Friday, April 30, 2010

Gardening in April

This is not the greatest photo, but it seems to be all I have for now.  This is a very busy time in the garden.  This week  I planted the little veggie garden to Yukon Gold potatoes, spinach, swiss chard, lettuce.  dill.  It will be nice to have the fresh salad greens.  My friend, the LA City girl... you know who you are... had great success in her Port Angeles garden with Yukon Gold potatoes.  So, of course, I have to plant some!  My strawberries are in bloom and the apple tree.  The rhubarb looks rather pathetic.  I think the winds have not been good for this plant.
Today I did edging around the bit of grass at the back. I moved some of the edging stones out to give the pinks a bit more space.   I have one side of this grass to finish yet.  It looks good and will be easier to mow, too. This clean up area will lead into the woodland for the next cleanup.  Actually, the woodland area does not look all that bad.  I might just weed it again this year, instead of renovating the path.  I will see how much time and energy I have.  The front needs a bit more attention to weeding, of course.  I put 2 fruit tree feeding spikes into the area of the front plum tree.  It was full of blossoms so I hope we get fruit again, this year.
Yesterday I sprayed the tiny weeds in the rock path at the front with roundup.  This is the last day for us to use these chemicals without a permit.  After May 1 there will be fines for anyone using pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and god knows what else is banned.
Megashot is officially over 300 members now.  It can be as busy as you want it to be.   I have not managed to get much of my own stuff done on the site, but there will be time later.  Its really exciting to watch the site grow.   

Monday, April 26, 2010

Car Event - Parksville to Tofino

Our hosts for the Spring Meet of the RROC/BDC car club were Barb and Steve Harris.  As usual they did a marvelous job.  On the Friday evening we met at their Faulty Towers home for the meet and greet.  We were back again on Saturday morning before starting out on our run to Tofino.  This is Barb and some her garden.
This is a photo from the Bayview.. Bayshore ?  where we had our dinner on Friday evening.  Spectacular views.
One of the stops on our trip to Tofino was at the Mars Water Bombers on Sproat Lake.  This is Pat's Bentley.
This is a view of Long Beach surf from our patio at the Long Beach Lodge.  It was raining lightly, so the photos are not the best.  The sunset was not great.  Our room was just a few doors down from the dining room so I was able to get back for a look at sunset, but there was very little color.  It was a fine week end event.  Lots of old friends were not there, though.  Many new people in the club that we don't know, since we don't go to many events with this club.

While looking around Tofino on our way out of town we made a stop at a place where I got a few golden flat rocks to add to my little rockery in the front garden.  I set them into the little wall today.  I got the grass mowed and put the clippings on the vegetable garden.  I took down two more branches off the sumac in the woodland area.  I am slowly getting this tree taken down.  The rhodo behind it is going to look really good once I get this tree out.  As I was working on the branches the wind came up and we had some fairly high winds for a few hours.  We did not lose power this time. 
We have new a new by law saying that we cannot use pesticides on our gardens after the end of April, unless we have a permit.  So, I shall spray the front rock path with round up just as soon as the sun comes out.  Even though I cleaned this path up last summer, the little plants are back again.  If I let them go they just take over and the path looks messy.  I would like it to look clean for a little while.  I imagine the weeds would be easy enough to pull out, but I would need to kneel on rocks to do it.   We are suppose to control our dandilions by hand pulling them.  And the bind weed, too!  I think Saanich is going to start looking pretty messy this year!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fauna in the Garden

This is another of my half price phalenopsis orchids that I find at the grocery store.  The colors here are just about true to the flower and the wall behind it.  This orchid is putting out a new bud or two.  The white with pink center one is still holding its blooms, too.  Meanwhile my expensive Andean Fire ladyslipper is on its last bloom.  It had 3 and none of them last very long.  It is a pretty little thing, though.
Saturday was an exciting day for activity in the garden.  This Heron... I think I will start calling it Henri the Heron, landed on the back garage roof while I was making capaccino.  It walked to the edge of the roof where it was hidden from site by a bush.  It then flew down by the pond and was standing  on the edging watching for fish.  I could not get a good photo of it, as it seems very alert to movement and to sounds.  The deck railing of course was in the way!  As I tried to make my way out on the deck, it noticed and flew away.
It has not been successful in fishing in my pond.  The fish are wary and have water plants and plastic pipe lengths to hide in.  I have seen all 6 of the gold ones, and there are many black ones as well.

