Monday, 14 April 2014

Not "just" rain barrels any more !

Ironically it is raining right now ... but I don't have the new rain "barrel" up and running.
In fact I am totally guilty of not doing any garden clean up, as of yet.
Every time I look out to the gardens I feel huge twinges of guilt ... the snow has finally melted away and I see amazing growth of Spring bulbs that have mustered their courage and are saying "we are here !"
I swear later this week I will be uncovering my jewels with the help of husband.

So the topic of rain barrels ... and it is so true about them not being just rain barrels any more.
I took a lot of time looking at all sorts of fancy models and bare bones ones too.
We had a very functional one for over 11 years but having forgot to empty it before freezing weather .. and perhaps the age wearing on it ? (I like that excuse a lot) 
Naturally it split wide open from the pure physics of the "freeze till you bus"t action that did it in
Sad old rain barrel did it's duty to the very end..

So ... what did I look for in a new one ? 
First functionality and my new one covers that in a way my old one didn't. 
The hose connection is at the very bottom of the "barrel", so it drains better from the water pressure at the top and I will get every bit of water possible from it being at the bottom.
Next ... well, I went a bit soft on this point. 
I liked the colour and form .. it doesn't look like a rain barrel.
It looks like perhaps a very large garden container.
Plain and simple though ... the "less is more" axiom ... and this baby has that.
I saw so many different types it made me dizzy. 
Ones you could have a plant on the top of .. ones that were more artsy fartsy .. ones that could be fountains at the same time, the list goes on and on. 
Too many options when you are looking for one that will just stand the test of time and store that precious water !

So here it is !
Important feature with standing water is to not let the mosquitoes get at it and knock themselves out replicating !! 
Plus keep debris out ... we really need our gutters cleaned ... ugh !

This week it will be set up in it's special place and hopefully we will have staggered rain days to fill it up and flush it out.
Who else but a gardener would be so excited over something like this ... except these ?
I love these garden gloves that I get at COSTCO. 
The price is very reasonable and for the most part, and they last well. 
I do sometimes wear a disposable latex glove underneath when I know I am going to get really down and dirty or wet with the work I am doing.
I also wear a face mask because of allergies and especially with the old dust/pollen/mold/mildew that is raked up .
It may look funny but it really saves me a lot of physical grief from the disturbed debris.
So ? ... now I just need to get the work done!
Assess what has happened over this longer than long, winter ....wondering what plants didn't quite make it.
Mentally calculate where I am going to shoe horn the new mail order plants in ... that is a dicey one.
It is all in the game though ... and I love it : )

Monday, 31 March 2014

W*A*N*T*E*D !!

YES ........ this tiny jewel of a caterpillar is SO WANTED in my garden ..
I plant so many herbs and perennials plus annuals to draw in beautiful butterflies and yet the past garden year I saw none and had no amazing little guys chomping away to become jewels that flutter and fly.
But on with my story that happened between 2011 and 2012 .....

I had read that if you can keep a caterpillar happy and well fed into the Autumn it will make a chrysalis.
The next step was to have it in the right type of container to keep in your fridge over the winter.
It happened to be a spaghetti sauce glass bottle .. garlic might have been the stabilization factor ? haha
I moistened paper towel and made a lid of it ... I was leery this was going to work but I had to try.
When the Spring weather started to become more stable I brought the bottle outside and placed it in a secure spot on our deck .. I didn't want any birds to make a snack of it or the squirrel from hell either !
We did not see the exact instant of time that it broke out of the shell, but number one son saw it trying to make it's way out of the jar.

This was one of the most amazing moments I have ever seen ... I was not expecting this experiment to work quite frankly ... and it seemed to take forever when I placed the jar outside.
 I worried that the fridge might not have been the right temperature, or a million other influences might have knocked this miracle back.

My old butterfly weed packed itself in last year .. and even though I had so many herbs and other perennials to attract butterflies, I saw none in the garden.
I always wondered if that was the "key" plant ... just this old fashioned orange "weed"
You can see the lavender as a companion plant to it's side.
So now I have 4 new "weeds" coming ... one is called Gay Butterflies which combines more colours within the main plant .. I haven't had that one before.
I also have another butterfly bush coming called "Buzz Ivory" to combine with my other two, Nanho Blue and Flutterby Grande Peach Cobbler.

These plants take the longest to show "life" in the Spring.
I have learned that the hard way and dug out Black Knight by mistake.
I always wince when I think of that DUH? garden moment.
Hopefully this year I might draw in some beauties again and try this once more to see what an amazing miracle it is to bring a caterpillar to become a butterfly.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The NERVE of a Squirrel ?

OK ... we all know how long and dragged out this winter has been for some of us.
Nearly to the breaking point of our sanity, which was hanging on by a tiny, tiny, barely there thread as it was.
I think "the squirrel" knew this and found a way to get back at me for chasing him out of the garden so many times last year.
He mentally registered each episode so he could finally get me back all in one swipe.
So ...... what did he do that made me CRACK ?

The rose bed is at the bottom of the deck ..
Zephirine Drouhin (one of my favorite roses) is the VICTIM of this bad ass gangster, "get you back in spades" member of the "squirrel mafia," king pin.
We were in shock watching him ? climb down and up, with a gourmet type selected portion of my said favorite climbing rose, and stared wide eyed at us, while savoring said portion, it in front of me.
All Husband could get out was "grab the camera ! look at the squirrel on the railing!" .. seriously ?
Not .. " quick open the door and scare the crackers out of this thug, he is eating your favorite rose !"
Such is life in the Great WHITE North, our brain cells are so "done with winter",  we watch squirrels eat our favorite garden babies for entertainment?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Talking about my header plants ?

Well .. we are still STUCK in SNOW .. it is supposed to rain today .. it is certainly cloudy enough to feel like it might just do that ...
Mean while I have been looking at last years garden pictures and trying to figure out what I should attack first after garden clean up is accomplished (mini miracle in itself for that !)

I know I made a mental note ( filed away among total chaos and dust bunnies in said brain)
The two Fire Island hosta flanking the Pinot Gris heuchera to the right of the picture .. they were assaulted continually by  bad-ass slugs/snails that you could hear partying at night it was such a ruckus.
So ? what do I replace them with ... I am thinking Green Panda bamboo that I have in two patches ...
Nobody seems to bother them and since I have a tiny dry stream setting there .. it might just look good ?
Keep that mental note going then !

The Englemann ivy that over took both sides of the deck lattice was cut down .. you can see it top right.
BUT the roots weren't dug up yet .. so that is an important job to get done before it thinks it is allowed to go crazy again.
We loved the green enclosure but the problems with "blight"  "powdery mildew" and BUGS were just enough to tip the scale to it's eradication ... we NEED easier gardening .. OK ... I need easier gardening missions .. body getting just too cranky to handle it all.
Maybe annual vines such as Morning Glory might fill that space in and can be ripped out at end of year.
I have to think that over ... a lot !

My poor Tiger Eye Sumac was never staked properly ... so that is a priority this year .. must stop scoliosis of said TES !
I had fun with lining the edging out of the garden with petunias ... you can see that impossible blue/purple? in the picture .. it really popped a ZING! in those areas ...that sun patch is planned with more butterfly weed and lavender and herbs ! .. it is the perfect spot.
Talk about inviting your "friends" in ? .. I want to throw a gala party 24/7 and finally have as many butterflies, bees and beneficial insects in my garden as possible .. so party on dudes !