Monday, April 30, 2007

defining moments

The moon, on April 28th

and Double River Wye the same day, showing life. glee

Today, April 30th, Winnipeg Parks!!! I feel renewed hope for my plant's survival.

For a while I thought all this was lost.

This makes me so happy...if it weren't covered in thorns, I hug it. *ow*

I've been waking up to birds, falling asleep to birds, and there are bird songs in afternoon when I return home from work drowning out the sounds of traffic on the street (while I sit and decompress in the front porch). I love hearing the birds. They make me feel at home, for the first time in long. I worry for them when I watch the trees go down.

Watching my plants return reminds me of watching The Private Lives of Plants (David Attenborough). I watched a half of Growing the other day and have have hoping to find five and a half spare hours to watch the rest - someday(sigh). I highly recommend the series ;)

Garden Book of the day:
Johnson, Lorraine. Grow Wild! Native Plant Gardening in Canada and Northern United States. Random House, Toronto. 1998.

When a Tree falls...

Moodie Street recently lost four mature Birch trees to the bronze birch borer, drastically altering (what I believe to be) the genius loci of our block. An email conversation with someone with the tree stewardship program has confirmed that there will be several major tree removals in the neighborhood over the next two years, because of the borer. There are so many mature trees here - removing them will make such an unfortunate difference.
It is up to individual homeowners to assist in the maintenance of newly planted boulevard trees.

Trees Thunder Bay

There are approximately 11000 empty places on public property in Thunder Bay where trees should be planted. Current estimates place the value of our urban forest at $16 million.

Trees Thunder Bay is our City’s community tree advocacy group. It was formed by concerned local citizens whose interest lay in beautifying the City by ensuring that our urban forest is protected, enhanced and maintained. Their mandate includes increasing awareness of the value of our urban forest, educating about trees and their place in urban and rural life, and compelling City Council to invest in the urban forest.
They meet the second Tuesday of each month at the 55 Plus Centre.

For minutes and information, read the Trees Thunder Bay Blog.

Thunder Bay Tree Stewardship Program : The Tree Stewardship Program is intended to promote the long-term sustainability of our urban forest by providing an accelerated, cost-shared tree planting program for Thunder Bay citizens. It will increase the number of urban trees in the city, enhance community stewardship, beautify our neighbourhoods and raise the profile of urban tree values.

Tree Canada Foundation

Canadian Trees Magazine

Trees in Canada (I love this link)

Environment North

... I hear it.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Garden

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

For Caroline...


Friday, April 27, 2007

Flutterby Kisses

The Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory is celebrating it's 10th anniversary this year. They offer a wonderful pre-visitation guide for educators (pdf) - great for the kids, and includes information on the parts of the butterfly, butterfly behaviour, Lepidoptera Trivia, info on the lifecycle, colors and patterns, and Monarch migration.
I printed this guide for Hannah. :)

more random information about butterflies:

Ontario Butterfly Gardening

Gallery of Ontario's Butterflies

  • Monarchs can incorporate toxins from plants into their own tissue, making them poisonous or distasteful to predators.
  • Some butterflies can can plot routes to visit the same choice plant at the same time each day, and they will only select the most nectarrich flowers on which to lay their eggs.

    I bought a beautiful butterfly house a few years ago which I will finally use in my new garden, I'm going to create an inviting place for them with dense plants, baths, and all the best butterfly plants. Along with them will come the dragonflies, my favorite. (note to self: post picture of butterfly house)
    There's a woman who lives somewhere in my area who has been attracting Monarchs to her garden for years, and has apparently enjoyed these spectacular visitors with great success. I'd like to see her garden. Sue S. told me about her and her Monarchs one morning last Spring when I walked the 55 Plus Centre path towards work. I believe the woman's name is Zora -( I hope I see Sue again soon, once I start working the River Street greenhouse - hopefully she can refresh my memory. I'd like to contact "the Monarch lady" to ask some advice. :))
    The Willow Park Butterfly Garden in Norval Ontario is one of few public butterfly gardens in Ontario to use exclusively native wild plant species.
    Gardens that contain a diversity of native
    plants provide a safe haven for butterflies to
    reproduce and develop.

