Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘swan lake’


Thursday, March 29, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wednesday .. was .. at times … sunny .. then cloudy .. some rain .. followed by sun.  A potpourri kind of day, weatherwise.

Spent some time outside, relocating some of the taller plants in the back of the yard.   I’m making a kind of little secret garden, of sorts.   Starting with tall perennials along the fence, with a little pathway in front of that.   Then I’ve moved the garden bed back a foot, and began the process of moving the taller bamboo plants closer to the edge of that.

Then I’m moving a line of raspberries in front of them.   There will then be a staggered height of plants, tall to medium and then shorter (garlic, herbs).   The tall plants will give protection to the lower plants.

My garden is in constant change and it’s easy to move them.  Except I had to tug away at the Buddleia, thought.  The roots are mainly fibrous, with one long tap root that extended farther than I wanted to dig, so I just cut the end of the root . . still have a two foot length left and these plants are tough as nails, anyway.

Why am I doing this?  Well, in a burst of creative thought a few days ago, I thought that if I could rearrange the veggie garden (part of it, anyway) then I could install my propagating area here.  In a nice and tidy fashion, that is.  And I find that these projects sort of take on a life of its own … I simply start the process and my inner artist takes over.   The results are always creative and I’m always surprised and impressed with the results.

And I’ve decided to install rustic fencing along parts of the garden, to visually break up some of the areas.  I’ll be re-using the branches and bamboo canes that I’d used to make a  holding area for my mountain of mulch leaves from last fall.  I have my eye on several very tall bamboo canes currently growing in one area of the yard, so luckily, I’m not lacking in fencing materials.

I like the look of the rustic fencing that was installed at the front of Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, and when I’d last visited there on Tuesday, I looked at this fencing again and thought, perfect for the back yard!  So, thanks for the inspiration, Swan Lake!!

I was quite involved in digging away yesterday when the rains came .. I simply covered up my camera, binoculars, iPod and simply went on digging.   After all, what’s a little rain?  Then the sun came out and it felt like a warm summer day.

After what I’ve been learning in my gardening course, I’m not really happy about digging up and disturbing the soil .. saw the thin white strands of the mycorrhizal fungi in place, doing their part to help the roots of the plants.  And promised that I’d add some of the powdered M. fungi that I’d purchased from the Gardener’s Pantry.  I’ll soon have this soil healthy and vibrant  again.  Plus, liberal doses of EM!!

Took a break and read through some books on composting .. one mentions Bokashi, pallet & worm composting.  However, the “helpful” information listed is nowhere near as detailed as the information that I learned in the Organic Master Gardening Course (Gaia College, at Royal Roads University).  My gardening world has forever changed and I cannot go back to the way of thinking that I had before.

Funny, found a bag of plant fertilizer that I’d bought a few years back.   The cardboard box holding the plastic bag had long since disintegrated and all that is left is the bag and the contents of several cups of white and pale green “fertilizer”granules.  I shudder to think that I had used some of this on some plants.  Now I’ll have to dispose of this in “hazardous” materials.  Never, no more.

From now on, it’s EM, Compost Tea (Dr. Elaine R Ingham ), worm bins, mulch, grass cuttings, manure (organic preferably).    What a difference that course has made in my life.  And, luckily, I have access to the online videos and course material for a year.  It will take at least that for me to go through all of these invaluable resources.

Anyway .. on with this most wonderful day.  I think the rains have stopped .. can hear the birds singing away .. so out to my garden I go!   And if it is still raining, well, there’s no shortage of things to do inside.  Or maybe go for a walk.  Choices .. it’s a good thing!

🙂

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So Tuesday was slightly overcast and I went for a little walk to Swan Lake .. only for 1 ½ hours !!  I just had to go and see the new structure by the Nature House, with the green roof.   It is just beautiful and planted with native grasses, plants and flowers.  I look forward to seeing the changes over the coming seasons, as the garden grows and grows.

Listened to the cries of the male Red Winged Blackbirds as they called out, marking their territory or calling to their mates?  Heard the songs of the Marsh Wrens.  The territorial honking of the Canada Geese.   Didn’t see many Mallards though .. perhaps they were all in the side marshes.

