some Fawn Lilies, and placed them in some magnificent, rich forest soil .. with moss to protect.  Now I must admit, I feel a bit like I’ve fallen through into a topsy-turvy world, a little like Alice in Wonderland.  I have never taken forest soil, moss or native plants from the forest … but I must do my best to save as much as I can before the construction begins.   I feel as if I am honouring this lost forest by taking what am I able to .. home to grow.


I was even able to find 2 small licorice ferns, besides this larger type).    Lots of Mahonia aqualifolium (Oregon grape).  I am learning the Latin names of these plants as well as the common name. Practice, practice and more practice until the names become as familiar as my own.  I’ve started keeping track of my new plant friends and carry a little hardbound book in my purse for this purpose.


And this little beauty, I’ve learned, is Sanicula arctopoides:  so I have saved quite a number of these and plan to save more!  What beautiful yellow flowers they will have.14

I’ve gone salvaging about 4 times now .. this photo is from yesterday afternoon, just a few more plants and that lovely moss.  It is really quite a lot of hard work .. doing salvaging.  First gathering up containers, with tools, driving out to the site.   23

Dragging containers onto the land .. searching around for the plants, carefully digging them up and filling the containers.   I spend easily at least 2 to 3 hours at a time.  Then the reverse, slowly moving the filled containers back to the car and loading them into a tarp-lined interior.  Once home, emptying the car and the slow trek to the back yard.  Where planting or potting up begins.  But well worth the effort, knowing that I have saved some plants, giving them the chance to grow again.  For birds to enjoy the fruits and nestle in their branches (where they exist!)

See the tips of the leaves of the Fawn Lilies?   I must go back again a few more times.  You can certainly understand why.


Ok, this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything gardening!  I was on my way home, stopped at a traffic light and just happened to glance at the car beside me!  Couldn’t resist!  🙂


Back at the salvage site, I had unloaded my containers and hadn’t noticed I had disturbed this lovely snake, which had been sunning on a nearby rock.

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Here is the second thing that fully awoke my native plant senses. It was a very tiny little article in our neighbourhood paper last week .. out of all the ads on two pages which I had quickly glanced at .. it just caught my attention right away.  So, I clipped it … left it on my desk .. and finally, a few days ago, I called the Volunteer Office and was give the contact telephone number for the Garry Oak Restoration Project, BC Parks!  The Native Plant area is at Fort Rodd Hill:


I went to the Fort Rodd Hill site yesterday morning, after Boot Camp.   And I fell in love.  Look at this field of Fawn Lilies (and other plants that I need to learn the names of!)

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Such peaceful beauty.  And, see the grassy field in this photo?


Well, 2 years ago (actually about 1 1/2 years ..) the current native plant  area was exactly like that grassy area.  Except this area (and more besides) was covered with layers of cardboard, tons of leaf mulch .. and now … is heaven on earth.  Here is the nursery where the bulbs and seeds are grown into plants.   As soon as I saw this, I felt at home.  It is a much grander version of my back yard.  You can see why I fell in love.


Be still my heart ….all these native plants growing in peace …in rich soil with tons of fat earthworms crawling about, transforming leaves and plant bits into yet more rich soil.


This is a flat of Collinsia parviflora (small-flowered Blue-eyed Mary).  It attracts native bees and is a larval food plant for the “critically imperilled Taylor’s checkerspot (Euphydryes editha taylori) in B.C.


My first job was to remove the plugs from their growing trays and place them into plant flats, in preparation for planting.   All of these plants were grown from seed gathered last year and planted into these plugs.  I love this.  This is my kind of gardening.   I am going to learn so much from Morgan and Nathan who are in charge of this program!!

Oh, I meant to tell you before I go on.   Everyone I have met on my path to understanding the world of native plants has been kind, patient, gentle, knowledgeable, sharing and so very interesting.  This continued as I joined the Garry Oak Ecosystems group at Fort Rodd Hill.  They made me feel right at home and soon I was learning away.  Here, Nathan is showing me where to look for the tiny flowers of the Blue-eyed Mary.


Soon, I had filled my tray with the plant plugs and was sent to an area to plant these flowers.   To say that I was privileged and happy to be a part of this process would be an under-statement.  Plus I am excited about the hands-on learning in the process of gathering/growing/planting these native plants.   Morgan is in charge of the Volunteering at Fort Rodd Hill and the energy that she and Nathan give to this project is amazing.   Oh, I am so very happy.  And the other volunteers are amazing.


So there have been a number of “teachers” entering my life during the past few weeks and I have been learning something from each of them.  I am grateful and excited to enter again a world I had left behind.   I am connecting with a part of me from a long time ago that was intensely interested in these native plants .. and I am profoundly grateful and quite content for the re-connection taking place.

At one point yesterday, while I was planting some Claytonia perfoliata (Miner’s lettuce)”></a> when it dawned on me how very fortunate I was.  The yin was that I was salvaging native plants from a site that was going to be built upon and the yang was that here I was, planting more native plants in an area which would never be destroyed.  I felt such joy and humbled to be part of the process.

Oh, happy days!  This life is good.