Thursday, October 27, 2011

More mid October color

This is the Virginia Creeper from about 10 days ago.  I cut it way back to about 3.5 feet up its pole, in the Springtime.  It has grown right up to the top again and is putting on some gorgeous autumn color.  I used the old dead twigs to line the woodland path and the composted dirt from the cleanup as compost in the woodland at the back.  I am finished cleaning up this woodland area and have transplanted 12 perennials and some daffodils, hyacinths, tulips into the area. 
this is looking over my back fence at the sumacs in a neighbor's back yard. The reddish tree on the left is my Japanese cedar that goes this interesting bronze/red color for the winter.  The area under this tree is cleaned up, but the compost I had did not extend to under this tree.  I have self seeding perennials in this part of the woodland.  I am not sure if too much compost added would be good for them.  I cleaned out 4 bags of compost from the old compost bin, but I think I will be using it on the vegetable garden patch.  I think the soil there needs to be beefed up so things grow.
The sweet gun tree is starting to show a bit of color in this photo of about a week ago.  It should be really nice in a few days.  We have had a light frost or two and more rain.

My light garden is looking ok.  All the African violets are in bloom.  The little magenta dendrobium has a couple of flowers.
I have been making soups.  I tried a ratatouille recipe.  I am not a big fan of food with tomatoes, but this was delicious.  Today I made a salmon chowder and it had tomatoes in it as well.  Was good, too.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

mid October color

The Autumn colors are looking terrific.  It has been raining for the last couple of days... not all the time, but enough to put an inch of water into the rain gauge.   Since I am mostly finished my Fall clean up, I can play with my photos.  I hope you can see the rain drop trails in the top photo.  The second one is the coreopsis in its container next to the bird bath.  The bottom one is of a willow I somehow got horn-swaggled into buying at the Rock and Alpine garden show and sale this spring.  Its an interesting story.  Not everyone gets treated to the generosity of a Count... I think that is his actual title.  As I shopped at the sale at the show, I chose a few choice plants ... lewisias if I remember correctly... from on the table, and put them into my tray to buy.  Lo and behold, this man came to my tray, grabbed the lewisias and said 'those are mine'.  I meekly said, 'you can't take my plants!'.  He said, they were in my tray, I just left them on the table while I talked to someone... I suppose it is my own fault' he muttered.  and proceeded to give me these willows, because I had said I was looking for one particular miniature willow.  Well, I must say, after talking to him and saying that he did not have to give me his plants, it was just as much my fault for taking his stuff, I was very generously compensated for the loss of the lewisias I had chosen.  I also learned a lot about the plants.  This was a very enthusiastic plantsman, and truly of some Royal designation, as I found from reading the newsletter, later.  Our city is populated by all kinds of people who find it to be a paradise. .. from rock stars to royalty.  We let them alone to live a normal life, too, it seems.  Life is good on the left coast.
The colors of Autumn are changing very quickly.  Sometimes the light is amazing... I don't think I could capture it with my cameras.  As we had dinner tonight, I watched out the dining room window, as the light faded from the glow on the leaves and color in the sky to grey and black in a matter of minutes.  It was truly marvelous.  And so was the conversation over dinner.  Just as an aside, I think a civilized and interesting dinner hour is wonderful.  I am definitely blessed.
I spent quite a bit of time on Megashot, today.  This was fun, too.  The site is quite fast.  I believe Cyrus is working like crazy to get Version 2 designed, coded and on line, asap.  There are a few glitches in the site since migration, but as the site will be a lot different on version 2 these things should not matter.  (I can't believe I typed CITY instead of SITE in the above sentence.  Yes, the site is like a city, inhabited by friends and as it grows, by people we only see in passing, through the Explore or the Contests or in members photo uploads, or other places. )
I ran into a small annoyance ... Java wanted to update... well hells bells, everything wants to be updated, constantly.  I said No and googled this Java update thing.  After reading some of the answers to my search saying its a virus... eeeek ... everything is a virus...  I found a site that seemed to me to say what it really is... Java seems to have this checking thing running in the background and asking to be updated.  The people on this site say you can disable this annoyance, and your computer will run faster.  ok... I just left it at "no" for now.  I have no idea what Java does, or why I might need it.  According to the geeks on the site, that I tend to believe, it can be disabled with no loss but with an improvement to speed of the cpu.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rock walk