Saw one of the local eagles soaring .. nearby was a seagull, both seemed to be sailing along on the same air currents.  The eagle wasn’t hungry, so the gull was safe.  Later on .. I noticed some crows playing around with the eagle .. and the eagle just ignored them and flew farther afield.

Not many people out walking when I was there .. just a few joggers, birders out on the trails.

Talked to one of the Sanctuary employees about the markings on the Mallards .. turns out that each one does have a different look about them.  The older ducks have longer back feathers.  There are slight differences in eye markings and colouration.  The green billed Drake is a bit unusual and might be the result of some breeding with another type of duck.  So now I will start to pay attention to the differences.  I do note that some of the females have darker feather markings.

Lovely relaxing walk!

Then, back home, outside, busy reshaping the veggie garden .. an easy thing to do, since I use rocks and bricks as borders.   Room for change .. which is a great thing for the garden.

Still feel so terrible about the Scotts Miracle Gro birdseed .. and awaiting a response to the e-mail that I sent yesterday.  I’ll go to the supermarket to fetch more fat for the feeders.

Sat down for a while to leaf through my birding books, seeking recipes for our birds.  I have most of the supplies in the cupboard so will make some for the fall.  Right now there are plenty of insects for the birds to munch on .. and I still have sunflower seeds for them.

Felt wonderful to be outside.   I’m trying to decide where to place my many propagated plants.  Think that I might change the shape of the veggie garden and then re-arrange the plants in a nice tidy fashion.

The branches are starting to green up with new leafy growth and soon the yard will be nicely framed with greenery.  The Silver Lace Vine (aka “mile a  minute”) is living up to its name and there is new growth on the old woody stems and now is the time to train them to grow along the top of the fence.  They have a tendency to grow up the plum trees . .so I’ve caught them in time.

I’m trying to pot up the comfrey so that it won’t grow wild in the yard.  There is a type of comfrey that doesn’t spread, Bocking 14, a Russian cultivar .. so I’ll be looking out for this one.  The comfrey that is in our yard (all over the yard!!) originated from just a few plants that I obtained many, many years ago.   The bees love the flowers (which unfurl a few at a time) and the leaves are good for the compost, so it really is a good plant.  I just don’t want it growing all over, as they get to be quite large.

Replanted the two large currant plants .. there is a lot of new growth on these.  And still digging out raspberry canes to form a raspberry bed.   These canes originated from just a few canes given to me by a co-worker, many years ago.   And I’ve given away the volunteers for years and they keep on growing.  Good thing, as they produce massive amounts of berries!

This year I’m also training blackberries along the fence, nice and neat.  What tastes more delicious than ripe berries, warmed by the summer sun?  I’ve dug up tons of these berries from the yard and finally decided to keep some of them.  Why fight them, they will be a nice addition on the fence, no harm.

Well, the day is marching on and I’m eager to get outside.

🙂

Read Full Post »


Thursday, March 1, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wednesday started off in a cloudy fashion.  I felt cloudy also.  As in, not energized.    You know the kind of feeling .. life is rolling along, full of positivity and energy.    Open to new possibilities and learning.   Then there is a blip.  So I was in a blip.  Hmmm. .. that could very well be a new adjective, couldn’t it?   As in “it was a blip situation” …:)

So I went outside to experience some positive energy from our yard .. to take a few moments to watch the birds.  Check out the ground, look for spring flowers .. that sort of thing.  Pondered walking over to Swan Lake, to see the ducks and watch for the local eagles .. I’d really like to see them.

Decided it really was time to stay home, study, spend some time in reading through the materials on organic gardening.  Not many classes left.

Brr .. chilly in the early morning.  Rain starting to fall.  I was determined to finally install the Lee Valley hanging saucer beneath one of the bird feeders.  A green circle of about 1 1/2 feet in circumference, which would be attached to the bottom of the feeder.   There was a cover for this saucer, which was full of holes for the bird seed to tumble into (instead of tumbling onto the ground!).

