Monday, April 20, 2015

Mosaic Monday #37 - Country Life

My photo woes have become easier but still complicated with the Mac update of iPhoto to just photos on my laptop. My albums did survive the transition but rather as events and I'm still in the progress of deleting hundreds of unwanted photos and reorganizing. But that's OK, in the end I'll have condensed and made a better system so for this week I'll share a couple of past mosaics showing life in the country where I live.
Our rural area is made up of pocket villages surrounded by farmland of crops and animals.
I live close to Lake Simcoe and on any given day there are many hawks in the air searching for a meal in the fields along the roads. Osprey and loons are common birds seen near or at the lake.
Please note that Mosaic Monday will now be capped at 50 participants. It has always been a small meme of friendly bloggers sharing their creative photography and I like to visit and comment with everyone over a few days.
Personally I'm not fond of the big blog parties with oodles of participants, they lose the closeness of a smaller group and the whole idea of visiting each other. 

Welcome to Mosaic Monday
Link the Url from a post containing a mosaic or collage about any subject. 
Please link back to this Mosaic Monday post so that your readers can find other wonderful mosaics. 
Linked posts not including a mosaic nor linking back to Mosaic Monday will be removed in fairness to other participants.

Thank you for participating and sharing your creativity!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tea on Thursday and My Garden Journal 15-2

The temperature has been in the mid to high 50s F so far this week and I've been out spring cleaning my gardens. Because we have no lawn, ours and the whole neighbourhood's leaves catch around the plants and shrubs to form a thick mat over winter. They are raked away, the trees and shrubs get a granular fertilizer and the plants a bit of bone meal with alfalfa pellets broadcast across the beds.
Tree and shrub pruning is done early before bud break to get rid of damaged and crossing branches.
I'm becoming somewhat of a hydrangea collector, a number of them are trial shrubs from Proven Winners but the newest last summer was an 'I want that' shrub.'
This is 'Tiny Tuff Stuff' a serrata mountain hydrangea that grows 18-24" high and will survive in a Canadian Z4 garden. I am looking forward to seeing blooms on my shrub this year. 
When tidying up the reading garden I found a couple of depressions in the soil lined with grass and leaves that were either mouse nests or something the rabbits created for their little droppings were everywhere.
Each of my gardens has a name, do you do this or give them a theme?  It has made it easier for me to keep track of my plants by naming each garden and keeping a list of all plants in it. I've tried every kind of plant tag and they always break or the frost heaves them and they go missing. 
Some of my other named gardens are: bird, blue and yellow, rock, butterfly, prairie, Japanese, woodland and more.
Once the gardens are cleaned up with perennial stocks cut down I put on a layer of chopped leaves that are stored in one of the compost bins.  They break down nicely into the soil with the help of my little garden workhorses - the earthworms.
The water in the pond has warmed up enough for the fish to come to the surface looking for food and algae to snack on. The little white dots seen in the water are fish pellets. We're down to just over a dozen fish, quite a few died over the winter and I noticed they were second generation with a fair bit of white in their bodies. The orange ones seem to be hardier. A couple of frogs have come up from the bottom to bask in the sun too. 
We've been eating lunch on the back deck, sitting on the stairs until the furniture is put back out. Tea is generally on the bench out front where I can enjoy the garden as it comes to life.
Not a whole lot to see yet other than a few iris reticulata in the bottom left corner. As soon as the lavender hedge shows green sprouts it will get whacked back to about 8" or so. Doing this keeps the plants compact and I do it again after the first flush of blooms. The pipe you see held a lighting effect over Christmas and will going to the back to shine on the pond.
I'd love to have any blogging sisters join me for Tea and Garden Journaling on Thursday. I wouldn't want to start another meme but would gladly add a link to your post. (let me know in your comment)
Spot on Cedar Pond

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mosaic Monday #36 Tranquility and Photo Despair

