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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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Being a port city on the west coast of Canada, Vancouver is blessed with many cultures, and many people from all over the world. We have a close connection with other countries whose shores are also on the “Pacific Rim”, including China.

If you want to “escape” the rush and bustle of the city while still remaining in it, a visit to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden will make you feel, at least briefly, that you have entered a little paradise. This glorious Asian garden is what I like to call one of the “Hidden Treasures of Vancouver”. Situated right in the middle of Vancouver’s original “Chinatown”, the garden is a true gem. See the link above, under the first photograph, to read more about the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which is located at 578 Carrall Street.

On the day I took these photographs, my camera played a wonderful trick on me, and turned everything a beautiful shade of blue! Sometime in the future, I’ll do a blog post about how I acquired my camera, an older Olympus, as a gift from a friend. The gift came with no instructions, so I just learn as I go along with it, which is fun and challenging at the same time. I decided to post my blue pictures, and hope you enjoy them. Blue is such a soothing, peaceful, calming colour!

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Next week, February 16th will be Chinese New Year, celebrating the Year of the Dog.

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Above photo is of a lovely & prolific climbing rose, name unknown. Spring, 2017.

The boulevard grass at our daughter’s place is gradually disappearing, being replaced with flowering herbs, perennials and vegetables. The bees love it, and so do we! People walking by on the sidewalk now see a changing “panorama” of greenery and blooms, all year long. Having a boulevard garden helps to create a feeling of community, providing the opportunity to talk with neighbours and others who happen to pass by when the gardener is out there working. And I get my exercise all during the growing season! I’m very grateful for the chance to work (play) in this great little garden!

All my hurts my garden spade can heal.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here’s how the boulevard garden is shaping up:

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Chives, Oregano, & Mint growing by the sidewalk. These easygoing herbs attract a multitude of bees, which are such valuable pollinators!

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Pinks, which have a gorgeous, spicy fragrance, and Creeping Charlie, despised by some gardeners, but appreciated by me for its ability to be a freely spreading ground cover, thus keeping out the weeds! As a bonus, Charlie has tiny mauve flowers in the spring, which to my eye are very pretty.

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Sage, blooming in June. I tucked this plant into a bed near the vegetable patch. Sage is such a strong plant, with amazingly “pungent” leaves!

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Newly built planter boxes…squash plants in this one. It’s surprising, and very gratifying, to see how much food can be grown once the grass is replaced with vegetable beds and boxes.

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Hosta blooms. This one is quite imposing!

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Canterbury Bells. (*see note below)

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Can anyone tell me, is this a butterfly on the Aster flower, or a moth? I’m guessing butterfly. Beautiful, isn’t it?

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And finally, a very welcome bumblebee on the Aster plant. The pollinators (all sorts of bees and butterflies) are attracted to these Asters, and to the flowering herbs, just around the corner of the boulevard.

***Please remember not to use insecticides, herbicides, or any genetically modified seeds or plants in your gardens! GMO’s contain hidden pesticides. All of these toxic products are causing drastic losses in the bee and  butterfly populations.  Without these wonderful insects, our ability to produce food will be greatly reduced.

I can enjoy flowers quite happily without translating them into Latin.

–Cornelia Otis Skinner

*Note: Me too, Cornelia! However, the Latin name for the Canterbury Bells pictured above, in case anyone wonders, is:

Campanula poscharskyana, (Serbian bellflower, trailing bellflower), a semi-evergreen trailing perennial. Native to the Dinaric Alps in former Yugoslavia, along the Western edge of the Balkan Peninsula.

Here it is, December 21st, 2017, the Winter Solstice, also known as Midwinter. And that’s a wrap for the 2017 Boulevard Garden Highlights!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Above Photo: Sea Kale (Crambe maritima), flowering in the Spring of 2017.

Sea Kale is a beautiful, hardy perennial which grows in poor soils, and is a commonly seen plant on the shingle beaches of southern England. On the coast of Kent (where my father’s family were market gardeners), it grows in the meager, sandy soil which lies underneath the “shingle”, or rocks, covering the beach. In our daughter’s front garden, the above plant provided an abundance of large, edible leaves all summer long. Similar in flavour to curly kale, the leaves are delicious and full of vitamins and minerals. Sea kale leaves can be torn up and added to soups and sauces,  gently stir fried with onion and garlic and a bit of added water, or simply steamed. Sea Kale is one of my very favourite plants!

