Archive for the ‘Gardening and Dogwalking’ Category

Sunny Saturday

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October 30, 2010

Yesterday was quite a busy day .. to the Saanich yard with garden cuttings, recycling, dentist and then finally, home, free to garden!

Working away at the side yard … thinking, how to sove the problem of comfrey, blackberry and weeds growing in the gravel path.  Last year I had removed deeply rooted blackberry plants .. we had never used this area of the yard so this was quite a challenge.

It took a few days of hard work and finally, I cleared the area away.  Then I’d spent a few days, working at levelling the ground surface . .using a pickax, shovel, etc.  After this, I carried in a supply of old bricks, to use as edging, laid down a layer of landscape fabric.  In hindsight, several layers of heavier fabric would have been better!  Or perhaps, putting old carpets on the ground first, then a layer of the fabric, would have deterred the weeds from growing.

Then I carried over, one by one, rubbermaid containers of (sorted, sieved, rinsed) gravel and shovelled this on the fabric, and installed round pavers to create a pathway on the gravel walkway.

I was able to install a few plants and place ivy cuttings in pots, before winter set in.   And that was that for this area.  Until a few days ago, when I attacked the weedy growth that was again overtaking all my work.  So now the area is again clear and I was thinking that I should bring more gravel over to make the pathway thicker.

So .. after my running around was done, I came home, donned my gardening gear and escaped outside to relax in the sun, sudoku and mug of tea.  I pondered the energy required to move more gravel to the side area.   While working the Sudoku numbers, thoughts of the side yard kept popping up .. maybe it was the postivity of the conversations that I’d recently had at the dentist’s office combined with the warmth of the sun’s rays .. but I suddenly thought “why did I make the gravel pathway so wide .. it could be narrower and I could plant more plants”!!!

Walked over to the side, visualized “more plants” and thought, yes, this will work!!! I’d mixed up some peat moss/organic soil mixture in my ‘barrow, so quickly planted some bushes and topped up areas around a boxwood (these are tough, tough, plants … survived a year without having been properly planted last year!)

Now, with garden tools, empty ‘barrow, rubbermaid containers & tarp .. I began the task of shifting the gravel.   My plan is to remove the gravel, put in containers and as space becomes available, onto a tarp.   Once this is done, I’ll dig out as much of the weeds as possible, then install a triple layer of l/fabric, creating a slightly curving path.   Then I’ll plant more of the recent sale bushes.

By this time, the mulch should be here, so I’ll be digging, filling containers and bring them, one by one, to install over every plant in the yard.  And look forward to seeing all the new growth next year!

Also, I’ve decided, starting November, to only blog on one page!  Since gardening does occupy most of my life .. it seems silly to go back and forth.  Besides the retirement blip has passed and I’m now in my next stage, of gardening.  And I’ll be focusing on getting my business going.  But I’ll only be writing about my own gardening!!!

These past two months have been so therapeutic . . I’ve been working hard every day, and feeling more energized every day.  My creativity is making a very strong comeback.  Ideas on things I can make for gardens, methods of working, playing around with found materials .. it’s all very exciting.  And ideas grow more ideas, and so on and so forth.

Camera set to “on” .. I walked around, taking pictures of happy flowers .. memories for this summer and points of reference for next summer.  I’d removed the tarp used to shield the interior of my car from soil, when I took more garden stuff to the yard.   Rinsed it off and draped it over one of my pvc arches .. worked well.  Tarp dried and easy to fold up. (photo)


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October 26, 2010

Outside, enjoying the warmth of the sun on this otherwise chilly Tuesday, I plop down my gardening “purse”, thrust the garden fork & shovel firmly in the ground, turn on my music (not loud and only  instrumental music)…. and ponder the day. 

Walk around the yard, lifting leaves, looking at flowers .. noting how well everything is doing in this mulched soil.

Not really sure where to start today, so I begin by looking through some garden design books for inspiration.  Time passes and still I continue… so very many good ideas.  I’m limited to, or shall I say, creatively inspired by materials on hand.

As I continue on, I see some ideas that can be successively carried out, so I’ll play around with those today.  Still stymied about path layout in my garden patch.  Really am not inspired with squares or rectangular shapes, am more inclined to use rounded shapes, undulating paths .. I do want to get going and unshovel my gravel mountain .. but just don’t want to be too hasty.

Saw one idea about using an old plank as a pathway.. and as I read this, my eye wandered over to the 2 remaining raised gardening boards that I’d  uncovered from the infamous gravel/b/berry etc. pile.   hmmm .. I could drag one over and see what that looks like and maybe keep this and add gravel underneath, for a pathway.