    • Choose a sunny, sheltered location for your butterfly garden. Cold-blooded butterflies need warm temperatures to fly and feed actively, and most host plants do best in full sun. Place a flat rock in a sunny area as a basking spot for butterflies to warm themselves on.
      • Include larval host plants such as those listed on the back of this sheet. Don’t worry about caterpillars defoliating your plants. They are generally quite specific in their food choices and their host plants have adapted to tolerate their feeding.
      • Select plants with bright, fragrant flowers that are tubular or flat-topped. These formations enable butterflies to access the nectar with their long, siphoning “tongue”, or proboscis.
      • Create mud puddles in the garden. Butterflies use these as a source of water and additional nutrients. A small area of exposed soil in the garden is the perfect spot to encourage puddling.
      • Avoid pesticides in your garden. Butterflies and caterpillars are very sensitive to these chemicals and even the slightest exposure can be fatal.

    • • Caterpillars outgrow their skin several times before they are full grown. Each molting marks a new growth stage called an instar.
      • Most butterfly caterpillars do not spin a cocoon. In their final instar, their skin hardens into a protective chrysalis around the pupa.
      • Many caterpillars use mimicry or camouflage to protect themselves from predators. The tiger swallowtail caterpillar has false ‘eyes’ on its head to frighten predators. The white admiral caterpillar is mottled grey and white, resembling bird droppings.

    • • Bright colouring can also be a defense. The black, white and yellow striping of the monarch caterpillar warns would-be predators of its bad taste.
      • Butterfly wings are covered with tiny scales, resembling roof shingles, that are arranged in distinctive colour patterns. Depending on the species, these patterns may help with protection from predators, and/or location of a mate.
      • Butterflies have taste sensors in their feet that help them to locate nectar sources and larval hostplants. They feed on nectar through a straw-like proboscis that coils up when not in use.
      • The length of time a butterfly lives varies from species to species. Some live only a few weeks, while others, like the mourning cloak, may live for months because they overwinter as adults.
      • butterflies have clubs on the end of their antennae, while moths do not.
    Butterfly Watching in Ontario:

    Holmes, Anthony et al. The Ontario Butterfly Atlas. Toronto Entomologists Association, 1991.
    Johnson, Lorraine. 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens. Random House of
    Canada, 1999.
    Layberry, Ross et al. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press, 1998.
    Toronto Entomologists Association
    Xerces Society/Smithsonian Institute. Butterfly Gardening: Creating Summer Magic in Your Garden. Random House of Canada, 1998.
    Butterfly Garden, Host Plants for Caterpillars:
    • ash (green and white)
    • butterfly weed
    • common milkweed
    • New Jersey tea
    • spice bush
    • willows
    Nectar Sourcesfor Butterflies
    • wild bergamot
    • black-eyed Susan
    • blazing star
    • goldenrods
    • Joe-pye weed
    • pale purple
    • coneflower
    • swamp milkweed
    • turtlehead
    • bee balm
    • yarrow

    Invading Species Awareness Program

    Invading Species Awareness Program

    More than 160 non-indigenous species (plant & animal) have become established in the Great Lakes basin.
    Invading species are one of the greatest threats to the biodiversity of Ontario's waters, wetlands and woodlands and have devastating effects on native species, habitats and ecosystems.

    In 1992 the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, established The Invading Species Awareness Program. Their objectives are to:
    1. Raise public awareness of invasive species and encourage their participation in preventing their spread.
    2. Monitor and track the spread of invading species in Ontario waters through citizen reports to the Invading Species Hotline and the Invading Species Watch program
    3. Conduct research on the impacts and control of invasive species

    Plant species include:
    Flowering Rush, Purple Loosestrife, Giant Hogweed, Fanwort, European frog-bit , Eurasian watermilfoil, Yellow Iris, Water Lettuce, Phragmites, and Parrotfeather.

    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    When Plants Collide

    I will edit this post at another time. Photos taken April 24th of the Lilac (budding), virginia creeper, and the hops along the neighbors fence, hanging into our yard. Beautiful.

    Office Garden III

    Not minding the occasional grazing, the mint is predictably growing strong. I'm needing to turn it twice a day to keep it from getting too leggy in any one direction.