By the time I’d assembled (found!!!) my pliers, saucer, bird seed and was outside, a light rain was falling.  My hands were numb with cold, but I was determined that I was finally going to assemble this saucer thing which I’d bought before Christmas!

Deciphered the instructions, arranged the chain and attached to one of the bird feeders – I’d lost all track of time so really don’t know how long it took me to do that.  Anyway, as all gardeners know, time doesn’t exist in a garden   🙂

Finally, the bird feeder with the new saucer was placed carefully, hanging from a branch of the apple tree, freshly filled and awaiting the discovery of the birds.  A sense of accomplishment was strongly felt.  yeah.

Next, time to fill up the hummingbird feeder and the rest of the bird seed feeders.

And …. ta da .. there is a new addition to the village of bird feeders!  I finally broke down and bought the Mark Cullen covered suet holder, it’s cute, made of cedar, with a sloped roof, underneath is the suet holder.  It’s made specifically for the tiny members of  birds .. the darling little Bush-tits, the Red-Breasted Nuthatches and the Chestnut-Backed Chickadees.   Bigger birds (Junco’s, sparrows, European Starlings) kind of take over the other suet block.  So this is special for them.

Wandered around the back, inspecting the branches of the dwarf apple tree that we’d planted a long time ago.

Looked up to the sky and wow .. there is one of the eagles flying around.  I found it really amazing to be looking through the tight web of branches and actually see this magnificent eagle flying and .. I actually had my camera with me!  So I quickly drew the camera from the case, clicked it on and took a few pictures.  This camera doesn’t have an eyepiece, it has one of those little screens which doesn’t show clearly what you are looking at .. so it was really sheer luck that I was able to zero in and take some photos.

As the eagle flew in ever larger circles, I ran to the center of the yard and found it again .. and clicked away.  So very grateful that I was outside at that moment in time, and looked upwards.   An inspirational bit of time which filled me with joy at the sheer magnificent beauty of nature.

The eagle then changed direction, soaring effortlessly in another direction, lost to my sight.

Well, then.  I was able to see the eagle and saved myself a few hours from walking to Swan Lake.

Time to go inside and get some studying done.

And you know what?  Once I started going through my notes and the online lessons, I was transported away to the world of composting and the many lifeforms therein.

Quite the learning day for me . .one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

🙂

 

Read Full Post »


Friday, February 24, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thursday was a mixed bag of weather .. .sunshine .. clouds.

After morning chores completed, decided to go for a brief walk … which lasted about two hours!  Started out towards Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary .. .it’s been awhile since my feet walked along those trails.

Pure bliss to be there …. seeing the new spring growth of leaves on trees and bushes as all plant life prepares for a new season.  Listening to the breeze rustling the dry marsh grasses .. music to my ears.  Stopped to look at the slim thread of water trickling through the mix of dried and emerging stems of grasses.

Not many birds out when I was there.  Thought back to my lucky encounters a few weeks ago .. when I saw my first Cedar Waxwings and then the Northern Shovellers … such beautiful winged beings.

Saw .. and heard .. some Marsh wrens calling out.  And some Red Winged Blackbirds singing away.  At the smaller observatory I chanced upon some Mallards .. they were very cautious though .. and I understood why later on.

I pulled out a bag of flatted oats and scattered them onto the surface of the lake … one little Mallard swam over.   Followed by a female .. then more and more and finally there were about 10.   Scattered more oats on the surface boards and them some on the side marsh ..

Continued on my walk.  Noticed new signage showing the latest improvements to the Sanctuary .. growing specific plants/trees to attract a wider variety of birds and animals.

Looked way up and sure enough .. at the top of the flat-topped tree . .there was one of the resident eagles.  They’ve been favouring this tree since for years now .. I used to spend so much time watching them over the years . .even lucky enough to see part of their mating ritual.  I was in the backyard and just happened to look up to see them, talons intertwined as they tumbled through the sky .. remember to look up .. .there is so much going on.

Well, this year they have attained the mark of maturity, with their white heads and tail feathers .. wonder if they will nest in that tree?

Anyway, their presence explains the absence of bird activity.

