Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Québec City

Romantic Weekend Getaway, December 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Being Frontyardovich 2010


I finally started to deal with the crazy front garden. It was once as well cared for as the back garden, also planted by Wayne (who happened to stop by while I was working, and was impressed with the progress ~ it's always nice to keep in touch with a garden you once knew), with a wealth of hostas and cinnamon ferns. I found twelve hostas in total, all saved; some transplanted and others remained in their spot with some extra attention to weeding and rejuvenating the soil surrounding them. There were some other perennials in there (I could tell by some root balls I dug up) but they weren't able to be saved. The Bergenia, which has been blooming for a few weeks through the grass can finally breath (but will be divided come fall).

The shrub is a Catoneaster. Really? Again, it's good to have original gardener of the garden stop by when trying to identify who's who; but it's true, it's a Catoneaster. I'm so used to seeing them as horribly shaved hedges - it's nice to see one be itself. I like the deep blue green foliage, and the berries in fall. I'd like to keep it pruned, but not harshly - it looks good the way it is now.

Deep in the cinnamon ferns were a few hostas, but mostly the fallen fronds have kept any weeds at bay so there are clear paths down under there between the stems. A group of irises are struggling to bloom in front of the Catoneaster. They'll need to be divided to give them some breathing space, but other than that I'll keep them where they are. Beside them, I think, is a Ligularia trying to peek out from the ferns. We'll have to wait until later on in the season to know for sure, and identify the variety (unless Wayne stops by again(: ).

After removing the grass and weeds from the bed I was left with some stray ferns, and hostas in all kinds of strange places. The hostas, well some of them, were dug out and grouped together - one group near the steps and the other near the retaining wall at the edge of the garden. Most of the stray ferns were moved back with the rest of them, and planted a little more tightly under the window. I left a few ferns out front because a) I like them, and b)it is a rather large space and I didn't want to empty it all right away. I'm glad I left them now - they will stay.

The soil nearest the sidewalk is in terrible shape. I will try to lay down some manure before laying the sod (which I will get and do this weekend), but it is a somewhat high traffic area, so I don't expect it to be perfect.

I couldn't help myself and did a quick run out to a nursery nearby to grab an Annabelle Hydrangea, Astilbe (white)(can't remember the name right now), and a small blue Columbine (again, can't remember which one off hand). I had to get that Annabelle in the garden, it was a must, and I want it to establish enough to bloom this year.
From my own garden I added the little Blue Spruce globe that's been surviving in a pot for two years. It's right next to the steps, and should fill in nicely now that it has some room to breath. Behind it I left some goutweed which will do what goutweed does, spread, but that's okay. I want it to fill in behind there just enough (and when I've had enough I'll tear some out). Surrounding the globe spruce are three of the hostas found in the garden. They two in front are the smaller ones, with a more lime-green leaf, but still different, and the one tucked in the corner is taller, with a thinner white edged leaf. Hopefully that one won't get too big for that space.

Over in front of the Catoneaster I'm going to plant the remains of my poor Sutherland's Gold Elderberry, which too has been surviving in a pot for two years. I have faith that it will bounce back in good time. In front of that is now the white Astilbe surrounded in another trio+1 of hostas saved from the weeds.

I've made a list of plants to add, such as Echinacea, Pulmonaria 'Raspberry Splash', heuchera (a red one, 'Midnight Rose', 'Plum Royale'), Carpathian Bellflower Campanula carpatica 'Bavaria Blue', another Lady's Mantle, a Hardy Geranium 'Johnson's Blue', and another Astilbe,  a lavender one I hope. Some alliums would be nice, maybe a mixture of both small drumstick ones plus some Gladiators for fun. Tucked in and around of course will be some Myosotis (forget-me-not).

For spring I want to fill the garden with daffodils and paperwhites. As much as I love tulips, for now all I want to concentrate on are the daffys.
I'm sure there will be more added as our front garden evolves. It's so nice to throw some extra curb appeal to this beautiful old home. It's been neglected for far too long. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

same chairs, new dressing

being backyardovich, May 2010

Love grows where my

Rosemary goes

Lemon Rosemary Chicken


1/2 cup lemon juice, slice and add remaining pulp and rind
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
rosemary sprigs
2 lbs. chicken breasts

Rosmarinus officinalis


In a large food storage bag, place lemon juice, oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add chicken. Close bag and marinate in refrigerator 3 to 4 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Rosemary is a member of the Labiatae (or Lamiaceae) family which also includes thyme, basil, mint, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, and lavender.
Latin Rosmarinus officianalis
rosmarinus translates to “dew of the sea.”
Rosemary is an ideal companion plant for carrots as it repels the carrot fly, and there is a mutually beneficial effect on growth when it is planted near sage.

