Monday, December 30, 2013

A walk in the Park in early December

 Belated Christmas wishes and all the best in the new year.  This is a combination of two photos.  The hummingbird really was feeding at a snowy feeder.  I just added the background of more snow.  In the last few days our temperatures have been above freezing so the humming birds are feeding without the cold and snow.
 The following photos are from the 4th of December... still Autumn...  when I went for a walk in the Park.  The sun was shining and the colors were incredible.  We had very nice Autumn colors this year.
One view of the Pond in the park.   It had thin ice on it, but no birds.  Very unusual.  This photo is going to be one that I will be using on the calendar I am making.  I have found a template for making the calendars that uses Windows Office.  I am trying to learn to use my printer to add my own photos to the calendar.  Its not perfect, but I am learning more about printing.   I will soon need more ink, though.  :-)  Yesterday, I was able to do, what I thought, was a very good job of photos of Pat's motorcycle that he will be getting licensed as an antique, as the licensing department needs the photos to see that it is an authentic antique.
 This is a close up of a lovely big piece of moss against the golden background light.
 more of the ice on the pond and the reeds at the edge.
Our park is allowed to grow its natural grasses and trees.  The view was wonderful with the grasses moving and shining in the sunlight.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Early December in the Garden

 This is the scene that greeted me on December 1st.  There were about half of the leaves left on the liquid amber tree on Nov. 30th.  Overnight we had a bit of rain and all the rest of the leaves came down, carpeting the hedges, the front entry, the grass paths and everything else in the front garden.  The most of the leaves, we mulched up and put into our old compost bin to create some 'leave mold' for our own composting.  In 2014 Saanich is going to start collecting and charging us for the 'green garbage' pickup.  I won't be keeping my Community Composting guys, with whom I am already doing the stuff Saanich has foisted upon us.  I would rather keep the Community Composting as they are very good and accept all the stuff Saanich will be doing.  They fetch the bin from the back and I do not have to drag it out to the front.  I get a bag of compost on every pick up from them.  So, now I will be making compost again.  But not with anything that attracts rats.  Saanich can have that stuff.
 This is the cyclamen along the old sidewalk beside the garage.  It is finished blooming and has this show of lovely leaves.  There are little plants popping up in different places around the garden.  It seems these plants, which grow bulbs, seem to have to reach a certain maturity and size before they bloom.  They are excellent and I hope to encourage them to grow where ever they appear in the garden.
 We had frost and a bit of snow on the 5th of December.  This is the birdbath on the deck with a leaf from the front tree that blew over the house and landed here.  It was begging to have its picture taken.  We are still in a cold snap with below freezing temperatures day and nite.  We have very little snow, so there is only the ice that is a hazard to walking and driving.
 I played a bit with the leaf, in photoshop to make a selective color photo of it.  I learned how to use the quick selection tool, click on the 'inverse' of the selected part.  Then I went to the layers palette and click on the little icon at the bottom that is half black and half white.  From the drop down menu there I choose the black and white filter and proceeded to play to make the background and all of the inverse selection to a monchrome.  I rather like how this one turned out.  I am not totally a fan of selected colors photos, but this one works for me.
 This is the last bud of the Peace rose before the freezing set in.  I guess this will end the bloom on the roses.  Taken with my little Sony.
 A photo of the December Iceberg rose taken with the Sony.
And a back lit photo of the white rose taken with my little Canon.  Before I managed to learn the quick selection tool I had tried to use the lasso tool to select the rose and do the blur of the background on the inverse selection.  I worked not too bad, but I must try it with the quick selection tool, too.  It is much faster and more precise. 
I have entered a copy of the original of this photo into the Canadian Wildlife Federation contest for the month of December.  The theme is the new and the old.  Come vote for me!  :-}

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November in the neighbourhood and July on my web page

