Monday, April 30, 2012

Choosing Lighting for a Historic Home

I meant to tell you the details of how we finished renovating the piano room but was distracted by home appraisals and roofs and oh yes, spring!   Now that things have calmed down somewhat let's take a look at how we chose the lighting for our newly renovated room.  Initially when we moved in, the central light fixture in the piano room was this vintage 1950's light.

We actually really liked this light but felt it was too small for the size of the room.  We've since moved it to the entry hall where it better suits the smaller space.

The light that was in the entry was then moved to the piano room as seen below. It didn't last there long.

Neither of us were particularly keen on this light.  It's a newer fixture, likely from a local hardware store, and to our eyes didn't suit the vintage look of the house. We wanted something that would complement the antique crown moldings when your eyes travelled upwards.

These crown moldings are original
We also wanted something that didn't hang so low as we often felt like we were going to bump our heads on that big fixture.

We kept our eyes open for something to show up here on island but nothing was presenting itself.  So last summer during our trip to Toronto, Ontario we started canvassing antique shops looking for the elusive perfect light.  What we discovered is that quality antique lighting is difficult to find.  Many fixtures have suffered damage over the years, glass shades are not original, and electrical wiring can be suspect.  So it was with relief when we walked in the doors of Turn of the Century Lighting.  This store is simply wonderful.  Really.  I'm not getting paid to say this.  I loved this store.  They refurbish antique lights and also sell original unique lights.  We spent hours looking at lights and chatting to staff who were exceptionally helpful and knowledgable.  They talked to us about how low a light should hang, which types are best for dining areas, hallways and living spaces.  We discussed age and authenticity.  By the time we walked out the door I had found the fixture I wanted.  The issue was that it was costly.  There is a high price for quality lighting.

We himmed and hawwed and ultimately decided to purchase it.  I loved it.  It was a lot of money but I had to have it.

I haven't regretted it one second.  This 1870's Neo-Grecian converted gas fixture is in perfect condition. The stencil etched glass shades and finish are original.  Although we looked hard, we had not found anything remotely comparable.  And look how it complements our cabinet.

In addition to its good looks it is the perfect size for the room.  It doesn't hang too low so it isn't in the way but it does draw your eye upward.  I love the fact that it is an authentic antique detail of the same vintage as the house but it fits in with some of our more modern furnishings due to its simplicity.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Triumphs and Tragedies

It's that time of year again.  Time to dust off my walking shoes and take a weekly cruise around the garden to see what is working and what isn't.  The highs and lows of each week.  It's a good time to enjoy the flowers and maybe rethink a few of the steps I've taken along the way.

This gardening season is our third at Canoe Corner.  I can hardly believe it.  Time has really flown and I find myself very surprised at how quickly it has gone.  There's been a lot of positives in the last couple years.  Inside the house we've made numerous changes including a new furnace, renovated bathroom and refinished piano room.  Outside the house we started a veggie garden and large flower bed and planted dozens of new trees.  There's been a few negatives as well.  Discovering our well was contaminated and having to spend a large sum of money on a water filtration system was unpleasant.  A car accident last summer put our truck out of commission and lead to an unexpected car purchase.  Overall we're doing well though and three years in we are still very happy with our choice to move to PEI and purchase this home.

Currently this week hasn't been without some Tragedy as I've been down and out with the flu which isn't conducive to getting my spring gardening done.  Neither has the constant rain pounding down.  But as is almost always the case, bad is balanced out by good, and the rain has made everything instantly green.

Jody however is moaning over the fact that the lawn will need to be mown in the very near future.

One of the benefits of coming into our third year in the garden is that some of the perennial plants are starting to mature.  This is the first year we'll be able to pick our own asparagus and I'm itching for these spears to grow tall.

Rhubarb is also emerging from the soil and will provide plenty of yummy treats.

Strawberries as well are greening up and we'll have fresh fruit this season.  Other areas of the veggie garden aren't doing as well though.  You can see in the photo below the bed on the left is weeded, turned over and dressed with compost.  The one on the right though - well, there's a lot of work to do there.