The Rosemary in the photo above is currently growing in our back porch waiting to be planted in the new vegetable and herb garden. It's future plans include soaking in that marinade and being wrapped inside breasts of chicken with some Gorgonzola and sun dried tomatoes, then grilled.

spring trees on campus

Campus Crabapple, Quince, and Cherry ~ May 19, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Baby Millar's Lady's Mantle

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling) i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

e.e. cummings

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Photogarden May 16th

Gayfeather, Juniper berries, Tamarack droplets, 
Rhododendron petals 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Garden Blog To-Do List

1. Though I'm terribly behind, I have to write a post about Renee's Garden and the Seed Grow Project. It's been too early to plant here yet, but I wanted to acknowledge the package, and note my plans. I'll probably plant the seeds this weekend.

2. I must visit the greenhouse, Dennis & Susan, and post a photo journey through this year's growth.

3. There's a mountain to write about our garden.
- plans for the new vegetable bed
- transplanting some of my treasured perennials to the front shade garden
- John Davis' survival story
- dogs in the garden
Not to mention photos of the progress. I can't keep up with the rhubarb, which is already near it's first harvest. The azalea is in full bloom right now, and the lilac is showing signs of a great bloom already. Ferns and hostas are returning under the spruce tree, and all the daylilies have begun to grow.

4. I've spent a fair bit of time in the garden lately just cleaning it up and puttering around the plants. It's been a decent distraction, and I do find solitude in working the soil.
Our new vegetable bed is a little behind schedule. After the demolition and construction of our new back porch last fall, the bed that used to contain all of Rohan's favourite succulents was destroyed. We saved the plant but have decided to transplant them elsewhere around the garden, and use the ideal space for vegetable and herbs.
The space has southern exposure, with protection from the house to the north, and steps to the west. It's not large by any means, but enough for us to put a few tomatoes and peppers, some herbs, and possibly peas. The deck and barbecues are just to the west of the veggie space, so I can imagine a lot of snacking going on.

5. We stained my old Adirondack chairs with a solid stain in lime-moss green. They look fabulous. Photos will follow soon.

burying my heart in the garden

She spoke very broken English through a thick Italian accent, much like the many backyard vegetable growers who frequent the greenhouse, except I was sitting in my office when she approached me. Sure enough she was a gardener looking to reserve a plot in the campus garden. She wanted to grow beans, and mentioned beans between every sentence.
It's happened a number of times - people are being directed to me for information on the campus garden. Most people still associate me with the garden, so I've been getting a lot of calls and emails. I don't mind; they're easy enough to redirect. I do enjoy interacting with the gardeners.

She was nice enough (actually, very understanding and compliant) when I explained to her that I am not coordinating the garden this year. I wrote down the name of who she's looking for, building, office number, phone, and explained to her how to get there. Thankfully she seems to know her way around campus, so I was able to use the library as a reference point. She thanked me, all the while continuing to talk about growing beans and some other simple veggies, how she just wants a little space, how she lives in an apartment now, and more about the beans.

She began to walk out the door, but then turned back around and said, "you lost a little baby eh", looking at me sympathetically. "I was here last week and someone told me you were away, you were sick, they didn't know when you would be back because you lost a little baby eh." I kind of choked, and nodded. I could tell by her tone she certainly wasn't meaning any disrespect. "I didn't upset you did I", she asked, but before I could answer she continued on, "My daughter lost three little babies - me two, but she has one now, and I have three children - all grown - but I lost two, and my daughter, she lost three little babies."
I just sat there, probably looking kind of stunned. What she was saying didn't make me tear up, which was strange - everything these days makes me tear. I wasn't offended by her frankness either, but I think that was because between every breath she sighed a sad "aw", and shook her head in a mournful kind of way. She went on to tell me what a pretty girl I am, "so young, so pretty" she said a few times, "you'll have another little baby soon." Then she left.
The entire time she was in my office she was speaking or sighing, either about the beans, the garden, the little baby, her daughter, herself, and about me and our baby.

It's been twenty eight days since we lost our precious baby. When we first learned of the pregnancy I became so distracted with joy that I couldn't think of anything else. It was February, and though I would normally be kicking off garden planning in high gear then, I couldn't think of anything else but what was going on inside me. Looking forward to a summer of cute baby belly relaxing in our garden, and tending our new small veggie bed was about all I could manage.
I kept wanting to write posts about gardening during pregnancy but was holding off until the news made to everyone. Then I went through weeks of being too sick with morning/all day sickness to read a book or look at a computer screen any longer than I had to. By the time I beginning to feel up to writing again it was too late.

The grief for this loss has been overwhelming - more than any other loss. All the dreams and possibilities wrapped up in this tiny human become too heartbreaking to think of.

We've decided on planting Lady's Mantle or Alchemilla mollis for our baby; the same plant I planted in memory of Lisa when she passed away. I'm not generally fond of imitating a previous memorial plant, but in this case I can't think of any plant better suited.
As it's name suggests some sort of chemistry,  it was/is used in many ways as an herbal remedy - mostly to heal bleeding disorders, even more specifically to female bleeding disorders. (Though it shouldn't be used during pregnancy!)
I think it's beautiful. It's an unassuming plant, low growing, and somewhat clumping in form. It has soft, fuzzy, 7 to 9 lobed star-like shaped foliage that famously collect morning's dew and raindrops. Right now I feel like all those droplets could take the place of all the tears we've cried.
The flowers are really small and bloom in clusters on top of tall stems - a yellow, almost limey-yellow - which look simply amazing on a rainy day.

