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Archive for the ‘Coastal B.C.’ Category

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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The Marine Building in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
My favourite heritage building in our home town. Re-blogging!

Joie du Soleil

The Marine Building The Marine Building

Located at 355 Burrard St. in downtown Vancouver, the Marine Building was designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners in the late 1920’s. An elegant old “skyscraper”, its distinctive “Art Deco” styling depicts maritime themes as well as B.C.’s nautical flora and fauna.

As a child, I thought the creamy-coloured Art Deco details resembled icing on a cake, when viewed from a distance. Opened in October, 1930, this was the tallest building in Vancouver until 1939.

I am so thankful that the beautiful Marine Building remains standing in the downtown core. Being a young city, Vancouver does not have the historical old structures that European cities do. Many of our older buildings, which dated back just over half a century or even less, have been demolished already. With the constant threat of a major earthquake in this region, city planners are advocating replacing existing old buildings with quake-proof…

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Robson Street entrance/exit of the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch

When it was first opened in May of 1995, the appearance of the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch left some of us rather bewildered. I say that because its design was quite different from anything we had seen before in our young and modern city. “Is the architect emulating the design of the Roman Colosseum?” we wondered. (“Colosseum” is the Roman spelling.) But now, twenty-three years later, most of us have grown to appreciate this unique and welcoming building, which is conveniently located in the centre of downtown Vancouver.

Bounded by Georgia, Robson, Homer and Hamilton Streets, the VPL covers an entire city block.

https://www.vpl.ca/location/central-library

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Georgia Street entrance/exit, Vancouver Public Library

Architect Moshe Safdie and DA Architects won the bid to build the library after the City held a design competition, with their design being the most popular choice. The resulting “Library Square” includes the Federal Office Tower and retail and service facilities, along with the nine story library.

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

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Library Square with Office Tower, and one of the ubiquitous Vancouver cranes

No matter where one goes in Metro Vancouver, cranes dot the skyline! Construction is ongoing. The following photo shows the proposed design of the building going up across the street from the VPL:

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Now that is some design!! Merrick Architecture/Westbank Projects Corporation.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a book-lover, and libraries are like a second home to me. One of my earliest memories is of my mom reading Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, aloud to me at bedtime. Mom loved literature, and wrote beautiful lyric nature poems, some of which were published in our local newspapers.

For me, even the imposing Central Branch of the VPL is welcoming, and offers much more than “just books”.

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The Promenade/Enclosed Concourse of Library Square

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Light is such an important factor in architectural design…(so many skylights to clean!).

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Remember these? Yes, it’s an old-fashioned phone booth, for our convenience, in Library Square!

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Leaving Library Square and its soaring skylights, we’re back out into the reality of Robson Street with its hustle and bustle, traffic, cafes, and shops. Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This little Iris is an inspiration to me. Every spring, the flowers bravely re-appear, with absolutely no help or special care from anyone! For a small, unassuming plant, it has many names: Iris unguicularis, Iris stylosa, Algerian iris, Algerian winter iris, Winter iris.

Our Algerian iris grows from a gravel bed which is situated in a most challenging spot, nestled in amongst strong bamboo roots. It never fails to surprise me when, usually one day in March, I spot its beautiful flowers coming into bloom. This year, it first bloomed during a light snowfall back in late February, and is still blooming in early April. Never fazed, it is a little gem, and serves as a yearly reminder that spring will soon arrive!

For those of you who like plant details, here are the main points about Algerian iris:

Evergreen, rhizomatous, beardless iris.

H. to 8 in. (20cm)   S. indefinite   Almost stemless, flowers 2-3 in. (5-8cm) across

Flowers appear from late autumn to early spring. Prefers a sheltered site against a south or west-facing wall. (But ours is out in the open, except for those protective bamboo roots!)

 

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Bowen Island Ferry

Day Trip to Bowen Island, “The Happy Isle”…

Sometimes I need a short “getaway” from the city, so last summer I did just that, and travelled by bus and ferry to “The Happy Isle”, Bowen Island.

The perfect place to go for a day trip away from Vancouver, Bowen Island is three nautical miles from West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay, and sits in Howe Sound at the entrance to the Strait of Georgia, now called the Salish Sea.

Before the arrival of European settlers, the people of the Squamish First Nation summered on Xwlil’xhwm, (now known as Bowen Island), harvesting its abundant seafood, and perhaps its native plants as well.

Back in the early 1890’s, “Mainlanders” began to sail over to “The Happy Isle” via the Union Steamship Company’s vessels. My parents both spent time there in the 1920’s and early 1930’s, most likely enjoying picnics and the scheduled dances in the Union Steamship Dance Hall.

For my short stay on beautiful Bowen, I simply walked around Snug Cove, where the ferry docks, over to the Lagoon, and up the hill a little way, stopping to take these photos along the way. A few steps from the ferry landing, I paid a brief visit to the Summer Market, and enjoyed chatting with the folks selling handmade jewellery, home-grown produce, pottery, and all sorts of other items. (Bowen is a friendly place!)

As I’m always ready for a good meal, my next stop was at Doc Morgan’s restaurant and pub, where I had my usual veggie burger and a cup of tea. Wonderful atmosphere and good food! The crowds were seated on the outdoor deck, but I opted to sit indoors, surrounded by vintage furniture and old memorabilia from days gone by.

Walking on up the hill of Bowen Trunk Road, I stopped in to see the historical Orchard Cottages, built in the early 1900’s for vacationers. There are gnarled old apple trees in what used to be the orchard. Hopefully these still habitable old cottages will be saved, and Bowen Islanders will agree that it is wise to save some historical buildings, especially in their beautiful, original setting.

There are quaint little shops to venture into, hidden lanes to explore, and a wonderful, “countrified” atmosphere on Bowen Island. It’s a delight to visit “The Happy Isle”!

 

 

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Small is beautiful.

-E.F. Schumacher

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, here in Vancouver B.C., there was a brief burst of “Thin Houses” being built.

The lots which these thin houses were built on are usually 16.5 feet wide, and approximately 120 feet deep, but the depth can vary. They were created when wider lots, usually about 50 feet in width, were divided up, leaving the existing house on a 33 foot lot, and making room for the new, skinnier house to be added in.

The beauty of these houses lies in their simplicity. They are on a private lot, but with lower taxes, lower maintenance because of smaller size, and lower heating costs, among other advantages. There is room for a small garden, front and back. It’s like living in a townhouse or condo, minus the strata council!

Here in Vancouver land is at a premium, due in part to the city’s location, tucked in snugly beside the towering Coast Mountains and crisscrossed by waterways and bridges. It’s a popular place to live, and has become one of the most expensive cities in North America, making living here almost impossible for many people. So building “infill housing”, such as the thin houses, was a good idea, creating higher density in established neighbourhoods. But therein lay the problem! Thin houses were not universally popular, and building them went out of fashion soon after the trend had begun.

There are probably around fifty or fewer of these thin houses in Vancouver, scattered in amongst the “regular” homes. I’m always pleasantly surprised to come across thin houses on drives and walks in the city, and I’m including photos of six of them.

As far as densifying the city goes these days, “Laneway Houses” are now being built city-wide, and are a practical and attractive addition to our city. Not without their detractors, laneway houses nevertheless are enabling more people to share in living in this beautiful place.

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