    I've been smelling a regular breeze of basil lately. yum

    The canteloupe bloomed on Tuesday. A few more buds began to appear today...this makes me laaauugh :)

    Sunday, April 22, 2007

    shady sketchy

    Friday, April 20, 2007

    The Sun Parrots are Late This Year

    For Chico Mendez, murdered Brazilian environmentalist

    The great forests of the world are burning down,
    Far away in Amazon they burn,
    Far beyond our eyes the trees are cut
    And cleared and heaped and fired:
    Ashes fill the rivers for miles and miles,
    The rivers are stained with the blood of mighty trees.
    Great rivers are brothers of great forests
    And immense clouds shadowing the rose-lit waters
    Are cousins of this tribe of the earth-gods
    Under the ancient watch of the stars:
    All should be secure and beautiful forever,
    Dwarfing man generation after generation after generation,
    Inspiring man, feeding him with dreams and strength.
    But over there it is not so; man is giant
    And the forest dwindles, it will soon be nothing,
    Shrubs sprouting untidily in scorched black earth.
    The sun will burn the earth, before now shadowed
    For a hundred thousand years, dark and dripping,
    Hiding jewelled insects and thick-veined plants,
    Blue-black orchids with white hearts, red macaws,
    The green lace of ferns, gold butterflies, opal snakes.
    Everything shrivels and dust begins to blow:
    It is as if acid was poured on the silken land.

    It is far from here now, but it is coming nearer,
    Those who love forests are also cut down.
    This month, this year, we may not suffer:
    The brutal way things are, it will come.
    Already the cloud patterns are different each year,
    The wind blows from new directions,
    The rain comes earlier, beats down harder,
    Or it is dry when the pastures thirst.
    In this dark, over-arching Essequibo forest
    I walk near the shining river in the green paths
    Cool and green as melons laid in the running streams.
    I cannot imagine all the forests going down,
    The great black hogs not snouting for the pulp of fruit,
    All this beauty and power and shining life gone.
    But in far, once emerald Amazon the forest dies
    By fire, fiercer than bright axes.
    The roar of the wind in the trees is sweet,
    Reassuring, the heavens stretch far and bright
    Above the loneliness of mist-shrouded forest trails,
    And there is such a feeling of softness in the air.
    Can it be that all of this will go, leaving the clean-boned land?
    I wonder if my children's children, come this way,
    Will see the great forest spread green and tall and far
    As it spreads now far and green for me.
    Is it my imagination that the days are furnace-hot,
    The sun-parrots late or not come at all this year?

    Ian McDonald (1933 - 2003)

    McWatt, Mark and Stewart Brown, ed. The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. New York: Oxford, 2005.

    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    Spring Green

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    morning, evening

    This morning Hannah and I stretched our shadows over our soon-to-be front garden. I sunk a few of my daylilies in the ground in October and have had my fingers crossed as I await their return.

    This evening it struck me that these nests that I've become so accustomed to seeing everyday will soon disappear into a flurry of leaves. I've seen more of these trees without their leaves than I have with them. As much as the nests charm me, I'm ready for the fresh canopy.

    bathtub gardening

    Twenty minutes ago I was reading in the bathtub - a book about gardeners who, when they can't be outside gardening because of the weather or season, read in the bathtub.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    soiled entry II

    completely random facts from notes

    Light or Sandy soils
    Add organic matter
    Use fertilisers which are slow acting and long lasting to avoid them leaching out. Keep an eye on the acidity level. It can change quickly in light soils. Don’t overdo the use of lime. Small frequent dressings are the best bet.

    Heavy or Clay soils
    Dig in autumn and leave over winter to weather - making them much easier to break down in spring.
    Use organic matter.

    Chalk or alkaline soils
    Add as much acid making organic matter as you can. Peat and manure are ideal. Use frequently as a mulch on the surface.
    Do not dig them in.

    Lime and chalk always move downwards in the soil, so cultivate as shallowly and infrequently as possible. Avoid digging.

    Hydrated Lime is very effective in producing a fast change in pH level, and suitable for all types of heavier soil.
    It is the “strongest” form of lime generally available, *sensible precautions*

    Ground Limestone natural limestone which has been ground to a powder. It’s speed of effect and persistence in the soil will depend on how finely it has been ground less strong than hydrated lime, needing about 30% more to raise the pH by the same amount works more slowly and lasts longer than the hydrated lime suitable for use on light sandy soils.

