Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gardens I have Loved Before - Part 1

In the dead cold of winter, during these short days, there is not much rushing about.  It's a good time to read books, drink tea and wrap yourself in a warm blanket.  In that spirit I would like to share a story.  So pull up a chair, make yourself a cup of cocoa, sit by the fire and join me.

Some of my readers have been around for many months now and you've probably learned a little bit about me along the way.  But you might still be wondering about some of the details.  A part of my story has been missing until now.  I talk a lot about gardening.  What I'm digging up most recently and what I'd like to dig up in the future.  But how is it that I came to be a gardener?  Where did I learn what I know?  In fact, what do I really know at all?  So this is the start of a series of stories that will hopefully answer some of those questions.

I grew up in a small town called Dawson Creek in rural northern British Columbia.  It is a cold place, a gardening zone of only 2.  But during the summers thrives a farming community.  You can see a glowing example of one of these farms at Melanie's blog, Northern Gardeners Almanac.  At school my friends talked about riding horses, driving tractors, and 4H meetings.  But I was a town kid.  I lived in an apartment over top of an industrial building.  How does a small child living in an apartment find out about flowers?  Well, like so many other gardeners, my green thumb is hereditary.  My mother is a farm girl raised in Saskatchewan.  In that prairie province farms spread as far as the eye can see and my mother grew up raising animals and growing vegetables.  She carried these skills with her to British Columbia to our small apartment.  We didn't have room to grow our own food  but every summer we went to u-pick farms and roadside stands and carried our purchases home to be pickled, canned and frozen.  I learned to pick strawberries and shuck corn at an early age.  Although these activities appeased my mother's need to feed her family she still had the urge to grow her own plants.  And so she transformed our living room, crowding it with spider plants, lipstick plants, aloe, jade, ferns and pointsettias, it became as green and humid as any tropical jungle.  As a small child the most coveted plant of all to me were the african violets.  These fuzzy little plants bloomed almost constantly in shades of pink and purple.  Soft to the touch and beautifully coloured they captured my heart.    Sometimes, after dinner, when the last of the tea from the pot had cooled, I would be allowed to water the violets with it.  Making sure none of the liquid touched their leaves.  My lessons in plant care had begun.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow and more snow

The Maritimes were hit with a nor'easter yesterday.  A nor'easter being a storm where the winds blow in from the north east.  That meant it was a snow day.  Unfortunately with the snow coming down and the wind howling there wasn't much chance of getting outside so instead I spent my time keeping the fire glowing and doing some filing.  Not much fun at all.  However with tax season looming I decided it was a good day to get this chore off my plate.  Jane you'd be so proud of me, after I finished my filing, I even put together a monthly budget.  Now I know where all my money's going.  Thankfully I'm not as broke as I had thought, however it seems I'm spending all the surplus on gardening.

When I awoke this morning I discovered it was a glorious day.  To reward myself for working so hard yesterday I decided to take myself out for a walk.  I had the day off again from work so it was a perfect chance to get outdoors.  But it was not to be an ordinary walk.  After all the snow that blew in snowshoes were required.  This time I took a good photo of them for those of you who haven't seen snowshoes before.

The nylon straps fit around your boot and keep the 'shoes' attached to your feet.  The 'shoe' itself is made from plastic and aluminum which means they are very lightweight.  On the bottom of the shoe is a cleat for added traction which allows you to climb or descend hills.

The metal cleat has sharp teeth to grip the snow
Snowshoes distribute your body weight more evenly over the snow so that you don't sink as much.  The key words here are AS MUCH.  You still sink in the snow, just less than you normally would.  This means that walking takes a lot of effort.  Think of it like walking through sand.  Your feet sink in and with each step you have to pull your foot out of the snow and then take a step.  It's extra effort for your leg muscles.  Which means snowshoeing is twice as much work as walking.  So my walk round to the beach and back that normally takes a half hour or so now takes well over an hour.  Not that I'm complaining.  It's great exercise and on a day like today it was wonderful to be outside.

My first stop on my walk was the compost bin.

I find it interesting how the wind shapes the snow here.  Can you see the deep ridge around the bin?  The snow stops short of any objects and sweeps around it.  You can see this better when looking at the garage.

There's a wide path directly around the garage where there is next to no snow, you can even see the grass peeking through.  But beyond that path there is a high ridge of snow circling the building.  If you look to the right of the garage that ridge is really evident.  Further along my walk I watched the shadows of the trees that appeared across the drifts of snow.

