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Snake plant2

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata), July

A strange and wonderful thing happened this past July: our Snake Plant bloomed! Almost hidden behind a couch in the living room, it’s usually “out of sight, out of mind”. When I finally discovered where the mysterious and beautiful fragrance was coming from, I was delighted to find that it was this rare bloom sending forth its perfume. It lasted for many days, with a fragrance lovelier than the lily’s, and quite intoxicating. Apparently they bloom more readily if neglected, which this long-suffering houseplant definitely is! Here’s more information:

Snake Plant Info – How To Grow A Snake Plant And Snake Plant Care

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARhododendron (a small, unknown variety), Spring

I’m including this unusual-looking Rhodo because I’ve never seen one bloom in this manner before. It seemed to go rather wild this year. Maybe it’s suffering from a bit of neglect just like the Snake Plant is, and is valiantly trying to reproduce itself…who knows? Can anyone name this Rhodo?

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Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), Spring

It may be considered a weed by some, but I love it anyway! Here’s the Ajuga, bravely flowering in amongst the Sedums, Valerian and bamboo shoots. Such a gorgeous shade of purplish blue.

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Japonica (Chaenomeles), sometimes known as “Ornamental Quince”, Spring

Possibly my favourite flowering shrub in our garden, this particular beauty has survived two changes of address in the past 25 years. It produces plum-sized fruits every year, which the squirrels cart off with some difficulty.

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Camellia japonica, Spring

Another hardy survivor, this healthy shrub was given to me by a good friend, many years ago. It, too, has lived through two garden moves…maybe three. Such resilience!

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Lewisia, Spring

While it bloomed brilliantly on the deck, this Lewisia’s container remained upright when the raccoon scaled the railing behind it! You can see the raccoon’s paw prints on the white boards in the background. City raccoons are resilient, too…they have to be, to survive the traffic in Vancouver!

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Sage (Salvia officinalis), Summer

And over in our daughter’s garden, here’s the ever-hardy Sage plant. I only wish that I used it in my cooking! However, the bees do love it, and its strong fragrance is quite refreshing.

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Seaside Plantain (Plantago maritima), Summer

Yes, this is usually classified as a weed among the gardening aficionados! But the lowly Seaside Plantain leaves are actually edible, and this native plant could be classified as a (an) herb. Besides, I like the look of it!

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Basil (Ocimum basilicum), Summer

Who can resist Pasta with Pesto, made with fresh basil leaves? Delicious!

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Sun Rose or Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora), Summer

This reliable, colourful little plant is actually a tender annual, and is not hardy. I used to plant it in a boulevard bed, but have resorted to potting it in a container, because the dogs and squirrels tended to interfere with it every summer. Portulaca flowers make me smile!

I’ll end this post with a couple of thought-provoking quotations:

***Garden as though you will live forever.

                                   —William Kent (1685-1748) British architect & Landscape architect

***You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

                                     —Jane Goodall (b. 1934) English Primatologist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kabocha Squash on the front boulevard… August, 2019.

Instead of growing troublesome and thirsty grass on the boulevards and in the front and back gardens, our family is growing FOOD!! I don’t want to sound egotistical here, but we are pleased and surprised at just how much food can be grown on a city lot. It’s quite amazing, and gratifying, to head out to the garden and pick a bowlful of vegetables for dinner. Anyone can do it! Thanks to my husband and son-in-law, we’ve had a steady supply of veggies, and even raspberries, all summer long.

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All sorts of lettuce in a pot.

Every few weeks throughout the spring and summer, more lettuce seeds were planted, resulting in an ongoing supply of fresh salad greens. Some seeds were planted in the raised beds, some in pots, like the one above. Outer leaves were harvested at intervals, leaving the plant to reproduce more leaves…”cut and come again”, as some gardeners call this method. It’s now September, and we’re still enjoying fresh, sweet lettuce!

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Cherry tomatoes in the greenhouse.

Here’s a quotation I like, which connects vegetable gardening with helping the environment:

Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the care of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if she/he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. She/he is producing something to eat, which makes her/him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but she/he is also enlarging, for her/himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.

–Wendell Berry (from: “Think Little”, 1970)

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A forest of kale!

Healthy soil is the basis of a productive veggie patch. We augment the existing earth with organic soil from a local company, along with compost from our own back yard compost bins. These bins get a steady supply of organic, only plant-based kitchen peelings and scraps. It’s all vegan. Also important to note: no pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers are used in the garden.

