Friday, September 30, 2011

Triumphs and Tragedies

I'm sure I've said this numerous times but so often wherever there is triumph there is also tragedy.  They seem to go hand in hand like beer and nachos. 

I finally managed to get every last perennial into the entrance bed.  It's only taken me something like 3 months but the job's finally done.  Time to relax?  Nope.  Now I can concentrate on planting bulbs!!

I've had a few moments in the last week or two when I've wished the gardening season was over.  Anyone else ever get that feeling?  The thought of digging in 100+ bulbs just seems like too much right now.

Tuesday night I pondered whether to put blankets on my plants as the weather seemed overly chilly.  But when I checked the Weather channel they were reporting temperatures would only go down to 6 degrees celcius. 

The reality Wednesday morning was that temperatures went down to 2 degrees.  I really should have gone out and covered up some plants.  The squash and nasturtium are a bit fried from their chilly encounter.  However, triumphantly, the dahlias and peppers all survived to bloom another day.

Bless their little pink hearts these hollyhocks are trying to bloom.

These were planted from seed this spring and generally they do not bloom the first year so this is a bonus.  Unfortunately I thought these flowers were meant to be RED.  Now my planting combination doesn't seem quite so smart.  Worse, I discovered why there were yellow dots all over the leaves.

Turns out my new hollyhocks have rust.  Of course.  In a summer when it seems everyone in my community lost their tomatoes to blight it stands to reason that rust would also abound.  Well, at least I now know it's a fungus and not just my lack of watering.

Does anyone have advice on how best to deal with hollyhock rust?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday - Mountain Ash

It may not be a wildflower exactly but Mountain Ash does have beautiful flowers in May and June.

Unopened buds on a Mountain Ash
This native shrub is not an Ash at all but rather belongs to the genus Sorbus which is part of the Rose family.  I actually thought it was a tree until I looked it up and realized it is classified as a shrub.  It can grow as high as 30 feet tall and is common all over Prince Edward Island, growing in full sunlight and rich soil in forest clearings, hillsides, windbreaks and roadsides.

Classified as a shrub but as large as many of our other trees
It is at home throughout our property with several large specimens along the roadside and numerous saplings appearing in cleared areas.  In fact I find it somewhat prolific on our open property and have found saplings in the oddest spots including this hole in a birch tree.

After the blooms have faded in summer this tree begins the process of berry production and this is where most people recognize this plant.  By August the berries are visible.

In fall the white flowers have changed to fruit clusters
In early September the clusters were orange.

And now in late September they have turned to dark red.

Not only are the flowers and fruit attractive they also are an important food source for birds such as robins, bluebirds, cedar waxwings and grackles.

It makes a lovely landscape plant due to its many seasons of interest.  Flowers in spring, attractive foliage in summer, and red fruit in fall that can often be found hanging on throughout the winter.

If you would like to see more wildflowers or participate in Wildflower Wednesday please pop on over to Gail's blog, Clay and Limestone, where every fourth Wednesday of the month we celebrate the wild side of our gardens!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Triumphs and Tragedies (and the winner is...)

Well, tragically it appears that summer really is at an end.  There's no denying it now that the leaves have started to make their transformation.

But fall brings with it some triumphs as well.  Like the much anticipated blooms of the gigantic sunflowers.

And a profusion of dahlias

The vegetable garden is bursting with edibles.

And the cooler weather has brought forth numerous violets

Rose hips have formed

And fall mums are blossoming

and of course the air is perfumed with the scent of ripening apples

So I guess it's not so bad after all!  

Thanks to all who participated in the giveaway for Novica and congratulations to WiseAcre Gardens,  the winner of the $50 gift certificate.  If you haven't had the opportunity to look at WiseAcre's blog you might want to check him out.  Fantastic fungus photos and he's a real whiz with wildflower identification.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September Bouquet and Reminder

I must be getting old because time seems to be flying by faster than I can blink my eyes.  It's the end of September already and time for this month's garden bouquet.

Each month Noelle at Ramblings from a Desert Garden reminds me to bring a little of the beauty from outside, inside to be appreciated.

I knew whatever my bouquet consisted of it had to include dahlias.  We've had frost warnings recently and I know when the frost hits the dahlias will be the first to succumb.  Bringing them inside will preserve them just a little while longer so I can get my fill of their beauty.

Also included were Polka Dot Bachelor Buttons.  They bloom in shades from dark purple to blue and white.

A little cilantro gone to flower filled it out and I was set.

A reminder that if you haven't had a chance to leave a comment on my post on Novica then you'd better hurry.   The draw for the $50 gift certificate will take place this weekend!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Novica - Supporting Artists Worldwide

Have you heard of Novica?  I hadn't until I was recently asked to review their products.  At first glance this company sells beautiful handmade goods from across the world.  However, perusing further, I discovered they are more than just a retailer.  Novica provides artists from third world and developing nations the opportunity to sell their goods for fair prices to customers world wide. 

