Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring awakenings

 A photo from our trip to SW US in 2011.  This is after we had toured Death Valley, camped a Hrumph and were on our way to Las Vegas.  I think that is the Colorado River under a stormy sky.
 A common blue morpho in the Victoria Butterfly gardens.  There were some huge giant blue morphos flitting about.  I did not manage to capture one of them.  They are spectacular!
a paper kite
 This is the magnolia in the front garden with its huge petals decorating the driveway on a rainy day in April. 
 The woodland in April.  I used the hdr merge for this one.  Looking back at other years I see I have other photos composed much like this one of the old sidewalk into the woodland.  Tulips, poyanthus, grape hyacinths in bloom..  That fern is huge.  It was there when we moved into the house.  Maybe I should move some of it to under the deck to reestablish the privacy hedge that the neighbors have damaged beyond repair.  I have a fairly well established black bamboo but it is not yet thick enough to screen out very much of the view of all their cement parking lot.
This is my favourite shot of the woodland for the month.  A tulip and dames rocket that self seeds in magenta, blue, and white.  I wonderful plant for the woodland. 

I was to Cannor this week and quite easily came home with $75 worth of plants and 6 new little goldfish.  The goldfish did not seem to be stressed at all when I put them into the pond.  They are surviving nicely and appear at the top of the water where I can actually see them.  The water fall is running and I skim of the petals, etc. that falls from the plum tree.  The water hawthorn is in full bloom and so is the marsh marigold.  The moss on the waterfall is filling in and is still green from all the rain we have had.  The moss garden is coming along nicely and extending under the deck.  I have been thinking of leveling out the sitting area under there.  I need some block to make a retaining wall for the dirt that I will need to move to make the sitting area into something attractive.  And then some gravel or chipped rock to cover the floor of the sitting area.  Although I saw plastic square foot blocks at Cannor that looked good for a 'flooring'.  They look like stone.  I shall measure the area that I want to cover and get some of these blocks, I think.  Perhaps plastic or cedar troughs for the retaining walls.  The skimmia bush under the deck is pathetic looking and I think I will remove it.  I need to get rid of the scruffy wild bush that is in the one corner, also.  I might be able to make a set of filmy curtains to hang from the deck along that side to pull closed when I am out there.  I should be able to grow hellebores and lily of the valley, hostas, dicentra, ferns and get the moss growing to make it like a rainforest.  Next week perhaps. 
I have started to weed the rectangles at the front of the garden and the strip along in front of them.  I have finished the hedging.  The burning bush is putting out a lot of new red growth on my side.  The other side of it had branches ripped right off of it.... but the sight of their garbage cans from my front door is getting screened out again.  For earth day on the 22nd she sloped bleach all over her cement and washed this stuff off her cement into my flower beds and off her driveway to the street and into the storm sewer that is marked as fish habitat.  We have the Colquitz River running on both sides of our property.  The frogs no longer sing and haven't since that house was built. 
I transplanted the 3 oriental lily bulbs into a pot and put them by the Iceberg rose by the front step.  Hope they give a good show.  They were on sale at half price and had leaves formed on all three bulbs.  I have a few more glads to put into the cutting garden.  The ones from last year are coming up.  I have a dahlia for that area, a 6 pack of cosmos, a blue veronica, a blue delphinium, a red hollyhock.  I have planted a row of dill seed and hope it does better this year.  The top part of the garden is shielded from rain by the tall cedars I have along that side.  The vegetables do not do well because of all the tree roots, I think.  The rhubarb is looking not too bad this year, but still kinda spindly compared to what rhubarb really could be.  I shall keep feeding it. The strawberries are in bloom. The birds always get the berries as I have not devised a cover for them yet. There are mallows self seeded into this area, but must not let them get out of hand.  They do not really make good cut flowers.  The irises are doing well.  I may need to thin them out this year.  The lilac has buds.  The rhodos and azaleas have buds and will soon be out. I have heliotrope and tomatoes for deck pots and geraniums. and little blue african daisies and 2 fuschias.  This should complete the pots on the deck.  Perfect gardening weather to day.. I have to get out there!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Italian garden at Hatley Castle

