Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas owls

Christmas owls by scosborne
Christmas owls, a photo by scosborne on Flickr.

I was told on twitter tonight that it looks like my owl ornaments went to the disco: that sums up my Christmas tree ornament preferences perfectly.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

November arugula

November arugula by scosborne
November arugula, a photo by scosborne on Flickr.

Still here! But not much going on.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Down by the Speed River

Down by the Speed River by scosborne
Down by the Speed River, a photo by scosborne on Flickr.
I didn't go for a walk yesterday and I really should have, so today, even though it was still cold and windy and grey, I walked along Arthur Street (one of my favorite streets in Guelph). This was a moment of sunshine when I was watching the river.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Speed River sunset

Speed River sunset by scosborne
Speed River sunset, a photo by scosborne on Flickr.
I went for a walk along the river this evening to see if the muskrats were around. Alas, they were not, but there was a soft sunset after a moody, chilly April day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guelph Arboretum wander

Guelph Arboretum wander by scosborne
Guelph Arboretum wander, a photo by scosborne on Flickr.
we took a break from thesis work yesterday to go for a walk in the arboretum, maybe see some wildflowers. We also came across a hedgehog, out for a "prowl" with his owner (if hedgehogs can be said to prowl... It was more of a snuffling browse).
Arboretum hedgehog by scosborne
Arboretum hedgehog, a photo by scosborne on Flickr.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Beauties in the backyard Part 2 - Bunchberry

cornus canadensis

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) covers the ground so delightfully in our woods. I have been wondering for the last couple of years if I could use it purposely as a groundcover, rather than just enjoy it in our woods. I'm ashamed to say I have some vinca and Boston ivy growing in the front bank (a family request at a time when I was not thinking about alternatives). I have been eyeing both for years with suspicion, and I hack them back every spring, but last year both plants were clearly starting to think about world domination. I think it's time to give them the heave-ho.  This will give me the opportunity to try out a few test patches of Cornus canadensis, so I can see how long it takes them to cover ground, and if they will tolerate the almost-full-sun-but-quite-damp conditions of where I intend to trial them.

The colour swatches I picked out just for fun (maybe I will have a cornus-themed room some day), but I also hope they will lead me to ideas for planting design. Of course, colour is just one of criteria for choosing companion plants. I already know that ferns+bunchberry=awesome, but what other plant is going to grow in a way that complements, rather than runs roughshod over, the bunchberry? I found an interesting German website that shows bunchberry planted with boxwood and what looks to be a Japanese Maple, and this English website that shows them growing with rhododendrons and something grass-y. Unfortunately, the front bank where I am thinking of testing out the bunchberry is more of a mixed border/perennial border, so I want to think of compatible perennials as well as shrubs. Something to keep thinking about.

I could write more about my enjoyment in seeing it climb over 80-year-old tree stumps in the woods, but Portland Nursery talks with love about growing it in the garden:
In the lives of gardeners there are some plants that are so beautiful and special that they are worth the extra effort they may take to establish or care for; can be forgiven their idiosyncrasies and neediness in the face of the simple pleasure they bring. Cornus canadensis should be high on this list.
I just hope that, since bunchberry grows so enthusiastically in the wilder parts our yard, it actually won't be as "idiosyncratic" as Portland Nursery claims it is.

Bunchberry fall colour

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Beauties in the backyard - Part1

sheep laurel and moss colour swatches

Whenever I get the chance to walk through Ontario woods in the spring, I marvel at the wild ginger and the trout lilies and the bloodroot. "Ontario has such cool native plants!" I think, "not like the boring, normal plants that grow in the scrubby balsam/sprucewoods around my house." Then I think, this is crazy! They are only boring because I know them. When I look at the same plants with different eyes -- say, of a landscape designer looking for uncommonly used plants, or perhaps with the sort of spiritual elation that L.M. Montgomery viewed the exact same kind of woods -- I start to reclaim the "ecological aesthetic" of my childhood.

So, I have been thinking lately about some of these plants that grow in the coastal Acadian forest woods that I grew up with, that I subsequently took totally for granted.  For instance, sheep laurel/lamb-kill. I love coming across a happy hillock of sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) when it is in bloom. It's such a little trooper and native pollinators love it.  If I could get moss this colour to establish under it, I would plant it in my garden in heart beat. So, that's what I'm going to attempt this summer, and that is the point of this little blog project; take a second look at the native plants I take for granted, and think of ways I can use them in gardens or larger landscape projects.

sheep laurel macro

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Three Slides and the point of the thesis.

Over a week ago now, my MLA class had our conference day to present our thesis research. My presentation was a bit of a let-down, as the Powerpoint presenter notes disappeared somewhere between my computer and the presentation computer. I froze. It was not pretty. Fortunately, I had time for one question, and a lovely classmate asked me a question I could answer, and show that I really have been researching and thinking about the subject matter.

Anyway! (aside: I really think "anyway" is my signature word. I use it ALL THE TIME, in my head, in my emails, in conversation. What does it mean that "anyway" is my word? Is it a strong, unseen undercurrent influencing my life and my decisions? Who knows)

Anyway, it's been a while since I posted anything here and I don't have much extra brain power right now to experience 'life' in a way that I would actually have anything to talk about, so I thought I might share three of the slides from my presentation. If you click on them, I think it will take you through to my Flickr page so you can see them embiggened.


These motifs are taken from Elizabeth Epperly's book Through Lover's Lane: L.M. Montgomery's photography and visual imagination. In my thesis, they represent just one aspect of LMM's landscape aesthetic.