    Mixed Lime contains a variety of particle sizes so it will give some immediate effect then go on for a long period

    Any plant suffering from a deficiency of lime (pH is too low) will show stunting symptoms
    and the growing tips of the plant are yellow and deformed while the lower parts of the plant remain unaffected. This is often accompanied by short and stubby root growth instead of long fibrous ones.
    At very low pH levels, aluminum and manganese are dissolved by acids and escape into the soil. These are poisonous to some plants.

    *Plants growing in a lime soil (where the pH is too high) can also be adversely affected because of an excess of Calcium. Symptoms of high pH levels in soil usually show as deficiencies of Iron, Boron, or Manganese.
    Unfortunately, these also result in yellowing of the leaves which makes detection a bit more difficult.

    Iron Deficiency
    With Iron deficiency, the leaf veins usually remain a deep green. Boron deficiency shows up as twisted, distorted growth and often the terminal bud dies. In turnip and beetroot, hollow, brown areas develop.

    With a Manganese deficiency the terminal bud stays alive, but the older leaves show yellow patches between the veins, and often dead spots appear on the leaves. If these deficiencies are induced because your soil has too much lime present, they cannot be corrected by applying the appropriate element, because no matter how much is applied, the presence of the excess lime in the soil “locks up” the elements and makes them unavailable to plant roots. The way to unlock them is to modify the pH level. This frees the elements in the soil eliminating the need to add "extra" amounts of those that were deficient.

    • Increase your pH to around 6.5, and more Phosphate is available.
    • pH 6.5 is often quoted as being the best general pH level for most soils.
    Lime helps to improve soil drainage, aeration and workability of clay soils by making them less sticky and more open by creating sand sized multi-particles.
    *encourages worm activity which itself significantly increases the organic content of the soil as “food” pulled into the soil by worms decomposes.
    *helps to prevent some diseases.
    Nitrogen is important for the production of green tissue. It gives the plant a healthy deep green color. It promotes stem and leaf growth and increases the protein content of edible plants. It is essential therefore for plants which need their leaf development encouraged. Such plants would include Cabbage, lettuce. lawns and so on, but all growing plants need some nitrogen.
    Nitrogen Deficiency
    *plants become stunted and yellow looking
    *the leaves at the bottom of the plant begin to dry up and wither
    An excess of nitrogen is also undesirable because stem and leaf growth will be produced at the expense of fruit and flowers. The growth will become far too luxuriant and sappy, which means that it is weaker, more susceptible to damage by frost, and disease resistance is lowered.
    *essential for the development of a strong healthy root system. young plants require phosphorous, so it is important that seed beds and composts have a plentiful supply
    *root crops such as Carrot, Potato and Parsnip will all decrease in yield if there is insufficient Phosphate available
    *vital for the movement and storage of food reserves within the plant, and the main nutrient concerned with the proper development of seed production

    Phosphate Deficiency
    *indicated in plants when the foliage becomes a blue/grey shade of green, gradually turning to a bronzy shade of green as the deficiency worsens
    *growth slows and the plant gives a poor yield of fruit and seeds
    Potash develops fruit and flowers, brighter colours, and improved keeping qualitiestoughens up plants making them more resistant to disease
    *can help to counterbalance any excess of Nitrogen

    Potash plays an important part in the formation of sugars and starches which can be stored by the plant in swollen roots e.g. Dahlia, Turnip.

    A deficiency of Potash shows first as yellowing of the leaf margins, later turning brown and scorched looking. Sometimes scorch shows up as leaf spotting and often starts at the base of the plant.
    An excess of Potash can cause too much water to be absorbed by the plant, giving reduced frost resistance.
    *makes the soil more acid.
    *rich in nitrogen and other plant foods (not much phosphate)
    *does not contain many weed seeds, and the coarse grades are best for soil composition improvement.
    Spent Mushroom Compost
    *one of the few types of organic matter to have a slightly alkaline effect on the soil
    *good for soils that need both composition improvement and raising of the pH level, or soils at the right pH level that would become too acid if peat or manure were to be used.
    *makes an ideal mulch, andcan be dug in at any time

    *good for composition improvement, but it makes the soil short of nitrogen for a while when first added - add some extra nitrogen to compensate plants for the loss

    *the value of this depends on the sort of leaves that have been used
    soft, fleshy leaves are not very good at improving the soil composition - tough, fibrous leaves are best
    • Oak leaves will make the soil more acid
    • Beech leaves will make it more alkaline
    Bark or woodchips are slow to decompose and take effect
    *itrogen deficiency may occur when first used

    Lwn mowings must be composted down before using and require help to compost down on their own so should be mixed with other materials in the compost heap – or add some soil in layers with the mowings.