I'm struggling to keep up with all the spring work that must be done in the next month.  The veggie garden must be completely dug over and amendments added so all my seedlings have a new home.  In the entrance flower bed there are weeds to be removed and plants to be moved.  Not to mention edging.  The hardest part is getting all this work done when we have this new addition inside the house.

She's just so darn cute it's terribly distracting.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Seedlings are Starting to Take Over

I did it again.  Planted too many seeds.

The plastic containers cherry tomatoes come in are a good place to start seeds
They're so small when they start out, like the basil seedlings above.  They take up just a tiny amount of space initially.  So why not plant a few extra, just in case?

But then those little seedlings start to get a bit bigger and start crowding each other and then they need larger pots.  So you space the Gaillardia seedlings pictured above out 3 or 4 to a pot and realize, you've got 20 plants here!!

And what about all those tomatoes you just couldn't resist planting?  I was gifted with a number of new varieties this year and couldn't resist trying out almost a dozen different types.

Initially the plastic cookie container held them quite well.  But now they're climbing out the sides.  I've already planted out 22 tomato plants into separate pots and I've just about run out of pots.  Never mind space.  And they're going to keep growing.  Looks like the piano room is going to look like a jungle again this year despite my best intentions.

If you're wondering what the heck I'm going to do with all these plants don't worry.  I'm not that crazy that I would try planting these all out in my own garden.  The Canoe Cove Plant Sale is coming up on May 19 and what I don't use will be donated to the sale.  Hope everyone likes tomatoes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Let the Gardening Begin!

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed this week, but in a nice way.  The temperatures have risen, the lawn is starting to colour and I have a list of garden chores as long as my arm.  I started out in the veggie garden turning over beds and removing weeds.  I also added lime and bone meal as I've had some issues with the soil in that area.  Then I tried something new.  I planted some seeds.  After reading Niki Jabour's blog - The Year Round Veggie Gardener - and buying her book I was convinced I could get a little earlier harvest this year.  So claytonia, arugula, corn salad, peas and a couple lettuces were put in the ground as a trial.  Thus far the arugula, claytonia and one lettuce have germinated.  I'm watching overnight temperatures each day and covering up the seedlings with a tarp when the temperatures dip and thus far things are going well.

Walking around other parts of the yard I'm seeing all sorts of signs of spring.  The squill are now in full bloom.

Various plants in the entrance bed are starting to push out new growth like these lamb's ears.

and the lady's mantle

Which means I needed to get my behind out there and start weeding the entrance bed.  Last year we removed the sod and put in a large bed at the front of the house.  See Here.  We added compost and some plants in spring but things got behind schedule and I found myself stuffing plants into the bed in no particular order late in the summer.  That has to be corrected this year.  Sections that became over grown with weeds need to fixed up and plants put back in a more aesthetically pleasing way.

Saturday morning the bed looked like this

The weeds had taken over in this section.  And to add insult to injury I found more glass.

No matter how much I dig in this bed, just when I think I've removed every piece of garbage possible the ground seems to heave up yet another chunk of glass.  In another 20 years I'll bet I'm still digging glass out of this bed.  

After four hours of digging the bed looked much better.

I've still got a ways to go but I was able to move several columbine right away into this space.  Eventually hostas will fill this section in.  It's so nice to dig right now when the weeds are still small and ground is soft.  The job went quite easily aside from constantly picking glass out of the dirt.

I was distracted from my task though when this fella showed up.

That is a tractor hauling a manure spreader.  And I was so giddy I ran outside with a camera.

The tines in the spreader chop up all the manure and normally it would be spread out over farm fields.  In this case though our neighbour sat the spreader in one spot and let it pile up on the ground underneath.  

Placed close to the veggie garden for easy access
What a huge pile, and it cost me nothing!  Can you believe that?  I'm tickled.  I'll be adding this to my compost bins to speed up the process which in turn will be used on beds and trees.  Spring is off to a very good start this year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Flowers of Spring

Well I finally found the first bloom of the season.

The tiny violets in the lawn win the contest for first flower.  As the weather starts to warm here the grass is showing signs of green starting to push through.  We're still having major fluctuations in temperature, 20 degrees yesterday and 5 degrees today but spring is here and the plants are firmly on their way.  Also found today were the Siberian Squill.

I've planted approximately 140 bulbs in the lawn so far and it's still but a drop in the ocean.

