Saturday, November 29, 2014

New Additions

Many of you are probably aware of our cats here on the corner.  I have loved cats for years and when we moved to PEI we brought Gino with us, shipping him on a plane across the country.

He's been part of our family for ten years and there was no way he was getting left behind.

When we purchased our home we were surprised to find out that it was already inhabited.  Priscilla, Bug and Funnyface introduced themselves promptly and asked that dinner be provided daily.  Sadly, Funnyface is the only one of the trio that is still with us today.

Five years on he has completely won over our hearts.  Going from feral barn cat to cuddly lap cat.

Two cats would be plenty for most people but I always feel sorry for the vast number of cats that head into shelters or are euthanized.  We have plenty of space and lots of love so an addition has been considered. Recently a co-worker told me she found a litter of feral kittens in her barn.  Of course I volunteered to take two. (why take one when you can have two?)

What can I say, I have a special fondness for barn kitties.  Meet Teddy (Theodore) and Archie.

These brothers have kept us entertained for the last month and I'm sure will continue to do so for many years to come.  There was a small situation with ear mites at first but they are healthy and happy otherwise.

Kittens are good for smiles and laughter

They excel at kitten olympics

I can climb ladders!!
and ease stress

Kittens however are bad at cleaning seeds

That should have been obvious but clearly I didn't think this through.  Turns out dried bean pods are the perfect kitten toy.  Crunchy and they make excellent rattle noises.

They meant well.  Although it made me consider what I'll do about a Christmas tree this year. It could be tricky keeping them away from shiny glass ornaments.  Perhaps we'll save the tree for next year.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Vegetable Gardens can be Pretty Too

We have a pretty big yard.  Three acres of space to get lost in.  When we first moved here it was a blank slate.  5 years on and one can get lost behind shrubs and plants.  I spent a day in the garden this summer and not one but two people dropped by our house.  I did not see them and they did not see me.  I only found out via phone messages and emails later on.

Unfortunately that same thing happens to my husband.   There are times he comes looking and can't find me. One day he came looking and I was nowhere to be found.  Hours later when I finally came back to the house he asked me, "who puts so many flowers in their vegetable garden?"

Apparently in his travels he wandered through the veggie beds and was surprised at the number of flowers he saw.  I didn't think the vegetable garden had so many flowers but on closer inspection I guess I subconsciously felt it needed some perking up.

Marigolds contrast against red beet tops
I always include marigolds in my vegetable beds as they are said to deter whiteflies and nematodes.  I don't know if they really do that but they sure look pretty contrasted against the beets.  

Lilies and Borage
I was gifted with lilies a few years ago and had no place to put them so into the vegetable garden they went.  Now they are surrounded by borage and feverfew each year which draws beneficial insects to pollinate my vegetable plants.

I ordered a daylily this year from local daylily breeder Red Lane Gardens but the flower bed wasn't quite ready when the plants arrived so daylilies graced my carrot bed this year.

Hidden Strength daylily
Every year I dream about putting containers of flowers on our deck but the reality is the containers I do put out die a slow death.  Our deck is in full sun throughout the summer and I am forgetful about watering.  So this year I decided the shade of the garage was the perfect spot for a container garden.  Less watering and I liked the idea of bright colours contrasting against the white walls of the garage.  It just so happens the garage is located next to the vegetable garden.

Begonias and lobelia
Pots of perennials and shrubs that hadn't yet been planted were massed into a collection on a picnic table.  Colourful annuals added some colour.  A box full of red and green lettuce growing in the shade provided greens throughout the summer.

On the sunny side of the garage I put herbs.  Cilantro and dill were combined with cosmos and rudbeckia.

Orange and pink cosmos, dill and cilantro
In fact, herbs are a great way to add some colour to the garden.  Oregano provides a cloud of pink blooms each summer as well as food for us and insects.

So maybe there's a few flowers in my vegetable garden.  But it's just prettier that way isn't it?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Daffy for Dahlias

The days are inching closer to winter and when I go into the garden these days my fingers tend to go numb.  Luckily I managed to complete my list of garden must dos last weekend.  The last chore on the list was digging up my dahlias.

Just a sample from my garden
Every year I wonder why I bother with these tubers.  They are a lot of work to plant each spring and dig up each fall but something in my DNA just cannot resist.  It must have something to do with the fact that they are reliable plants that produce multiple blooms in every colour and shape imaginable.

White dahlias mixed with rudbeckia
Back in the spring I visited Vancouver, British Columbia for a couple weeks.  While there I popped into Van Dusen Botanical Gardens.  I love visiting Van Dusen and this time was no exception.  The day I was there turned out to be the annual Dahlia Sale.  How could I possibly resist??

Come On In!!

Tables of tubers sorted by size
Since I was travelling I had to keep my purchases small but I still managed to walk out with Ferncliff Cameo, Ferncliff Copper and Longwood Dainty.

Longwood Dainty
Longwood Dainty has done very well for me, the plant itself was very strong and by September was covered in blooms.  Unfortunately Ferncliff Cameo did not survive the trip home as the bud broke off the tuber.  Ferncliff Copper had a pretty rough start, the plant broke in a storm and although it recovered it never did bloom.

Despite those setbacks I still had a lovely show of plants this year.

I like to plant my dahlias together.  Combining yellow, white, orange and pink.  A few sunflowers, rudbeckia, gladiolas and canna lilies filled out the bed.

Unfortunately what I've discovered is that my lower garden gets hit with frost before the rest of the property.  The blooms were all killed in September leaving me with blackened plants.
Frost kill in the dahlia bed
So next year I'm contemplating moving the dahlias to the front yard.  Plans for a new bed are underway in a more protected spot.

Of course, that might mean I have to purchase some more dahlias.  That shouldn't be a problem though.  I also visited the Halifax Public Gardens this summer and did you know they have a dahlia collection?

Halifax Public Gardens
The garden contains dahlia cultivars developed by Nova Scotia gardeners, specifically geared towards our maritime climate.

Scarborough Brilliant dahlia
I photographed the flowers and their names to remind me for future shopping.  Just in case I happen to need a few more dahlias.  They're kind of like chips aren't they?  You can't have just one.