 This is a tall agave like plant that blooms in the late summer.  Last year it had two tall spikes of these lovely creamy bells.  It seeems to bloom every second year.  The one in the back garden has finally started blooming.  It was a tiny plant when I first got it years ago.  I am working on getting the 'July' album done for my old web page.  Like the June album, July is going to have 160 photos on 16 pages. 
 This is a catananche caerulea, or cupid's dart for the July album.  These plants are short lived perennials, but they self seed.  I seem to have lost this plant in my garden and shall put it on my list of new ones to get next spring.  The butterflies like these flowers.
 This little bush has been left in the park.  It has some gorgeous Autumn color, so I am glad it is still there.  I see there are still lots of blackberry bushes.  The blackberries are considered an invasive species in the parks, and they surely are!  There were always people to enjoy the pickings, though. 
 This is one of the circles they have added to the park.  There is now, also a sign about the park trail and a small bicycle stand.  We get a lot of traffic on this trail.  I never noticed them before they put the trail through to our street.  The people still have one block to walk on before they connect to the trail that continues through the Coply Park.    I am still waiting to see what trees they will be planting, as per the plan.
 This is the view from the trail towards our house with the Liquid Amber tree dressed for the Autumn season.  Its an attractive curvy trail.  Last Spring I had our cedar hedge topped at about 12 feet.  From our dining room window we get a view of the traffic on the trail, now.  I really must find the time to get out and use the trail more.  It is wonderfully wild park.   I haven't seen the deer for a couple of years.  There has been a cougar in the park.  We have eagles nesting somewhere in the park too.  Every year I see the new baby eagles out for flight training.  I think there were 3 of them this year. I don't know where the nest is though. 
This is a close up of some of the drift wood on the beach at Waterton Lake, from our trip through that Peace Park list July.  That is a wonderful park.  They have fields of wild flowers that are native to the area.  I hope I can get a few of our natural flowers re-established in the park across the street..  They have planted grass, but the rest of the Colquitz Park has grass too.  There is a lot of information about the urban forest plan and the park in Saanich on their web site.  I need to study it more to see if I can help mother nature to re-establish some of the natural ones.  I must be very mindful of keeping my ivy or holly trees from running over to the park.  I see we already have some ivy that has taken over along the river where there were fawn lilies.  Its not my variety of ivy, though.  There is also quite a lot of broom in our park.  There was a fish count in the river, a month or so ago, and we have some salmon and cutthroat trout.  I haven't seen the river otter for years, but I imagine they still live in the river.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Some of the trees in Autumn

The English oak has some spectacular color this year.  This is a photo from today.
 This is a the English Oak on Nov. 3, ten days ago.. just starting to turn.  In some years these leaves hang on well into winter and just turn brown.  Hope this years colors last equally as long as the brown ones.
 This is the arbus unedo or strawberry tree.  The bees love the those little bell blossoms.  The humming birds feed on them too.  Its good to see that there is some food for them this late in the season.  The red berries are edible, apparently.  There are numerous opinions on that on the internet.  The birds should like them, too, but I have not seen the birds eating them.  The tree has a long period of bloom in the autumn, in my garden.
 This is the holly with lots of berries on it this year.  Nice variegated leaves on this one.  Many years ago, I rescued it from a plant nursery where it was not looking very good.  In the last few years it has been putting on a good show. 
 This is the pin oak and the Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica), in the woodland garden.  You see the tops of the trees over the garage roof.  The Japanese cedar stays this reddish bronze color all winter and in the spring turns green again.  It is a big tree that is aging gracefully.  Its too bad that the needles sometimes dry out and hang onto the tree.  I brush them off on the lower branches, but the higher ones will have to take care of themselves.  I must do a photo study of this tree.  It likes acid soil, so perhaps I could under plant it with blue or white azaleas.  At the moment there is a shrub with white blossoms that have the fragrance of orange blossoms.  This little shrub is everygreen and looks good under the sweeping boughs of the cryptomeria.  I believe the lovely little shrub is a choisya.  In the spring and summer, this area has quite a lot of self seeded dames rocket, in purple and white. 
 This is a closer view of the pin oak leaves.  Very rich red color.  I moved a rhodo, in the same space as this tree.  I do not get back here often enough to water.   These two trees with their underplantings are across the woodland path from each other. 
This is a photo of the liquid amber tree in the front garden from November 3.  It has more color, now and has dropped some of the leaves.  It is the main show in the front garden, now.
Yesterday, I was out in the garden for a couple of hours and raked leaves off of the rock plants, thyme circle and other perennials.  I put the leaves on the grass path and mulch them with the mover.  I don't know where the leaves went, but I did not have much mulch in the mower bag.  There will be more leaves to fall, of course and more leaf mulch to make. 

