Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Peeping Tina

The window of my office: an ordinary view of trees, right?

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Not so fast:

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I'm shaking in my boots, knowing I have spectators. Just look at this accusing face! Although, I am thankful she didn't turn out to be the squirrel. I've never seen him do anything lewd, but you can never trust a squirrel.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rainy day greens

I like to think I don't complain about the rain much. Even in the middle of the motorcycle course last week, my cold bothered me more than my squishy boots and wet pants. I like rain, it makes things green. And green things make me happy. So it should come as no surprise that I went out after our light rain yesterday and took some pictures.

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Our first year growing anemones! I like them because they look a bit like poppies, but also because they are corms, or bulbs, or whatever it is that they are, and they give me less anxiety (I dread losing a poppy to the winter or our compact, clay soil). I like this picture in particular because it makes me a bit dizzy to look at it.

water lettuce, rainy day

Water lettuce. It floats around the pond in circles! It has ferny little filament-type root-type things! It looks mighty pretty in the grey cloud-light with water droplets on it.

rainy hosta


It's a plain jane hosta, but I love it for its big broad leaves. I will always think of hostas as a kitten plant, because of the summer we rescued the kittens, and how they used to love to tumble about under their shade. The forsythia bush, while the flowers last, make every sky bluer. When the flowers carpet the grass (or the hostas), they make the green glow truer. Some gardeners don't like forsythias - they're common, they bloom for a limited amount of time, their leaves are not showy or interesting. I like them, though, and I don't begrudge anyone a big splash of yellow, especially during our long cold spring.

Getting back on topic, though, green! Doesn't it just make you want to write a history thesis?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Because plants have fangirls, too.

dimorphothecaMom and I went to the garden centre on Saturday to buy annuals, plants for around the edge of our little pond, and water plants! The water plants most certainly deserve the exclamation points, but I think I'm equally excited about every one of our purchases. You know, plant shopping, or rather, plant-browsing-but-not-buying, is more excruciating than any other type of shopping.

For instance, maybe you're at Winners, and you find a really nice sweater, and you look at the tag, and say, "too much!" and you leave it. Then you think about it, incessantly, and kick yourself for years for not having bought it (October 2001, South Keys Winners, light blue argyle v-neck sweater)? Or perhaps you're like my father, and you see a really nice chainsaw at Home Depot, and you leave the aisle for a second, and come back, and it's gone, and you kick yourself for months?

dimorphothecaA good garden centre will have you itching to return for at least 4 plants when you leave it. I think Lakeland Plantworld has some really great selection this year, and I like what they did to their greenhouse space. And I found plenty of plants to miss.

It wasn't all self-denial and restraint, though. We bought a "Dolce Peach Melba" heuchera, which I lovingly espied back when I first saw Mom's white forsythia, an eryngium (Sea Holly), which I became enthralled with on Jodi DeLong's blog, and a Monarda 'Jacob Cline' (beebalm) for the front bank where my yarrow and coneflower is growing.

pansies and heuchera
Never fear, I pinched the flowers off the annuals after I took the picture.

Of course, the dee-lite of mine eyes is a tiny little double Spanish poppy that we bought, papaver r. 'Double Tangerine Gem,' that I will have to visit every day once it is planted. I don't think I've ever told blogland how much I love poppies. I do! I can trace my love back to an illustrated version of "The Twelve Swans" by Hans Christian Anderson that Mom gave me in grade four. In a pretty cheesy and typically sexist plot turn (it plays off the madonna/whore archetypes), some poisoned frogs turn into poppies (not roses), because a girl was so pure. Maddening, isn't it? But it was enough to get me hooked. I will definitely share pictures if it blooms this year.

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Finally, plants for the little pond! As you can see from the picture below, our pond is still far from finished. It has to be edged with rocks, the groundcovers planted and the landscape fabric taken up, gravel put on the bottom of the pond, my water feature built... but look! A water lily! And a floating water hyacinth and water lettuce! And a small papyrus plant! Wheee! When we put the plants in the pond Saturday night, I kept going outside to have a look. Hopefully the birds will stop dropping grubs and caterpillars in there now.

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The smaller photos in this post are dimorphothecas I saw at Lakeland. We didn't buy them. Just another one of those missed chances, but I can't complain when I fared so well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Trouble on two wheels times two

Many of you already know, but...

Hooray!!! Mom and I both got our motorcycle licences!!! It was a cold, wet, miserable weekend, but when the sun finally shone, we each had two pieces of yellow carbon-copy paper with our names on it. We can go to Access Nova Scotia in 31 days (that's 29, now) to get the "A" put on our licence.

The cameras stayed in the car this weekend, so I am afraid there is no photographic evidence to show we were both actually on motorcycles, but Mom guarantees her thighs have never ached in the particular gripped-a-gas-tank-all-weekend way that they do right now, and I can demonstrate my amazing nose-blowing-finesse-while-wearing-a-full-face-helmet to anyone who asks. Oh yes, it is absolutely *charming.*

Now all I need to do is find a bike! And get insurance. And maybe a part-time job to pay for gas.

But I passed! It's all good.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

April showers bring May showers

Maple buds

It hasn't been a remarkable May yet, mostly cloudy, cold when sunny, and today, rainy. I'm not complaining (about the rain at least), so long as my plants are okay. And even though the trees are just starting to bud, there is some colour to keep me going. First, the forsythia, and second, the goldfinches:

Goldfinch

I like this guy. I'm sure he's just being wary, but he looks like he's whistling. Cheekily.

