Sunday, June 28, 2009

Two Woodland Mystery Plants

On our little field trip into the ravine the other evening, I managed to get a few pictures of some wildflowers and a flowering shrub along our trail. I looked them up in my handy guide book, Alberta Wayside Wildflowers by Linda Kershaw and published by Lone Pine Publishing (2003).

Looking up the plants was kind of exciting as it was my first time using the book for reference rather than just browsing. It was also frustrating as there were two I couldn't positively identify (at least I think I positively ID'd the rest!).

Here are my best shots at identification:

Top: native viburnum (V.trilobum) This is a cheat, really, because I got the identity of this shrub compliments of the very helpful Gardening Zone 3b

Middle (L to R): L: Anemone canadensis (Canada Anemone); Centre: unknown (a prostrate plant almost flush to the ground on a steep, mossy, shaded outcrop); R: Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry)

Bottom (L to R): L: Mertensia paniculata (Tall Bluebells) - notice the visitor in the bottom left blossom; R: unknown (the blossom looks kind of like the False Solomon's Seal and the leaves look like an Astilbe....hmmmm.

Any suggestions on the two mystery plants, savvy readers?

PS. I just have to add, I was at the Edmonton Horticultural Society meeting tonight where the guest speaker was the totally great Donna Balzer. Heard conversation between two cute white-haired gentlemen behind me:
First man: "I got six mls of rain so far - that's it!"
Second man: "A man could cry more than that!"

This is why I love gardeners -- they are all poets at heart!

Edit: I may have (at least partially!) solved the mystery of the plant in the bottom right. A look over at the excellent post on shade foliage by Northern Shade has given me the hint I needed. I think this mystery plant with the white bottlebrush flower may be a Cimicifuga simplex. I don't know if it would be a native species (I'm thinking not) or an escapee from someone's garden (more likely). Now if only I could figure out the plant in the middle with the yellow flower and most interesting leaves on spiny stems.

PPS: My guess above was wrong, Home Bug Garden solved the puzzle of the Bottom Right plant. See comments below for the answer. Many thanks to HBG!

The Evening Hush in the Woods

We went on a family walk in the nearby ravine Saturday evening. My little stream that was gushing enthusiastically in April has now quieted

A drift of starry snow from the poplar trees floats down it now

Hushing everything under its soft blanket

Now, if fairie folk still walked these woods, I think this is what they would be stuffing their duvets with for a soft summer sleep, don't you?

(My little son, enchanted by it all)

“Child of the pure, unclouded brow And dreaming eyes of wonder! Though time be fleet and I and thou Are half a life asunder, Thy loving smile will surely hail The love-gift of a fairy tale” ~ Lewis Carroll

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Subtle Beauty

I mentioned in the last post that my Dad came for a overnight visit on Father’s Day weekend and – yes – there was a garden nursery involved!

I took my Dad to Sal’s to get him a hardy rose for Father’s Day. Up against the front of his house (south-facing) he has the same tough old rugosa rose that has probably been there for twenty years or more, just blooming its heart out. You know the one, kinda magenta, about six feet tall. Tough as nails. He really likes roses but I don’t think he realized there were so many new hardy roses available that he could add to his garden.

So, while Dad picked out the Morden Fireglow to dazzle passersby his front garden, I succumbed to the temptations there and picked the subtle and sweet Morden Snowbeauty for my back garden (among a couple other treasures you shall meet soon!).

According to the Canadian Rose Society, the Morden Snowbeauty, one of the Parkland series, “is a hardy, recurrent-blooming shrub suitable for mass plantings or as a specimen. It is named for the lovely snow white flowers produced during the growing season. They are slightly fragrant, average 8 cm across, have an average of 12 petals and are produced in clusters of 3-5 flowers.”

They say the scent is slight; however, it is delectably citrusy and quite mesmerizing up close. The rose is hardy to zone 2b (I am in 3b so that is awesome) and bred to be resistant to diseases such as powdery mildew and blackspot.

This is all good news to me as I have long drooled over roses that are out of zone. I am really a bit of a romantic, I think, when it comes to my vision for the garden, and roses will definitely be a part of my sunny borders. So the fact that there are people out there working to create gorgeous, tough and hardy roses delights me. (Thanks, rose breeders! We prairie gardeners deeply appreciate you!)

Of course, besides all that good stuff, the blooms are white, which I so love, and it is so perfectly sweet, that I will find a sunny spot for it in the southwest-facing area of the yard.

Now who else can I take to the nursery? Hubby has been talking trees...hmmm!

A Gift from my Father

My Dad came for an overnight visit last weekend for Father’s Day and we had a fabulous time. (Yes, we ended up going to a nursery, but that’s another post!)

He was very pleased to see that we took the plunge on bringing our garden to life. Last summer, our first summer here, when it was all gravel and concrete and clay (with no fence, even), he gave us some iris bulbs to get us started.

I think he knew I needed to watch something grow. I put them in a pot and they grew leaves, which was very nice. At the end of the season we popped them in the ground to keep them over the winter. Again, this spring we dug them up and put them in a pot to save them as the landscapers were coming. They sat in a pot on the side of the house for a month waiting for the landscapers to arrive and to leave. Hubby set the hose to reach the pots back there that were hidden behind a patio table and chairs, our little son’s play structure and boulders we saved. We hoped for the best.