With the clean up of the deer pasture across the street from us by the Saanich Parks department I have been haunting the Parks website to learn about the Urban Forest Stategy.    It is all very interesting and I enjoy following links to all kinds of good information.  One of the links led me to a place that sells wild flower seeds.  It is in Ontario.  The company has 3 or 4 kinds of Milkweed seed for sale.  I have some seed for milkweed that I hope to grow into enough food for monarch butterfly larvae.  Thanks for the seed, Dave.  My first ones have sprouted.  Planted them on November 3.  They are in plastic containers next to the light garden.  I have a few being stratified in the fridge, but I have the majority of them planted in pots that sit out on the garden.  I hope to see them in the spring in the natural order of growth.  I am happy to see that these plants are not banned in Canada.  I found no mention of them on such list in Saanich, particularly.  So, when my plants get leaves, I hope I can get some monarchs, and then hope that the monarchs are enticed to stay and lay eggs.  Well, that is next year's project. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

November in the rain

 I have had this huge boquet of roses in the house for 2 weeks.  The bush outside still has blooms on it.  The white rose is still blooming also.
 We had Art and Marlene over for a Duck dinner awhile ago.  She left the autumn colors boquet.  There is a bit of this boquet left, but the roses lost all of their petals so today was the end of them.  It is raining and coolish.  I had intended to go out and rake leaves, but it started raining lightly and that put an end to the gardening.
 This is a survivor on the deck.  I like the contrast in the dark deck colors and the shining white little daisies.  This would work as one of my series of 'survivors' that I print and hang.  I will need to reprint one of the two I have up, so far, and get it new matting.
 I found this Turk's Cap Lily at a roadside stop along the Yellowhead Highway, in the Blue River area.  There are quite a few of these wild lilies growing there.  Its great to see that they survive.  I have joined the Canadian Wildlife Federation Photo Club.  I entered this one in the November Flora contest.  The winners are chosen by popular vote.  So, come vote for me:     You need to register and qualify to add your own photos.  Since I am a support of CWF and have been for years, I get their calendars.  There is some excellent photography on them. 
This is another HDR - merged 3 bracketed photos in photoshop -- of the Athabasca Falls, from our Rocky Mountaineer train trip.  Was a grand trip! 

Last week I received milkweed seeds from Dave Dube in Oregon.  He grew the milkweed seeds because he was interested in restoring habitat for Monarch butterfllies.  This is something I am interested in doing as well.  I have pots out on the garden - 6 with the Davis, showy milkweed and 8 with the other kind he sent.  In the house, next to my light garden, I have 12 pots with seeds that should germinate soon.  I have 12 more of the Davis seeds being stratified in the fridge.  If my plants grow and I get enough of them to support a few monarchs I will get some monarchs for release.  I do hope I can sp0ecify the gender.  I will look into it through butterfly gardens in Sidney.  Hopefully, they will be able to supply the butterflies to me.  I am quite excited about this project.  We have some information and links to Dave's you tube videos in our Community called Butterflies are Free, on  Come join us.  Registration on the site is free.  We have contests, communities, critiques, and more.  There will be a Version 2 of the site, that will be just as user friendly, with all of the proposed features completed plus some new ones.  Here is the Butterfies are Free Monarchs discussion:

November in the rain is all about planning for next year.  Along with the Milkweed project, I hope to find some more of the Canadian wild flowers for my garden.  While reading the Saanich website, I have found so much information about endangered species, where to find the wildflowers, how to protect any tree you have in your 'urban forest'.  Here is a start to explore:

I just noticed that our Mayor has declared November 3 as tree planting day.  Well... I missed it, drat!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A glorious October this year

 The liquid amber tree in the front is turning glorious colors now.  This photo is from about 2 weeks ago. The tree has a long way to go before it is finished.  It shows color for a month or more. 
 The main color in this photo is the smoke bush.  When the light shines through the leaves it is a marvelous color.  This photo is also from about 2 weeks ago.  The stone path is cleaned up.  The leaves are beginning to fall.  I will soon be raking the leaves to piles on the grass path and run over them with the mower to mulch them.  The back bin is full and I will need to stump it down to get the leaves into it.  The area beside the garage looks good with mulched leaves on it, so perhaps these mulched leaves can go directly to the woodland.  In the woodland the pin oak and the sumacs are in marvelous color, too. 
 This is the simplicity rose.  Yesterday I cut a huge boquet of these roses and have them in the house.  Photos today of the boquet.  Will upload them later, when I get time. 
 The white Iceburg rose has had a great flush of bloom also.  I cut it back from where it was flopping over the entry way, and had a huge goquet of it in the house too.  It is still in bloom, now, too.  It is getting quite cool at night.  I hope the roses last until Christmas!
 They are slowly getting the park finished.  The blackberry bushes are growing again.  They have not yet planted any of the trees they have scheduled to go in.  There are lots of bicycles and waling people on the trail.  I guess I never noticed them when they went along the street instead of along this trail that appears to be leading directly to my door.  :-) 
These are the michaelmas daisies that are in front of the bamboo.  These plants are finished blooming.  I have cleaned up and weeded the beds at the front  and am now working on the back.    I have finished weeding the stone path up to the entry to the water garden.  I clean up the adjacent beds when doing the paths.  I will need photos of the back, once I get the moss garden cleaned up.  Most of the leaves at the back are finished falling except the English Oak and the pin oak.  I still have a bed to dig over... I might plant milkweed in there.  My beautiful hydrangea caught some awful wilt or fungus, or virus and died.  I imagine the disease is now in the soil, so I won't get another hydrangea until I figure out what killed it and clean the area.
My light garden is looking so good, after cleaning it up and feeding the plants.  Several orchids in bloom.  Photos later if I get time.  To add to my things to do, I have now joined the CWF photo club.  I did two landscape photos to enter the annual contest, in the landscape category.  Very interesting reading in their magazine.  I have also spend quite a bit of time reading the Saanich web site; especially about the urban forest, endangered species, invasive species, and so much more good information   I would love to establish some of the wild flowers in the park but am not sure what they are going to do with it now.  If they continue ot mow it like they have been doing, the flowers would not stand a chance. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gardening and other things in October