    Spent hops have very little food value, but are useful as a soil conditioner and can be used at any time
    Gypsum is an excellent improver for heavy soils
    *it should be forked in well and mixed intimately with soil particles.
    *works in the same way as lime, but without raising the pH and making the soil more alkaline.
    Lime and Gypsum work in the same way, but lime has a profound effect on soil pH. Lime can be used at any time of year, but is best in spring on light soils.
    *darkens the soil and makes it slightly earlier
    *must not be used fresh - let it weather for at least six weeks before applying it to soil
    Charcoal will also darken the soil, but is strongly alkaline and can raise the pH as lime does.
    should be more than 2 mm in diameter, worked in with a fork, thoroughly mixed in to the top 6 to 8 inches of soil.
    Coarse Sand
    is good for opening up a heavy soil
    a gritty sharp riverwashed sand is best, forked into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil at any time of year
    • Rhododendrons and heathers will not tolerate lime in the soil
    • Clematis prefers an alkaline soil
    The acidity or alkalinity of the soil is measured by pH (potential Hydrogen ions), a measure of the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil, and the type of soil that you have.
    • Generally, soils in moist climates tend to be acid and those in dry climates are alkaline.
    • A soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is an acid soil and one with a pH higher than 7.0 is alkaline.
      It is generally easier to make soils more alkaline (by raising the pH) than it is to make them more acid.
    • Different soil types react in different ways to the application of lime you will have to add more lime to clay soils and peaty soils than you will in sandy soils to achieve the same result.
    To increase your pH by 1.0 point and make your soil more alkaline: Add 4 ounces of hydrated lime per square yard in sandy soils Add 8 ounces of hydrated lime per square yard in loamy soils Add 12 ounces of hydrated lime per square yard in clay soils Add 25 ounces of hydrated lime per square yard in peaty soils
    Correction of an overly acid soil should be considered a long term project, rather than trying to accomplish it in one year. It is better to test your soil each year and make your adjustments gradually. The addition of hardwood ash, bone meal, crushed marble, or crushed oyster shells will also help to raise the soil pH.
    If your soil needs to be more acidic, sulfur may be used to lower the pH. To reduce the soil pH by 1.0 point, mix in 1.2 oz of ground rock sulfur per square yard if the soil is sandy, or 3.6 oz per square yard for all other soils. The sulfur should be thoroughly mixed into the soil before planting. Sawdust, composted leaves, wood chips, cottonseed meal, leaf mold and especially peat moss will lower the soil pH.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    Just Decky

    Installing Ledger Boards on Stucco , Blocking the Joists , Pouring Footings , Installing Decking

    Decks 1-2-3 hmmm, summer reading material ...hmm

    I think I'd be better off having a professional do the work for the sake of ease&time, mostly (and preventing having to call Holmes on Homes).

    I'm going to watch the prices and consider all options available around the area, of course, especially now that my heart is stuck on cedar. We're looking at 8' x 25', followed by a foot bridge of hmm? maybe 2.5' x whatever width the pond ends up to be....
    There's also the area between and slightly surrounding the shed and greenhouse, which for continuity's sake I'd like to have match the deck off the house. It's not a big area - scrap pieces could even be used. There's also the question of a small built on bench-seating corner.

    I'm imagining lighting: spot lights, built-in-to-the-deck pot lights, pond lighting, patio lanterns?(there so many nice ones these days), and perhaps a few of those solar things around the garden in strategic spots.

    Office Gardening II

    Office gardening is a funny thing. It's charm is found, I think, in the storytelling the flowers and plants provoke. I like the messages and, being given the confidence, some are almost allegorical - plants mean something to their owners, also the reasons why they planted them, and what results they had - were they tragedies or comedies, or whether it's a conversation about an office plant, or a gardening experience - people see the plants and they start talking.
    I was once handed a gardening journal/photo album belonging to a woman in the cafeteria just because she saw that I had my copy of Canadian Gardening in my hands for lunch hour reading - ever since we trade comments about our green thumbs. I love that.

