Sunday, July 28, 2013

Canoe Cove Garden Tour

This year, for the first time, (but hopefully not the last), the Canoe Cove Women's Institute is featuring a summer Garden Tour in the Canoe Cove/Bonshaw area.

The Tour Committee has been working hard for the last couple months to pull together a fantastic show of six gardens.

The Date:          Saturday, August 10, 2013
The Time:          1 - 5 pm
The Gardens:    There are 6 gardens to choose from.  It is your choice
                             how many you attend and in what order.  A map of the
                             garden locations is printed on the back of your ticket for easy

I'm especially excited to see Garden #4 which belongs to Bev and Don Ridley.  This garden was featured in Canadian Gardening magazine's Fall/Winter 2012 edition and features a stunning collection of trees and shrubs.

Garden #6 belongs to Women's Institute and Garden Committee member Cindy MacKenzie.  Cindy has graciously agreed to not only open up her garden but will also be hosting an old fashioned English Tea party.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!  In addition, Bev Ridley has donated a beautiful hand made quilt to be raffled off (pictured on the above ticket).

So what are you waiting for?  Raffle tickets are $2 each or 3 for $5.  Garden tour tickets are $10 each.
All tickets can be purchased from myself or Garden Committee Members .  Contact us as follows:

Marguerite at canoecorner AT hotmail DOT com
Kim at 902-675-4040
Gina at 902-675-3322

All proceeds from the tour and the raffle will be donated to Hospice PEI.  This charitable organization provides care and support to those living with or dying from a life-threatening illness, as well as their families, throughout Prince Edward Island.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Note to Self #114

Next year, if I intend to plant peas again, I need to ask myself a question ....

Am I prepared to spend two weeks in July picking, shelling and blanching peas 

p.s.  the peas are doing really well this year

Friday, July 19, 2013

Triumphs and Tragedies

It's been awhile since I went on walkabout on a Friday night and perused the garden.  Tonight was the perfect night for a stroll as the weather has cooled considerably.  Even my little buddy decided it was a good night to tag along.

I collected another bouquet during my travels.  

Peonies have given way to roses and veronica.  The lady's mantle is still blooming strongly and provides plenty of filler.

I had this notion in the spring that if I could just get the vegetable garden underway it would be self regulating until fall when I would gather up all the tasty food.  Good grief I'm more than a little naive some days.

I have been picking peas all week and I noticed tonight I have to get back in there again.  In fact there's probably another week of picking before we're through.  It's a double edged sword.  Fresh peas taste out of this world but it means the rest of the garden gets neglected... again.

Which means I didn't notice this until it was too late.

My new copper beech is in trouble.  The leaves are all dried and shriveled.  I have watered it now but the damage is done.  The real trouble was that this tree didn't have a good root system when I bought it.  I was not impressed when I removed it from the pot.  Far too little roots for such a large specimen.  I won't be visiting that nursery again.

The beech was not the only tragedy this evening.  The odd looking echinacea have morphed into alien species.

I've been wondering for a weeks now what the heck was going on with these plants.  They just look worse and worse.  Yellow coloured skinny leaves, bug holes, dying leaves - they don't look like echinacea any more.  Two plants are affected.  I'm new to echinacea so don't have a clue what's going on.  Any ideas what the cause is?

For those following the sordid tale of my composting mishaps - I finally gathered my courage and visited the compost bin these evening.  Yes, it has been several weeks since I last opened up the bin.  I felt sick every time I thought of digging through that again so I've been avoiding it.  Tonight though I thought - put on your big girl panties, you can do this.

The good news was I did not see a single mouse nor hear any squeaks.  I did however find snakes.  PLURAL.  They reared up at me when I poked them.  I did not get a photograph.  I think the rule from here on in when visiting the compost bins is always bring back up.  One person to hold the camera and one person to carry a shovel to fend off any enraged critters.

This is a much nicer view than snakes
Who knew composting could be so adversarial?  It feels a bit like chasing out unwanted squatters.  Although I should probably thank the snakes for taking care of the voles so efficiently.

One last stop was made at the very front of the property.  I'm starting a new garden bed there.  There's a slight dip that I have noticed gathers water when it rains.  So a couple willows were planted, including this very pretty Hakuro Nishiki dappled willow.

In addition to the willows I had an idea that some butterfly friendly plants would be a good idea.  To that end I brought home some Bee Balm from the plant sale in the spring.  I'm sure I asked about the colour and I could have sworn it was supposed to be pink.  Which would have gone quite nicely with that dappled willow.  This is what I found tonight.

Quite beautiful, but definitely not pink.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Perserverance Wins Out

Some people might say I'm stubborn as a mule.  I might even agree to that.  But there's something to be said for refusing to take no for an answer.