 A recent photo made with bracketing and the hdr merge in photoshop.  This is a long zoom shooting from the front deck through the rose foliage at the thrift.  One of my best rocks is a volcanic rock found in the Clearwater area, sitting behind the thrift.  The Aliums are coming up there thickly.  I should probably thin them out. 
 Another photo from my trip to the butterfly gardens in February.  This is an atlas moth.
Atlas moths are considered the largest moths in the world in terms of total wing surface area [upwards of c. 400 cm2 (62 sq in)]. Their wingspans are also amongst the largest, reaching over 25 cm (10 in). Females are appreciably larger and heavier.
From the Butterfly garden of Victoria:
Atlas Moth
Attacus atlas

The Atlas Moth is a member of the Saturniidae species and can be found throughout India, Sri Lanka, China, Malaysia and Indonesia. They can stay in their cocoon for up to five years, yet when they emerge, they live for only three to five days. The Atlas Moth is the world's largest in overall size, with a wingspan of 15 to 30 centimetres, and it prefers tropical lowland areas. Being nocturnal, they fly mainly at night and rest during the day. The male and female are similar in appearance, although the antennae of the females are generally thinner. The caterpillar is a pale yellowish green with long fleshy spines that are heavily powdered with a white waxy substance. It can grow up to 4 inches in length and feeds on a wide variety of plants.

This one was within a screening.  You can see the eggs on the screen, so this was probably a female near the end of its life.
 On Sunday we were out at Hatley Castle attending a talk by  Wendy Shearer on Italian Gardens.  We had a tour of the gardens after the talk.  My Japanese garden photos were not terrific.  The sun was out and the contrast in the light and shadows was not good for photography.  This photo in the Italian garden seems to have a flare.  I wish I had noticed it .. I might have been able to place the flare to hit the center of the garden. 
 A photo from on the terrace looking out over the Strait to the USA. 
This is shooting up at the Castle from the parking lot at the bottom of the gardens.  All of the photos from this day were bracketed and processed in photoshop's hdr merge. 

On Saturday I went to the VIRAGS show and sale.  The show was interesting, but I did not find anything really spectacular.  Beaver Creek nursery was not at the sale due to an illness in the family, so there was nothing exceptional to buy.  I got a pleione and a big impatiens plant that is good for the foliage.  I will put it into the woodland garden,

Yesterday, I mowed the grass and then pulled the tops off of bluebells in the woodland.  They are getting everywhere, and will just come up again.  I am thinking of covering the area with cardboard to smother them.  There will be holes in the cardboard (or layers of newspaper) for the trees and any plants I could save, like the columbines and the fawn lilies.  Both of the trilliums seem to be gone.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

The garden in April

 This is the entry into the front garden.  This grass path winds past the stone path and then is enclosed in boxwood hedges on each side to feed out on to the neighbours grass strip.  The boxwood hedges need trimming back.  Hope to get at it soon.  The stone path leads off the grass path and takes you into the inner front garden.  I have been weeding this area of the garden this past couple of weeks.  The stone path is slowly getting the spaces filled with Corsican mint.  The little weeds have been pulled out before they went to seed, I hope, so it should be easier to keep clean now.  My cedars along the neighbors side are growing to a good side to hide their driveway and bare grass yard. 
 These fawn lilies are in the back woodland area.  The bluebells back here are taking over.  I must get after them and not let them go to seed this year.  I have all of the front ones leaves pulled off, so that they should not be able to bloom this year.  I might have to do them again, and dig out as many bulbs as I can.  The violets in the inner garden are slowly getting eradicated, except for the area by the water meter where I let them grow in the little stone path to the meter.  I do not see the trilliums in the woodland.  I may have to get new ones.  They might be dead from my digging out the big ugly plants around them last year.  The stone path at the back is cleaned up and weeded and the bluebells pulled off in the Japanese/moss garden... but the moss garden still needs some work.  The moss is coming along nicely. 
 This is another one of the butterflies that I captured in the Butterfly Gardens.  I must get out there more often.  I saw a white butterfly in the back garden a few days ago.  We had some very warm weather and sun.  It was a very big one, too.  I have not seen it again, though.
This is a bridge in Tongli, China.  I was looking at some of the photos from our trip of about this time last year.   The group of people that we traveled with have sent around an email about what they have been doing... not everyone replied. 
I have been using the hdr photo merge for some bracketed photos recently and I like the way they turned out... more detail.  I probably won't be able to use this for travel photos though, as there is usually very little time to snap photos; especially when traveling with a group and a tour guide.