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Amaranth plants, growing at the foot of a Columnar Apple tree, and sharing the bed with some young raspberry bushes.

Amaranth leaves are delicious, lightly stir fried with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of water, along with whatever other veggies you fancy. The leaves are almost too beautiful to eat, resembling Coleus plants, to my eye.

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Potatoes, Amaranth & Cherry tomatoes.

These delicious potatoes were grown in buckets of soil, using eyes from potatoes which had gone to seed, in the spring.  We’d already eaten the larger ones by the time I took this photo. Honestly, they were the best potatoes I’ve ever tasted! (The buckets are the standard white, plastic variety, with drainage holes drilled in the bottoms. Not that we like to use plastic, but since they had already been produced, they were at least put to good use! And they will be used for years to come.)

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Potatoes, onions, carrots & peas.

The potatoes pictured above were planted directly into the ground, rather than into buckets. And these were edible pod peas, growing in a container. Delicious!

I’ll end with another favourite quotation:

We’re a rambly type of garden. We can’t make it all immaculate. A certain amount of romantic disorder is a happy compromise.

–Henry Robinson (from: The English Garden Magazine, January 2001)

Right on, Henry!

To be continued…

September 13th, 2019: Here’s a wee update about AMARANTH:

Amaranthus viridis, or slim amaranth, is known as “VLITA” in Greece, where it is a common green vegetable, grown in gardens all around that country. There are about 60 varieties of Amaranth throughout the world, and at least one of them is grown for its seeds. Back in the 1970’s, when we were first becoming “vegetarian”, my husband and I ate Amaranth as a cereal. The seeds are used as a grain, and as a flour. What a wonderful, beautiful plant!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) in a container in our back garden. Canary Island Ivy (Hedera Canariensis) leaf peeking through the fern fronds.

I’m more relaxed about gardening than I used to be, and am enjoying letting Mother Nature have her way. She creates beauty at every turn, with little interference from me! Green is her colour of preference, which is obvious to anyone who walks through a forest.

These days, green is my favourite colour in the garden, and elsewhere. Being a cool colour, it provides a sense of calm and peacefulness, similar to the effect of blue. Because green plants appear to be in the background, they add a feeling of spaciousness to garden beds. For me, green represents Nature at its best, and is the colour of life and hopefulness. The following photographs were taken while we were on a walk in Pacific Spirit Park, in July, 2019, on one of the many beautiful trails there. Each photograph shows only native plants, which have grown here on the southwest coast of Canada for many centuries.

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Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

***Green is the prime colour of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.

                                                               —Pedro Calderon de la Barca

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Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)

No white nor red was ever seen

So amorous as this lovely green.

—Andrew Marvell

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Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) trees among the Douglas Firs ((Pseudotsuga menziesii)

This is second-growth forest, re-planted in the early 1900’s, following intensive logging. The original evergreen trees were massive giants, and a few of their trunks are still visible throughout the park. They were mainly Western Red Cedars and Douglas Firs.

It was with awe

That I beheld

Fresh leaves, green leaves

Bright in the sun.

—Basho

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Moss on Douglas Fir bark

***If there is a future, it will be Green.

—Petra Kelly

By “Green”, I think that Petra Kelly means that humanity will be using renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and other clean methods which do not emit carbon, and will thus help to slow down the rate of global warming and climate change.

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Vine Maples and Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) tree.

***A forest is green for a reason.

—Anthony T. Hincks

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Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) and Salal

***Green is a soothing colour, isn’t it?

—Jack Thorne

Here’s a little song some of you may remember, from Sesame Street:

It’s Not Easy Being Green (Kermit’s Song). Kermit is a frog, of course! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sun Tower, 128 West Pender St. I took this photograph from the vantage point of Victory Square.

For my latest venture beyond the garden gate, I travelled downtown via transit, in search of vintage buildings.

Much as I sometimes lament the rapid growth and “development” in the city of Vancouver, I need to remember that everything changes! With citizen input and the ongoing work of city planners (some of whom actually listen to our ideas), these changes thankfully include the preservation of some wonderful buildings from bygone eras.

Today’s quotation:

Let us then understand at once that change or variety is as much a necessity to the human heart and brain in buildings as in books; that there is no merit, though there is some occasional use in monotony; and that we must no more expect to derive either pleasure or profit from an architecture whose ornaments are of one pattern, and whose pillars are of one proportion, than we should out of a universe in which the clouds were all of one shape, and the trees all of one size.