A few weeks ago I mentioned changes with a blog makeover in progress. Welcome to my new look!
Another change which I was not expecting was an update to my MacBook operating system that has thrown me into a tailspin. All my neatly organized folders of photos were dumped and are now found by date only. As a garden writer, it has been important to have these folders for specific flowers, gardens and techniques to quickly and easily access for articles.
Anyone else in a quandary over this?  I've started the reorganizing by deleting unwanted photos and creating albums again. This is going to take me hours! (sigh)
At least I could easily find the photos from when hubby and I recently went for a walk around the arboretum.
The totem pole is well weathered as are the long forgotten swallow houses. There are a few benches about to sit and rest on or just enjoy the tranquility of this wonderful place in the country.
On the left some flooding in the upper meadow caused by the beavers and the pond starting to thaw out on the right. The arrow is showing the beaver lodge. 
Long ago someone erected a bench by the pond's edge and I've captured it in late autumn and during winter. I wonder if this pond was ever used for swimming or skating long ago? I can imagine a mother sitting on the bench watching her children or perhaps it was built merely for a place of solitude.

Welcome to Mosaic Monday
Link the Url from a post containing a mosaic or collage about any subject. 
Please link back to this Mosaic Monday post so that your readers can find other wonderful mosaics. 
Linked posts not including a mosaic nor linking back to Mosaic Monday will be removed in fairness to other participants.
Thank you for participating and sharing your creativity!
I ask for your patience please for with the gardening season starting up it may take me all week to get around to visit everyone.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tea on Thursday - My Garden Journal 15-1

I am very happy with my blog makeover thanks to the talented Karen Valentine. It has been 5 years since she first designed Lavender Cottage and it was time for a fresh new look!
Spring is slowly arriving in southern Ontario as seen in my few photos this week. Canadian blogging sister Linda at Crafty Gardener has started her annual on-line garden journal and I think this is a good way to keep track of progress in our gardens.  Therefore, since tea and gardening go hand and hand I'm going to combine my own garden journal with tea on Thursdays.
The front west facing foundation garden is seeing lots of activity with green leaves pushing through the soil. 
 On the south side crocus are starting to bloom and there's not many left from the original planting thanks to the squirrels.
A purple primula (taken in the rain) determined to bloom soon.
Doronicum (leopard's bane is a common name) is an early bloomer and a great nectar source for the bees.
If you're not familiar with Doronicum, these are the daisy-like flowers that will bloom from April to June.
Such is life in a garden...I cleaned away a pile of leaves and discovered the remains of this mouse. It was given a decent burial in a patch of loose soil.
After a few hours of garden clean up, it was nice to come in for a cup of tea and piece of 'pullapitko' which is a cardamom bread baked by the ladies of the Scandinavian church. Hubby and I attended their Easter brunch and this bread freezes really well. I have taken a mug of tea outside already on a couple of sunny afternoons but we're in for rain over the next few days.
This is how the loaf looks when taken out of the bag, everything they sell is tied with a pretty ribbon.
If you like the idea of an on-line journal for your gardens, check out Linda's link above to see how she's laid hers out. Mine will likely not be as detailed but still include photos of plants as they bloom for reference.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mosaic Monday #35 Pastel Spring Colours

On this beautiful Easter Monday I am thankful for the pastel colours of spring. As bulbs are just starting to poke out of the ground now in my gardens the photos are from previous years.
The buds are not swelling yet but I anticipate their break of dormancy very soon.
April showers bring May flowers...shades of pinks and purples are my favourite spring and summer flower colours.
April Rain 
The April rain, the April rain, 
Comes slanting down in fitful showers, 
Then from the furrow shoots the grain, 
And banks are fledged with nestling flowers; 
And in grey shawl and woodland bowers 
The cuckoo through the April rain 
Calls once again. 

The April sun, the April sun, 
Glints through the rain in fitful splendour, 
And in grey shaw and woodland dun 
The little leaves spring forth and tender 
Their infant hands, yet weak and slender, 
For warmth towards the April sun, 
One after one. 

And between shower and shine hath birth 
The rainbow's evanescent glory; 
Heaven's light that breaks on mists of earth! 
Frail symbol of our human story, 
It flowers through showers where, looming hoary, 
The rain-clouds flash with April mirth, 
Like Life on earth.       
~ by M. Blind~

Welcome to Mosaic Monday
Link the Url from a post containing a mosaic or collage about any subject. 
Please link back to this Mosaic Monday post so that your readers can find other wonderful mosaics. 
Linked posts not including a mosaic nor linking back to Mosaic Monday will be removed in fairness to other participants.