On Oct. 2th the Vancouver Island Rock and Alpine Gardening Society Victoria Natural History Society had a Geology field trip.  The announcement:  "From Metchosin to Swartz Bay, see the evidence of the movement of continents and ice sheets with Atholl Sutherland-Brown, retired Chief Geologist of B.C.
Meet at 9:30 a.m. at Helmcken Park and Ride to carpool. Bring a lunch and drinks
and dress for the weather. Length of outing about five-six hours. No pets."
The weather was cloudy and coolish.  It was a very vigorous walk for me.  Atholl Sutherland-Brown, I understand, is 82 years young.  He tripped across all the rock surfaces with no trouble at all.  At each stop, he described the geology of the area, without referring to notes or maps.  We had notes and maps to follow along with what he said at each of our stops.  I am afraid I missed most of it, as I had to take photos, of course, as well as not being as agile as most of the people.  Here is the first paragraph:  "The geology of the area is complex because three completely different terranes have been thrust together by plate tectonic subduction with the younger ones forced underneath the older."  And it got more complicated, to me, as we went along.  It was very interesting.  I did not take notes.  There was a book mentioned, but I not longer remember the name or author. 
On the third photo I discovered how to take .jpeg photos into the RAW converter of photoshop.  If you are on windows, go into Bridge, right click the photo you want to use, and go to Open in Camera RAW. 
I spent this morning making chicken stock and chicken soup.  Most of the early afternoon I tried to set up a Drop Box account, for on line storage.  I did not get it set up properly, but don't care.  The first 2 GB are free storage.  The next step up for storage space costs $20.00 per month.  It would not take long for me to fill up 2 GB of space, with photos.  I have had near crashes on my hard drive, but have had back up.  ... and now have lots of space and it is all backed up.  I cannot see where I would need the drop box.  Flash drives would work fine for storage, should I ever get antsy about losing my back up drive or the main drive.
In the last week we have had some fine gardening weather.  Although, we had a light frost 2 nights ago.  I have finished cleaning up the woodland, the Japanese area, and under the deck.  The dry shade under the deck needs to be watered more often to extend the moss garden.  While cleaning up the Japanese area I see that the moss garden is coming along quite nicely.  The ferns can get out of hand, though.  I like to leave the Welsh poppies grow.  They are lovely and seem to do ok in the shade.  So, next year, I shall work on extending the moss garden further under the deck, I hope.  I have several different kinds of moss growing.  pictures perhaps in a week or two.
The wasps are no longer alive in there nest under the deck.  The hornets nest has started to deteriorate and they are not on the outside patching it up, so I guess the frost was the end of them. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

October color

The roses are still in bloom.  I have a couple of rose bowels in the house containing the most fragrant Gertrude Jekyl which is a David Austin English rose.
The plants on the deck are about finished blooming.  I have not replaced them with Chrysanthemums or pansies.  I probably won't do this either.  As soon as it rains these plants that look great coming out of the greenhouse turn to brown mush. 
This is the Tibouchina 'Royal Dreams' shrub on the deck.  It has one leaf that has changed color.  This is a very showy plant, but tender.  It has to come into the house over winter.  I shall put it into the library, so that none of the other plants get any outside bugs it may have on it.  It can be pruned back quite a bit, so it bushes out more with more of the Royal Purple blooms on it.  When I bought this one it was a tiny plant in a tiny pot.  It is now about 4.5 feet tall and looking very healthy. 
The michaelmas daisies are in few well behaved clumps all over the garden.  Aside from the tree leaf colors they are the best Autumn plants.  I have seeds saved from some of the plants and hope to put them into pots to grow.  I have some seed from the wild sweet peas that I hope to get growing in the woodland area.  There is poppy seed, delphinium, hollyhock and lily of the Nile.  I have 4 bags of topsoil to put into the pots where I hope to grow these seeds.
This is the firethorn, covered with berries, this year.  The germander is finished blooming and will be cut back in the early Spring.  I like to leave the perennials foliage on over winter.  The robins are going to happy with this feast of berries later on when they ripen. Early Monday morning I was sitting at my front window watching all the birds.  We have the Colquitz river across the street from us.  It is rather wild area that is not made into a 'park'.  Its wonderful habitat for the the wild life. I saw deer in the deer pasture.  There were Canada geese, 2 big blue herons, a whole bunch of robins, tit mouse clumps, and numerous other birds.  In the back the humming birds are constantly at the feeder.  I wonder if they fatten up to over winter here.
I have transplanted my recent purchases of perennials and bulbs.  There are a few good 'butterfly and humming bird' plants.  This woodland area is covered with good mulch.  When I emptied the last bag of this mulch, I found that I have more of it under the bag of fine cedar bark mulch.  So, if I should need some good compost there is a bit there.  There is also the old compost bin to empty, also.  We are to have about a week of perfect gardening weather, so I must get out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Early Autumn in the garden

This is another view of the renovated path in the back garden. 