I didn't see any human footprints today but I wasn't alone.  Many animal tracks were to be seen.

These are dog tracks of some sort.  I can't be sure what kind of dog though.  It could be the neighbours dog, a fox or even a coyote.

My walk takes me down a private dirt road that isn't plowed in winter.  The snow is deep, discouraging many, making this a wonderfully private walk in the woods.

The white church at the end of the road blends in with the snow at this time of year.  I can barely see it through the trees.

Once I'm past the church the road draws close to the ocean.  A small creek flows out to meet the salty water and forms a tidal estuary.  The grasses are covered in snow at this time of year but the flowing water remains relatively clear.

These steps lead into the cove where we swim in the summers.  On hot days the shallow waters heat up quickly and it's a very comfortable place to take a swim.  In winter the shallow water freezes quickly.

These cliffs, normally shining red, are now covered in snow and ice.  A good thing as it helps to prevent erosion during winter storms.

If this winter wonderland is giving you the chills, come take this same walk with me in summer by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A January Bouquet

It's been a busy couple of weeks and I had completely forgotten about the Garden Bouquet of the Month.  Then I saw Noelle's post and pondered what to do.  If you saw yesterday's post you'll know that my yard is completely covered in snow right now and nary a flower is to be seen.  Coming up with a bouquet seemed an impossible task. 

But then I remembered a post I read recently from Jodi at BloomingWriter.  Jodi talked about taking cuttings from shrubs and forcing them indoors so we might have blooms in winter.  A wonderful idea!  So I set to work.

I put on sweaters and boots, hats and gloves and with a pair of clippers in hand I made my way into the great outdoors.  I walked around from tree to tree observing the buds and finally selected several branches from the apple trees, the rose bushes and even some willow from the roadside ditch.  Once inside the branches were placed in some tepid water in a sink to get their bearings.

Following Jodi's instructions I made sure each stem was cut diagnally and the branches were later placed in a vase with a flower solution. 

Forcing buds takes some time so unfortunately there are no flowers to be seen this month but I have my fingers crossed these stems will leaf out in time for next month's garden bouquet!


If you would like to see more garden bouquets please follow this link to Ramblings from a Desert Garden.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Truly Winter

We are experiencing a blast of arctic air to start this week.  From Ontario to the Maritimes we are cranking up the heat and donning extra sweaters.  I'm sure some of you south of the border are probably feeling a little numb in your toes as well.  Yesterday morning I was cruelly awoke at 6am, shivering.  We use wood heat in this house and if there's no fire, there's no heat.  My nice cozy bedroom suddenly felt like a walk in freezer.  When I turned on the television I found out why.  The temperature had dropped to minus 20 degrees celcius overnight and the wind was blowing at 70 kilometers per hour.  Add the wind chill and we were looking at minus 32 degrees.  Winter has arrived. 

While we're still in the depths of a freeze, today has been downright balmy compared to yesterday.  A mere minus 14 degrees and little wind meant I could venture out of doors without worrying whether my extremities might fall off.  So I decided to take advantage of a little afternoon sunshine and walk about the yard.  The garden looks so different in this winter landscape.

Looking at the apple orchard I noticed how closely the trees are growing together.  Their branches intermingle even when devoid of leaves.  More pruning will need to take place in the coming month.

The young trees that we planted last spring are the only plants to remain standing under the fallen snow.

Some are only able to just poke their heads out from under their cover.

The flower bed at the front door is barely discernable under the carpet of white.  I will need to mark its borders when it's complete so that I can avoid walking right through it in the coming winters.

The hedgerow that is so imposing in summer, standing as high as me and full of goldenrod, is battered in winter.  Only a few dried stalks remain.

Some time in the future I would love to see more shrubs planted in this hedge so that we have a year round break between us and the field behind.  It would help with the drifting snow and wind.

Gino, our sometimes house cat has become so frustrated and bored with the indoors that he begged to come out with me today.  He made it all the way out onto the porch where Priscilla came to greet him.


But life as a snow cat is not to be.  After less than 5 minutes he was whining at the door and is now safely tucked up on my bed fast asleep.  The ferals, Priscilla and FunnyFace, soldier on despite the cold.  They warmed themselves in the afternoon sunshine and then retreated to their lodgings in the garage.  There, in a bed of straw, they are safe from the chilling winds.  I too have retreated indoors to my warm fire. 