Just now, although I don't have any pictures for you, two large rabbits (technically, snowshoe hares) chased each other around the yard and looking as ferocious as possible. Very entertaining. I wonder if they are mating, or just being territorial? In any case, it's an honour to know our yard is interesting enough for either activity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mother's Day: ulterior motives

I am so far away from owning a home with a yard full of gardening potential, but even so, oodles of gift-giving spirit and practicality could not prevent me from also dreaming about one day, far in the future, when I will cut some clippings from this white forsythia that I bought Mom for mothers day, and propagate one of my own:

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Lakeland had one inside a few weeks ago when Dad and I went in, and it filled the whole greenhouse with its scent. I have been reading up on the white forsythia since I bought it (for instance, it is not a true forsythia, but a relative, originating in Korea). Most sites say that after the flowers are gone in early spring, it has no ornamental value whatsoever. I tend to disagree, because I think the way the branches arch is very lovely, and some prudent pruning will prevent it from turning into a choked-up heap of twigs. I have also been thinking about plants to put around it, in case it does look a little plain jane in the summer. Once the leaves open and I see their colour, I will have a better idea.

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Mom is suggesting putting it at the bottom of the bank in front. I only wonder if it will be bud hardy? But everything I found online is quite contradictory about that, so I'll have to wait and see if it puts on another show next spring.

Just looking at these pictures gives me GAWs - Gardener Anticipation Wriggles. I won't even get started on Lakeland Plantworld's perennial selection this year!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Catblogging - "I can see the Matrix!" edition

I took two pictures of Olivia the other night as she sat out on the back deck, watching the birds going about their evening duties. I decided to edit one and use it today for catblogging.

Livy BW

Now, I really do like this picture. I blurred the edges and upped the contrast and sharpness, to try and show the early evening activity, and the long dark shadows cast by a setting sun. Yet, this picture didn't manage to capture the intensity of my little cat's gaze, how she seemed to absorb every flash of wing and overturned twig with every one of her senses. So I went back to the drawing board, and edited the other picture. I hope you agree, it is much more evocative:

Livy colour

Is this how a cat sees? I don't know, but when a cat not prone to sanity and cleverness, and completely devoid of instinct, finds the evening noises so fascinating, I think it must be something like.

Larger images here and here.

Trouble-shooting Rhubarb

Rhubarb uncoils Rhubarb and me. I could write a memoir. The main plot would be "woman against rhubarb." Or the more nuanced version, "woman against rhubarb even though it is for that stubborn plant's own good." Haven't heard that particular plot device before? That's odd, Joseph Campbell was all over it. That quest of the hero, where the hero descends into the underworld, and returns with new hope for humankind? Yeah, that's actually about me. Ancient typo. It's supposed to say "Sarah," not Hercules. And it isn't "Cerberus," it's "rhubarb." Sheesh. Those illiterate ancients.

Ahem.

You may remember, there was this:

rhubarb

The conundrum was how to get it here:

big hole

(The title of this picture is "big hole")

Well, the first step, was to use an intricate process of hacking and shoveling and pick-axing and leverage to get it to this point:

rhubarb uprooted

Let's get a close-up of that.

Belly of the rhubarb beast.

Oooh, rhubarb gore.

But never fear, there is a purpose to this rhubarb massacre. Behold, the rhubarb triad:

Here,

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rhubarbletrhubarblet2

Here and here.

And don't forget the aftermath:

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I call this one "More digging More Work"

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Pretzels!

This post is so named because I made pretzels this afternoon. The exclamation mark is because they were delicious. The recipe I used is here. Don't believe the user reviews that say they taste like "white bread." They must've done something wrong. These are knots of pure pretzely goodness.

I made the pretzels without any alterations to the recipe. I will note that I stirred all the flour in at once, and kneaded in the loose bits that would not combine. It's a really tough/heavy dough, but you need it like that if it is going to rise and roll out properly (it also makes them delectably tender and chewy). Don't forget to butter them when they come out of the oven! Just DROWN them in it. Yum!

Pretzels!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Pushkinia and my dream job (this week)


Pushkinia


Wow, I just can't get enough of the spring, can I? Behold: pushkinia. I actually didn't know what they were called until I stumbled across this blog the other day and she mentioned it in one of her posts. If any of you like gardening - or want to understand why digging holes until I'm ready to collapse fills me with such joy - I'd recommend you make the occasional visit to Jodi DeLong's blog. Her writing eloquently captures the things that make gardening so addictive. Oh, and it is informative and good-natured and wryly humourous in all the right places.

In case this isn't enough fan-girling for you (of a gardener and writer, no less), let me enthuse further. Gardening means many things to many people, but the most personal expressions of designing and planning your own space, of working alongside nature (and knowing when to let nature rule the day), coaxing plants along, discovering your personal aesthetics, the anticipation (and sometimes suspense), the exercise, and the world of possibilities and information that open up to the interested gardener, are just a few of the things that infuse DeLong's writing.

I was asked recently if I would ever consider doing journalism again in the future, and in the first bloom of finding this blog (okay, I admit, I have spent a few years painfully racking my brain to come up with freelance ideas for Saltscapes), I could confidently say I would do what DeLong does, in a flash. In my soberer moments, I know I would have to get over that darn fear of talking to strangers to ask them questions. The phone is always a reluctant journalism student's best friend.

But Jodi DeLong, if you're reading this, don't worry. I'm not out to take your job. I still have an MA to finish, some travelling to do, and you know, find some kind of job, and a house, and maybe get a pygmy goat first. Oh, and learn how to write shorter sentences. The j-schooling is already fading.