Also on Saturday morning this bush bunny was in my front garden.  I watched it inspecting my plants.  It did not seem to find any to its liking.  There is a spot where I have some grass in the flower bed, and here the bunny seemed to find something to its taste.  The colors on its back behind the neck are quite bright.  It must be the primary mating season. I only saw one bunny though.  Its fur is wet from the rain and water on the plants. 
Later on Saturday I did some pottering around in the garden.  I got the parsley transplanted to the blue pot and have it on the deck.  I planted viola seeds in the little 'strawberry" opening in the pot.  I put nasturium seeds into the top of the big clay strawberry pot.  The two fuschia cuttings are in the shade in the deck planter.  I must keep this watered, as it is under the roof over hang.  I transplanted the margeurite into the pink pot by the garage door.  Watered everything in.  I tried to fill the cavities between the rocks on the waterfall with new soil from the garden.  I adjusted the rocks to get a good flow of water down the fall.  While doing this I noticed that water is running out the side of the waterfall.  Well, it is going into an area that I want to be boggy, as I have some water plants growing there.  So, if I keep the pond topped up, the bog plants should do well. 
I have done nothing further in the garden, except feed the fish.  I have been spending a bit of time on the new photo upload site.  Its all good. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More Spring Flowers

This is a red, very showy St. Bridgid Anemoney growing in the front garden beside the stone path
This is the only blossom on the anemorella plant just now.  Its a lovely big mound of fresh green leaves that grow alongside the garage in the woodland area of the garden.
The bleeding heart is in the same area as the anemorella.  It is doing much better this year after receiving a bit of compost.  All the plants in this area need another feeding this year.
This planter containing aubretia sits in the front garden next to the driveway and the grass path.  The iberis will expand to flow around the bottom of the planter.  This area is doing much better also after getting rid of the violets and adding compost.
This is a very elegant and showy fern leafed peony that grows just back from the edge of the little rockery at the front.  Behind it is the green and white of the sicilian helebore that sits in front of the West Coast planter.  I am quite happy with the arrangement of the plants in this area that I am calling the little rockery in the front garden.
These smaller alpines grow just in front of the Peony and the helebore.  Across about 3.5 feet of flat field stone path is another small rock wall where I am establishing some more very special little alpines backed by taller plants.
This is my best primula - a double.  I have lost the name of it.  When I have the woodland renovated I hope to establish a few of these plants in an area that stays more moist.  In fact, I would like to expand all of the primulas.
  These saxatilis tulips have grown into a couple of large patches in the woodland area and beside the vegetable garden.  They are so very pretty and well behaved.  They will need to be divided soon, though.
This is a sea thrift or armeria.  These plants put on a show for a long period and when not in bloom they are a good looking evergreen mound.  Very valuable plant in my rockery.  This one is across the stone path from the little rockery wall and all its newly established precious alpines.  I put in a number of alpines where I removed the wooden half barrel that held the fish and water iris.  I put plieones, a daphne that is going to eventually get to be 5 x 5 feet (slow to grow)in a couple of weeks ago.  There is a lovely little perennial snapdragon with fuzzy silver leaves and is covered with white flowers.  There is also an Iberis, an aubretia, a campanula, another pink St. Bridgit anemone and further along some sedums.  There are two oriental lilies and these plants are backed by montebretias, yellow water iris, a clematis, a solomon's seal, foxgloves and a few other tall plants.  Some of these big  plants can be quite invasive and will need to be kept within bounds.
This is the reflections of the marsh marigolds in the pond and tiny bubbles from the waterfall. 
All of the photos are from a week ago, Monday, when I did a bit of gardening.  Mowed the grass and got a bit of a start on the renovation of the woodland.  There is a sumac that was nearly uprooted in the high winds we were having. I have taken off one big branch and have it trimmed with only the long part left to use as edging along the chip trail of the woodland when I redo this path.  I see that one of my new trilliums has come up, after all.  I thought I had lost it.  It is tiny but has a bloom.  I moved a small mounding green plant from right beside it and provided some good soil in the area.  This plant needs more woodland 'duff' added to it also.
I have had a very busy week, starting with the Monday gardening, Tuesday a walk home from the Doctors Office in the morning and pottering in the garden in the afternoon..  Wednesday was a full day of house work and I finally managed to do the vacuuming. Thursday was more house work finished, reading.   My new little vacuum works so much better as does the dust buster on a handle, that I really should do this more often.
On Friday we went to lunch at the Checkered Flag, and then shopping.  I now have a new rabbitting spade, and a new Felcro #6 pruner for small hands, from Lee Valley Tools.  From Canadian Tire, I got a rechargeable Black and Decker hedge trimmer.  I read all its instructions.  I have not tried it yet, as it was raining this morning. 
In the evenings I have been getting a few things done on the new photo site.  The place is looking really good and Cyrus is getting so many new people to register, as well as working on the articles, tutorials, video tutorials and so very many things.  Ken, Jiri and their friends are helping out, as well as a few others who have been there from the start.    We are definitely on our way!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mill Hill Regional Park