 This is the Verbena bonariensis that has self seeded in the strip along between the hedge and the crocus field in the front.  The plants are in the area where I had let the daisies grow a couple of years ago.  The daisies just took over, so for the past two years I have been digging out daisies all over the garden.  These verbena have a long bloom period.  The skipper butterflies love them and so do the bees.  So, I shall let them grow for another year, or until they become too much.   I have cleaned up this whole area and put down some compost from the community compost guys.  I will probably do one more raking of leaves in this area.  The liquid amber tree is slowly turning glorious colors.  The leaves will be on it for some time yet.   I have given up on a peony that was struggling in the rectangle bed next to the Pee's driveway.  I shall want to get the blue bells out of that bed before I plant anything.  I hope to have space for a milkweed plant or two in there.  Dave is sending me some seeds and plants.  If his package does not make it across the border, I have found a place in Ontario that supplies 3 or 4 kinds of milkweed seeds.  I hope to spend next year getting the plants established and if it works I will see if I can get some monarchs for release from our butterfly gardens people.  The new park area is right across the road.  I was looking at the Saanich website to see if milkweed is a no no and it is good to go.  They even have it marked as a butterfly flower.  So, if some of my milkweed escapes across the street into the park, it will be ok.  There are a few other plants that are 'wild flowers' that might need some help in establishing themselves. The black eyed susans that I now have a nice patch of them growing in this front area, are one of those wild flowers.   The fawn lilies by the blue bridge area off Gerda have been over run by ivy.  If ever I get time, I will ask the Parks people how I could help to eradicate that stuff, and revive the habitat for the fawn lilies.
 This photo of the Virginia creeper was taken some time ago, but it is still red.  I have cut it back off the cement and off the top of the St. John's worte.  We are having the drive way power washed and the cracks filled with a type of fill to match the little stones in the driveway.  All this will add 'curb appeal' to the place should we want to sell it and downsize.  I still enjoy my gardening and Pat does his cars and bikes so the condo is still sometime away, for us.  We are fortunate to have our health.  I put the twiggy parts of the creeper into the green bin and had a bag full of nice compost type dirt from under the leaves that I cut off.  I put this good stuff down over the bleeding heart that is along by the old garage.  The plants in that little bed beside the woodland path are doing good since I have been feeding them compost and keeping them weeded.
 The Autumn Joy Sedum is still looking too too.  It is just up from the Virginia creeper in that bed between Shawna and our place.  I am trying to establish a few new plants of this, but I think I have put them in too much shade.  I just do not have room for one anywhere suitable.  I am slowly getting more 'mounding' plants established and the garden is becoming more low maintenance.  It took a few hours to clean up the front, but it is not too bad.  When the leaves fall there will be lawn mover mulched and either put on the vegetable patch or in the old compost bin... maybe on the woodland area.  So the front is cleaned up and I have started cleaning up the back.  I have the stone path weeded and weeded the bed around it, and edged the lawn.  There are still leaves to fall at the back, too.  My English oak is still green, with the leaves just starting to turn.  We have had some gorgeous color this Fall.  I had cleaned the roses up at the front, and now they have been putting out more blooms.  The burning bush that was cut back to the ground earlier has sprouted a few shoots and is now about 2 feet high.  I have it protected from the Pee's sidewalk by a jerry rigged fence.  Hopefully this will make the shrub grow straight, instead of leaning over the sidewalk.  That little bed had a fine show of Japanese anemones and the purple jackamani clematis. 
 I was looking back at some photos from our 2011 trip to death valley, etc.  I can see where that is going to be a long photo album if ever I get to doing it up for the travel page of my old web page.
 This is another thing I was playing with in photoshop.  It is a photo of the bridge in North Vancouver I think, as we came into the station on the Rocky Mountaineer Train last August.  I though it looked rather impressionistic, so I tried to add a bit more blur and other stuff in photoshop to make it more impressionist like.  I am not sure if it works, though.
And this is another photo from an old trip to Malta in 2003.  I have that album done up since 2006.  Since them I have learned a few more photoshop things, but I won't be redoing the album.  It is good how it is. 
I now have the house thoroughly cleaned, have the front garden cleaned up and have my freezer space full of soups and some prepared vegetables.  This makes getting meals to the table much faster and is especially good when I have been out gardening.  But I am usually ready to come in from the garden in the afternoon, after 2 or 3 hours, with time to get cleaned up and make a good supper, now.  Next week there will be no garden time because of other commitments, and then the prediction is for rain on Thursday night.  Just in time to drench the poor little halloween kids. Perhaps the following week be sunny again.  I took moss off the back patio and put it under the deck.  It is still green and lush looking.  If it takes hold this should double the size of my moss garden.  As soon as the rains start the moss garden comes into its own.  It is going to need the leaves swept off it regularly, now, too. 
The light garden in the house is repaying me handsomely for the cleanup I gave it and the repotting and feeding of some of the plants.  I have 2 cattalyas in bloom, 4 phalenopsis, the hae marie has tall spikes of blooms, and the African Violets are blooming and look good nice and clean too. 
I have not had a lot of time for Megashot, but don't much care, at the moment.  I want to get at least one album done on my old web page before the year is out, so hopefully I can get at it soon.  Life is good on the West Coast. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