Waiting for spring.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Gardening Never Ceases

Dahlias in summer

To those who think that gardening is a one season wonder I say, not so!  While I'm spending most of my time indoors as of late I haven't completely given up gardening.  There are still tasks to be done to carry me through to spring.  One of these is checking up on those dahlia tubers I stored in the fall.  Although they may survive very well on their own it's still good practice to look at these tubers and make sure all is well in their world.  So I trucked on down to the basement recently and pulled out the box with all my tubers inside.  As this is my first year storing tubers in this house it's even more important to check and make sure I've selected the right place for storage.  Unfortunately that doesn't appear to be the case.

Basements are usually dark, cool and damp.  Ideal for the storage of vegetables and roots.  But in our case hubby has transformed the once dark cool basement into a workshop.  Lights are consistently on and the heat is turned up making our basement dry and warm.  When I pulled out the box some of the bulbs looked like this.

Can you see how wrinkled and dry that protruding bulb is?  You don't want your bulbs to look like this. If a bulb dries out entirely it will die. Now this was my mistake as I didn't completely cover the bulbs with peat moss.  That would have helped the situation.  The bulbs below were adequately covered and look quite well.

To remedy the situation I misted the bulbs with water and then completely covered them with peat.  They may not completely recover but they won't get any worse.

Moving the bulbs to a better location is also imperative.  I've kept them in the basement but I've moved them further away from the furnace into a dark corner.  We'll leave them there for a few weeks and check on them again to see how their coping in their new home.

If you're storing bulbs for the first time it can take a bit of fussing to find the right storage conditions.  Dark and cool conditions are important.  Too dry and your bulbs will shrivel away.  But also be aware of too moist conditions.  Too much water can cause bulbs to rot.  Just remember to check your bulbs a couple times throughout the winter so you know they're doing okay in their winter home.   Storing bulbs shouldn't require much work, it's just finding the right spot and making sure you've stored them well.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Last summer I rolled out a garden hose to mark a new bed - which never got finished!
Fer from My Little Garden in Japan suggested a blog carnival for January.  We're to discuss our garden resolutions for the new year.  I don't participate in resolutions as a rule but this idea excited me.  I guess it's all how you look at a resolution.  Generally resolutions feel like empty promises to me.  But a resolution can be a plan.  I like plans... and lists.  Last year I participated in a beautification contest that had me making lists of all the things I wanted to achieve in my new garden.  This year I'm not intending to participate in that contest again but I still wanted to make a list of my garden goals because it gives me some focus and helps me to define what it is I'd like to see in my garden.

So with this in mind I've begun making lists of all the things I would like to accomplish this year.

First and foremost, make more vegetable beds.  On top of the tomatoes, carrots, onions and cilantro of last year I also intend to add 25 strawberry plants, basil and salad greens.  More grass will need to be removed and beds built to accommodate these new arrivals.

I've also been thinking about compost.  My bins are big but still not big enough to accommodate all the material I have.  As a way to use up these materials and create beds I've been considering combining the two projects by using the lasagna method.  Essentially layering compost in the spot I want for the bed and waiting for it to break down.

Another project is the flower bed at the front door.  As you can see in the top photo I laid out the size of that bed last summer and started digging but never finished it.  This project is probably second to the vegetable garden for me.

Another project started last summer and never finished was the large rectangular bed in the meadow.  When we bought the house that bed was filled with weeds and rocks.  Nothing much has changed.  I'd love to see this bed converted to a rock garden but first the weeds must go.

Finally there's the new flower bed I started behind the garage.  The one that was supposed to hold the hollyhocks and the plume poppy.  I plopped a bunch of half finished compost down there in the fall and it will need to worked over in spring so I can plant my seeds there.  But I've also been plotting and planning about what else I'd like to see in this area of the yard.  Wouldn't it be great to add some trees out there, maybe that catalpa I've been coveting?  Honey locust and evergreens as well.  Of course, more flower beds would be necessary as well.

The more I think about it the more projects I keep adding to my 'to do' list.  One after another there seems to be no end to the amount of trees, shrubs and flowers I would like to see in my yard.  As I wrote out all these wishes I started to see a trend.  And I realized there is a resolution here for me after all.

This summer I resolve to do one thing at a time.  Celebrate the things I do get accomplished and accept that it won't all get done.  I resolve to ride my bike, swim at the beach, and take my kayak on the water.  There is plenty of time to grow flowers and play in the summer sun.