Five years ago we were living in Gibsons, British Columbia.  Renting someone else's home and tending someone else's garden.  During our time there I got hooked on some local salad greens that included a rather unusual looking plant.  I wasn't sure what it was but I remember thinking - one day I'm going to grow that in my own garden.

It wasn't long after when dreams became reality and we moved across the country to Canoe Cove, Prince Edward Island.  I had found my garden at last.  That first summer I decided to put in a vegetable garden and that salad green was on my mind.  It had an unusual leaf, looking something like a fused four leaf clover.  I assumed it wouldn't be hard to figure out what it was and added it to the list of things I wanted to grow.

But when I began seed shopping I ran into a problem.  I looked and looked and nowhere could I find the leaf I so vividly recalled.  I combed through the seed catalogues, searched google and in desperation finally called the produce company long distance in Gibsons.  I felt like a bit of a mad fool asking for the secret ingredient to the Colonel's recipe.  Was it poor etiquette to demand what was in their salad mix?  Perhaps it was but the teenage boy who answered the phone told me the plant I was looking for was Calendula and that was all I cared about.  I had the secret ingredient and no one could stop me now!

Except that wasn't the ingredient.  Not even close.  It didn't look remotely like the plant I was looking for.  What now?  Did I try calling again?  Should I just accept fate and give up?

I procrastinated instead.

Then one day my dear spouse brought me home a book on vegetable gardening.  The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith.  An out of the blue purchase for no reason at all.  Not a book I was thinking of buying, not even one I had heard of before.  The world works in mysterious ways.  As I flipped through the pages of my new book I found it ..... and started yelling.

Needless to say my reaction left Jody somewhat surprised.  There among the vegetable descriptions was one for Claytonia perfoliata, also known as Miner's Lettuce.  It was the plant I had been searching for all this time.  The common name refers to the fact that this west coast native plant was eaten by California gold rush miners for it's Vitamin C content which prevented scurvy.  It has an unusual leaf pattern as the leaves unite together around the stem as the plant grows and appear as one circular leaf.  It was this distinct leaf shape I remembered.

Thrilled I immediately went online to look for seeds.  AND FOUND  NOTHING.  I searched every seed company I could think of and Claytonia wasn't for sale at any of them.  Little wonder I had so much trouble identifying it.  I wasn't going to be dissuaded though.  Someone somewhere had to have those seeds.  Eventually, after a very thorough search, seeds were found and we were in business!

Come spring, seeds went into the ground and I waited patiently for my salad greens to become a reality.  I thought I saw a hint of green at one point, but then it disappeared.  I kept waiting.  I really am stubborn.  But nothing ever happened.

The following spring I wondered what to do.  I still had half the packet of seeds and I wanted to try again but didn't know where I had previously gone wrong.  Lucky for me fellow blogger Niki Jabour had just written her book The Year Round Veggie Gardener and I attended the release party.  Amazingly, Niki also talks about Claytonia in her book so I accosted her on the spot and demanded to know what I was doing wrong.  Niki was a good sport and told me Claytonia prefers cool conditions - her advice was to plant as soon as the snow was gone in April.

Once again I headed back to the garden, determined this was the year I would get my way.  Come April I tucked the seeds into the ground and happy day - we had seedlings!

Smaller than a thumbnail and rather yellow looking
Tiny sickly looking seedlings though.  How could I have gone wrong this time?

A normal person might have thrown in the towel at that point but not me.  Back to the books I went.  Re-reading the plant description I noticed that Claytonia is a spring plant that prefers cool damp conditions.  It is often found in sandy peaty soil in the shade.  Shade, of course.  My veggie garden is in full sun.  Try again.

This spring I had a tiny amount of seed left.  One last chance.  I decided in order to have optimum conditions a container would be the best choice.  A plastic laundry sink that had been basking in the garage was called into duty.  Large, with good drainage it could be filled with loose peaty soil and moved to a shady spot.

My stubbornness perserverance finally paid off.  Little seedlings popped up and grew tall and happy.  Flowers bloomed and we ate as much as we could stand.  Then when we couldn't eat any more the heat struck and the plants faded.

There'll be more next year though.  My seed rack is sitting next to me as I type and I occasionally hear the pop of seed capsules releasing.  Little black seeds dropping onto the newspaper, waiting to be collected and planted next spring so we can do it all over again.

Hundreds of tiny seed pods formed once the heat set in.
If I haven't completely scared you off with this ridiculous tale and you're interested in trying Claytonia for yourself there are a couple places you can find seed.  For those in the US Claytonia is available from Johnny's Seeds in Maine.  Canadian residents will find it at William Dam Seeds.  With the right conditions it grows really easily (I'm laughing as I say this now!) and is a tasty addition to spring salads.