Can you spot the blue blooms in all that brown?  I think I need about a thousand more bulbs to really notice the difference.  Sadly that's not even an exaggeration.

Some other sightings on my walk today were these sedum pushing through.

and tulips working their way up.

We all agree it's so nice to be outdoors again

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Migration

Every year it happens.  We pick up our shovels when the ground finally softens and start to dig.

It's tree planting time again.  Before the buds burst, while the trees are still sleeping, we dig them up and move them.    New additions have made their way into the hedgerow and meadow.  Tiny, slightly misshapen spruces, from the field next to us that kept getting mowed down by the tractor, were dug and moved to where they can spread their branches and grow.

As was this petite red osier dogwood.  Now a perfect addition to the wet spot in the entrance bed.  

Moved out of the entrance bed were the lilacs and red elderberry.  I felt like this area was getting somewhat crowded and the lilacs could use a sunnier aspect.  So off they went to a new area.  I know I said I wouldn't start any new projects this year but I had no choice really.

The lilacs and elderberry needed a new place to live and why not start a new hedge/mixed bed with them?  As you can see above, the shrubs (no leaves yet so look for the mounds of dirt!) were planted alongside the driveway.  I hope to create a screen between the driveway and the field beyond.  So far two lilacs, one red elderberry, one highbush cranberry and one mockorange have been relocated to this area.  This area will likely be left as it is until next year as I have other projects on the go but I've got a number of ideas percolating that have me rather excited.  I'm so tickled that spring is finally here!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Seeds and Sunshine

I think I can safely say spring has started for real now.  Despite a few recent snowfalls the temperatures are starting to stay consistently above freezing during the days and that means it's time to start seeds!  I actually started at the beginning of March with onion seeds as they require lots of growing time before the solstice in June.

The plants need to be well established before then because once the days turn around and start growing shorter then it's time for the bulbs to form.

Onions have been the only thing growing though for the last month.  The real bonanza of spring planting began last week.  Tomatoes, gaillardia, and rudbeckia hirta have all germinated.  Basil, sea holly, catalpa, and clethra have been started but have yet to show signs of growth.  I also tried magnolia seeds but am not having any luck.  Any tips for a magnolia novice?  The seeds have a very hard coat that hasn't seemed to soften with water so I nicked a few of them and will see if that does anything.

I'm a bit late getting to this but many thanks to Kevin at The Nitty Gritty Dirt Man for honoring me with the Sunshine Award.

Kevin started his seeds long before I did and is already transplanting them out to larger pots!  Lucky man.  Thanks to him sharing his gardening experience I now know that geraniums are easy to start from seed.  I think I know something I'll be trying next year!

The Sunshine Award asks me to answer a few questions for you readers so here goes:

1.  What is your favourite colour?  Yellow.  or maybe red?  but then I'm quite partial to blue.  Obviously I'm a bit indecisive on this front.  I think rather than name one colour I would say I prefer strong shades of colours.  No pastels for me, I like jewel tones.

2.  What is your favourite animal?  Despite the strong possibility that I may offend the cats I'm going to say horses.  Cats can't read can they?

3.  What is your favourite number?  Definitely four.  Best year of my life hands down.

4.  What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink?  Why the bias against alcohol?  Tequila has feelings too you know.

5.  Which do you prefer:  Facebook or Twitter?  I actually have a Facebook account so I guess I'll have to answer facebook although frankly I don't use it and find it incredibly pointless.  But then I can't understand why in the world people text either so I guess you could just label me a dinosaur and be done with it.

6.  What is your passion?  The garden, always the garden.  It's more like obsession.

7.  Do you prefer giving or receiving presents?  I like giving but it depends on if I think I have a good gift to give.  When you find that perfect gift and can't wait to give it to the person and see their reaction that's a great feeling.

8.  What is your favourite pattern?  That would insinuate I know something about fashion which apparently I don't because plaid seems to be the only pattern I can think of and I definitely don't like it.

9.  What is your favourite day of the week?  A weekday that I don't have to work.  It rarely occurs but when it does it's a major treat.

10.  What is your favourite flower?  Favourite flowers are always the newest ones, something I haven't tried yet.  Watching a new to me plant grow and monitoring its progress is my favourite thing to do.  Once I've watched it grow awhile then I get excited about the next new flower.