    There are crazy plants growing in offices all over the campus. There are office gardeners all around me - and it's really fun to have this subculture of soiled-minded companions around me all day. I'm feeling balanced, enjoying the best of all my interests - and I couldn't be happier.

    I'm envious of the folks with the more sourthern exposure, even though I hear it's almost too good to be true, causing Professor Melon's kin to become a plethora of plantlings (I'll report after I've seen it for myself heh heh). I don't get sun for a long period, but what I do get is pretty intense - which results in a daily/morningly balance of priorities as I squint at my monitor so the plants can soak up the rays while they shine. I'll have to make better use of the odd corner window that does get afternoon sun.

    The Gardenia died. This is not shocking. I tried, it I can confirm that plants that like warm moist sunny condition will not survive in places that lack all of those things. :P RIP

    Professor Melon was in a sad state this morning after four days of long-weekend neglect, but I quickly rushed him to the bathroom for some sink therapy, and he perked back up by lunchtime. Whew (he had me worried all weekend).

    Everybody else was fine - dry, but fine. I wasn't as worried about them as the Melon - they're still very small (probably due to lack of sunlight and humidity ha ha), but they're growing, slowly.

    The Peppermint smells spicy and delicious - just as I imagined it would. I'm pleased with this plant and believe that it will do fine in the problematic conditions <- it's a mint afterall.


    verklarende woordenlijst

    Monday, April 9, 2007

    pottery 1

    Easter Monday nursery hopping

    The Office Garden will welcome a new member tomorrow, a Peppermint Mint(mmmm) plant adopted today at Landale. It smelled so familiar in there - springtime in the greenhouse, I'm anxious to return to the gh. Landale had a lovely selection of ivies and herbs - and that new Green Wizard Rudbeckia I read about recently! note to self to return nearer to planting

    We nursery hopped over to Vanderwees, more for camera fodder than any other reason, where the beginning of the season couldn't be hidden. They've opened up access to more greenhouses since our last visit, allowing us to wander through row upon row of the zonal geranium/petunia hanging basket. I shouldn't gibe at them so - hours of deadheading them at the gh has converted me to appreciate the geraniums buds; and I'll even credit the spendor of one year's window box to the pair of butter yellow petunias I planted(stuffed in between the lophospermum and many others) - but I'd just rather see row upon row of something different, something new.

    What did surprise me was bumping into a bust of my boss; I laaaaughed even though it's uncomfortably eerie how much this garden statue looks like Dennis.
    Hannah was the quick one with her camera here, I don't know why I didn't take one - maybe the shock of seeing him, and having him watch me as I took pictures of the giant green thumbs emerging from the ground beneath his lichened head...

    I hope these green thumbs aren't the new gazing ball of gardening. This is the first I've seen of them, and as amusing as they are in the camera's eye, they're just not in my gardenerd's eye.

    *edit, on April 14th Dennis bought "his head", after having that picture Hannah took as their computer screen saver for a week hah hahaha haaa. I took pictures of him with his head, but my camera card died (grr)(I will retake). A very funny addition to the gh indeed, even better -> the thing is hollow hah ha haaa. We could plant his head! *grin*

    The herb varieties interest me, not only visually but with what I can do with them in the kitchen. I'm plotting how to allot more plots and pots for herbs. So many flavors!

    The Orchids were something I enjoyed seeing row upon row of...

    berry interesting

    From Katsi Cook on Women's Uses for Berries

    Volume One, No. IV of INDIGENOUS WOMAN; the official
    publication of the Indigenous Women's Network.

    .... Over 250 species or berries and fruits--strawberry, red raspberry, currant, elderberry, juniper berry, cranberry, bearberry, to name a few - in Native America are gathered and utilized for their nutritional and medicinal value. Berries are delicious when eaten raw, crushed and mixed with water and maple syrup or honey for drinks; mixed with soups, bread, puddings and meats, and dried for winter storage. The berries, leaves and roots can be collected and used together or separately and drunk as a medicine tea. Among the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois), the wild strawberry is regarded as the "leader" of the berries. It is the first berry food to appear in the spring and this sacred plant is gathered at that time and eaten as a blood purifier....

    to read the article, click here

    Sunday, April 8, 2007

    Being Backyardovich

    What I loved most about my garden was how much it changed over the years. Ultimately, I think it did evolve into what I had hoped for - or at least I can say I satisfied myself with what I wanted to accomplish in the space and time I had. I have the same expectations and unexpectations for my new garden - I have a plan (or so I think), but I hope the years here change the outcome.