–John Ruskin, (1819-1900), from: “The Nature of Gothic” first published in The Stones of Venice, Vol. 2, 1853

Ever since Vancouver was incorporated as a city in 1886, thousands of buildings have come and gone, many of them understandably so. However, I feel gratitude whenever a beautiful piece of architecture is preserved rather than being torn down. Although I agree with Ruskin’s ideas in the above quotation, that architecture and design evolve over the years, I still appreciate being able to enjoy Vancouver’s older buildings. Tucked in between the modern towers, our vintage structures remind us of the passage of time, and of the inevitability of change!

Here are a few of my favourites:

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Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St.

The above photograph shows the former entrance of the Provincial Court House building on West Georgia St., between Howe and Hornby Streets. Now housing the Vancouver Art Gallery, it was built in 1906, and is a Neo-Classical structure. It was designed by Victoria architect Sir Francis Mawson Rattenbury (1867-1935), who also designed Victoria’s Legislative Assembly buildings and that city’s Empress Hotel.

A land exchange took place in 1974 between the province of B.C. and the city of Vancouver, in which the City acquired a 99 year lease on the courthouse building. Construction began in 1981 on the $20 million re-design of the building, with Vancouver-based Arthur Erickson Architects at the helm. This was part of the three block development called Robson Square.

In October 1983, the new Vancouver Art Gallery opened to the public. Now, in 2019, the City is planning to move our beloved VAG to a new location, in a new building.

For me, the present VAG is a treasure, both in design and accessibility. Robson Square and the gallery represent the heart of our city. I do hope this precious gathering place can be retained, even if and when the gallery itself is moved.

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Hotel Vancouver, 900 West Georgia St.

It’s huge, imposing, and is a central focal point in the city’s downtown. I love the Hotel Vancouver. It’s such an elegant old building. There are even sculpted griffins on the corners, watching over the downtown bustle! I took this photo from across the street, while standing on the steps of Christ Church Cathedral, at the corner of Burrard and Georgia Streets. Years ago, that magnificent old church was almost demolished, but thankfully thousands of people protested, and it’s been saved. Notice its slate roof, (far left on the photo, above the cross).

Opened in 1939, this is actually the third “Hotel Vancouver”, and is currently called Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. It took eleven years to build, because construction was halted for five years during the Great Depression. Begun by the CNR (Canadian National Railway), and completed jointly with the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway), the hotel was considered a miracle of construction and engineering. It is seventeen stories tall, and was designed by architects Archibald and Schofield.

https://www.fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver/hotel-history/

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The Sun Tower, 128 West Pender St.

At 82 meters tall, the Sun Tower was at one time the tallest building in the British Empire. Designed by architect William Tuff Whiteway, it was completed in 1912, and was originally the home of the Vancouver World newspaper. It was first called the World Building, then renamed the Bekins Building, and finally The Sun Tower, and was HQ of the Vancouver Sun newspaper for many years. From 1968 to 1996 it was occupied by the Geological Society of Canada. The dome stands out even today, due to its distinctive faux aged copper colour of pale turquoise. Because it is currently encased in scaffolding due to conservation work, I decided to let this unique building peek out from behind trees in Victory Square.

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Hudson’s Bay department store, 674 Granville St.

The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) has a very long history here in Canada. But that’s a story for another blog post!

Here in Vancouver, the first store opened in 1887, on Cordova St., following the arrival of the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) here on the west coast of Canada.  The present store, situated at the corner of West Georgia and Granville Streets, is actually the fourth HBC store in town. Designed by architects Burke, Horwood & White in the Edwardian style, it was opened in 1914, and has been through various phases of expansion and structural changes over the years. Stretching from Granville St. eastward to Seymour St., this handsome building is another of Vancouver’s treasures.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been going to The Bay, as it’s called by locals, and it really hasn’t changed inside all that much! Beginning in the late 1940’s, I went shopping there with my mom, and am pretty sure that this is where my old photos with Santa Claus were taken!  And of course, the HBC store has always provided cafeterias for customers. They used to be more elaborate, but everything changes!

Here’s a link to the Hudson’s Bay Company store’s history in Vancouver:

http://www.hbcheritage.ca/places/places-other-institutions/vancouver

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The Vancouver Block, 736 Granville St.

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Trusty old clock, atop the Vancouver Block, as pictured from the Art Gallery courtyard.