Time to visit Orr’s Butchers for more of Farmer Ben’s eggs … and then some grocery shopping.   And then .. the long walk homewards with a heavy Thrifty’s shopping bag.  I decided to ignore the hefty weight .. I’d soon be home!

Returned via the Sanctuary .. one more opportunity to walk in nature … all birds, ducks are well hidden away.

As I made my way home .. enjoying the beauty of the day .. kept looking up to the sky .. but no aerial activity.  And .. soon I was home .. groceries put away.  Kitties fed.  Ole Toshiba turned on … spent a few hours lost in the worlds of gardening and re-trying the online quizzes of Gaia.

Then I allowed myself to enjoy the wonderful world of gardening outside .. sheer bliss.  And a bit sad, also.  My gardening world has turned all topsy-turvy with the new learning.  As I stood and looked at my leaf mulch pile .. I thought of how my focus has changed.

Where once I truly believed that oak leaves were the be-all and end-all of gardening .. now I realize that, although they do serve well as mulch to retain water for landscaping purposes .. they are not the cure-all that I thought they were.  That because the centre of a pile gets to be “smoking hot” .. that feature isn’t conducive to supporting healthy microbes in the soil.

I quickly fill containers with the mulch and sidedress the trees and plants along the fence .. this does dress up the areas.  Just a few months ago I was saddened at the thought of not having enough .. now I just want to disperse it all around the yard.

It’s not that it’s a bad thing .. just not quite the thing for my veggie garden.

Worked away, not conscious of time .. till DH arrives home .. and surprises me with a mug of Yorkshire Tea!  Yea, time for a Sudoku break and a quick look through some stone landscaping books (treasures from the “Friends of the Library” book sale.

Enjoy the brief break and then .. ta da .. back to the garden.  More shovelling, moving, planning, dreaming.

Another lovely day ….

🙂

Read Full Post »


Friday, February 10, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  Thursday morning was a little overcast .. I decided to walk over to Borden Mercantile to pick up some rock dust for our class on composting, to take place on Saturday.

That way, I could multi-task by: 

– getting a few good hours of walking exercise

– look for the Northern Shoveller

– look for the eagles

– look for any other birds

– fetch the rock dust (for Saturday’s compost class)

– just enjoy being outside in the lovely outdoors

Thus I found myself walking along the trails at the Sanctuary.  Along the way I saw some Spotted Towhees … such striking birds!  Not too many Robins were seen when I was there.

Still looking for the Cedar Waxwings that I saw last week. What a gift that was .. to see these gentle birds.

Walking along the short observatory .. .not a duck was to be seen.  Only a little wren, who was intent on digging away at some treasured seeds that were tucked away in the spaces between the boards that comprised the walkway.   I stopped in my steps while this little bird sought the treasures.  

When the bird was finished feasting and had flown away .. I continued my walk along the observatory.  Strangely quiet .. yet I couldn’t see any predators.  But they could have been well hidden.  Birds know when the predators are about.

 Happy to hear the trill of the Red Winged Blackbird … as he sat high atop a nearby tree .. trying to communicate with others of his species.

As I reached the pathway that connected to the asphalt section of the Galloping Goose .. I looked up to the flat-topped tree on Saanich Road.  That’s where I first saw the young pair of immature eagles years ago.    Now that they are more mature, sporting the distinctive white feathered head and tail feathers …they still favour this same tree.

So on Thursday morning on my walk, I noticed that one of them was sitting on a nearby oak tree.  And there I saw one of them.   Feathers slick with rain.  Fierce eyes scanning the meadows and fields of Swan Lake  below … looking for any activity that would entice them to soar down.

Such noble and magnificent beings. 

I continued on my walk along the Galloping Goose, quite quiet at this early morning time .. before the coffee breaks and lunchtime joggers had started to populate the scene.  Relishing the quiet.   Appreciating the many years it had taken me to reach this point.

Finally reached Borden Mercantile and purchased some volcanic rock dust and some kelp particles for our upcoming Saturday session, to build a composter.  Plus myself an a few others will be building some work composters.   I’ll take pictures.