The plant has been designated "Little Magical One" in lore. Medieval alchemists are known to have used the droplets of water that collected on the leaves in all kinds of "mystical potions" because it was thought that the plant could increase any existing magical powers (usually specific to healing).

I think it offers a lot in memory of our Little Magical One...and I think we could definitely use a little healing.

Baby M would have been born in October. Both the calendula and cosmos are recognized as October's birth flower, so I will plant a few of each this year (and every year). They'll go nice in the vegetable bed, and in pots around the garden. It breaks my heart that we find ourselves in this place - I don't want to plant a memory of this oh so special little baby. 

Precious Baby M, 01.30.2010 - 04.08.2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

spring garden

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Renaissance of Bees

The Renaissance of Bees
Woolfson, Jonathan

Source: Renaissance Studies
Volume 24, Number 2,
April 2010, pp. 281-300
Blackwell Publishing

Insects have occupied the planet for over 400 million years, humans for a mere one million. Their impact on human development has been incalculable. They are likely to outlive us. This article explores selected cases in attitudes to the honeybee, an insect with a particularly intense history of interaction with humans, from the late fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries, mainly drawn from England and Italy, but with forays into other parts of Europe. It is argued that the Renaissance of bees is a mixed phenomenon, characterized by the elaboration of ancient and medieval ideas about these creatures; a heightened tendency to moralize about human society in the light of them; and a new curiosity for understanding them better through direct observation. The study of attitudes to bees sheds light on religion, politics, science and gender during the Renaissance.

Jonathan Woolfson 1
  1 Istituto Lorenzo de'Medici, Florence
 I am grateful to audiences at the Warburg Institute, Sussex University, and the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference in Atlanta for response to versions of this article. Thanks especially to Susan Brigden, Peter Burke, Rita Comanducci, Martin van Gelderen, Claire Preston and Flaminia Pichiorri. For general orientations to the subject of this article see Peter Burke, 'Fables of the Bees: A Case-Study in Views of Nature and Society', in Mikulas Teich, Roy Porter and Bo Gustafsson (eds.), Nature and Society in Historical Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 112–23; Claire Preston, Bee (London: Reaktion Books, 2006); Bee Wilson, The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us (London: John Murray, 2004); Max Beier, 'The Early Naturalists and Anatomists during the Renaissance and Seventeenth Century', in Ray F. Smith, Thomas E. Mittler and Carroll. N. Smith (eds.), History of Entomology (Palo Alto: Annual Reviews, 1973), 81–94; and Hattie Ellis, Sweetness and Light: The Mysterious History of the Honey Bee (London: Sceptre, 2004).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2010 Symposium on Sustainable Horticulture

Canadian Institute for Sustainable Biodiversity
February 16th through 19th, 2010

Join experts and specialists from all over Ontario and further abroad for our three-day symposium on sustainable horticulture.

What part does horticulture play in making urban Canada a healthy, productive place to live?

How does our urban landscape - gardens, parks, lawns, ecologically designed hardscapes, green roofs and other innovations - ensure that well-being and biodiversity are supported and enhanced?

What steps can all practitioners of horticulture - from the trades to home gardeners and plant breeders - take to issues like invasive species, pest management and urban biodiversity?

The symposium will explore these and many other questions, Wednesday February 17th through Friday February 19th, 2010 (with a day of workshops on Tuesday February 16th).

  • Hands-on workshops one day only, Tuesday, February 16: plant identification, seed saving, cooking with local produce
  • Multidisciplinary panels, keynotes, presentations and poster sessions
  • Sessions: Sustainable Sites Initiative, water features, climate change, urban agriculture, native plants, green roof technologies and more
  • Keynote presentations: Dr. Jennifer Sumner, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Dr. David Galbraith, Royal Botanical Gardens, and Dr. Steve Windhager, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin, Texas
Register on-line

Information on volunteering

Download a flyer for the 2010 Patrick Colgan Lecture, “Climate Change and Horticulture through Mid-Century” by Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon, on Wednesday 17 February 2010 at 7:00 PM

Roses I have Known

Morden Sunrise
Parkland series, hardy shrub rose
Introduced in 1999
Blooms appear in a combination of yellow, orange, and pink, against dark green, shiny foliage.

Morden Blush 
Parkland series, hardy shrub rose
Introduced in 1988
Pale pink blooms in cooler temperatures, turn creamy white in warmer weather.

John Davis
Explorer shrub / climber
Introduced in 1986
Medium pink double flowers in clusters. 

J.P. Connell 
Ottawa Breeding Program
Introduced in 1987
Lemon yellow blooms look a lot like a hybrid tea rose open to look more like a floribunda in creamy white.
  • I still have my John Davis rose, who has faithfully bloomed year after year since 2001, moved three times, and has lived in a bucket for months at a time.