Columbines

Oh the joy of watching the garden bloom! I particularly love seeing some

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of these heritage plants thrive….I admittedly have had some issues related to bugs and, like many of you, am leery of using pesticides. The better choice is to take the time and focus on soil health. While we know that we cannot keep pests out of the garden, using proper plant management will go

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a long way in ensuring plant health and thus, resistance to bugs.

I have worked to build compost and add amendments to the soil for tilth and nutrition. I have also tried to ensure air movement around my perennials and not crop things too tightly. In years past, my columbines have grown in spring,  only to be de-foliated by little chompers.  This year, we are enjoying

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the good health and consequently, good blooms. I love these ‘old-fashioned ‘ ladies….hope you enjoy them too.

One of the joys of spring…….

IMG_2903I am not sure if there is a favorite spring activity…..I really love spring…not so much the accompanying wind, but we take the good with the bad! Today is Saturday, and we are determined to get out there and clean up some of the winter leftovers…and fall left overs….and summer leftovers…..and veggie scraps….

It has been a busy week in this house…..Hubby and I are both part of several Volunteer Boards, and one of them hosts the yearly Volunteer Appreciation event…see earlier post on that…my role is the organizing, poster making, etc, and hubby’s role is going to the local business community to solicit donations for our silent auction. He never fails to impress me with the amount and array of goodies that come our way!

IMG_2897We discovered a ‘find’ earlier this spring, as we were en-route to the grocery market. When I say en-route, it is simply because our little hamlet has a very limited supply of grocery items, therefore, we travel 45 kms to a larger center for most of our shopping needs….but I must set the stage a little for those not familiar with the central Alberta landscape….we chose to make this our home because of the amazing beauty of the area. Rolling hills, farmland, forested areas, small lakes, and vastIMG_2892 blue skies are all a part of our daily lives. I love it. In the 5 years we have been here, I have yet to take the drive from home to any neighboring town, and not be awed by the glorious beauty of nature and this landscape! We have deer aplenty, (not always great for the garden, but that is another post to come!), and enjoy the horses, cattle, bison, and other assorted farm animals we see as we IMG_2890travel…so on this fine shopping day, we topped a hill, and over the edge, noticed a blue sign (part of travel Alberta) for Tranquility Greenhouse. Having never seen the sign, nor visited this greenhouse, we decided to take a tour. As it happens, the Greenhouse has only been in this location for one year, opening last season. Because of the rural setting (and I do mean rural….off the main highway, on gravel by about 5 kms) it is unknown, thus prompting the addition of the blue sign!

It is quaint and beautiful all at once. We were early, so the outdoor products were not yet set up, but as you enter, you are greeted by an amazing little gift shop, full IMG_2906of country chic items. The owner sells milk paint, which I love, and has not a large store, but a worthwhile addition to her Greenhouse. I browsed through, and purchased a few items, including these glass door knobs that I re-purposed for a jewellery rack…..and painted with Milk Paint!

Hubby chatted with the owner, as hubby does, and gathered all kinds of info! Where they are from, how long they lived IMG_2899here, how many kids they have, what animals are on the farm, if they would like to donate to our Volunteer Event….you see where this is going….he is amazing in his ability to do this!! Armed with a new local business to visit and the promise of a donation, we carried on our way.

2 weeks later, hubby returned to Tranquility Greenhouse, with my camera, and IMG_2893snapped some pics of their establishment. I love the use of re-purposing old furniture and wash tubs for planters! Her gift is her uniqueness of planters, and arrangements, and it is worth a visit. She is not a seed starting Greenhouse, as some others, although she does start some of her own product. Having worked for another greenhouse,  I IMG_2896see the differences, and it is the differences that I love. Each greenhouse offers something unique to the whole.

On that note, I am not ‘advertising’ for these places, but recommending them if you are nearby. I plan to post later about 2 other local greenhouses I love as well…..these places are therapeutic to the soul, even if one does not plan to purchase….just find your local greenhouse or flower market and hang out for an hour or 2. I guarantee you will feel refreshed and revived!!IMG_2900IMG_2895

Patience, or impatience?

‘Patience is a virtue’……usually. Sometimes, impatience gets your creative juices flowing, and new, fascinating, wonderful garden ideas cascade upon you! That’s what I’m telling my husband, as I show him yet another picture of a great idea I have…..he is not so keen. We work together in the garden, and work very well together, too. I know this surprises many who have told me that they NEVER get any help in the garden and have to do all the design, planting, digging, moving, building themselves. I’m sorry about that. I know I am very privileged to have my guy by my side, and, I gotta say, patience is his virtue!! I constantly think up ideas for the garden, sharing these with him, while he questions my sanity, and tries to figure out how in the world he will have time to build……whatever it is I have dreampt up! But he’s game, and good spirited, and although he mutters some times, he takes on most of my seemingly crazy ideas. He has admitted  that some of the things he thought were crazy are actually really good ideas. (Imagine!!!!)

While we operated a landscape design and renovation company, I was able to create cool and unusual spaces for many clients, happily using my design training to whet the appetite of not-so-enthusiastic gardeners, who wanted ‘something nice’. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the phrase “I want something with no maintenance, but nice”. Ummmmmmmm……..and now I am stuck explaining to them that there is no such thing as ‘no maintenance’ in gardening! Never. Ever. But, you learn to read between the lines, gently explaining things, and learn that what they actually mean is that they don’t want to be tied to the garden every moment of every day. Okay. No problem. I can do that. After all, I maintain a very, very large area, and it is what I call low maintenance. I employ good horticulture practices, thinking always of the impact on our carbon footprint, and the benefits that are not just for me but for any other beneficial (and sometimes not so beneficial, but cute) creature who loves my garden. But, while I am busily planning someone else’s garden with new perennial beds, water features, great design elements, my husband is looking over my shoulder, saying ‘how do you expect me to build that?’  and then we would have a conversation about the building and installation process, going over details of what each step entailed. When we both were happy, the plan would go back to the client for input. Good team work.

Don’t get me wrong here: building and installation is not something that only my husband did or does. We work side by side, carting about with blocks for retaining walls, pavers for patios, shovels, buckets…..and we both operate our little Bob Cat, which is a mini loader walk behind version. We have worked together on many other projects besides gardens, but, truly, this is the place that we work together the best. We both love it, and although it is not always fun or easy, have a vision of the end result, knowing it will bring someone great joy, and a connection to the earth on which we reside. Plus, I am happiest in the garden, so that may have a little something to do with it……just saying.

And yes, I am lucky. On many levels. As an avid gardener, I am fortunate to have someone who shares my dream. As a wife, I am fortunate to have someone who is a patient as he is! As a worker, I am fortunate to have someone bigger and stronger than me, because those stones can get mighty heavy!!

But, today I am creatively thinking about the containers…..and the seeds that need to hit the ground soon: sweet peas can go in any time now! Easter is usually my target……and I am perusing some other garden blogs, flipboard and magazines to take the edge off of my impatience to be outdoors in the dirt….soon. IMG_2806[1]