Monday, July 8, 2013

In the good ole summertime

It's that time of year.  When the weather is too hot and humid to move let alone think of gardening.  

We've been dining on salads to beat the heat.

Personally I prefer lettuce to grass but whatever takes your fancy
Even the garden ornaments have crawled into the shade among the ferns and the moss.

There's only one place to go when it gets this hot.

Ironically I have more fun at the beach when the tide is out.  I like dipping my toes in the shallow pools left behind, checking out all the shells trapped in the sand.  I think other people might feel the same way.

Jeffrey must feel pretty special 
Hot humid weather always leads to the same thing though.  Thunder storms.  Perfectly timed to explode out of the sky just after I've put laundry out on the line.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Flowers of Summer

I was at someone's house the other day and they had a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers for the table.  It occurred to me I haven't picked a single bouquet this summer!  Where's my head been at?  I usually start bringing blooms indoors in the spring.  

So I came home and decided to bring some summer colour into the house.

I've become infatuated with Pinterest lately and pinning flower arrangements has got me a bit preoccupied.  Funny how I manage to pin bouquets but not create one of my own!  

What I do like about Pinterest though is the variety of arrangements and colour combinations there to inspire me.  Pink and yellow is something I have seen online and I knew I wanted to use peonies as they are at their peak right now.  I just needed to find some yellow.  Luckily I was able to find just what I was looking for.

Peonies don't get much better than this.
Lady's mantle is a beautiful yellow/chartreuse and makes excellent filler in a bouquet.  Light and airy compared to the peonies.  A few hosta leaves added for some greenery and voila.

Welcome to summer.

Monday, July 1, 2013

GOOPS - Misadventures in Composting

I've spent a lot of time this past week weeding.  On my hands and knees, covered in dirt, face first in the posies.

One of the downsides of digital cameras is how darn quiet they are.  Makes it much easier to sneak up on one's spouse and take a photo.

Caught sitting down on the job.

Weeding is contemplative work.  Time to daydream, consider the great questions that life presents and wonder what the heck is that plant doing there?

Sometimes it's lettuce that grows up through the flowers.  Cilantro is another culprit.  I have weeded out ten times more dill this spring than legitimate weeds.

Dill with its large flower heads produces a lot of seed
My trouble is composting.  I compost just about anything.  Kitchen scraps, weeds, vegetables gone to seed and the dried stalks of last years blooms.  With this mix I add manure, straw and sawdust among other things.  But I'm not terribly careful.  Sometimes there's more weeds than manure, less sawdust than kitchen scraps.  In a carefully controlled bin with equal parts of brown and green matter the compost would get hot and wayward seeds would be killed off.  However, mine rarely does.  Instead it gets nice and warm and provides the perfect germinating conditions!

Then I spread all that compost around my garden and all sort of chaos ensues.  It's not necessarily a bad thing.  I've had some beautiful oops moments.  Like the bleeding heart that decided to make itself at home next to my birdhouse.

Or the pink lupines that showed up this year behind the hosta.

This week particularly has been bountiful in terms of plant finds.  Cilantro next to the hydrangea, lettuce mixed among iris, birch seedlings, dill, and then ... holy hannah WHAT is that?!?

If anyone knows what plant this is can you please let me know.  I'm stumped.  There's a number of them blooming and they're quite pretty.  But I haven't a clue what it is or where it came from.  I know I didn't put this in my compost so where did it come from?

Even stranger, I also found veronica growing.  That wouldn't normally be so weird but I didn't put it there.

All these plants are volunteers!  Veronica on the far left, chamomile in the center
and those funny puffy purple blooms on the right
There is veronica in my garden but they are hybrids and the seed should be sterile.  or not I suppose?  Life's a mystery.

Despite the unexpected treasure there is a downside to all this madness.  I decided to do a little work in my compost bins this week.  I got out my pitchfork intending to turn it over, make sure things were breaking down.  I got a bit of a surprise.  Those nice warm conditions are not only good for germinating seeds, they make a nice nesting spot for voles.

There are no pictures for what occurred next.

Let's just say there may have been some screaming... and squeaking.  I'm not sure how they got in.  I had specifically chosen a very small wire screen for the bin in order to avoid just this scenario.  Somewhere there must be a gap.  I should have dealt with the matter right there and then but instead I closed the lid and walked away.  The image of skewered vole was a bit overpowering.

Now, several days later I'm rather reluctant to visit the bin again.

any suggestions?


For more GOOPS (Gardening OOPS) please visit Joene's Garden where we share the trials of gardening on the first of each month.