Part of receiving the award is passing it on and so I picked ten of my must read blogs.  I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do.
  1. Top of the Meadow  A city couple gone country.  They have baby sheep!!
  2. For the Love of the Soil  A local certified organic farmer tells it like it is.
  3. The Wind and the Wellies  Rampaging chooks and peedie dogs.
  4. Northern Gardeners Almanac  Melanie proves just how much can be grown in a cold climate.
  5. My Weeds are Very Sorry  The weeds might be sorry but I'm never sorry to visit Laurrie's gorgeous garden.
  6. Life DOESN'T begin at Retirement  Jane has a plan and she's making it happen.
  7. Casa Mariposa  It's like visiting a welcoming friend and being allowed to hang out in her house and garden whenever you feel like it.  Plus she's got a great sense of humour.
  8. Gardeningbren in Nova Scotia  I aspire to Brenda's garden.  It's beautiful, welcoming, provides food almost year round and she makes it look so darn easy. 
  9. High Altitude Gardening  Taking tough garden conditions and making it work.  and she takes the most amazing horse rides.
  10. Canadian Garden Joy  With a name like Joy it makes sense she's one of the most cheerful and happy bloggers out there.   and she takes a mean sky shot as well.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring Fever

I must apologize for my absence.  We've been awful busy around here lately and the blog seems to keep getting pushed to the bottom of my list of things to do.  Why is it that the amount of work on my desk increases threefold in direct proportion to my lack of time to complete it in?  Last week we had a sudden snowstorm (ironically following a record 23 degree hot day!) that lost me a day at the office, followed by a short week before and following Easter.  Holidays be damned, that work has to be finished one way or another so extra hours have been put in on other days.  In addition we've had meetings.  One after another we have met with various banks in the last weeks to discuss financing the new roof.  Which lead to the great spring clean.  For the last week we have been scrubbing, trimming, and washing all manner of things inside and outside the house in preparation for an appraisal.

Dead foliage was cut back to allow the new growth to push up.
Flower beds around the house were trimmed and raked of dead branches and fallen leaves.  Those pesky yews at the front door that I've been meaning to prune for the last two years finally got the royal treatment.

Three wheelbarrows full of branches were carted away.
They were almost completely blocking the front entrance when I started.

And afterward - still large and rambly looking which I like, but at least you can walk up to the door now.

As you can see, despite the snow storm, the temperatures returned to more spring like conditions which allowed for a bit of gardening.  Including our favourite yearly spring activity of planting trees.

A few spruce babies were dug up from around the big trees and transplanted to the hedgerow where we are attempting to reestablish a tree line.  Unfortunately my outside time was cut severely short as we had yet another SNOW STORM.  15 cm ( or 6 inches) of the white stuff came down with blowing wind.  What a tease.  Luckily my sweet husband brought me an Easter treat so I have at least one bloom to share.

Let's not mention to him that lilies aren't my most favourite flower shall we?  He saw a clip on the news recently saying how lilies were the perfect Easter gift because they can be replanted into the garden and he was so proud when he gave me this and told me that tidbit.  I can put up with the smell because he's such a darling.  And they certainly spruce up the inside of the house which will be nice for Mr. Inspector when he shows up.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Happy Blogday!

Canoe Corner is 2 years old today!

Hard to believe I'm coming upon my third season in the garden this spring.  In some ways I'm surprised at how little we've accomplished.  I had expected more renovations completed in the house after all this time and the gardens a bit further along.  However, in other ways I'm thrilled with where we are.  We've got a lot to be grateful for.  There will be strawberries and asparagus in the vegetable garden this spring and plenty of room for a wide assortment of other vegetables.  I have an extra large flower bed that is stuffed full of perennials that will start to put on a show this year.  We've planted trees and shrubs that are established and beginning to show some growth.

Perennials are already starting to push through the soil
Inside the house we have proper heating, a new bathroom, and as my latest posts have shown the piano room is near complete.  Coming up this season we'll put a new roof on this old girl.

Tree buds are starting to swell in our recent warm weather
Overall it's been a wonderful couple of years and I'm looking forward to many more.