On Sunday I went on the Wild Flower walk at Mill Hill Regional Park. We followed our naturalist guide up the rocky trail to the summit.  I did not make it to the very top.  Apparently there is a marvelous view that I missed.  The photo above is a tapestry of some of the wild flowers in bloom now.  Drabas, camas, shooting stars, fawn lilies and many more. 
These tiny blue flowers are blue-eyed mary, the pink ones are a variety of thrift or armeria.
Two of my best shots of the calypso bulbosa orchids.  There are quite a few of these tiny beauties out now.  They need a special soil fungus to grow, so I have not found any available at the plant nurseries, yet.  They would be very difficult to grow, with a very short period of bloom.
This is a large patch of camas.  The death camas have white blossoms.  The native people would remove all of the white flowering camas, so that they could eat the bulbs after they had matured.  I have a very nice camas growing in my garden.  I must keep all the 'blue bells' away from it, as the foliage is similar and the blossoms are the same color and look similar too.

a draba.  I am not sure which one this is.  I now have 2 tiniest ones in my little rockery.  This is a macro shot of the plant.. They are very very tiny, also.
A fawn lily.  There are large patches of these lovely lilies.  I have some growing in my woodland area.  I also have a yellow variety. 
This is miner's lettuse with the flowers open.  The photo from my previous post of this flower, had the blossoms in bud. 
There were many of these showy shooting stars (dodecathenon) in bloom.  I have not been successful in getting one to grow in my garden yet.  Perhaps its because the leaves look like they might be a dandilion kind of a weed.
The skunk cabbage were quite a distance away and down from the path.  We were not to go off the path, of course.  These were not very prime specimens of this plant either.  I hope this colony expands and grows larger plants.  The leaves seem to be under attack from something. 
a Trillium.  three petals, three leaves.   There were quite a few of these in the park.  Its nice to see these protected flowers becoming more abundant.  According to our Naturalist guide it takes 10 years for a plant to reach the flowering stage.  I am doubly amazed at the one in my woodland garden that has to blossoms, this year.  There is a large leaved plant growing over the area where this trillium grows.  Maybe they like it crowded, because the one in the front garden is not doing quite so well.  I keep the other plants from growing within its 12 inch diameter circle.  Perhaps it needs more leaf mold and a bit more shade.... a cool, moist root run.
the little yellow wood violets are really very pretty up close.  I have purple violets in my garden and find them very invasive.  These little plants did not seem to be quite so invasive. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Francis King Regional Park

On Saturday there was a slideshow and a walk led by Kem Luther, around Francis King Regional Park to observe mosses.  B.C. is one of the places in the world with most species of mosses.... approximately 800 and they are still finding more.  On the Island we have approximately 200.   In the slide show we were shown only 20.  He also had little samples of each of these mosses.  It is amazing how different they look when you are told what to look for. Some mosses grow in disturbed soil, on trees on wet rocks, on logs, and duff.  We were told about 5 city mosses that grow on rocks, pavement, lawns and roofs.   There are plants like Irish moss, reindeer moss, spanish moss that are not actually mosses.  Mosses do not have roots.  They reproduce by spores. 