Opened in 1912, The Vancouver Block is a 15 storey Edwardian commercial building designed by the Parr & Fee architectural firm. Near the corner of Granville & Georgia, and situated on the highest point of land in downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver Block sat at the commercial core of early Vancouver. The beautiful clock on top of the building is visible for miles around. At least it used to be, before the days of high rise towers.

Here’s a link:

https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=10821&pid=0

As a teenager back in the early 1960’s, I had one of my first part time jobs in this building. It was a brief stint during the summer holidays, answering the office phone and making appointments for a holidaying dentist. I babysat for his kids regularly. I vividly remember going up to his office in the elevator, past the shiny brass and polished wood of the building’s lobby. The elevator had a real live person as the operator, naturally!

Another of my part time jobs as a teen was in a pharmacy just around the corner from the Vancouver Block, next to the Strand Theatre on West Georgia St. A school friend of mine (thanks, Mary!) got me that job, which entailed writing out invoices, addressing envelopes, and mailing them. An intriguing detail in the pharmacy was a water-filled jar containing live leeches, hearkening back to the days when leeches were used as a medical treatment! Those were the good old days, when life was simpler!;)

***Thanks for reading this blog post, which turned out longer than I had planned. I’ll keep them shorter from now on;). Your interest is much appreciated!***

***If you would like to become a “Follower” of JoieduSoleil, and receive a BRIEF email notice from WordPress each time I post, please click on the “FOLLOW” link, either in the side bar to the right of each post, or at the bottom right hand corner of each post. All you need to do is click on “Follow”, and enter your email address. Thanks!***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Acer rubrum (Red Maple)

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.


—Albert Camus (French novelist, essayist & playwright, 1913-1960)

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Beach Asters

These bright little yellow blooms surprised me one day at the beach. I don’t know how they managed to settle in beside a log, in the sandy soil, far from any garden. Perhaps the wind or a bird carried a seed head to this unlikely spot. I wish I knew the name of this delightful plant! For now, I call them “Beach Asters”. They’re most likely a plant native to our area.

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As seen from the beach, the ever-growing Vancouver city skyline. The shift in seasons could be felt in the air on this September day.

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Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Chinese Plumbago or Leadwort)

An all-time favourite of mine. Who could ask for more? Green leaves change to burgundy, and blue flowers appear in September.

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Violas…I love them, and plant them every fall. They bloom all through winter, and well into spring, which is a treat! Cheerful little flowers!

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This year’s leaf colours were magnificent! Here are some from Acer rubrum (Red Maple), Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple), and Acer macrophyllum (Broad Leaf Maple). So Canadian!

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Hallowe’en 2018 was a quiet one in our neighbourhood, but it’s always fun!

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Woven twig star in a neighbour’s garden. Can Christmas be far off?

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Acer macrophyllum (Broadleaf Maple, Broad Leaf Maple, Bigleaf Maple, Big-Leaf Maple)

This is a venerable old tree, managing to survive so far on a boulevard. It’s a tree which is native to this part of the world, which makes it an especially important one to protect as part of the inter-connected biosphere (what’s left of it!) Licorice ferns grow from the mossy crevices of its branches, and mosses cling to its trunk.

https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfd/library/documents/treebook/bigleafmaple.htm

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Betula (Birch)

A Birch tree at dusk, already ‘bereft’ of all its leaves. This is looking west, towards Pacific Spirit Park and the UBC golf course, where the Pacific Tree Frogs will be chorusing, come April. If you’d like to, you can see my previous post on Pacific Tree Frogs, also known as Pacific Chorus Frogs: https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/urban-trekking-2-frog-songs/

A snippet of the frogs’ chorusing is included in the above link. It’s rare, these days, to hear frog songs in the city!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At 6:54 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) on September 22nd, 2018, Autumnal Equinox will occur here in Vancouver. That’s today! So, I’d like to share a few last photos from the summer of 2018, mostly flowers, of course.

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Michaelmas Daisies (Aster x frikartii “Monch”… possibly)… & Sedum “Autumn Joy”

This intriguing combination created itself in the boulevard garden which I’ve been working on, (“The Verge”, as I’ve taken to calling it) at our daughter’s place. The Aster appeared out of nowhere, and I’m happy with the serendipitous partnership.

Verge: The verge of a road is the narrow strip of grassy ground at the side.

In this case, of course, the grass by the sidewalk has been removed, to be replaced by a variety of perennials and herbs.