Another ideas pops out of this book … to create a little circular “bottle” feature, sinking coloured bottles into the ground, bottoms up, so that the colourful circles form a design .. and .. as I’m reading this, my eye is drawn to the container of bottles that have been sitting in a container, ready to be cleaned and recycled.   Another .. hmmmmm… so I’ll try this.

Time to get on with these ideas.  Oh, and saw a few more ideas about plantings to create interest in the yard, so will play around with that too!!

So I planted 4 Passion flower vines at 4 fence locations .. they look tenacious!  I played around with the concept of a gravel path and decided to utilize some aluminum tubing in lieu of wooden fence guides in my garden patch.  I measured an equidistant space between 2 parallel tubes, and hammered in cut sections of bamboo to keep them in place.  Next I installed a (folded) layer of landscape fabric and then started shovelling in gravel (from the gravel mountain).  Looking good!

Installed 2 more pvc garden loops .. picturing next summer, when vines will grow over the lengths of these .. or perhaps I’ll drape some lengths of natural lightweight cotton to create an arbian garden … mysterious and flowing  .. sounds cool.

After that I proceeded to start some weeding at the right side of the yard and pulled mountains of weeds … looked at the time, and decided it was time to call it a day and go inside to get ready for the CM show!!

And I have this quick little photo of Tye Dog .. a very handsome brown lab, who I had the pleasure of taking doggie walks with .. at Swartz Bay!!


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Showery Sunday

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October 24, 2010

Todays weather is a potpourri of changes.  Cloudy, sunny, cloudy, sunny, some light rain.

During one of the sunny sessions, I wandered outside to have a look at the results of yesterdays work.  And was very pleased with what I saw.  The garlic beds are all nestled in, warm and comfy, with their covering of fluffy hay and awaiting a final topping of leaf mulch.

There are still hedging plants to be dug in, and I’ll do that this week.

Mug of tea in hand, I just sort of walked around, enjoying the sun, mentally reminiscing about the past few months, I’d been so focused on each work project, that I’d just ignored the rest of the garden .. and started to thing about the rejuvenational feeling that accompanies the total zen of the art of gardening. It is really very cleansing.

Absolutely everything else is forgotten, as the actual process of gardening takes place.  I remember toiling away at the “garden patch”, less than a month ago .. in the process of changing a jumbled mountain of gravel mixed with soil, gigantic comfrey plants (past the flower stage, so as to not bother the bees), miles and miles of deeply rooted stubborn blackberry plants.  Thinking to myself, what am I doing, this is insurmountable, how can I possibly achieve changing this to arable land.  Every little square foot of soil was dug, sifted, sorted, gravel rinsed and a gravel mountain was created.   I only focused on the present act of lifting out and sorting the soil.   Didn’t allow myself to think about the overall project.  Nor of the future, only of the present moment.

Eventually, bit by bit, using only a shovel, garden fork, soil sifter, rubbermaid containers and hose .. I did accomplish what I had visualized and turned this patch into a flat gardening area.   This area is now covered with mulch and hay, awaiting next spring, to determine what the next stage will be.  I definitely will be creating gravel paths, so I need to decide the segments and pathways, and measure for the wood for framing so I can then lay down the landscape fabric, peg in the wood trim and then shovel the gravel onto the paths.

Also, I want to create a latticed little nook for my cedar garden bench and dig in my pond liner for a little ambience.

Anyway, I started thinking about the positivity of gardening, how it nourishes us and provides a profound sense of satisfacation.  How it allows for us to experience the secret world of insects and birds .. so interesting and so unmindful of us, big galoots! 

I wasn’t really planning on doing any gardening today, and really thought that I would just take a few minutes to have a wander around.  However, I started noticing some  plants that hadn’t given up – against many odds, they continued to grow, to produce new buds, leaves.  So I found myself taking photos of these.  Some laurel cuttings that I’d put in a pot a year ago, forgotten till now, growing well, leaves glossy in the sun.  Some ivy cuttings (and this reminded me of a book showing some great ivy training ideas for the fence – that I’d like to try out next spring!)  A mexican orange that I’d inadvertently cut down, in my summertime zeal to try and eradicate some morning glory.  I’d left the original plant in the ground and now there is new growth! (photo)

Some yucca & euphorbia plants (I’ll be planting these at Dakota Cafe!!).  On and on .. example after example showing “don’t give up .. there is hope”.

A rescued bamboo plant that was going to be discarded, I took it home, kept it watered and it has new growth from the base.   Bamboo has surface roots and I line the sides of the planting area with very heavy landscape plastic, which keeps the new growth from spreading).

