Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gardening in May

This is a siberian iris that grows in the front garden.  The leaves are thinner and longer than a tall bearded german iris.   I have lost the name of this particular variety.  There is a grass growing among these irises that is very persistent. 
This is a yellow water iris that I had planted next to the half barrel water feature.  It grows in soil that has a plastic buried beneath it to try to create a bog garden.  These yellow water irises can be very showy when grown in the right conditions.  Mine were taking over the garden area they were in when I was watering them well.  Now that the half barrel is no longer in this spot, I shall move one of these iris into the black tub liner that I have moved to the back woodland garden area.
These are two different kinds of Lewisia that grow in the small rockery by the vegetable garden at the back.  I will be giving these plants some of the compost to boost their flower and leaf size. 
This is the tiny erodium flower that is in the front garden sun dial circle.  I should like to get the wild  plant that looks like this to grow in my front strip of grass along the street where the crocus field is in the spring. 
A red lupine that grows in the front garden with the darker cedar hedge for a backdrop.  I really like these flowers and the leaves.  They come in a variety of colors and they do seed around a bit.  I wish I had room for more of them.  
These photos are from the 16th of May.  I have more that feature some more of the flowers in bloom and the color combinations. I will upload them as time permits.
I have started some work on the cleaning up of the woodland garden with the germander cut back and the edging stones reset.  Hopefully, when I get this area cleaned up I will have room for some lupines and more columbines of other colors than the blue ones.  I do have a nice red columbine that is doing well in the woodland.  (photo on next post),
The hedges have been trimmed with the new cordless hedge trimmer and fine tuned with the hand pruner.  They look pretty good, except for the honeysuckle pilea at the front.  It is very ragged.  I think I might replace this hedge with boxwood cuttings.  The area needs to be cleaned up and renovated.with compost added to all the beds.   The peonies need attention and the blue bells need to be kept under control.  The lemon balm needs to be removed entirely as is taking over the whole area.
I am getting the weeding done in the small area by the magnolia tree.  The violets have got out of hand again and are everywhere in that bed.  I should remove these violets from the garden entirely.  They are very tenacious and spread like crazy.  I have to be sure to get the roots out, because the plant will just shoot up more leaves if I don't.  Very tedious job to get these plants out.  I also need to get the grass out of the irises in this area of the front too. 
I have been quite busy otherwise with Megashot  .   We can now create a presentation with music using up to 50 of our photos.  You can see my first attempt at the bottom of  my blog.  I really love this feature. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

At Ragley Farm

This is a super macro shot of the tiny flower growing on the old mossy rock wall around the Ragley farms house.  These tiny flowers also inhabit lawns, but I cannot seem to entice any of them into my lawn.  I do finally have an erodium growing in the little rockery at the front.  Its flowers are bigger, but look similiar.  More on this in the next post.
Last Sunday we joined the VCCC people on a run out to Ragley Farms in Sooke.  Was a pleasant drive. I took a photo of this greyhound hood ornament on a 34 Ford Fordor.  I was amazed to see the skeleton of the dog in the photo when I viewed it on my computer.  I never noticed this when I was shooting it.
The Bentley in front of the farm cookhouse.  Very contrasty shot.
I have got a bit of gardening done in the past week, and quite a lot of time spent on Megashot.  We are going to have our first Contest starting June 1st, with cash prizes and more.  The contests is for Flower photos.
Come join the fun.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I am tweaking a few photos of   'petal art' for the community on megashot.net .

We have had some wonderful weather this last week.  I have finished edging the back grass area.  I moved the edging stones out a bit and reset them.  Today I was out all afternoon.  I finished trimming the hedges with my new cordless rechargeable hedger.  I have yet to do the final trimming by hand.  I mowed the grass, including the crocus field, as the crocus leaves were mostly brown and gone into dormancy.  As there were quite a lot of hedge trimmings in the lawn mower bag, I added them to the woodland trail.  I won't be renovating that trail this year.  It really just needs some bigger bark chips than I can get from Cannor.  Mrs. P. asked me to take off a few branches of my English Oak tree as her laundry was getting caught in it, so I did that with my long pole pruner.   I topped up the pool and put a bit of water on the garden.  There are a few little plants up.. no potatoes yet.  The whole garden is looking not too bad.  I need to add bark mulch to the front area by the magnolia tree,  after weeding; and a few other fine tuning things.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our trip to the Galapagos, Ecuador and Peru - Day 5 - March 9, 2010