Well, last week we brought all the pots back out again, and lo and behold, everything is alive! The irises even had small buds on them – most elegant, I thought.

When I came home tonight from work, they were open! I was expecting plain purple because that’s what Dad said they were. Obviously, he must have other irises in his yard as well. I am quite pleased with these, my first flowers for this garden, as they have white on them – and I do have a soft spot for the radiance of white. I don’t know what they are called so if you know, please leave a comment with the name.

I do know they are lovely. Thanks, Dad!

Monday, June 22, 2009

All is Quiet Now

The landscapers are gone now. They have left me with my new,

empty garden. A green carpet in a room with with no adornment other than a wall of spruce.

I do have a few treasures I saved from last summer when I just couldn't help myself and shopped at the end-of-season sales. Suprisingly, they all survived.

So many ways to paint a blank canvas.

There is much to do and much to decide. But right now, it is just so peaceful. As we wait for the grass to settle in, I sit out on the steps and stare. I walk around the edges of the beds and dream.

I feel blessed to have this little space to call my own. I know this garden will be the site of many happy family events, soft days, and cherished memories. I am truly grateful.

Soon, the grass will have knit itself into the earth and I will lay on my back in the yard on a warm night and stare at the stars.

And then, I will begin to garden.

The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth. ~Chinese Proverb

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Barely even thinking about this at all, really...

“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”

About three weeks ago, I took the new camera from work home to practice with as part of my training. It is a Nikon D700 (that's all I can tell you about the techie stuff). It is a digital SLR and a whole lot more camera than my little point and click digital. I loved it! For one thing, it seems to work best if you actually use your eye in the viewfinder (my preference always!) to focus, as opposed to looking at the little screen. It made me nostalgic for my long-gone ancient film SLR, a second hand Nikon FG.

I don't expect I will actually be buying a camera as sweet as the work one as it is probably more camera than I need, and pricey. So what do I need in a camera? Well, I want something that will focus on what I want to focus on, not on everything. I really miss having that depth of field in my pictures. I want to use my eye to frame the picture and pick the point of focus, not rely on the little screen. I want one that I can add lenses to, if I become proficient enough to want them. So what am I taking photos of? My son, my garden, nature in general and whatever else inspires me.

I am a Nikon fan and if I like something I tend to be brand loyal. I wasn't planning to buy a new camera any time soon, but after using the work camera it's really hard to go back to the one I have. So I've been peeking on the Nikon site and am starting to swoon a little, I'm afraid. I am thinking of going to a good camera shop, like McBains, to look at a few like the D60 and the D80. I think I even recall someone telling me that they will give you a little lesson with your new camera if you so choose.

Does anyone have experience with either the D60 or D80 or other Nikon camera? I welcome hearing your opinions.

Not that I'm buying or anything! Just looking! *Ahem* And for any loved ones reading this, forget about my birthday coming in a couple months...don't even think of it! Really. I mean it, really.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Earth Moved

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it really, really did. And I couldn’t be more thrilled!

The landscapers were here today! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Those of you who have followed this little blog from its hopeful beginnings of a wish for a backyard to garden in will understand what a big adventure is happening here. Then it was just snow and dreams (and a lot of gravel!).

So this is Day One of the renovation: Out with the old compacted clay, gravel, concrete slabs and fabric that allowed nothing but weeds to grow

In with rich, luxuriant topsoil

To create my tabula rasa

Day Two comes next week. It will mean clearing the remainder of the debris away and bringing in another load of topsoil. They may even bring the sod and mulch that same day! I don't want to get my hopes up yet, I have waited so long already. Surely something will complicate things.

But I have to tell you, my desire to shop at a garden centre is so strong...I think I might even be able to power my vehicle in that direction on sheer will alone. How's that for green power! Pardon the pun :)

Remember Betty and Wilma from the Flintstones when they would run screaming "Charge" down the street with their credit cards held high? Well, um, I can completely relate, that's all.

So wish me luck with the rest of the renovation of the yard. Never has a girl been so excited by the gift of dirt!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I toast all of you

I won this lovely award from Ellie Mae’s Cottage Blog in Southeastern Massachusetts. Ellie Mae is cute little dog whose owner is a gardener and new blogger with a green thumb and a great sense of humour. I am very honoured that she chose this blog as one to share her award with.

I feel a sense of kindred spirit with her as I am new to garden blogging, relatively new to gardening and am slowly renovating my house as well.

Ellie Mae’s owner doesn’t know why I like the name of her blog so much, so I will tell you. We also have a pet named Ellie May! It is our female kitty. My hubby named her that because she is pretty and likes to wrestle, just like her more famous television namesake.

I am so glad that I joined the community of garden bloggers. What a lovely, creative, and good-natured group of people you are. (Must be all the good qualities developed during those hours of digging in the dirt and watching something you have nurtured show life and beauty). I also love the international gardens I get to visit on your blogs – wow! The stuff you grow is gorgeous! I have also learned so much from all of you – thank you!

I am supposed to share this award on to 15 more bloggers, but since I’m not familiar enough with 15 garden blogs yet to be able to choose them, I will just share it with all of the readers of this blog. Please don't feel you need to post the award or pass it along. If you are here visiting my blog, it is because you love the same things I do – gardening, life, nature, joy and creativity. That makes you all very special in my books! Thank you for joining me on this journey as I build my little piece of earth into a garden.