Retracing my steps, I again appreciated the peacefulness of the Galloping Goose trail at this time of the morning.   Not very busy.

Couldn’t help but notice the nests from last year … clearly seen in the absence of vegetation.   And can’t help but appreciate the positivity of nest-building birds.   They just get on with it.

Once I’d approached the wooden section of the Goose, I was nearer the oak tree and saw the eagle’s mate approach ..and land .. on the oak tree.  So there the couple sat .. regally perched …silent communication … surveying the meadows below.

Humbled by the sight of this example of pure nature, I resumed my walk…. happily taking the muddy pathway of the Sanctuary .. in lieu of the asphalt walkway “up above”.

And continued home .. where I combined housework with studying.   Nerve wracking work on my assignment. sigh.  more later.

Thursday was, to say the least, “quite the day”.

🙂

Read Full Post »


Sunday, February 5, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Friday was going to be fully devoted to studying .. so first I decided to not go for a quick (ha ha ) walk to Swan Lake.    That would have been at least a 2 hour block of time, plus time spent outside.  So I spent time going through my study materials.  And .. slowly .. the new vocabulary of understanding is making its way through to my mind.

I figure that once I have a much better understanding of the activity of the critters in the soil and how they interact with each other – then I’ll be happy.   Once I can easily explain what I know, then the knowledge will be more fully settled in my brain.

Wouldn’t it be fun if I could just hold the books to my forehead and do a Star Trek mind-meld!  Unfortunately, learning has to be done the old-fashioned way.

We did a soil texture test in class on Thursday and today I’ll be writing up my analysis on one of the two samples (or perhaps I’ll prepare an analysis for each of them).   It’s fascinating to see the 3 layers settle.  Sand at the bottom, silt in the middle and clay at the top.

Here’s a good link to understanding soil:  http://urbanext.illinois.edu/soil/SoilBiology/fw&soilhealth.htm

It is listed in our classroom information and has very important, easy to understand information on soil.

Anyway .. yesterday I worked away again .. and I’m beginning to think about soil all the time .. this course is very challenging to me.  And I find that I am quite enjoying the challenge of learning the new concepts that this in-depth study of the ecosystems of gardening quite exciting!

Also yesterday, DH & I went flying .. it’s been a long time.  Beautiful sunny day .. as we flew around .. I started looking at the fields and farms below me in a new way.  Wondering which farms were using organic methods and which were using pesticides.

Enjoyed the magnificent beauty of the snow-covered mountains below … we wiggled our wings at some snowmobilers who were blazing trails high on a hilltop.   Glad to see other happy people out and enjoying the day.

Magical being up in the sky … not much traffic in the early afternoon.    Lovely .. lovely .. lovely ..

Then …. back to terra firma … while DH fueled up the plane, I tended to my co-pilot duties … assisting in pushing the plane back to it’s “parking spot”, tying up the ropes to the wings & tail, putting the reflector back against the interior windshield, buckling up seat belts nice and tidy.

Once everything was done .. we sat outside in the sunshine.  As DH filled out the logbook, I took the opportunity to read my course book .. noticing as I did so .. that more and more of the terminology is becoming a little more familiar.  Gadzooks!!

Back home .. we decided to use one of our Groupons to visit the Flying Otter restaurant.  And to combine this with exercise, we decided to leave the car at home and walk there .. it’s really a short 45 minute walk to downtown .. and it was such a lovely day.

Walking along the Galloping Goose .. we heard someone call out those words “to your left” and expected to see another bicyclist zoom by .. instead, we saw this cool recumbent bike, complete with a cover, resembled a low slung racecar.  I managed to take a quick pic before it sped away.

It’s been months since we’ve been downtown and there are so many changes going on.  The famous Blue Bridge will soon disappear .. there will be a more “modern” one built as a replacement.

We made our way to the Flying Otter .. a floating restaurant.  Full of tables facing the water.  We managed to get a nice high table nice and close to the bar.  I was noticing the bartender filling glasses with a variety of beers from the taps and was quite interested in one that was sort of rose colour.  He poured me a little taste and I was hooked.  I love bitter beers and this filled the bill with the additional delicate taste of black currants.

