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Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

Boat #2

“The Sailing Boat, Evening Effect”, by Claude Monet, 1885

I’m learning that the process of growing older is an art form, and letting go of some things is part of the artistry. When we create a painting, or take a photograph, it’s the empty spaces that help to define the work, giving it balance and making it beautiful, or at least meaningful!

Life is all about dismantling what’s unimportant. Then you can see what’s really valuable.

–Lilo Raymond, photographer (1923-2009)

lilojug

“Still Life with Pitcher”, photograph by Lilo Raymond

It’s never easy to give up certain activities, people, books or objects that we’ve loved in the past. For example, I’ve had to let go of riding a bike, due to certain physical constraints. But I can still walk, thank goodness! I’m in the process of choosing which activities to hold on to, and which to say goodbye to.

Gardening is a blessing, and I’m hoping to follow in my Dad’s and sister’s footsteps, and putter in my garden for as long as I possibly can, as they did.

The luckiest among us drift into old age within the garden. Bones, muscles and sinews may begin to complain, but the passion’s still there: so much still to do, so many possibilities still to explore.

–Des Kennedy, from The Passionate Gardener–Adventures of an Ardent Green Thumb, (Introduction, page 6)

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Dad’s & Lois’ Geraniums (Pelargoniums) on the deck, summer 2017

Every year, in early autumn, I cut back all fifteen to twenty of my geranium plants (Pelargoniums) and re-pot them, then bring them into the house to overwinter until the spring. Even though some gardeners look disdainfully on these plants, I love them! For one thing, they brighten up the deck, and in my mind, add a little Mediterranean colour to the garden. I inherited some of my geraniums from my Dad, and sister Lois, after they passed away, making my connection to these much-loved plants quite sentimental.  Pelargoniums are among the easiest plants to grow. They just have such a strong will to survive! Cuttings will root easily in a jar of water, with no problem.

As I mentioned in the first post entitled “Beautiful Elders—Sailing on an Uncharted Sea”, acceptance of changes is so important as we age.

Here’s a link to the original post:

https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/?s=Beautiful+Elders

Some changes we go through are of our own choosing, and some are forced upon us. Accepting what we are not in control of, or cannot change, is not easy, but does aid us in moving on with our lives. This is a quotation from Albert Einstein which surprised me:

I claim credit for nothing. Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables,or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.

–Albert Einstein, from: The Wisehart Interview, 1930

And Albert was a respected scientist! What a relief to think that we do not have to try to control everything! And what a relief that we can let go of some of the things we used to do.

The above quotation can be seen as stemming from Einstein’s determinism: the philosophical proposition that every event, decision and action is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. See:

http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_determinism.html

Don’t look back, you’re not going that way. (as in the title of this post)

–Mary Engelbreit

Dont Look Back

Illustration by Mary Engelbreit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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One of the places we love to visit on our “Urban Trekking” outings in Vancouver is the wonderful VanDusen Botanical Garden, located on Oak St., at West 37th Avenue.

At one time, all of what is now Vancouver was a rain forest, part of the Indigenous Musqueam Nation’s land. Then “the settlers” came, in the mid to late 1800’s, and the logging began. What is now the VanDusen “property” was turned into a golf course, but in 1975 the Vancouver Park Board took it over and created this beautiful 55 acre (22 hectare) botanical garden.

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

http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/vandusen-botanical-garden.aspx

Recently we “trekked” there, and focused on trees and greenery, rather than specifically on flowers. Here are a few photos from that day:

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Sedums in bloom at entrance to gardens.

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Grasses blowing in the wind….

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Sedums growing on a huge boulder, with no soil! Beautiful.

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Golden Japanese Cedar tree. (Cryptomeria japonica “Sekkan-sugi”)

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Lilies…the white ones seem to have the loveliest fragrance…

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Trident Maple tree. (Acer buergerianum)

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Giant Sequoia tree, (Sequoiadendron giganteum), with Western Sword Fern (fern native to this area)

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Dalmatian Cranesbill (Geranium dalmaticum)

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Masterwort (Astrantia)

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Succulents in concrete containers on the patio.

“What was Paradise but a Garden?”

—William Coles

 

 

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Bee on Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia….English Lavender)

Grown in slow-motion by Nana (moi), the boulevards at our daughter’s family home are being transformed. Be gone, foul grass! And welcome, herbs and perennials!