I was intrigued by this concept since in the past I have travelled to two places represented by Novica, Bali and Thailand, and have seen the living conditions of artists whose talent should afford them better circumstances.  My own husband designs and builds furniture by hand and I am highly aware of the time and skill required to make these goods and the prices that good quality work should demand.  By recognizing the value of artistic goods in the third world we can help artists there to live a better life and contribute to the betterment of their communities.  But also I hope that we can raise awareness of the value of artistic goods worldwide so that everyone can flourish.

Novica offered me a gift certificate to try their products and I was delighted to be able to choose from a wealth of items.  Through their website I was able to search by country, product, price, type of material used or the artists themselves.  I have a weakness for scarves and quickly dived into the acessories section.  Each item was clearly photographed and I was even able to discern what type of weave was used by the clarity of the photos.  I was really pleased with the attention to detail this company exudes.  When placing my order a virtual passport was created and stamped with the countries I had purchased from.  Shipping details were clearly spelled out and when the packages arrived they were gift wrapped with cards from the artists and a postcard from the country of origin.

Items arrived beautifully gift wrapped

Please take a moment to look at Novica's website for yourself.  Then come back and leave me a comment about an item or artist that struck your fancy.  A draw will be made and one commenter will receive their own $50 gift certificate for Novica.

Novica has an exceptional amount of hand crafted items in categories such as furniture, rugs, tableware, women and men's jewelry.  In addition they have now introduced a program called Novica Live where you can be involved in supporting artists worldwide by throwing Novica parties and introducing Novica to your own friends and family.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Triumphs and Tragedies

For the past six weeks my dear spouse has been in Toronto while I have been keeping the home fires going.  That has proven to be exhausting work.  The vegetable garden has been producing beets, carrots, cilantro and lettuce that all need picking.  And the apple orchard is now in its full glory.  I spend three hours each week just mowing the lawn (and that is truly ridiculous considering we only mow half our property).  I am loathe to admit it but I still haven't planted all the perennials I purchased earlier in the summer.

Plants still waiting to go in the ground
Taking care of a large house on 3 acres is no small feat I tell ya.  But this weekend Jody came home so I celebrated that as a triumph.  I threw chores to the wind and we headed out on the town for dinner and a trip to the race track.

The plants can wait just a few more days can't they?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Cycle is Complete

Almost a month ago I spotted a beautiful butterfly in my garden.  This week I saw the results of the butterfly's hard work.  In among the dill.

and the Flat Leaf Parsley

were caterpillars.  All in different states of growth from very small

some were taking their clothes off

to big and fat

It seems the garden is now supporting the whole life cycle of a Black Swallowtail Butterfly!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Triumphs and Tragedies

This week's Tragedies

Blossom end rot on the tomatoes

Tomatoes also hit by blight

The sawfly larvae have shown up on my baby birches again

The Triumphs

Volunteer squash appeared in my flower beds

The Cosmic Mix Cosmos were caught shining in the fading evening light

The nasturtiums have become so exuberant they have engulfed the carrots

Enough firewood to keep us warm through winter

Lavatera has been blooming profusely for weeks now

Ligularia against the chipped and worn paint of the house.

And just when I think I have found every flower there is to see on this property I come upon this

A grouping of these plants have seeded themselves in the rock area of the knot garden.  They look like a penstemon to me.  An old ornamental that finally managed to push through the weeds or a wild flower come to my garden on the wind?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Walk Through the Meadow

Since we're touring the garden we can't leave out the meadow can we?  The grasses have long since dried and spring flowers have changed to fall.  In the last week the asters started to bloom.

The large flowered white aster with the yellow button

The tiny white Aster lateriflorus or Calico Aster with its horizontal branches and pink buttons changing to yellow.

And the large purple asters.  They flower with such abundance and everywhere I look there's another plant.   How lucky we are that this lawn turned meadow should be so full of this quietly beautiful flower.

Also flowering in abundance is goldenrod.  Last year there was not a single plant in the meadow and I wondered how that could be since the hedgerow is full of goldenrod.  Perhaps the plants just needed an extra year to grow as they are showing up in great numbers now.

Another plant I don't recall seeing last year in the field is this funny plant.  This year it is turning up everywhere on the property it seems.  I suspect it is Hemp Nettle, a weed introduced from Europe.

Although I noticed this next plant last year it seems to have covered more ground this year.

Common toadflax is another invasion from Europe, brought in as an ornamental plant.

I have really struggled to identify this next bloom.  I found a group of them hidden in a shaded patch tucked between my neighbours hedge and the roadside.   

They appear to be a double flower and are quite pretty.  Does anyone have ideas about what it might be?

As it happens I discovered this bloom's identity is while looking for something else!  It is an ornamental plant from Europe, traditionally used in cottage gardens.  Saponaria officinalis is often called Bouncing Bet.  This particular flower is a double form called Rosea plena.

In that same secluded corner is my native Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana.  This plant has grown by leaps and bounds since being planted last spring and is beginning to put out tiny yellow flowers now this fall.

And what would a trip into the meadow be if I didn't show you the progress of my little red oak?

I simply cannot believe how much this tree has grown this year.  It is close to the size it was when we first bought it last spring.  After being gnawed to bits by voles this past winter all that you see here is brand new growth.  That's several feet of new growth in one season.  Truly truly astounding.