I arrived at the Park at about 11:00 and so had 2 hours to walk around and take photos before the talk/walk.  It was marvelous,  The air is so clean.  

I have at least 3 kinds of moss in my little moss garden.  I have some growing on soil, some on old trees stumps and debris, some on rocks.  I am sure I have pavement moss also.  I have some lichens and irish moss. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

In the Spring Garden

This trillium and the easter lillies or fawn lillies are in bloom in the woodland garden.  These are both indigenous plants.  The woodland is very much in need of renovation.  It would be a good idea to clean up the area around these plants before they are gone to dormancy.  The blue bells, thistles and lemon balm are taking over.
The gentan is one of the good rock plants along the edge of the garage garden bed.  The primulas are along in front of the rhodos in the back garden.  There are more primulas and I have close up shots of some of them.  I hope to eventually have an annual garden album on my web page.
The marsh marigold is looking good on the pond.  The water hawthorn is in bloom too.  Yesterday I restarted the water fall.  The water level has stayed nicely up.  We have not had rain today.  That slow leak must have somehow healed itself.  I have no other explanation.  There is clay around the pond.  Perhaps the clay is fully saturated and blocks the tiny hole in the liner.   I have seen quite a few small black fish in the pond.  I understand that baby goldfish take about 2 years to turn colors.   I am going to have quite a lot of gold fish in there next year.
These are anemones and hyacinths that are in the bed by the garage.  These are across the old sidewalk from the gentian.  Very colorful mix and making a nice show right now.  The end of this bed needs cleaning up also.
This red pasque flower is in the front garden by the bamboo.  There is another purple one in the area.  I am slowly getting the weedy flowers out of this area.  The iberis along the front of the border are filling out.  I seem to have got rid of the violets.  There are still a lot of dandilions coming up all over the garden.  I need to be vigilant in getting rid of them.  I should like ti get a rabbiting spade to use to dig them out. 
On Saturday we took the new old Model T on its first run.  McMorran's is closing... after all these years.  It  has a big place in the history of Victoria.  There were many old cars out, and many other people.  The McMorrans started the place as an icecream stand, and so we had hot dogs and icecream for lunch.   Too bad it was such a cold day!  The car ran beautifully.
Today I walked back from the lab where I had to go for blood tests.  I brought home a couple of fuschia cuttings, a marguerite, a parsley and some seeds.  Maybe I will get out to plant them later in the week.
Last nite I finished reading Whitley Streiber's Critical Mass.  Now I need a book to read and want to pick up another Strieber book or two.  So, tomorrow I will go down to Monroe's or Chapters and spend a few enjoyable hours browsing books.

Our trip to the Galapagos, Ecuador and Peru - Day 3

According to the Celebrity book, Sunday, March 7 is day 3 of the tour.
Quito to Baltra Island in the Galapagos:
You may pre-arrange a wake-up call depending on your departure time to Baltra Island.  Please ensure that your ship baggage tags are firmly affixed to your luggage and ensure that you hand carry all medication, travel documents  and valuables.  From the hotel lobby, your luggage will be checked straight through to the ship and delivered to your stateroom. 
Motorcoach transfer - Hotel to Airport:
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island, Galapagos will depart the hotel at approx. 7:00 am (breakfast was available in the hotel).
Flight Transfer - Quito Airport to Baltra Island, Galapagos.  (this is the 4th airplane we have been on)
- trip length: approximately 3 1/2 hours, departing Quito Airport at appox. 8:00 am.
Motorcoach Transfer - Baltra Island Airport to Tender Pier
Upon arrival at the Baltra Airport, you will be met by a Celebrity Xpedition Representative and will proceed to clear documentation and inspections by the authorities of the Galapagos National Park.  Please note:  your 13-night Galapagos package includes the $100.00 per person entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park.  After all documentation has been cleared, you will be escorted just outside the main entrance of the airline terminal where a Celebrity Xpedition rep. will co-ordinate your transportation to the tender pier where you will transfer to the ship via Zodiac.
Since my travel journal consists of about 3 lines saying I am bagged and going to sleep, this day is being copied from Celebrity's information.
One thing not mentioned in my journal is that while going through the line ups at the Airport to get on the airplane there were a few vendors trying to sell us things.  One guy was offering sunglasses... just what I needed!  To make the long story short.. we managed to get a pair of knock off RayBans for $10.