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Work in progress…a perennial bed in the making…

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

—Lao Tzu

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Oregano, Mint & Marjoram (very attractive to bees, and organically grown!)

Bees have been experiencing a rough time worldwide, due to a variety of human-caused problems. Pesticides, herbicides, loss of habitat, climate change, lack of flowering plants which are loved by bees, mite infestations in hives, (caused in part by lowered immunity, as a result of stress, perhaps?), and on it goes.

Planting flowering herbs and perennials which bees love for their nectar is one way that we can help the bee population to become stronger. Without the bees and their ability to pollinate plants, much of the food we eat would not be able to grow.

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Sedum “Autumn Joy” & Michaelmas Daisy (Aster)

My garden has a mind of its own, and I love it! Just when I think that my garden ideas are working out as planned, up pops a surprise. For example, this little Aster plant hitched a ride (unbeknownst to me) from the previous garden to its new home, hidden in amongst the Sedum leaves. Instead of trying to control everything, I’ve decided to let it be, and just enjoy the mingling of the flowers and leaves, and their attractive colours.

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Michaelmas Daisy (Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’) and English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder.

Alfred Austin

When I’m down on my knees, digging out the grass to create new flower beds, I certainly feel humbled! As you can see, there is plenty of grass to dig out, still. It all goes into the city’s “green bin”, to be composted along with Vancouver’s food scraps and whatever garden trimmings don’t get put into our own garden compost bins.

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There’s so much work to be done! A little at a time is my approach….this is going to be a short stretch of shade garden. I plan to add ferns, hostas, and plenty of home-made compost. The soil is depleted and dry, just crying out for some organic matter to be added!

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And finally, serendipity! I’d always meant to grow some of these in other gardens:

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) & Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)

And up they popped, all on their own, self-seeded in the long grass under a phone pole, planted there by the previous owners. This week I’m going to plant more poppy and cornflower seeds, as Autumn is a great time to do it. But first, out with the dratted grass!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s quotations:

More than anything, I must have flowers, always, always.

–Claude Monet

 

You mustn’t rely on flowers to make your garden attractive. A good bone structure must come first, with an intelligent use of evergreen plants so that the garden is always clothed no matter what time of year. Flowers are an added delight, but a good garden is the garden you enjoy looking at even in the depth of winter.

–Margery Fish

 

 

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Now that we’re in the midst of summer, Southlands Nursery is much quieter than it was in late May, when I posted the first half of this entry. But it is still just as beautiful!

Surrounded by greenery, close to many riding stables, within walking distance of the Fraser River’s North Arm, and a neighbour to the Musqueam Nation, Southlands Nursery is in a very special location.

As always, this nursery is a work of art. It is obvious that the owners care very much about what they are doing, and it involves more than simply making money, important as that may be!

 

 

 

 

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Tucked in between the North Arm of the Fraser River and Marine Drive in South Vancouver sits an area called “Southlands”. Stretching for a few miles, it is a wonderfully “country-like” district, and is home to numerous horse stables, lovely homes, several golf courses, and best of all, Southlands Nursery, which is located at 6550 Balaclava St.

When I was a kid, I was lucky enough to be invited to share in a few riding lessons in the Southlands area with my best friend Pat and her three sisters. Even way back then, going down to “The Flats”, as we called Southlands, was always a special experience. A part of the city of Vancouver, at the same time it is removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s peaceful there.

And that’s why I love going to visit Southlands Nursery, a magical, other-worldly place of exceptional beauty. Not simply a place which sells plants, this gorgeous nursery is a work of art, a little piece of Paradise within the city. Around each corner appears another stunningly beautiful display of plants, pots, garden statuary, supplies and greenhouses.

Southlands Nursery is the ongoing creation of its owners: Thomas Hobbs and Brent Beattie, who opened it in 1991.

See their website for more details.

I always feel rejuvenated, peaceful and inspired after visiting Southlands Nursery. (And no, I don’t work for them! I just want to share another of my favourite Vancouver Treasures with you readers and fellow bloggers.)

To be continued…

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Today’s Quotations:

If you would like to be happy your whole life long, become a gardener.

–Old Chinese Proverb

When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.

–Minnie Aumonier

 

 

 

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