This slide was a prompt for talking about the other aspects of LMM's appreciation of nature that made up her landscape aesthetic - but again, with the freezing, it was more of a prompt for me to wave at the screen and say, "L. M. Montgomery liked to garden. In the spring. And the summer. She really liked... to garden." Seriously, it was really unusual for me! Normally you can't get me to stop talking.

heritage/literary comparison

This was my concluding slide where I was supposed to draw together the point of my thesis. I think I sort of did. Anyway, (anyway!) the point of my research is that if landscape architects understand the literary landscape, practice 'reading' the landscape, and can incorporate this knowledge into their landscape analysis and design, then we will just have better designed landscapes all round, that truly speak to the meaning of a place and to the people experiencing it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sunday Walk in Guelph

A friend and I borrowed another friend's dog two Sundays past and spent almost two hours tramping around Guelph's Preservation Park.

Keep Away

Cooper didn't actually see this ball embedded in the tree so she couldn't regret the missed opportunity. Dog's don't see red or orange very well, it looks brownish grey to them (true fact!).

Tire swing in winter

This tire swing was looking a little sad in the big empty winter field. My friend said it could be an example of "loose space."

Yep, that's her thesis topic. We can't really escape these things, they haunt us even when we're out getting ourselves 'lost' in a local park.


Houseplants by scosborne
Houseplants, a photo by scosborne on Flickr.
I retrieved a few house plants from a friend yesterday. I'm quite happy to have something to watch and take care of again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It felt nice.

Needle Felted Livy A friend had a mini Stitch 'N Bitch yesterday. I didn't have the right knitting needles to start my own project, so I latched on to her needle felting supplies and decided to give it a whirl myself. It took all night. There's a reason needle felting goes for the prices it does on Etsy. But there's also a reason you can find a fair bit of needle felting on Etsy; it's fun. Definitely inspired me to invest in my own needle felting tools, if I ever get the time.

My inspiration was my own cat Olivia. I wasn't able to reach any level of exactitude, and I decided to forgo things like "legs", but that was a good decision because this little cat is still cute enough to keep me company on my keyboard while I work on my thesis.

I bought some plants today. Maybe I will supplement the excessive cat blogging with a little more plant blogging.

PS: My friend's Etsy shop is here

Monday, February 06, 2012

Bearing fruit

Some of my thesis ideas are starting to bear fruit, though I still can't say I have been as productive as I need or want to be. This picture of an apple tree in full bloom was taken by Lucy Maud Montgomery in Cavendish, PEI. I wanted to use the image in a presentation I gave today on my "preliminary research findings." Because the jpeg was so small, I adapted it very simply in Adobe Illustrator.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Cat's in the Fennel

Cat's in the Fennel

You got me, Livy isn't actually in the fennel in this image. She does spend a lot of time in the fennel when she is outside, but that is harder to get a picture of since the cat has tremendous powers of camouflage. She usually jumps up on the deck whenever I make the attempt. I will do anything for a punny blog post title, though.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I pledge you my trough

When I was home in December 2010, my father and I took a drive to Pleasant Point on the Eastern Shore. While wandering around our cousin's property (Dad's first cousin, my "once-removed" from me, you see), I saw this stump with crowberry, or Empetrum growing on it. It's a lovely stump (I think I blogged it back when I first saw it), and I fell in love with crowberry even more that day. I think we have a tendency to overlook our common native plants. I know I did. What is crowberry to the glories of heather, etc., etc. Well, I still love heather, but I love crowberry too.

Pleasant Point Stump

This stump became my inspiration when I decided to finally try making some hypertufa things this summer. The trough of the blog post title is in the next two photos. I used two old plastic dish-washing basins as the form for this trough.* I found some crowberry growing in at transition of some very compressed gravel and some very wet clay. I found random bits of sedum and a tiny sempervivum already growing in the yard. I used composted leaf mulch, peat and sand for the soil, and mulched the whole shebang with pea gravel and old mussel shells. And this past December the crowberry took on the deep reddish winter tone and the sedum started to colour up and...! I was pretty happy with my first adventure in hypertufa.

Hypertufa trough

My favourite part of the hypertufa-making was carving and smoothing and adding texture to the still-soft concrete.

Hypertufa trough detail All planted and settled in for the winter. *Just typing trough at the moment confuses my brain. Through? Troff? tr-owf?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I really miss my cat

It's just one of those things you start to fixate on when your brain is ignoring the much bigger, more immediate problem in your life. Still, Livy! I don't remember the last time I posted about my cat. But she's adorable. And an enormous stress relief.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rainy Tuesday in Guelph

Rainy Tuesday in Guelph by scosborne
Rainy Tuesday in Guelph, a photo by scosborne on Flickr.

Rainy Tuesday in Guelph

I really am enjoying the whole phone/flickr/blog interface, even if I have only used it to post pictures so far.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Devil's Wheelbarrows

Devils Wheelbarrows

My father has always called skate eggs "devil's wheelbarrows" so that, in turn, is what I have always called them. Wikipedia says alternate (colloquial) terms for a skate egg is mermaid's purse or devil's purse. I wonder where the wheelbarrow came from, then? Anyway, there were many skate eggs on the shoreline south of Virginia Beach (near Back Bay Wildlife Refuge - I don't know the name of the beach) on the day we were there. All these were found within an 8 foot diameter, and then abandoned to the waves and sea foam.

In other news, you might notice I did some fiddling today with my layout and theme. I was bored with the old one, particularly because my photos ended up too small. I hope this is an improvement, but if it isn't, please let me know. I'm only writing a thesis so there's always a time for some procrastination. I worked quite diligently on the thesis today, so I gave myself permission to make that joke.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Test blanket

Test blanket by scosborne
Test blanket, a photo by scosborne on Flickr.

Test blanket - just testing out my new phone's abilities.