Sunrise of March 9th
This might be Kicker Rock, but I am not sure.
One of the zodiacs behind the ship.
The ship's flag
The promised photo of Valerie and Harvey from the previous day
Sally Light Footed Crab, also from the day before.
A brown pelican from the previous day

Celebrity Xpedition:   Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Morning activities:
Floreana Island is the sixth largest island in the archipelago and one of the four islands that Charles Darwin visited, aboard the HMS Beagle.  Darwin was not impressed at the time by the Viceroy of Galapagos residing here in Floreana.  The Viceroy claimed that he could look at a tortoise and derive its island of origina from the shape of its carapace; later this observance proved useful in Darwin's thought process and writings.  In 1832 Ecuador annexed the Islands and established the first human settlement here.  It soon turned into a penal colony as many political and other prisoners were sent here.  This island was the first capital of the Galapagos during the 19th Century.
8:00 am Long Walk - Cormorant Point - wet landing - 1 1/2  to 2 hours
10:30 am Advanced Snorkel Activity - Champion Island - Note:  This activity is for experienced snorkelers only.  Duration 1 1/2 hour
Did you know ?                  HMS Beagle
Displacement:   242 Tons, Length:  90.3 feet,  Beam:  24.5 feet,  Draught:  12.5 Feet  Complement:  120 Crew
HMS Beagle was a Cherokee class 10-gun brig of the Royal Navy, named after the beagle, a breed of dog.  She was launched on 11 May 1820 from the Woolwich Dockyard on the River Thames, at a cot of 7,803 pounds sterling.  In July of that year she took part in a fleet review celebrating the coronation of King George IV of the United Kingdom in which she was the first ship to sail under the new London Bridge.  After that there was no immediate need for Beagle so she was kept in reserve for five years and "lay in ordinary", moored afloat but without masts or gigging.  She was then adapted as a survey barque and took part in three expeditions.  On the second survey voyage the young naturalist Charles Darwin was on board, and his work would eventually make the Beagle one of the most famous ships in history.
Afternoon and Evening activities:
In the 1930's Floreana became a setting for intrigue and mystery.  A German dentist and his mistress, a young family (the Wittmer family who still live on the island) and a self proclaimed Baroness with three men came to settle on the island.  Shortly after the Baroness and her lovers arrived chaos began.  They terrorized the other inhabitants while planning to build a luxury hotel.  Eventually the Barroness, her two lovers and the dentist all turned up missing or dead.  There has been much investigation searching for what really happened on Floreana, but there have never been any hard answers for this reason Floreana is referred to as the "Island of Mystery".  The landing site in the afternoon was supposedly used by the baroness to spot ships that would come to visit these "eccentric" residents of Floreana.
2:15 Xpedition Lecture:  "Geology of the Galapagos Islands"
3:30 - Short Walk - wet landing - Baroness Lookout - Zodiac ride for wildlife observation with a wet landing - duration 1 hr 45 mins.
7:30 - Briefing abut Wednesday's visits
&:15 - 9:30 Dinner
10:30 - Approximate arrival time to our anchorage at Baltra Beach.  If conditions permit we will have an opportunity for animal observation from Deck 4 aft.  Occasionally we find Sea Lions, pelicans and sharks close to our anchoring lights
- stargazing.
8:00 am - Long walk - Cormorant Point - Wet Landing
We will make a wet landing on a beach that has a large amount of Olivine crystals that were part of the volcanic history of the site.  Continuing into the interior we find two plant species that are only found at this particular site, eventually arriving to a very large brackish pond.  Flamingos, stilts, and white cheeked pintail ducks are commonly sited here due to the amount to food present in the pond.  We continue on the trail, crossing an isthmus arriving to a fine white sand beach which has a high coralline content.  At the coralline beach it is usually easy to spot small rays, turtles and sharks from the seaside area.  Please be careful not to walk on the back duen area for this has sea turtle nests.  Sandals with straps are sufficient for this hike of 2 kilometers. Also you may land without shoes if you wish.  Please take your snorkel equipment as we have a chance to snorkel on the beach area.  It is possible to find paper wasps on this island.  Try to avoid the use of bright colored clothes that might attract them.
10:30 am  Advanced snorkeling Activity - Champion Island
After a 25 minute zodiac ride we will arrive at Champion, a small satellite island of Floreana.  This island is one of the very few that holds a Floreana mocking bird population.  Floreana mocking birds were present on Floreana during Charles Darwin's visit in 1835, however, they promptly left the island when cats were introduced in the 1800 hundreds, and are only found on the satellite islands.  This Island has rocky slopes going to depths of 100 ft (30 meters)  We will enter the water fromthe Zodiac at a depth of 40 - 50 ft. eventually ending at a shallow bay where may sea lions can be found.  Apart from the palyful sea lions we may encounter Spotted Eagle rays, small sharks, Pacific Barracuda and Pacific Green Turtles.
Note:  This activity is for experienced snorkelers only. 