To see other garden resolutions, please visit Fer at My Little Garden in Japan.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Art of Seed Shopping

I've been talking about it for quite some time so I'm sure you all thought I had done this by now but I finally got around to placing my seed orders for spring.

Ordering seeds always takes more time than I think it will.  First perusing the pretty photos, making lists of the things I simply must have, making lists of all the pretty things I want to have, reviewing the amount of beds and the space available, moaning over my bank account.  The order list has bloomed and faded, the numbers going sky high and then crashing down again.  What do I need, what do I want, what can I afford and where will it all go.

After weeks of dallying the final list is as follows:
  1. Drunken woman lettuce
  2. Borage - Borago officinals
  3. Nasturtium - mixed
  4. Miner's Lettuce - Claytonia perfoliata
  5. Ruby Eclipse Sunflower - Helianthus annuus
  6. Love Lies Bleeding - Amaranthus caudatus
  7. Veestar strawberry plants
  8. Tyee spinach
  9. Napoli carrot
  10. Cat grass
  11. Sweet basil
  12. onion sets
A pretty reasonable list if I do say so myself.  I stayed away from tomatoes since I already received a packet in a Christmas card.  I will try growing these and then purchase any extra plants I need from a nursery (such as the scotia tomatoes pictured above which were nursery bought).  I don't want to start too many seeds indoors this year as I need to experiment with seed starting in a new house.  It will take some fussing to find the right spot to do this and get lights and trays set up properly.  Basil, tomatoes, amaranthus, maybe a few flowers will be plenty enough to start indoors while I work out the kinks.

Although I just placed the order I'm already waiting impatiently for it to arrive.  One plant that will be started indoors immediately is the cat grass.  I need it to prevent more of this from happening.

Who's hiding in my houseplants?
Gino (the cat) grew up with us in the much warmer climate of coastal British Columbia.  Snow and wind do not agree with him and for the last month he's been house bound.  And taking his frustration out on my spider plant.  The cat grass should help to appease him.

The Tyee spinach is a replacement for the tortoiseshell spinach I used last summer.  Tortoiseshell barely grew an inch before it was covered in white spots and then bolted.  I will plant both this year and see if either one manages to grow.

When considering what to order I was tempted to add peas to the list.  I have an old packet of peas in storage and I attempted to germinate them recently to see if they were viable.  I placed the seeds in a wet paper towel and then put the towel in a plastic ziplock bag.  The bag was left on the top of the fridge for a week.  Nothing seemed to happen so I assumed the seeds weren't good.  By then I had decided there really wasn't enough room for peas anyway and I crossed it off my list.  Maybe another year.  Oh but what's this?  While cleaning on the weekend I discovered a plastic bag in an upstairs closet.  I found this inside.

Germinating peas.  Note to self - next time write down where you put all the bags of germinating seeds.  Otherwise you're bound to find a crop of vegetables growing out of the closets.  So it looks like I might have to find a spot for peas in the garden anyway.

There's some new flowers on my list as well.  Plants I've never tried before that I'm very excited about.  After all I need to have some fun.  A pink sunflower and love lies bleeding are headed for the new border behind the garage.  I think it's always important to try new plants and experiment.  I've learned more about gardening in the past by being sucked in by a pretty plant than anything else.  Experimenting, curiosity and failure are the best tools I have.

Ultimately I tried to hold back on buying too many seeds because I want to focus on building beds this year.  There are 5 beds in the vegetable garden presently and I intend to add, at minimum, another 5 beds.  That will mean lots of digging, building, and mixing of dirt.  Not to mention the work I'm planning for flower beds.  If I can focus a little more on beds this year then next year I can buy all the seeds my heart desires.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Starting Seeds in Winter

Several weeks back when I took an inventory of my seeds I realized that a couple years ago I bought seeds for both red flowering and black currants.  I'm not sure if these seeds are viable anymore but I figured I might as well try planting them and see what happens. 

Seeds are funny.  I often find that the propagation information included with seeds is a bit confusing.  Sometimes information is included with the packet and sometimes not.  Some of the information is conflicting or vague and I always like to cross check on the internet and in books.  In this case the store that sold me these seeds provided excellent information.  If you haven't before, I would recommend buying seeds from Twining Vine.  I've met the proprietress personally and she's someone who knows a lot about her seed and is very careful regarding collection and storage.  Her website also provides some great information about seed saving.