    (note: the Garden Planner plan is not complete - just a first draft - I will make a good copy with exact measurements soon. I didn't fill in the beds with all the flowers, just enough to get an idea of what would be where)
    Immediately it was apparent that nooks needed to be distiguished. It's a long narrow area that in danger of becoming an alley garden - or, if I was let loose without a plan, a long narrow jungle. I like the idea of creating some sort of eating area near the back fence. Between the eating area and the shed would have to be a gate, an entrance from the back lane (with a solid lock on it). A small greenhouse is in the plan, which we'll erect in front of the shed (with enough space between the two structures to move things about, but not enough to waste space). The shed (8.5' x 10') is snazzy and new, and too convenient to lose, but it's not ...pretty; it's positive attribute is that it is neutral, and presumably easy disguise. Perhaps if we don't mention the shed, we'll just forget it's there - until we need to stow the Claw;).

    The house shades a significant area of the backyard most of the day. I don't want to plant a spongy shade garden next to the house, so I'm going to put it in pots. A few weeks ago I saw a picture in a magazine that I can't get out of my head. I've been trying to rely on my memory, rather than retrieving the mag from the front porch because I don't wnat to copy the idea, as much as I would like to. I want to, rather, use what I remember most and what attracted me to the design, and encorporate it into what I was already messing with in my mind. It works perfectly, and also adds a new feature I hadn't considered before - water. The first eight feet from the house would be a low deck area, not more than a step off the ground, barely enough to feel elevated...that illusion would be felt as you walk across the footbridge covering the sunken ponds. I imagine a feeling of woodland-wetlands, with a rich earthy stain (cedar decking? *swoon*).
    Eight feet of decking, followed by three feet of pond, into a half moon grassy area of about 11 feet. Other than structures, the small dining area, and this deck/pond/grass space - the rest is deep bed planting space, divided into exposure-approriate "gardens".

    The deck itself is large enough to provide a small corner seating area near the "entrance" (which would be the bottom right of the image {made using Garden Planner} ). I'd like the deck to have the feeling that it is just above the ground level of the plants, having them spill onto the floor. Large pots of shade plants, shrubs (Willow "Nana", browalia, hostas, ornamental grasses would create a wall on the west end - meeting closely with that large lilac & virginia creeper sneaking in from the neighbors yard.
    We could fit a few chairs, a BBQ, maybe some other stuff....

    I'm excited about thinking about the pond(s) (one or two)(no more than about 2.5/3' x 4') on either side of a small "dock". Pond plants (especially in this climate) will be an adventure...but even more interesting will be the creatures that'll undoubtedly become residents. One long pond would turn the walkway to the grassy area a bridge - Hannah likes this idea...

    I don't think I can expect the greenhouse to get an extraordinary amount of sun(it will get plenty, bt will be shaded on one side for part of the day), which is fine - I expect I'll use it more for storage and etc. more than serious planting concerts, just because of space (it's going to be small, as will most things - none of thsi oversized *stuff*). Facing the house in front of the greenhouse will be a shade garden - ferns, hostas, lungwort, red elder (feature shrubbery), astilbe...that sort of thing. I look forward to playing with textures, scents, and lush lush foliage.

    The dining area near the back gate would be paved with the same flagstone/MYO flagstone?/don't know yet - stone pathways anyway. A smallish round space - I have various visions for the style of dining set, but I'd sway towards the side of more casual, maybe something that goes well with the muskoka chairs I already own (which I'd love to stain a deep red). Sean and I saw a nice low rise table/firepit table recently that would probably fit the area. The fire pit didn't even look like a fire hazard, being small, like a round hibachi cooker in the centre of a round ceramic table. It sat low, inviting people to even sit on the ground (which I often like to do) - which would be perfect with the chairs.
    It could also be slightly more formal, like a outdoor dining set - but I think the previous idea is more us.

    The dining area would be surrounded in a kitchen garden, herbs (in pots too!), sun plants, honeysuckle, tomatoes at hand, snack whilst you sit, heh heh.
    I also like the idea of having this area slightly set apart from the house. You'll have to venture through a few other places before you find this nook, and in a few years, by August, the plants will form a wall alive with distance and space and food.
 be continued...