In the garden beds, where the front lawn used to be, Nonno (Grandpa) grew a great variety of vegetables this past year. (see my previous blog post about the beginnings of this lawn conversion: “Urban Garden Harvest”, posted on October 6th, 2016):

https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/2016/10/06/urban-garden-harvest/

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Above photo: Spring 2017 Organic vegetable beds, where the front lawn used to be.

For all things produced in a garden, whether of salads or fruits, a poor man will eat better that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none.

–J.C. Loudon, 1783-1843, Scottish botanist and garden designer.

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Above: Snow Pea flower, Spring, 2017

This gardening adventure is taking place in our daughter’s front yard, and along the outer boulevard. She discovered the materials for this up-cycled greenhouse for free,  online and in the back lane. Our husbands designed and built it, with her input.

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Building this little greenhouse prevented the vintage windows from ending up in the landfill. Now that’s “sustainability”! Besides, I think it’s cute, and so original!

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Garlic Bed…we do use a lot of garlic in our family!

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Summer ’17 Vegetable Beds

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Raised veggie beds…no bending required here! Easier on the back.

During the summer of ’17, a neighbour walked by and asked, “Are you farming here?”

I laughed and replied, “Well yes we are, actually!” Organic farming all the way. No chemical fertilizers, no pesticides or herbicides, but lots of composted soil and good old-fashioned hand-watering, weeding and regular care by Nonno. What a bounty of delicious vegetables were harvested all summer long, and well into autumn as well.

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Veggies in afternoon shade.

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Tomatoes and Basil.

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Garden tomatoes & lettuce, (with dried cranberries added…:)

He who shares the joy in what he’s grown spreads joy abroad and doubles his own.

–Anonymous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Sunday, September 24th, 2017 my friend and I joined in with thousands of other people to take part in the Walk for Reconciliation, here in Vancouver. What an amazing, positive experience that was! And the sun shone, making it all the more amazing here on the “Wet Coast,” aka the West Coast of Canada.

For over 500 years the Indigenous People of North and South America (and all over the world, actually) have been shoved aside, downtrodden, frowned upon, stolen from, mistreated, and on goes the list of abuses they have suffered. Colonizers tried to make Indigenous People invisible, tried to actually get rid of them entirely, but they failed. The original people of these lands have not only survived, but they have kept their cultures alive and are working on keeping their languages alive as well. In fact, they are gaining in strength. Just look at these wonderful photographs of the Walk, from Reconciliation Canada:

http://reconciliationcanada.ca/walk-for-reconciliation-2017/thank-you-merci/

Two definitions for the word Reconciliation:

—the restoration of friendly relations;

—the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.

Here’s a link explaining more about Reconciliation Canada:

http://reconciliationcanada.ca/about/about-us/

The time has finally come for the true history of Canada to be taught in schools and learned by everyone. “Truth and Reconciliation,” the truth, that is, about residential schools, about what actually happened to the Indigenous People of Canada and about the loss of their lands. As Chief Robert Joseph, a survivor of the residential school system (where he spent eleven years away from his family as a child), said:

“Our future, and the well-being of all our children rests with the kind of relationships we build today.”—Chief Robert Joseph, Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, and Co-founder of Reconciliation Canada.

Along with the Reconciliation process, there are so many complex and ongoing issues for all of us to learn about and try to understand: land claims, court cases, treaties, human rights, and questions around social justice.

RESPECT is key here, and learning to listen with open minds!

Hopefully, someday the First Nations of Canada will be on an equal footing with the Canadian government and the governments of other countries. Undoubtedly this will take time and a lot of work!

PLEASE NOTE: the photographs in the above link were not taken by me, but by:

reconciliationcanada.ca

 

 

 

 

 

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Lichen & Moss on Sycamore Maple tree branch, VanDusen Garden…July, 2017

(Sycamore Maple: Acer pseudoplatanus cv Atropurpureum)

About Lichens:

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

http://www.lichen.com/biology.html

Mosses & Lichens:

https://www.google.ca/search?q=Mosses+with+Lichens&lr=&as_qdr=all&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjotrCtlrLVAhXollQKHZ0HDeQQsAQIQg&biw=1247&bih=641#imgrc=qDdAtuP6nymVUM:

All of the above information for such a simple photograph! It is interesting to me, though, the symbiotic relationship between the tree, the lichens, and the mosses. All of them co-operating and supporting each other! If only humans could learn that lesson.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

—Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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