To begin I soaked the seeds for a day and then planted them up in a combination of peat moss and sand.

Large and small peat pots were used as well as plastic containers.  I grabbed whatever I had on hand and filled them up.  Once filled with the sand and peat combination the soaked seeds were placed on top and pushed just slightly below the surface.  The red currant seeds had an extra step of scarification.  They were rubbed in my hands with a bit of sand before planting them into the soil.

Along with the currants I also found Beauty Berry seed - Callicarpa bodineri.  I checked a few sources on this plant and some texts suggest it will only grow to zone 6 and others state zone 5.  After much tooing and frooing between books and websites I finally decided I might as well give it a go.  There isn't much seed there anyway so I might as well experiment.  I don't actually know what conditions are necessary for germinating Callicarpa so I did the same as the currants.  Soaked the seed 24 hours and then tossed them on the growing medium.  Working with seeds is a bit art and a bit science and some luck thrown in.  We'll see if these seeds have any magic in them.

Both sets of currant seeds require a cold period of stratification for growth.  Most sources seem to recommend bagging the seeds and refrigerating them for stratification.  However in the past when I've tried this I didn't find the refrigerator cold enough and there wasn't enough air flow.  Mold ensued.  Recently I noticed Melanie at Northern Gardener putting her seeds outside for the winter and liked that idea.  Instead of a plastic bag the seeds have now been set to rest outside on the front porch.  Hidden behind a yew the wind hopefully will not blow them away but they'll be chilled to the bone for the next 3 months.   Sometime in say April I'll pull them out and set them to warm on a heating mat and see if they germinate.

Seeds hiding on the front porch
These are old seeds so there's always a chance they won't germinate at all and this is a new technique for me as well so I'm not expecting too much from this.  But that's part of my love of seed starting.  Whether the seeds sprout or not is irrelevant.  If they don't I will try again next time.  Fresher seed, different conditions. and try again, and again, until I find just the right conditions.  Each time, playing in the dirt, having some fun, learning a little bit more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Quiet Winter Interlude

It seems some of the more southern blogs are talking about spring already and here in the Canadian north we have only just finally gotten settled into winter.  It's been a warm and wet season thus far but on Christmas day it began to snow and it finally decided to stay.  Each day since bringing just a bit more.  The temperatures still aren't as cold as they should be but at least we now have that snowy protective layer on all the plants.  This past Sunday, to celebrate our latest dump of snow, we ventured out of doors.  Staying cooped up in the house all winter is no way to live.  And there are Christmas snowshoes to try out.

The view - from the other side of the hedgerow
I don't often shoot our house from this angle but we walked across the back field on our journey.  This field is not owned by us so we don't generally venture onto it.  A British Columbia trait, where property lines are to be respected.  In PEI they are a lot looser about such things.  Many people walk through fields and woods without a care, as long as they aren't doing any damage.  We have been laughed at for our seemingly neurotic property line abiding tendencies. 

We're very lucky to have some quiet country roads nearby.  We were able to strap on our snowshoes at the door and walk through the field, and down some back roads into the woods.  We weren't the only ones with this idea as cross country ski tracks were evident on the route we took.

It looks like we'll be using our snowshoes more in the near future as the weatherman is telling us a nor'easter is expected tomorrow evening and into Thursday.  Cross your fingers for a snow day!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A New Addition

I like to do my grocery shopping on Friday evenings after work.  Most people are quick to run home for the weekend and the stores are rather quiet.  Additionally the flyer sales start Friday morning so I'm usually able to pick up some good deals.

Last night, as per usual, I headed out to the stores after a long week. Snow was blowing and the shopping centre was delightfully empty.  I wandered the aisles and then my ears heard a voice.

Over here, Hi.

oh hello

Take me home.

oh, I'm not sure, the cart is really quite full.

Help me please, I'm going to die.    and I'm so pretty.

well, you are quite lovely I agree.  But I don't think you're on the brink of death.  Now those african violets, they really do look dreadful.