3:30 pm  Zodiac Ride, short walk - wet landing  -  Baroness Lookout
Light zodiac ride through a mangrove area possibly observing Pacific green turtles, spotted eagle and golden rays, great egrets and lava herons. The small islands that we navigate around are formed of 'pillow' lava.  Lava flows that are produced underwater making an interesting formation  We will proceed to make a wet landing at a beach which requires water shoes or sandals for the disembarkation.  This area was used in the 1920's as a lookout for arriving ships.  From the beach area we will climb a steep switchback trail that is approximately  300 ft (90 meters).  Sandals or water shoes with thick rubber soles are sufficient for the short hike.
Photographic equipment suggestions:  Wide angle and zoom (55 mm) lenses are useful for the morning and afternoon  A polarizer for the zodiac ride in the afternoon will help take the glare of the surface of the water allowing for shots of the life present there.

18:30 - We were invited to an informative meeting with Karina Lopez to talk about the details of your post trip ( There are only 6 of us going on to Peru)

My travel notes:
Last nite Pat was ill and I got sick early morning.  We took some meds and by dinner time are a bit mobile but still not well.  We missed a couple of easy wet landing walks.  We went to get our information on the transfer to Lima at the end of this part of the trip   We go to the explanation of tomorrows  walkies and to dinner.  This illness seemed to spread throughout the ship and it seems that most people had a down day or two. (That's hindsight)  I was up in the morning to get some sunrise photos. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Our trip to the Galapagos, Ecuador and Peru - Day 4

A close up of a marine iguana
We saw this ship quite often.  I think it might be called the Galaxy and be the National Geographic ship.
I love this photo of himself on the other side of the zodiac from me.  There were 14 other people lined up along the sides with the driver at the till and the naturalist guide at the back also.
This was our Guide of the day.
I believe this is a small lava lizard.  We walked along the board walk at the Interpretation Center where there were a few birds and animals to be seen.
Some of the wall within the Interpretation Center.  I took photos of some of the history information but none of them turned out very well.
A spider seen at the Interpretation Center
Another little lizard.  I am not sure what the name of this one might be.
This sea lion was basking in the sun in a boat.  There are many of these animals and birds.  They are all protected and so are quite tame.  We are not to touch them or feed them, of course.
Some of the boats in the harbor at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on  San Cristobal Island.
My first photo of a brown pelican
A marine iguana from our walk in the afternoon on a trail with stones along it.  The iguanas like to come out of the sea and get warm while basking in the sun on the boulders.
A closer view of the Iguana
sleeping in the sun
I believe this is a red footed booby.  Correct me if I am wrong.  :-)
Blue footed booby.  I never did get a really good shot of one of these birds.
At the beach.  I was using my ND filter and had my exposure compensation set back a few stops.  The sun was very bright.  We wore sun block all over and hats, sometimes long sleeves and long pants..  I did not get much tanning but I never got burnt either. I did not put sun block on the edges of my nostrils and this area is still peeling from the sun burn.
Just shy! 
Another bad shot of the blue footed booby
The sea lions seemed to have a coating of sand sticking to their wet fur.  I call this one my sand abstract.
Marine iguana
Nazca boody
a baby nazca booby
This lava lizard is molting
Our ship, the Xpedition beyond the lava rocks and surf
a view of the rocky cliffs of San Cristobal Island.
Celebrity Cruise's Explanation of our activities of the day:

Kicker Rock and San Cristobal Island:  In the morning, at approximately 7:00 am we will have the opportunity to see Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido in Spanish) or Sleeping Lion.  This island is found off the northwest shore of San Cristobal Island and it is a massive angular rocky block, the Galapagos version of Gibraltar.  Its size alone is impressive, but even more interesting is the cliff that splits the rock into a narrow passage.  We will bring our Zodiacs down and we will circumnavigate the island for picture taking.  After this visit we will sail for the island of San Cristobal, arriving at approximately 9:00 am.  San Cristobal is the fiftth largest and the easternmost island in the Galapagos Archipelago and one of the four islands that Charles Darwin visited aboard the HMS Beagle.  Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is a city somewhat sleepier than Puerto Ayora which we will visit on Saturday.  The town is stretched out along a small harbor.  On one side of the harbor is a military base, and on the other side is the dock where we will disembark off the Zodiacs.  The streets are cobbled and there is a pleasant waterfront park with benches and nice plantings extending along the main street - Charles Darwin Avenue.  In the town we will have the chance to visit the Interpretation Center, which is financed by the government of Spain and offers a journey through the history of the islands from the context of man, nature, and conservation.  We will learn about the characteristics of the natural area that you have started visiting and understand the natural processes that have made the Galapagos such a unique place in the world.
Afternoon Activities:  Espanola Island  is the southernmost island and a favorite of many visitors.  It is approximately 4 million years old and by far our oldest island here in the archipelago.  Suarez Point is where we will land this afternoon, which is found on the northwest tip of the island.  This visit has a high concentration of wildlife.  We should have the opportunity to observe Sea Lions, Galapagos Hawks, Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and a red variation of the Marine Iguana.  These strange creatures are found only on this island and are often massed on top of rocks for great group photos. The trail is approximately 3 kilometers long with medium sized boulders the entire trail.  The high intensity trail leads to the very edge of the dramatic southern cliffs, where an impressive blow hole is visible below and water gushes up to 16 meters / 50 feet into the air, similar to a geyser.

My travel journal notes:  Pat was up at 7:00 to see kicker rock while having coffee on board.  I had to sleep.  Breakfast and then our 9:00 am zodiac ride to the dry landing at the dock.  A bus takes us to the interpretation center where we spend time reading the history of the islands.  We walk back to the dock and shop a bit on the way.  I get a much needed hat.  Back on board the Xpedition for a scrumptious Oriental lunch.  Then we pick up our snorkelling gear (mine is not a good fit, of course)  I don't think I will be doing this after sitting in on the explanation of how to use this equipment.  Next to our cabin to nap a short while.  We go on the 'short walk" at 3:45.  We sign out when we get on the zodiacs and sign back in when we return. The short walk was a dry landing on the rocky shore and hike through big boulders - treacherous - but lots of good photos - blue footed boobies pelicans, iguanas, nasca lizard, sea lions, surf.  Valerie and Harvey on the zodiac  - to appear on the next blog post....:-))  We get back to the ship but skip the Pina Calada party and rest.  We next, go to the briefing on the next day's activities and then to dinner.  The friend of one of the ladies we had dinner with (open seating) had suffered a fall on the Long Walk and was not able to be at dinner.  Pat is not feeling too well and has no appetite.

We have had a week of some very nice weather.  I have not been out in the garden  much but have been spending too much time on my computer on the new site, Megashot.net and on tweaking photos, going shoppijng, out to lunch, cooking.  .  Its all good! 

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Gardening in May

This is a flower on the liquid amber tree.  These will turn into little red balls later in the year.  These fruits do not seem to be of any interest to the birds and hang on the tree for a long time

These leaves are in the West Coast planter.

One of the plants on the front garden that has gone to seed.

These are the seed pods of the fern leaved  peony.  They are decorative in this stage too

The solomon's seal is a dependable plant for a good show of leaves and flowers.

The hebe on the rock garden in the front garden is in full bloom.  It is a lovely evergreen plant.

Close up of the tree peony flower
Another close up of the peony flower.
The tree peony by the front deck is in full bloom and is very fragrant.  I have one on the dining room table.  This is a truly lovely plant and is easy to care for once established.
Last week was quite cold and windy.  I did not get much done out in the garden.

Today was a fine day with 14 degree temps and no wind or rain..  I finished the edging on the back grass area.  It is looking really good, now.  The rains have topped up the pond.  Pat helped cut down the tree behind the garage and cut it up   The woodland path looks fine.  I think I will just weed it this year.  No need to renovate.

Most of the tulips are finished blooming.  The trees are all leafing out.  I think my veggie garden is beginning to sprout.  The nastursiums in the clay pot on the little rockery are definitely germinated.

I cleaned off a shelf in the back garage for my new hedge trimmer.  Tomorrow I should get the hedges trimmed with this new gizmo.