The food was delicious and the service was upbeat.  We plan to return.

It was so much fun walking along, arm in arm – downtown.  Years ago, before the city grew so much, the streets were quite quiet and we used to visit the downtown area often.   So it was a treat to do this again.  Although, this is the quiet season, quite a change in the summer time.   I much prefer this time of the year to visit here.

We made our way over to the bus stop … and find that we just missed the one that would take us home … debated over just standing there waiting .. or just simply walk home.  And we did just that!   In no time at all, it seemed, we were at our front door!

Home sweet home!   In just 3 hours we had walked to town, dined on a lovely meal and walked home again.  No parking concerns.  No traffic concerns!

Saturday was a great day.

Read Full Post »


Friday, February 3, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  well .. the sun has been out in full force for several days now.  It’s times like this that I just want to play outside all day.  But, I need to study and get those botany, soil and organic gardening worlds of information in my head.

Nevertheless, I did go on my trek to Swan Lake Sanctuary yesterday morning.  It was only meant to be a quick one hour walk   … sigh … turned into more than 2 hours.  Such a beautiful sunny day.   How could I not go?

Besides, I was looking forward to another glimpse of the Northern Shoveler and the Cedar Waxwing .. but .. no joy.   So I walked all around the Sanctuary … enjoying the magnificent sunshine.  Saw the local eagles way up in their resting tree.

There are some areas by Tuesday Pond that are being worked on .. and the results are already noticeable.    A lovely wooden criss-cross type of fence keeps walkers from entering this new jewel.   Soon robins will be packing mud for their nests from here.    And many other places also.

Funny, last year I saw very few robins and this year there are so many … such robust cheerful little beings.

I’ve never really fully appreciated the beauty of the flowers and berries of the Hawthorne tree.  Yet lately I’ve begun to notice the squirrels and the birds (especially the Robins) feasting on the red berries of this tree.  And listening to the CBC podcast yesterday, with Botanist Diana Beresford-Kroeger describe the healing properties of the scented Hawthorne flowers .. I am appreciating the magic of this tree.  One of which has been growing in our yard for many years.

Finally  …. back home … strolled around the yard, enjoying the warmth of the sun.   Loving seeing the signs of spring evidenced by the buds on the fruit trees, the green spikes of bulbs eager to show their flowers.

Spend a few hours studying my gardening information.  Happy when information starts to make sense.   Lots of work to be done …aiming to write the exam for certification in a month or so.

The kitchen table is my workplace …  thus I can easily look out at the backyard .. to watch the birds!  Books, writing papers piled high, stacks of pens, little workhorse Toshiba laptop all set up .. slow, but works.  This will be my station till the course is over.  And then, I’ll still be studying anyway … since I’ll have access to the online Gaia resources to read.  Sheer heaven!

Looking out the side kitchen window I happened to see some little Bushtits cavorting on the branches of the plum-tree.  Completely unselfconscious … they spend moments hopping about, grooming, chit-chat.  Chirping away.  Such darling little birds.

To soon .. time to set out for my evening class.  Such beautiful skies .. blue .. and clouds that took on the shape of smooth circular designs .. no camera, no pics!

Parked my car .. and made my way to the class .. where I spent the next 3 hours listening .. trying to absorb all the details … well, they do eventually sink in.

Last night we participants .. or “learners” did a soil sample test .. quite interesting as a matter of fact.   I prepared two samples using soil from several areas in the back yard, placed the soil in jars & added water .. shook the jars for 15 minutes .. and now the jars are sitting on a table .. awaiting for the sand, silt and clay to settle into their layers.  At which time I’ll write a report to be sent in for marks (gulp).

Anyway … Thursday was a good day.  I’ve been searching for guides on how to study properly and have found quite a few.  And I’ve found what works for me is to start again at the beginning lessons .. read … make copious notes .. then succinct notations .. and then .. bingo … words like “mycorrhizal fungi” become friends and stay in my vocabulary.  Next .. I can visualize them …and imagine where they exist in the yard.

Little baby steps.

 

🙂

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: