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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Noticing the little things …and having fun enjoying a few good memories!!

It’s been nearly 4 months since our most beautiful JaneE Kat, Queen of the Garden,  left us here for the mystical magical Rainbow Bridge … to join our other special pets and it makes me happy to visualize them cavorting about, having fun .. no more pain.  I’m content to be away from the “now” pain when it happened, I longed for the faraway future to comfort me and broaden the distance. And now the future is here and I can think of her and be happy about all of our time together.  But I still “see” her here .. you know what I mean .. a flash where she used to sit by the front door, patiently waiting for who knows how long .. till we came home. Thousands of those happy memories.  As long as they exist, she is here.  Along with our other lovely furry pets .. those memories don’t fade.

Just last night, I was roasting cauliflower, dusted with spices and a little olive oil –  I hadn’t made that special dish for many years.  And up flashed my memories of Samuel T Dawg, a most handsome black and tan dog, I’d just begun fostering him (I’m a foster flunkey, btw) and he needed to lose a “few” pounds so he learned to love carrots .. and this one night, I’d prepared the cauliflower for me .. but as I took the roasting pan out of the oven .. his eyes lit up and he genuinely smiled .. a big goofy grin.  He was ecstatic with happiness .. and so we took turns eating the cauliflower.  One for him .. one for me .. and soon it was gone!  Oh we had such fun!!

And here, via all the magic of cameras, time and the incredible computer .. is a blast from the past .. Samuel T on the left and Oreo on the right!  We were camping at Salt Spring, 2007 .. whoa, that is a “few” years ago!  Happiness abounds!!Sam and Oreo, 2007From time to time I volunteer at Fort Rodd Hill, in the Learning Meadow and surrounding areas.  It is such fun to participate and learn new things.  Here are a few Swallows, the adult and a baby … how picturesque is this, heh?22 Fort Rodd

The ever vigilant parent …keeping an eye on baby ..20, swallows

Baby .. see the beak is wide, as he grows, the beak will narrow …and become more pointed.21, baby swallow

How sweet .. a little Wren sings a song atop her lovely little home ..

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Beauty surrounds us everywhere .. the morning dew sparkles on the underside of this leaf …forming jewels of varying shapes and sizes.  To an ant or a ladybug, they would be like huge mountains of water.  Luckily, there is lots of room for tiny insects to walk around these features!!  31, dew on leaf

Ahhhhhh .. .Nasturtiums.  So vibrant in colour, so playful in shape.  I like the light and dark tones of this orange flower .32, single nasturtium

I have a packet of giant sunflower seeds that I have been meaning to plant but just haven’t done that yet.  It is my belief that this gorgeous giant sunflower was planted either by one of the many birds that visit the feeder or perhaps a squirrel had one too many of the seeds in its little mouth and one fell out.  For whatever reason, I am grateful and happy to see this one growing strongly near the fence, during the summer.  There were a few other surprise sunflowers also and they were of a smaller stature.  The bees are ecstatic, buzzing all over this one!19, sunflower

Speaking of bees, I was happy to see this little guy, am pretty sure it is a Leaf Cutter bee.  I’ve seen the telltale circles removed from leaves all throughout the garden and I once saw one zip to a leaf, swift as lightning, cut out a circle and gone in a flash!  I’ve often wondered where they nested.  And suddenly noticed this  one, look at the bottom area of the space between the 2 sections of sidewalk.  It was challenging to even get a photo!  Then I noticed another bee, a few feet away, doing the same, preparing a nest.   This was late summer and I had been busily tidying up an area where I store my gardening supplies, when I took a little pause and that’s when I noticed this activity.  18, cutter bee

And I discovered my first “digger bee” .. these bees are just amazing and there are many varieties of these bees.  My bee knowledge is increasing, thanks to the wonderful Learning Meadow at Fort Rodd Hill!!  Tomorrow I’ll write a bit more about bees!

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And these little guys are big bad bullies!  I’ve seen them hunting wasps for protein, they are swift.  I’m very very respectful of them.