Thank you for participating and sharing your creativity!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tea on Thursday - Of Primulas, Spring and a Giveaway Win


Our weather is warming up nicely and a trip to the local nursery helped get me in the mood for the spring gardening I'm looking forward to doing. I picked up these two primulas and went back for a couple more the next day. They're hardy little plants that bloom in spring and again in late summer in my garden.
Beside the flowers is a photograph I won in a giveaway by the talented photographer Georgianna Lane. Imagine being told to choose any photo from Georgianna's website and if your name was drawn - it would be yours! I love the soft pastel colours of the nest amongst the blossoms and purchased a wooden frame to complement the brown tones. It has added a touch of spring to our front hallway.
Thank you Georgianna, I have a few of her photos framed and love them all.
I got busy one afternoon in the kitchen and baked a double layer 6 inch carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I intended to make a light blue spring coloured frosting but surprised myself with this aqua colour.
I know most of us have a sweet tooth and before Easter I stock up on jelly beans for the candy jar. 

Well then, I decided I might as well pull out an aqua teacup to match for afternoon tea so I used this pretty one with violets by Rosina. There's no oil in my carrot cake, I use a snack pack size applesauce instead which makes it moist.
teapot by artist Susan Branch
Happy Easter wishes to my blogging friends.  
Linking to these tea gatherings:

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mosaic Monday #34 - The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden


I recently read "The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden" by Karen Newcomb. No stranger to growing vegetables in small places, I found the book helpful in my ability to hone this gardening technique even further.
My little veggie plot may not be square but an 8 by 2 foot area of soil can grow more than enough beans, beets and carrots for two people.  The garden is situated in front of the three bin compost area and that's rhubarb at the end. Facing south, plenty of sun reaches all of the plants.
In the spring after planting a wire cage keeps the bunnies and family dog out.  Later this is removed with just a short fence running along the length to remind our dog this is not an area to run through or lay on in the sun. 
Newcomb describes the origin of what we commonly know today as square foot or intensive planting to being discovered back in the 1890s. It evolved to become known as French Intensive Biodynamic Gardening and with diligence a 5 by 5 foot garden should produce 200 pounds of vegetables.
The smallest plot recommended in the book is 4 by 4 feet and the largest, 10 by 10 feet.
The elements for success include an excellent quality of soil, planting vegetables close together, watering deeply but infrequently, using organic methods and utilizing techniques such as intercropping, succession planting, catch crops and growing vertically.
Drawing up a plan is beneficial and there are several illustrations in the book to follow and location of the garden bed itself is of course important.
Warm vs cool season crops is explained as is the composition of organic fertilizers.
A good list of vegetables is covered in detail for when to sow and harvest along with recommended varieties.
Each vegetable has typical problems and solutions offered as well as growing tips and storage. From this I learned when growing red beets to sprinkle a spoonful of common table salt per foot of soil to improve growth and colour. I'll be trying the salt this spring!
It was fun to try the tri-colour carrots one year but I've since stuck to my favourite, Nantes 'Starica'. Any little spaces in the long gardening bed and the small triangle at the end of the compost bins has been planted with tomatoes, scallions and basil.
Growing vegetables in containers is a way to increase yield and above is swiss chard I grew in a pot last year. Newcomb has an interesting section with ideas for growing in various receptacles and suggests looking for midget vegetables bred specifically for pots.
Here are a couple of new plants I'll be trying this year from Renee's Seeds.
The book gives a nod to popular herbs that are easy to grow and ends with good discussion on controlling pests, diseases and critters. At the back of the book is an extensive list of US seed suppliers. Much of this information, and more can be found on The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden web page.
My thanks to Ten Speed Press for sending me "The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden" to review.

Welcome to Mosaic Monday
Link the Url from a post containing a mosaic or collage about any subject. 
Please link back to this Mosaic Monday post so that your readers can find other wonderful mosaics. 
Linked posts not including a mosaic nor linking back to Mosaic Monday will be removed in fairness to other participants.
Thank you for participating and sharing your creativity!

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