All in all, this has been an unexpectedly happy gardening day!

Another thing I note is that when I garden, I have a tunnel like focus that ignores all physical surroundings, except for the actual plantings.  Even in the garden patch, really, right now, it is merely a square of hay/mulch/soil. But I see glorious plantings of tomatoes, lettuce, luffa, growing lushly there.  And oh, yes, with the summer sun shining down.  Guess I have rose coloured glasses, when it comes to my garden.  Or should I say “green coloured glasses”  the ability to see what is there now and visualize how it can be changed, rejuvenated, with more energizing life!

Anyway, with the sun shining through in this early afternoon, I found myself taking photos and becoming enthused again with the limitless possibilities of my garden.  And I so look forward to embarking on my Dogwalking/Gardening Business!!!


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Sanguine Saturday

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October 23, 2010

Up early this morning,  decided that this would be the day that I would make great leaps and bounds in gardening.  I’d finished the area that I’m currently working on and would finally plant the 4 types of garlic  bulbs!

Outside in the morning, digging, sifting, sorting, for hours.  Enjoying the sunshine, making progress in the shovelling/sifting process.   Didn’t really want to stop, but made time for a break for lunch, then, outside again.

Steadily working away in this back corner … slowly advancing the work station farther and farther as I complete each little section.  Breaking the hard earth with the garden fork, so then I could more easily shovel sections of the grassy clay soil onto the sieve.  

Expanding the depth of this section, so it is about 7 feet or so away from the back of the fence.  Lots of room for planting garlic.

Not really sure how I would section off this finished ground, to allow for each garlic type to grow in its own separate section.  Experimented with rectangular beds with straight paths, then oval shaped beds with meandering paths, drawing the designs with my shovel, using lengths of bamboo and rebar to visualize the areas. 

Finally gathered up some garden design books.   Saw one idea that looked kind of interesting.   One book showed established beds, set up at angles.   Creating the optical appearance of much larger space.  So, I played around with that idea.  I wanted to establish gravel pathways, however, edges of a gravel path need to be shored up with strips of wood.  Today, I don’t have the time nor the materials, so instead, I fashioned a stepway in the paths, using just bricks.  That will work for now.

So for a length of time, I focused on setting up the angled beds, shaping the pathways, digging  out spaces for the bricks in these pathways and settled in the soil with garden handtools so all was level… stood back, surveyed my work.  All looks good.  Even better, nothing is permanent at this stage, so I will just wait till next summer, harvest all this garlic and if I have other design ideas, these can then be easily carried out.

Next, I distributed the leaf mulch so each area had an ample supply.  Now I could begin the task of planting the garlic.  I carefully made shallow trenches, set in the garlic bulbs by hand, spacing them 5 to 6 inches apart.  Was able to make at least 4 long rows in each section.  Some of the garlic bulbs were gigantic!  I even planted the small ones .. even though one is “only supposed” to plant the largest cloves. 

Finally, I had planted the 4 varieties of garlic ..was getting a touch anxious, as the sky was darkening, the wind was picking up and there had been a slight rain shower.  I’d finally reached this stage of planting my prized garlic and didn’t want to finish till all the work was done.

Once all the cloves had been planted, I then topped everything with a fluffy layer of hay.  And took photos.   Looking at these results took me back over 25 years, when I used to add hay to the gardens all the time (as a result of reading Ruth Stout‘s articles and books,  bless her!).

Next step in this section will be to add more leaf mulch!!  Expect to get more of this beautiful mulch within a few weeks, oh, happy day!

Listening to the howling wind, looking at the darkening skies .. I decided to stay outside till the last possible moment, till darkness came or till it rained.

Tended to my imported (from Ontario!) maple trees .. these I’m keeping in pots, at least, until we have an acreage, then I’ll plant them.

Found a few more treasures today .. another cats eye marble, more glass!

Went around the yard, picking up empty plant pots, sorting into size groups, moved them to my garden storage area.  Selected some vines to be planted and moved them to their location, next step is to dig them in for the winter – I can always relocate them in the spring.   Found some soaker hoses that I’d missed coiling and putting away till next spring.  Cursed when one of them showed a tear in a folded section!  I’d vowed never to buy these things again …  in the past I had spent so much time repairing them, with dubious results.   Realized that of all the soaker hoses I’d purchased, only one was defective, so really, that’s not so bad.  I know that I’ll try and repair that one next year, anyway.

Inside, looked at my heat mat & propagating tray cells, looking forward to starting veggie & flower seedlings in the spring. 