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Where the front lawn used to be. Veggies galore! Organic all the way.

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An urban vegetable garden is preferable to a boring lawn, and this one has turned into a real family affair, with everyone pitching in to help. Passersby stop to talk, and the garden helps to create a greater connection to others in the community.

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Phlox paniculata. The fragrance is lovely, bringing back memories of my earliest years of gardening. This perennial has lived through moves from three previous gardens. It’s a survivor!

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On the Great Lawn at VanDusen Botanical Garden. Pure relaxation! (It was a hot day during Vancouver’s summer heat wave.)

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The smoke from wildfires in B.C. was thick for weeks on end this summer. This was the view from Spanish Banks, looking towards Stanley Park. The mountains and the city skyline were invisible, and the air was filled with “particulates”. Climate change is going to force us all to change our ways.

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Hazelnuts in our back garden, on a self-seeded hazel (Corylus) tree. Food for the squirrels. I’ve noticed that they also eat seeds from maple trees, and acorns from oaks, naturally.  Animals are so self-sufficient!

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Our granddaughter picking apples from a neighbourhood tree on the boulevard. Free for the taking! They made great applesauce. (Here’s a hint for making sugar-free applesauce: use the juice from one large, organic orange and a tiny bit of water with your cut up apples. No sugar needed. Simmer gently just until you get the desired consistency. Simply delicious!)

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Organically grown tomatoes and peppers from the back yard greenhouse our son-in-law built. Aren’t they gorgeous?

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Here’s the greenhouse in early summer. The tomato plants eventually grew very tall, and were supported by an ingenious method using thin ropes attached neatly to the ceiling. Cucumbers and green bell peppers shared the space.

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The last roses of summer, just before the rains began. These roses have such a beautiful perfume. They may be Rugosas. I lost the tag during the latest garden move. All six rose bushes came through the move with flying colours, I’m happy to say:)

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Sunset over Bowen Island, looking towards Howe Sound. Photograph taken at my favourite place on the planet: Spanish Banks beach!

Looking forward to Autumn of 2018, here is a haiku by Basho, a Japanese poet who lived from 1644 to 1694:

On a leafless bough

In the gathering autumn dusk:

A solitary crow!

—Basho

And remember:

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Senecio “Sunshine” (aka Brachyglottis)

The above perennial plant is one of my favourites, and I’m thankful that it seems to accept growing in a large container near our front door. I first saw one thriving in a seaside garden at our local beach, Spanish Banks, and fell in love with it. Even the leaves are lovely, being a grey-green shade, with a soft and downy texture.

What a summer we’ve had, with the most wildfires ever recorded in our province of British Columbia. For most of August the entire province was covered in a thick, smoky haze. Even here in Vancouver, for weeks at a time we couldn’t see the mountains clearly. Things are improving now that September has arrived. There are still fires burning, though, and the smell of smoke lingers in the air.

But back to more pleasant memories, which often involve flowers, for me!

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The bees absolutely loved this self-seeded Himalayan blackberry bush, (Rubus), which is growing around a laneway power pole. Even though the experts say that the Himalayan is an invasive species, it does provide food for the bees and other pollinators, then later on masses of berries for anyone passing by.

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Campanula poscharskyana, sharing a space with Red Valerian, Cranesbills, & Bamboo roots (!) in our front garden. Every year, this reliable, “rampant, spreading perennial” returns, with its jaunty mauve-blue flowers. It’s a good ground cover for a wild garden, like mine! The proper name is quite a mouthful. I just call it “Canterbury Bells”.

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Lychnis “Coronaria”, a shameless self-seeder, is spreading itself happily amongst the English Lavender on the boulevard. I admire these hardy volunteers, which take care of themselves so well. This Lychnis is drought-tolerant, and is just wonderfully flamboyant! The flowers were originally pale pink and white, but have reverted to pure white, which I quite like.

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Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) is such a hardy, cheerful little perennial, but is short-lived, and is usually grown as an annual. It’s a great plant for attracting pesky aphids away from the vegetable patch.

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Masterwort (Astrantia major)…perfection! I love the green-tipped petals.

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A hoverfly busily working with pollen grains on a Lily petal. I wish there was a way to include the heady fragrance of these gorgeous blooms in a blog post!

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And overlooking it all, a Bald Eagle perched on an evergreen tree a few doors up the street. The crows were very perturbed about this!

These photographs were taken with my trusty old Olympus digital camera.

To be continued, with photos from my cell phone…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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