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Little Ladybug .. I didn’t knotice many of them in the garden this year.  And the climbing Nasturtiums were quite infested with aphids, towards the end of the summer.  My pal D tells me that Nasturtiums are grown in gardens to attract aphids and thus they won’t be drawn to the rest of the garden.  So next year I will plant them away from my veggies!12, ladybug

And taking the time to notice things .. today I was in traffic, waiting for the light to change and I happened to look at the grass growing on a nearby traffic island.  The invisible wind manifested its prescence by causing millions and millions of the blades of grass to sway in various directions.  And for some reason this struck me.  Something unseen that causes such motion to happen.  Later that day, driving another route, stopped at yet another light .. I started looking at the various shapes of tree branches, uplifted to the skies above.

Then I made myself stop thinking along those lines and focus instead on my driving!  Lovely as these nature thoughts are that trickle through my mind .. that activity is best left for my walking!

🙂


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The Gold Crowned Sparrows have returned. The bees are busy .. and the rains have arrived.

A few days ago we had really artistic skies .. like this one ..

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and this one ..

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Yesterday .. these were a memory as the weather was changing, getting ready for the rain that started falling yesterday evening.  sigh.

So I wandered around the yard, looking for interesting happenings that I hadn’t seen before .. this spider’s web had a lovely sheen of rainbow haze which I couldn’t quite catch .. nonetheless .. quite beautiful.

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I had scattered some French Marigold seeds throughout the bean forest and had completely forgotten about them until, searching for beans on the Blue Lake bush beans plants, I noticed this Marigold!  Ready to flower so that will be pretty to see and more nectar for the  bees!

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One of the sunflower feeding stations which evidently is being visited by an assortment of little winged friends who visit.

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I love the weathered look of this sunflower .. seeds nearly completely gone ..

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Diminutive sunflower shyly peeking out ..

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Looks like the leafcutter bees are still active .. they are good pollinators ..

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The Gold Crowned Sparrows arrived in the yard on Monday … fresh from their long trek from Alaska.  I find their loving bird-song very comforting and was so happy to hear them.  Here is a link with more information and sound tracks of their songs:  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Golden-crowned_Sparrow/sounds

When they first return it is challenging to find them, but they soon overcome their shyness and are more evident as they look for food in the yard.  Because it is still technically summer, I don’t put out much food – but I knew it was going to rain so distributed small chunks of suet and birdseed in the feeders for them.

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Loving the light playing through the bean leaves …

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This patch of beans was planted very late but peeking through the vines I was happy to discover these beans.  More will grow ..some for juicing .. some for saving seeds for next year.

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Another surprise Nasturtium growing away at the base of the bean plants.

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And another one ..

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Simple beauty .. bounty from the bean forest …thank you my garden ..

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Loving the surprises that are tucked away!!   Exciting to see how long this little squash will grow .. it is mid-September now.  I’ve just checked several online sources for the fall frost date and it seems that Nov 5 is the start, here in Victoria, BC.  So, there is still a month of growing to happen.  Lovely mix of EM/llama manure and lots of rain with sun dropping by will result in magical transformations!

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Yet another surprise squash healthily growing away, tendrils reaching out for support – there is a lot of that in the bean forest!friday-20

Bees are busy .. glad the flowers are there for them

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Time to leave and find another source of nectar ..

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As quickly as the bee buzzed in … it was gone.  Life is busy for the bees.

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A line-up is happening over at this squash flower.  Normally I notice, when there is a bee in a flower, another bee just leaves to find another one.  Perhaps this little guy was just tired and taking a break or perhaps it sensed that there was more nectar than the first bee could handle?

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So satisfying to see such a myriad of happenings throughout the yard.  There are still other areas of the yard to finish organizing and to observe what is going on.  For now, though, it is the growing portion of the yard that attracts my attention so I will stay with that.

Rain and sun for the next few days.   I’ll take advantage of the rain to do some indoor things today!!!  Soon I  will be entering my creative world of artistic endeavours – crafting away some bracelets of beads and wire … that the sunshine and outdoors drew me away from.

🙂

 


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My Mason Bees were absolutely amazing … and I have concerns over Bees and Neonicotinoid Pesticides!!!!!!

Yesterday I finally cleaned up my lovely Mason Bee Cocoons!  I’d bought my little MB condo and about 16 cocoons at the North Saanich Market 2 years ago.

Last year was my first session of cleaning the cocoons for winter and my pal D and I sat out in the sunshine doing this!   We opened up the channels of the MB house, cleaned up the cocoons and put them away in a container for the winter.

The cocoons stayed put, in their clear container (from the Crown Bee  website) until March when I put the cocoons into the top tray of the Mason Bee house, and set them in a sunny area of the yard.