What a wonderful day this has been .. listening to the birds, even the chattering hummingbirds,  looking at planes overhead, the yakkety yak of the crows, hurrying to get to their nightly sleeping area before the winds became too rough.  Loving the sun’s kiss on everything, feeling its warm touch.  The peace and tranquility of this day.   The good feeling of accomplishment in fulfilling the promise of this section of the yard. 

Fingers crossed that there might be some sun tomorrow, so I can start on another section .. and .. once that is done .. I really want to work on the gravelly garden patch at the left side of the house.

Oh, yeah, and then .. there are many more areas to be worked on.  And, now that the rains are coming, I don’t have to water the new grassy patch at the front .. nature will do that job for me.


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October 22, 2010

Ok, Dentist .. check.

Lunch .. check.

Tea .. check.

Gardening .. ok .. out the door and let’s get going.

I continued on with the digging, sifting theme and made a lot of progress.  Still working on a shape, though, so after sifting, moved the final (sob) supply of leaf mulch over to the new area.

Still feel that there should be more of a garden area, so played around with shape-shifting, using lengths of bamboo.  Dusk descended, so I left that for tomorrow.

Found a few treasures, another cats-eye marble, some more green glass, 2 different keys, an old house fuse, it broke apart when I threw it down, so I kept the glass section .. kinda neat and not sure if these are made again.

Took some photos … of the garden progression … still in the planning stages.  Dug in a few plants and more to do perhaps tomorrow or Sunday.

So happy with the texture of the soil and so looking forward to more leaf mulch in a few weeks!!!

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Gardening Tuesday

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October 19, 2010

Worked away at the grassy patch at the front …. found 4 pennies!!  What treasure… after a few hours, decided to go shopping (but, not with these pennies!!) .. to Bordens .. where I found the wonderful orange gardening gloves I’d been searching for.  Bought a few pairs years ago .. accidentally cut a tip  in one and so not waterproof anymore, wah! 

So I was quite happy to see these gloves in Bordens!  Also purchased a let of glove liners, so bought the orange gloves in a size larger ..still able to pick up stones.  These gloves are wonderful .  See the comparison of the well washed gloves against the newer pair!   I’ll have to go shopping at wonderful Bordens again!!!

Back at the grassy patch, finished sifting the soil, made the surface as level as could be, watered the soil very well and flung on the grass seed/fertilizer .. (photo).

Took more photos of my lovely flowering squash plants!  Noticed a wasp trap that I’d fashioned out of a cola bottle, with a length of tubing .. to entice the wasp into the cola and prevent their escape.  Didn’t really have much of a wasp problem this year, but wanted to get rid of them anyway.  Will have to do the same trap next year.

Then I moved to the back yard.  Saw Rocky Racoon eating from the cats food dish (that I’d placed outside, this afternoon).  Used my deep karate voice and banged on the windows, finally chased it to the back yard (photos) and set the hose sprayer to jet and he jumped from the tree to the fence and ran along the length of this to reach the road and disappeared.  Talked with my neighbours and they had seen it in their yard also.  Always thought they came out at night. 

Played around with paths in the garden patch … (photos) .. a very satisfactory day, I must say!.

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Tenacity pays off

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October 18

Outside, continuing to work on the grass patch this morning.  Looked but couldn’t see further little footprints in the ground.

Hours spent, shovelling &  sifting away, amassing a good amount of rounded midsize stones for another little garden area .. such treasures.  Found another marble!

The discovery, dislodging and moving of the boulder – tenacity indeed.  I flashed back to Thursday, when I first discovered the tip of the rock.   As I uncovered more and more of the surrounding soil, trying to figure out the size – not sure if it was a piece of cement, or just an oversize rounded stone .. I was  wondering how in heavens name I could possibly dislodge it from the soil where it has been hidden for many many years.   Then going through the stages of actually moving it to the surface, using my hand tools and bits of wood – how I struggled to advance the rock from the subsurface to the top of the soil.   And then, using all of my strength and willpower, slowly rolling it onto the sidewalk, through the gate and over the grass!  Rolling it to the garden edge, keeping away from freshly planted garlic. 

Originally I was thinking of moving the boulder to the front of the fence, so I moved 2 containers of Virginia Creeper, not planted, still in pots, tenaciously growing up the fence at the front.

As I started to remove the vines, I took a closer look at the vine stem and saw that this climber advances its growth by means of adhesive discs.   They look quite intriguing, resembling little alien fingers, the round “finger” ends firmly attached to the wooden fence structure. (photo)  Looking at this plant, it seems to be so very delicate, with dainty leaves, yet underneath it is a tough little cookie!  Appearances are deceiving.

Tenacity again!!  It reminds me again of the old saying to “never give up” … and here are two solid examples.

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