The vegetable garden has been weeded and the compost added.  It needs one more bag of compost added.  The Community compost people emptied the bin today and left the needed bag.  I have used up all of the compost so far this year.
The weeding in the woodland garden is finished.  I will need to be very diligent about removing the blue bells when they come up in the Spring.  I have added the butterfly bush next to the black tub.  I have added the woodland compost to the area and have used up all of that compost that was available.  I have put in some daffodil bulbs, a few crocus, hyacinths and dutch iris along the middle ground of this 5 - 6 foot strip of woodland.  The area I am working on stretches from one side of the old garage along behind the garage to about half way past the garage.  I have not measured it, but it must be at least 25 feet.  I have purchased 11 perennials from Cannor, and I hope to put about half of them into this area.  There is a monarda, a veronica, a lychnis (Maltese Cross), Liatrus (gay feather), anise hyssop and a primula that I will add between the bulbs.  These perennials should cover the fading foliage of the bulbs from the spring.  Across the old sidewalk from this area is the lovely lace cap hydrangea under planted with some ... I think its called sweet woodruff and muscari, with some stray daylilies, the lily of the valley shrub, and ferns that hide the old black compost bin.  The compost bin needs to be emptied.  I am adding kitchen compost to it, so it should be good additive to the gardens when I get it dug out. 
Along the front I added 40 more muscari to the crocus field and I should now have a border of blue around the crocuses when they all come up in the spring. I expect to add a lavender, a black eyed susan, and a dwarf coreopsis to the strip next to the crocus field.  I need to keep the daisies under control in this strip and not let them crowd out everything else.  I could use one more pussy toes in the front of this border. 

The apples are not great this year.  I think they are ready to be used now.  I still have apple sauce in the freezer from other years. 
The next area on my to do list is the pond and Japanese garden area.  I need to weed all of the violets and stuff out of the moss garden, dig out some ferns that are taking over, and then think about what I am going to do about the area under the deck.  I want to make a sitting area, so there might have to be some digging and moving of dirt to make the level area. 
The trees are starting to turn colors and the rains have started.  There was over half an inch of rain in the rain gauge.  I saw a weather forecast saying that our winter is going to be colder than usual.  I guess those hornets were right! 

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

October harvest

An attempt at a still life.  The bottom photo has been enhanced with the Virtual photographer filter called 'spice'.  I do think it adds a bit of spice to the original. This is the harvest from my garden on Oct. 1.

more of the harvest still on the trees.  The fig is having its best year.  There are lots of grapes this year.  I am waiting for colder weather to make them sweeter.
 This is the verbena bonariensis.  It is said to be on the Washington State invasive plant watch list.  I can hardly believe it.  I want more of this easy care plant to grow in my front garden.  It is said to self seed easily.  I only have a one or two plants from an old old plant I once purchased.  I shall save the seed and plant it where I want the plants to grow.  I think it needs more moisture than it gets in my carefree front garden strip. This area has a ground cover of thyme, a season of tall daisies and achillea, then the michaelmas daisies bloom... now.  On the other end of this strip across the front I have lynchnis, under planted with pussy toes, with some dutch iris in the Spring.  This year I have added a yellow spot of black eyed susans and coreopsis.  There is the plum tree, a red currant shrub and a lavender.  The black eyed susan has a very long blooming period.  I need to establish more of them!
I renovated this path in the back garden by taking out the flat field stones and adding the stepping stones.  I added pea gravel to fill in and hope to get the Sicilian mint to grow and weed out everything else in the path.  This is the view of the path from the old sidewalk along beside the old garage, and looking towards the entry to the Japanese garden.  I have weeded this path up to the entry to the Japanese area where it also branches off to one of the entries to the vegetable garden.

I have weeded along the back behind the garage from the irises and germander to the end of the old sidewalk where it becomes the bark woodland path.  I have dug out the big leafed plant that was in the front and crowding out the Trilliums.  I have left this plant to grow at the back of the border beside a torch lily clump.  I have the new buddleia/butterfly bush planted in front of this clump.  I hope the thin leaves of the torch lily and the fat leaves of the other plant make a nice backdrop for the butterfly bush.  There are Saskatoon berry trees behind the tub garden, and then the irises, and germander.  There are a few cedars and a yew behind these two plants.  After I had the weeds taken out I put down about 6 bags of the good woodland compost I had liberated from the clean up of the Virginia creeper and St. John's worte in the spring.  The dry twig from this same operation in the Spring is making a very nice springy covering on the wood land path.  It should keep the path from being muddy in winter. 
It is dark by 7:00 now.  We had about an inch of rain last week, some high winds and cooler temperatures.  It is good gardening weather. I have quite a few jars of soup made and frozen.  This should free up some of my time to get outside. 
Of course there is always computer and camera stuff to play with, too. 
Last nite I was watching some depressing videos about the deepening of the depression.  The people living in the tent cities are really very sad and in dire circumstances, now.  There was talk of revising the whole global monetary system going back to a base of gold for all currency.  It was estimated that the US dollar would hold less than half of its present value.  The Chinese and the Oil barons are not much interested in financing the US wars any longer.  Of course, our dollar seems to be tied to the US buck and will probably slide down the slippery slope as well.  Although, our debt is no where near the proportions of the US.  Its all pretty scary.  Makes me want to buy a piece of land where I could raise some livestock and poultry... that will never happen, though.