Tomorrow I go to the Alpine and rock plant gardening society's show and sale, and then on Sunday I go out to Royal Roads to listen to a talk about the Italian garden and we do a tour of it, also.  I hope to have time to go to the Japanese garden too.  So, I have my cameras cleaned, batteries charged and setting set up for the indoor florescent (I think) shooting tomorrow. 

I have been reading the Harry Potter books again.  Seems like I missed a lot the first time through.  AND I was never going to bother reading those kids books!  Really enjoying the fantasy when there is too many horrible things happening in the world.  Eastern Canada has just had a big ice storm with 60,000 people with their power out.  We are lucky to live here, the best place in Canada.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

 The goldfish, Elvis lives.  This is at least this fish's fourth year in the water tub on the deck.  It is slowly growing bigger.  I don't see any fish in the pond, though.  The one in the tub in the woodland area is living too.  I have had to top up the water in the pond recently.  Yesterday I tried to slow the flow of water over the water fall, so maybe this will fix the problem.
 This phalenopsis is in bloom on the light garden.  It is a lovely white, that opened just in time for Easter.  We were at Marlene and Art's for Easter dinner, along with the family.  Was a nice dinner and visit. 
 I was looking at a few photos from our Rideau canal and St. Lawrence cruise trip.  This is the Montmorency Falls just outside of Ottawa.
 This is a copy of Michelangelo's Pieta that is in St. Anne de Beaupre Basilica.  From Wikipedia:  The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré is a basilica set along the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada, 30 kilometres (19 mi) east of Quebec City. It has been credited by the Catholic Church with many miracles of curing the sick and disabled
This is a bracketed shot merged in Photoshop hdr and a few other adjustments.  This rodanthe is in a pot on the deck.  The flowers open in the Spring along with the Deffodils.  It does well with morning light and shade in the hot part of the day, and good drainage.  It is doing well on the deck.  it is evergreen. 
The daffodils are up with a nice boquet in the house.  The little rockery at the back is slowly starting to fill in.  The lewisias are not the showy ones, but I like how they look.  There is a very nice evergreen campanula, a daphne (has buds this year!), a couple of little evergreens, a saxifragia, a huge pink that I need to keep trimmed back, and about 4 other tiny ones.. the douglasia is in bloom. 
Yesterday I mowed the grass, took down a few more limbs off the cedars at the back by the veggie patch.  This should let a bit more light in.  I also took a couple of feet off the yews, but now wish that I had not done it, as I can now see the top of the fence between our properties and this fence is not a pretty thing.  Ah well, the yews will grow again... quickly, I hope.  There are two blue windflowers migrated to the veggie patch and I think I will leave them there.  The bluebells are crowding everything out in the woodland area.  I have to get after them this year... at least make sure they do not go to seed.  They are everywhere in the garden.  I can only find 4 lupines in the garden... and I had at least 20 seeds germinate last spring.  Well, I shall do them again this year.  The plants don't live very long and they never seem to go to seed in my garden.  They look great with Foxgloves blooming together.  I should like to get more hollyhocks for the rectangle spaces at the front.  I have a nice dark maroon one.  A yellow one would look good with it.   There is lots of weeding to do before I put down the compost all around. I only have 5 bags of it  to use.  Its great for holding in the moisture.  The Japanese quince has survived its move out of its pot and into the front garden by the roses.  I hope it blooms this year.  The magnolia has huge buds ready to burst open  The plum tree at the back is a mass of white.   I did a bit of a repair to the stepping stone path at the back and may need to do some more.  The reason I put the stepping stones in was because that area of the garden gets very wet in winter.  The stones have started to sink into the soggy soil, so I will need to lift them a bit and perhaps add a layer of sand.  In the spot where I lifted the stones yesterday, I got rid of the grass that was growing between the rocks, dug out the rocks and added a layer of cardboard, then more clay soil around the rocks to hold them in place.  This spot was really low and should now be good for a few years.  There is corsican mint growing around the stones and it looks  and smells really good in the summer. 
I am reading the Harry Potter books again.  I rushed through them so fast the first time around that I seemed to have missed a lot of stuff.  Still a good read the second time around.  I am not getting anything done on my old web page.  I shall have to set my mind to getting a few photos tweaked for it each day... and that is the way it gets done... a bit at a time.  The review of the Rideau Canal trip photos has got me fired up about it again... but there is the gardening... which is far more fun, now that the sun is out.