Flying into Baltra

Our ship, the Xpedition.
Welcome onboard
North Seymour has been named after Lord Hugh Seymour and is located at the central area of the Archipelago, just north of Baltra.  It has been formed through a series of uplifts of submarine lavas deposited as a flat plateau along underwater fissures.  These sporadic uplifts took more than a million years to bring the island to its present level.  The major attraction here is the colony of Frigate birds, the largest in the Galapagos. Most are Magnificent Frigate birds (Magnificent having purplish nape feathers and the Great Frigate birds having greenish)  The full trail is about 2 kilometers long and passes very close to the colony.  There may be the possibility of seeing the males with their red throat pouches fully extended, in order to attract females.  The females do most of the mate choosing and use the male's inflated gular pouch as a way to judge gene superiority among the many males ready to mate.  Also along the path, there are breeding pairs of blue footed boobies.  You might have a chance to see their remarkable courtship display, comical and delightful at the same time, a slow, mirrored booby pas de deux.  There are always Iguanas and Sea Lions present to observe and photograph.
1:00 - 2:30 - Buffet Lunch at Darwin's Restaurant, International Cuisine, Deck 3 (We were in cabin 409 with adequate space, non opening window, double bed and small sofa, table, 2 chairs, small desk area.  bathroom with shower, double closet space)
3:00 - Naturalist welcome briefing.  Discovery Lounge, Deck 4.
4:00 - Boat drill (find our life jackets and put them on and go to the dispersal station.
4:30 - Long walk activity - Dry landing at North Seymour Island - 1.5 hours.
4:45 - Short Walk Activity - Zodiac ride along the coastline with dry landing at North Seymour Island.  1.5 hours.  WE took the short walk.  It was very rocky and very hot.  We are advised to weae sun block, good walking shoes, and carry water. We get our life jackets on, get into the zodiac - 16 people per boat - ride about and see the birds, and animals.  We then stop at the jumping off place and our Naturalist guide and the driver of the boat help us get off, with the elbow to elbow hand holds.  It works really very well.  We leave our life jackets with the boat and walk along single file, behind the guide with stops for information.  I miss a lot of the information as I am trying to get photos.  We go back to the ship in the same manner.
6:45 back on board
&:30 Captain Jose Ma. Villavicencio, Master of the M/V Xpedition and his officers would like to welcome you all onboard with a toast.  Followed by the Briefing on Tomorrow's activities at the Discover Lounge.
&:45 - 9:30  Dinner at Darwin's Restaurant, Deck 3 (open seating)   The food is very good.  All gratuities, wine, drinks etc.  are included in the package price.
::Every evening our cruise director, Karina Lopez, will give a briefing concerning the following day's activities.  Please remember to sign up for your activity at night to guarantee your selection for the following day.  We also chose our menu items to give the cooks some idea of how much of everything to make.
This is a swallow tailed gull.  
My first capture of a sea lion.  There were many many more opportunities.  These animals and birds are all very tame and we can get quite close to them.
a male sea lion and the surf.  This one particular spot on the island had a magnificent spot for watching the waves break on the rocks.
Female Frigate bird and baby.
Male Frigate Bird with red pouch extended to attract females.
I believe this is a blue footed booby.  There will be photos of the blue feet on another day.