unique bird house

recently i posted on my facebook page about the generosity of neighbours. this has been an ongoing theme for us since moving to hope, three years ago this month. Randy, a local carver has been exceptionally generous. in the last two weeks an early easter bunny arrived mysteriously on the doorstep; he’s since migrated to the pond, but is still looking for a permanent home. yesterday, i asked a favour, looking for a small round of wood to add to a birdhouse i was working on….a few hours later i got my round, and a whole lot more! i think I’m safe in saying i may have one of the most unique birdhouses anywhere.

all i had to do was cut the opening in the mouth and assemble the pieces!

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pineapple express

we’ve had mild weather for the last few days, so mild, that all traces of winter have disappeared. it’s 7 a.m. and 11 degrees, about the same as a june morning.
i suppose it is natures nudge that i should tidy the greenhouse and ready things for seeding in 2 or 3 weeks. i also need to tear down the chicken coop and run, i sold the chickens (another post soon)! and prepare a new garden. my plan is to put some peas in for the first year, where the chickens once roamed, it should give the ground a good start as a new garden.

my goldfish are doing just fine…it seems i’ve only lost one since last year and that was to a pesky raccoon. i’m amazed at how quickly they come out of their dormancy, once the air temperature reaches 5 or more degrees, there is always the odd swimmer exploring the pond.

the raised beds need turning and the forecast is for sunny days next week…ah, it feels good to get back to the garden, even if only for a few days before the next frost or snow!

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tropical weather and gifts that delight

jamming…

it has been a number or years since we last tried to can anything; so cross your fingers.

using small yellow plums from our neighbours and blueberries bought on the cheap from a local farmer we charged ahead starting early this morning…it’s now  11:30 a.m. and we’re done!

to beat the heat we used an outside burner which quickly heated up the canner and helped keep the house somewhat cooler.  it is now 26 C outside and getting hotter so glad to be back indoors.

canning is a messier process than i remembered  but the smells were awesome.  using 2 kilo of plums and 2 litre of blueberries we ended  up with 3 jars of each and some foam and plum left over to pour over ice cream tonight.   we used no sugar pectin…but added a 1.5 cups of sugar to each batch to add a bit more sweetness.   the jars are sitting in the shade and will stay there for 24 hours before going onto the shelf.

p.s. my one oversight was failing to stir the jar to remove air before sealing.  what are the risks of missing this step?

viola ready plum-blueberry canner

a garden is…

Recently, a pleasant and wellmeaning gentleman came to see my garden for a « beautiful gardens » event sponsored by the local paper.  Though flattered to be considered, my garden is still too young for exposure to the wider world.

After his too brief visit I got to thinking on some of his comments and what makes a garden beautiful.  My own small garden  is a bit of a jumble, haphazard in design yet, for me, has a sense of being comfortable, like an old slipper.

My visitor told me of other gardens he’d visited, leaving me with the impression that his view of a garden must conform to some set of arbitrary requirements, not too tight, not too busy, not this, not that…and so on.  I wondered what he thought of my garden?  He had stood in one spot on the patio and never moved. He’ll never know of the small path leading to a fruit laden fig tree that shades a small fern garden, or the raised beds ready for harvest down the « dark side » of our house or the mix of perennials, tomatoes and corn, in the front garden.   How can you feel a garden if you don’t walk through it, touch the plants, release the sweet fragrance of lavender or a rose, or the feel the lightness of a leaning stem weighed down by blossoms.

I have a friend who was a master gardener, her yard is tiny, yet crowded with a wild abandon, if it grows, I suspect she must plant it.  A walk through her yard is as if you’ve entered into a magical cornucopia of texture, colour and scents.

My visitor, I suspect, would not have liked it. The garden he seemed to have enjoyed least was « too crowded » for him « too much »  is what he said.  I think I would relished this « too much » garden.  not to be too judgemental, a formal garden has its place and done well is as inviting and relaxing as any other, but it must feel as though you are welcome!

In my garden, too much is still not enough!  I want to experiment, create islands of  colour or texture and secret pockets that surprise even me as they evolve and mature.  Then, if need be, dig it up and start again.

Our town is a truly a charmed community, embraced by mountains and rivers, with a mild west coast climate that encourages adventurous gardeners to indulge in a long growing season.   Back alleys provide a surreptitious view into many amazing gardens, often more interesting than those in front. For me, the standout gardens are the ones where plants are given room to spill over and mould the garden as though the gardener had not interfered.

So, if you’re out judging gardens, remember, like us – they come in all shapes and sizes, some more loved than others.

 

growing pond

 

for rae

a foray into the past – pardon the pun.

my friend rae has been rather insistent that i get my act together and use the blog.   rae, whom i’ve known for about 30 years (since she was very very young) supplied me with all the tulips in my garden…about a 100!    so, i’ll do a bit of backward forward and put up a few post starting from spring until now, june, 2014

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mea culpa

yup, i’m a slacker at maintaining this blog!  a lot has happened in the garden and though not reluctant to share, i question the purpose and my ego in maintaining it.   if you follow, thanks, i’ll try and keep it a bit more current.

on a more interesting note these picture of a small flock of western tanagers at my pond’s waterfall make the project worthwhile.  about six of them spent 15 minutes drinking, preening and squabbling.

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spring is in the air…

ghsnowit has been a while since tracking my efforts in the garden.  over the course of the winter, i built a lean-to greenhouse against my shed, rearranged the garden layout for more raised veggie beds, and started the design of flower beds and more in the back yard.

the greenhouse was the biggest undertaking, particularly with my limited carpentry skills and being useless with a level:). thanks to the always generous neighbours i was able to use double glazed glass in the front and sides with only a couple of small areas covered in plastic.  i used clear corrugated pvc for the roof.  i’ve recently added two shelving units and put in lighting and a 50 x 120 cm heat pad and a small air heater.

only lettuce and radishes are growing for now…kind of cool to see though.  on the labour front, the new cedar fence section done, sod lifted and some transplants completed, however,  the soil is frozen in spots so have to hold back on most plant moves, including bulbs, herbs and too many columbine.

part of the new garden includes an asparagus bed and more berry bushes. i was lucky to score a half-dozen blueberry plants for $3 each. to round out the berries,  i bought  two gooseberry bushes and threw a climbing hydrangea.  now for the digging.  please stand by…

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puffed up

thanks for all the input wordpress and facebook users.  i have an abundance of these attractive spotted towhees that are unique to the pacific northwest (according to sibley).

these beauties bounce around in the undergrowth that borders the yard.  they are not shy and welcome the seeds, particularly the nyjer from the feeders.