September carried over into October

 This is  part of the stone path in the back garden.  The corsican mint has filled in nicely around the stones.  This is how it was in mid September and it is much the same now, in mid October.  If you step on the mint it sends up a huge lovely fragrance.
These are the cyclamens from mid September and are much the same now too.  Over the years they have spread out in this patch by the old garage.  I see the leaves popping up all over the back garden.  I planted a couple more bulbs on the other side of the garage and they are finally making a good show this year.  
 These were the Autumn crocus in mid September.  They do not have a long period of bloom but are a lovely blast of color when they do pop up. 

When we were on the Island Challenge... an antique car event... we put our cars on display at the Fair while we had breakfast and then looked at some of the3 exhibits.  What a lovely chicken!
 I was looking back at our trip on the St. Lawrence River and the Rideau canal and found this photo of the Pierre LaPorte bridge and the Quebec Bridge over the St. Lawrence River, near Quebec City.
Something for the season.  I took this the year I was uploading photos for the Victoria Grid group on Flicker.  I reworked it and added some text, this year. 

We have had a fine week of sunshine so far this week and are promised another week of the same.  I am happy with what I have managed to get done in the garden.  Edged the lawn and put the edging bits onto the front grass under the plum tree.  Hope it takes hold by Springtime.  As we are to have the driveway and all the cement power washed, I had to save the moss that was growing on the cement.  It is suppose to be slippery and a possible cause of accidents.  We never had one yet... but I suppose all this cleaned up cement will add curb appeal should we ever decide to sell it.  I put the moss down under the deck.  It looks like a lovely green carpet.  I sure hope it takes hold too.  This will expand my moss garden to at least double its size.  I am moving ferns all over under the deck too.  The last ferns I moved are surviving very well.  They are in total shade.  I need to be mindful of watering them. 
I have finished weeding the stone path and all of the inner garden.  I only need to do the front rectangles and the strip in front of them and then the front will be good to go into winter.  There will be the raking of the leaves.  Last year, mulching them with the lawn mover worked really good, and will do it again this year.  And will keep the mulch, as Saanich will be starting the garden waste collection next year.  I will lose my compost guys and will no longer be getting a bag of compost per month from them.  I have put some of the weedless compost into the old compost bin to start up my own compost again.  The old bin is still half full, so the leaves should fit in there this Autumn.  Saanich is trying to reduce the amount of stuff we put into the land fill.  Well, with recycling paper and bottles, etc, and my garden waste bin; they have not been getting much from me.  What I put out is mainly plastics and other food packaging.  I have five bags of compost left and will probably save them over to next year.