Oh the magic of seeing them hatch and fly away.  The industriousness of the 2 females (one  of the three females didn’t survive) who worked steadfastly through the warm summer months to lay eggs, leave pollen .. making many trips to do so, seal the space with clay and repeat this many times.

I was so excited .. how many cocoons would I get this year?  Well as it turns out … yesterday when  went through  the cleaning process .. I counted 57!!!! Yes!! 57 from 2 females from a total of only 16 cocoons that survived.  Happy am I??? YES!

So here is my little Mason Bee Condo .. see .. there are 8 channels filled:

02Here is the top layer, only one channel and you can see where a few eggs didn’t mature into cocoons, for whatever reason I don’t know .. and I didn’t take photos of the other trays but they had missing sections also.  Nature’s way? I need to research what could have gone wrong.  There seems to be a fair bit of pollen and, I’m guessing – mites in the empty sections so this must have been the reason.

03After 3 rinses in clear, cold water .. the cocoons are floating on the clean water.  This is a good thing, only cocoons which are alive float so I was very relieved to see this!

04I patted the cocoons dry on the paper towels and then put them all into the clear container (seen in the first photo) and now they are in the crisper in the fridge until spring.  Oh this is so exciting.

05I’ve been paying attention to pesticides and bees and have read that neonicotinoids (pesticide) have been the cause of bee deaths.   And I’ve read that some Ontario beekeepers have launched a lawsuit over this pesticide:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/canadian-beekeepers-sue-bayer-and-syngenta-over-neonicotinoid-pesticides-1.2754441

The chemical companies know full well the outcome of the pesticides which are not needed anyway.    Healthy organic farming practices negate the need of any chemicals.

I was so distraught when I finally bought some annuals (I normally don’t buy these) in the spring.   Feeling decadent and seeing these pretty flowers at two shops .. I decided to buy quite a number of flats.  Once planted .. I read about the chemical.   With a feeling of dread, I contacted the two shops and asked them to check with the growers to see if this chemical was used and I was assured that it wasn’t.  However, I do wonder if the seeds had been treated .. how would I know?  The flowers themselves look so pretty .. and I’ve watered them with EM (effective microorganisms) and this is why they are still flowering like this (plus the sunny October weather)!

06So perhaps I’m over-worrying .. but I want good plants in good soil.  The neonicotinoid pesticide lives on in the soil and when the bees visit the flowers, they are poisoned.  Oh I hope I can trust the growers who supplied the shops where I bought the plants.

07Well .. next year I plan to start my own annual flower seedlings .. I have purchased quite a few packets of organic flower seeds and so I will know for sure, without any doubt, that the beautiful flowers will be safe for the bees.

Recently I’ve been discovering the magic of my new (Panasonic 30 x zoom) camera and taking photos of the moon  … here is a shot from last night .. the moon seems like a close neighbour .. not as far away as I’d thought!  And we are going to be treated to a most wonderful red moon (I think) on Wednesday morning!!

08This tiny little squash is growing away in one of my containers .. thanks to EM and the warmth of the sun.    I wonder how big it will get to be?  There are quite a number of little baby squash growing now … I will have to keep a close eye on their growth, harvesting when the frost hits!  I think this is another volunteer from the compost soil .. how fun.

09Nasturtiums in the sun from this afternoon …

10And this little sunflower caught my attention .. with the swirling, ever-growing tendrils of a squash plant growing up the stem .. looking like one of those crazy English hats!  Quite a sight, don’t you think?

11There are so many things to do in the garden right now!  I’ve finally sorted out the Red Wigglers from the compost container.  What a job that was.  I’ve had the worm compost for three years and finally took the time to sort out the lovely rich worm castings from the wigglers.  After about a week .. I think … I’ve finally sorted them all out and now have a fresh compost containers .. and a container of rich castings for my plants .. plus a container of wigglers to give to a friend!

Finally, this was done, my Mason Bees were cleaned and put away in the fridge.  Now I can focus on other things to do in the garden.  One of these things is to figure out what plants I have and where to put them.  Imagine my surprise when I found this lovely Pussy Willow .. it needs sun, but managed to survive in the shade.  Oh lovely darling ..I moved you to the sun and tomorrow will treat you to a drink of EM ..
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Well .. it’s been a day .. and now JaneE and I are away to watch Coronation Street!

🙂