They're already goners, you can't help them.  Take me instead.  Before I meet the same fate.

so I himmed and hawwed and pondered, and then I remembered this.  Thank you Frances for your delightful words of wisdom.  Say hello to my new house buddy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Year in Photos

It's been a troublesome week.  I sat down to do a little work on Monday.  Typing away, somewhat unaware, I reached for my water glass.  I know what you're imagining but I didn't spill it.  Instead I took a big swig, and found, to my horror, there was a lump in my water.  A lump now in my mouth.  A fly.  Water and fly came rushing out of my mouth, all over the keyboard.  I thought I cleaned it up but water tends to slip into small spaces.  Some of the keys refused to work.  At first it was just the E.  Then the A.  Followed by S, D, R.......  They tell us it would cost a lot to fix.  More than the computer is worth.  The moral of the story being don't spit water, or at least aim it away from the computer if you must.  The good news is that Blogger stores all my previously used photos online.  So today I'm perusing the old catalogue as it were.

I've never paid much attention to photography.  I've been a point and shoot kind of gal for many years. Hubby has a real interest in photography and when he starts talking about buttons and gadgets and widgets my brain takes a holiday.  All that came to an end this year when I ventured into blogging.  At first I just did my usual point and shoot and attached them to posts but quickly I became envious of all the other beautiful photos I saw on other blogs.  I wanted pretty pictures too!  So I've begun working on my photography skills.

In the spring I started snapping photos of emerging plants.  The photo below sort of 'does the job' but it's not exactly interesting or nice to look at.  Knowing a little more now than I did 8 months ago I'd say I need to be more careful about where I stand when taking pictures as my shadow wants to eclipse these emerging tulip bulbs.

Lighting is a major issue with photography I've learned.  Morning light seems to be the best for taking pictures of plants.  Too bad I'm not a morning person.  If I can help it I won't leave the house until at least 10am.  That means my garden photos have that tone of full sunshine.  Otherwise known as 'washed out'.  The flowers in the photo below look white but the reality is they are pink.  The strong afternoon sun bleached out all colour from the picture.

In order to avoid getting up early and still have decent photos I have learned to use shadows to my benefit.  Eventually I got a nice photo of these flowers.

See - Pink!
Another way to get nice photos and avoid getting out of bed too early is taking advantage of overcast or rainy days.

The drops of rain on this daylily just add to the charm of this picture.  It makes it look like I did this for effect instead of realizing the sheer laziness of me not wanting to rise at dawn for the perfect photo.

Another skill I'm getting better at it is getting up close and personal with the plants.  Many flowers look insignificant when seen from a distance but are wondrous to behold when seen with a macro lense.  The flower head of a verbena is made up of clusters of tiny flowers but in the photo below it's hard to tell their actual size.  Not great if you're trying to identify the flower but incredibly interesting to see all the detail in each tiny flower head.

Another technique I learned, via hubby, is that when you get up close to an image you can 'blow out' the background.   In the photo below the focus is on the thistle and the field behind it becomes unfocussed and blurry.  It creates a background that is soft and isn't distracting from the image of the flower.

Blowing out the background isn't as simple as I'd like though.  It's easier to do this with hubbies expensive camera than my cheap one.  Knowing the technical skills helps but sometimes a good camera is really what you need.  For instance, my camera hates shooting the colour red.  

This weigela should be a bold bright red and instead they look super shiny pink in my photos.  As many times as I tried to photograph them, no matter the light, they just wouldn't come out right. 

While I have figured out ways to shoot up close I still need work on photographing large landscape shots.  In the flower border above I couldn't seem to find a focus and this shot seems a bit odd to me.  Something to work on in the coming year.

Another trick I discovered that I like a lot is shooting up and using the sky as my background.

Blue seems to go with everything and you discover some interesting sides of a plant this way.

Every month I put together a bouquet for the Garden Bouquet meme at Ramblings from a Desert Garden.  I love trying to find flowers in my yard and put them together in a pretty way.  Along the way I've also had to figure out how to photograph these bouquets. 

I discovered the worn wood of the picnic table makes a nice backdrop to a freshly picked bouquet.

But I need to pay attention to what's lurking in the background!  Can you see our woodpile below?

I'm also learning to appreciate accidents.  I was trying hard to capture a photo of this ladybug in the dying light of an evening and my flash kept going off.  Frustrated I kept changing the angle and then manually turned off the flash.  I got a surprise though when I downloaded the photos.  The flash image was much more enticing than the ones without.

Fall brought with it many seedheads and spent flowers.  If you look close with your camera there's still plenty to see though.

And even though this is a garden blog, there doesn't always need to be a flower in the photo.  Sometimes I just need to have some fun.