Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shileau's Pond

It was a long, cold winter with lots of snow.  This means flooding in the Quinte region, including on our property.  We generally have a smallish pond of melt water that stays a week or two, but this year the size of the pond is exceptionally large.  It laps at the border of the Mound on the east and stretches all the way across the width of the front field, stopping finally three or four metres west of the lemon Magnolia.  This means that the entire entrance garden is underwater -- Magnolia, Lilacs, Spirea, Spruce, Iris, Peonies, Tulips, Daylilies...  everything.  I'm worried about all of them, perhaps most of all the bulbs, like the Fritillaria and Colchicum.Only time will tell if they survive...

The first Crocus of the year, about a month later blooming than last year
Narcissus making an appearance
Shileau's Pond - HUGE this year!

Shileau's Pond - reaching all the way to the Mound

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Seedy Saturday

I won't be doing much seed starting this year.  Gave up the Toronto allotment garden (not enough time and too buggy to be enjoyable for the past few years) so I don't have any room, really, to plant things.  Which is ironic since I have more than four acres of land in the County.  Most of that land is, however, wooded or grass/meadow.  The gardens that I do contain, by necessity it seems, almost exclusively ornamental shrubs and perennials.

I say by necessity because so many of the perennials I started there self seed like crazy and I've found it necessary to create new beds just to house the offspring.  (Yanking and composting? Never!)  Think Echinacea (Coneflower) and Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan) primarily.  Of course I have also in years past started from seed Hemerocallis (Daylily), Allium and Iris.  But for several reasons I've never seriously considered putting in a vegetable garden. 

The first is watering.  Rainfall can be a hit or miss thing in the County; some years there's rain every week through the summer and others nary a drop from June through September.  This means watering, on a very regular basis.  Currently, watering for me is a big deal, getting the pump into the well and carrying buckets of water to wherever it's most needed.  In the driest years I'd do this maybe every two weeks.  Not enough for veggies.

The second is grass and soil.  Too much grass and not enough soil.  I would need to create a raised bed and bring in good soil - the surface soil that covers most of the property "contains an abundance of angular limestone fragments," to quote a local brochure extolling the virtues of the region as perfect for grape vines.  Not so good for double digging in compost etc or for growing root vegetables.  And to properly build such raised beds I'd need to ensure grass couldn't get it.  Much of my weeding now is controlling the grass that quite naturally spreads into flower beds from the yard and field.  Weeds I can handle, grass is much more difficult.

So where does that leave me?  I've planted the occasional tomato and pumpkin but that's about it.  I transplanted asparagus last fall from the allotment garden to a small bed - we'll see how that goes.  Generally though, no veggies.  Perhaps that will change soon.  Who knows.

The seeds I started yesterday are Crocosmia, Lucifer I assume.  I harvested them late last summer.  The flower spikes were sent up from the corms provided me by a friend in White Rock, B.C., where she has huge bushes of them growing all over.  I potted up some mature corms as well.  Looking forward to these fiery red flowers this summer - and the hummingbirds and butterflies they attract.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Mound, 2014

OK - here's what it looks like in the middle of winter.  Exciting eh?  I think that when the snow starts to melt and you're able to see the little creeping Junipers it might be a bit more interesting.  I should perhaps throw some large boulders here and there as well, to stick out through all that whiteness!

It's going to be interesting seeing how many of the new plants survived this rather harsh winter, and how may Tulips and Allium come up again!

Plans for the year?  Finish taming the backside of this hill - pulling out the wild raspberry canes and the thistle and buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), while keeping some clumps of Goldenrod and Aster for colour and nectar.  Add boulders (see above).  Transplant more Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) from the Birch Border and Corner Garden.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

it's that kind of winter

Seems to be turning into a real winter, one we're not used to after four or five winters of above average temperatures and below average snowfall.  This year, in fact, we're running below the seasonal norms.  So far, at least.  And there's no relief in sight.  What makes this winter even more unusual has been the number of freezing rain incidents, and the number of days with winds high enough to produce white-out conditions.  Come April I'll have a lot more dead and fallen branches to pick up from the driveway and I may try getting a burn permit for the first time, to burn them instead of just piling them up.  Anyway, nothing new to report, really, so I think I'll just post a couple shots from earlier this year.  One is the twisted branches of a corkscrew Hazel (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') that I kinda like.  I'm going to try and get a few more artsy pic of this little bush later in the year.  It was a rescue from an old landscaping job about 12 years ago; I had to cut it back by about two thirds to move it and it has taken until this past year, really, to show any vigour.

This picture is Shileau inspecting mother nature's version of professional tree trimming.  This Black Maple (Acer nigrum) had sprung up by itself right under the hydro wires.  This past summer I had been contemplating the necessity of either chopping it down or pruning it back severely so that it wouldn't interfere with the wires.  The Christmas ice storm beat me to it.