Pansies

When you need the garden fix but know that snow could still be in the forecast, get some hardy pansies and plant up a basket or two! Today Hubby and I decided to stop in at a local greenhouse, and the traffic there was amazing! first warm days and everyone is out in droves….but, don’t get too anxious. These Alberta springs are unpredictable at best. Although the temp soared into the 20’s, it is a fickle season.

Pansies are a favorite: not because they are astonishingly gorgeous, or present the most amazing colors (and they do) but because they are reliable, and hardy. One of the first to show their little faces in the spring, pansies can take a lot of cold, and withstand frost to a certain point. I have always set out a pot of pansies to welcome guests to my front door. Today, with two little ones in tow, we purchased our garden seeds, and pansies. I planted 2 baskets for my daughter who is away, and also purchased several more to plant in our little village next week, to brighten things up. I love this bit of early color….before the other annuals that are less hardy can meet the great outdoors.

Enjoy the old fashioned, reliable, timid and yet wonderfully amazing little pansy…

When you try and try again!

20180422_154030I have this lovely new Chromebook, and it doesn’t work quite the same as my old computer….It has taken me a couple of days to figure out how to move the photos around, I’m still not quite there, but I did manage to get this picture to upload, after a few frustrating attempts, and, naturally, once I figured it out, it wasn’t all that difficult. Just a new thing and it takes time to sort it out. That is really about life, isn’t it? We try and get frustrated and then often go back to the easy way of doing things. I do. When we perservere, even in the small things, it can be a great accomplishment. If it is gardening, just keep plugging away. Learning is half the fun of gardening! Sure there are lots of ‘mistakes’ we all make, but they are not really mistakes, they are steps toward the final goal. What would life be if we never had to struggle a bit and everything made sense the first time? Boring….and we would be a mighty spoiled people! No one really has the silver spoon with everything sorted….everyone has their own learning curve. We just never know who is going through that place at any given time. Patience…with ourselves, and with others.

Back and Forth

Here’s the deal. Life gets busy. Priorities change. Some of the things that bring us joy can also frustrate us. That’s my story. I love to write. Love it. And yet, it seems that my follow through can get wonky. In the past 2 years, life has thrown a couple of curve balls…the biggest one was an accident that left me with a broken collar bone and severe concussion, causing post concussion syndrome. It took over a year for me to feel like me again, and with that, I had to learn a new way of living…slower, less driving, less stress.. as if that happened!

So once again I pick up my pen to write, and go forward on this journey. The blog will present the garden, some gardening facts, but also my perspective on how gardening gives me the therapy I need, both physically and mentally. I love to garden, that is no surprise, and for me, it is a connection with my past as well as a time to live in the moment. As a farm girl, with a ton of siblings and a mom who was passionate about everything outdoors, the gardens we had provided food, beauty, experimentation and lots of work/pleasure mixed together. We all gardened then and we all garden now, trying odd plants, various growing methods, and sharing our love with whoever will listen!

At this moment, I am waiting for the snow to all melt…long, long winter…so that I can walk through the garden and just be present with it. I love spring smells, old leaves decomposing, dirt thawing in the sun, wood coming back to life….I will enjoy it, and know that this year, our spring will be very short…soon the days will warm up to 20 degrees and higher, and the garden will take a different look. For now, I will enjoy the emergence of spring…just to be. I need that.

Bugs!

It’s awfully hard to ‘spring into action’ when the flu bug smacks you down!….and there is no ‘good’ time to be sick but, come on, just when it is nice enough to not need mittens….oh well…today I felt up to a walk about. Spring is my favorite time for walk abouts in the yard….I always discover something new and wonderful. Hubby is putting his man skills to work and finishing the lower level siding, right by the raised garden beds. I went to see how he was doing and what did I discover?

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Bugs!!!!! Lovely little lady bugs…just coming out for a sunning session. I LOVE lady bugs….do you no how many aphids these natural ‘insecticides’ can eat???

Last fall I planted garlic, first attempt at fall planting…I was a bit concerned because the majority of my gardens are raised and naturally get a bit colder then ground soil in our harsh winters. I added leaf mulch to the beds and was pleasantly surprised to see…

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Little greens poking out! Yay! Of course, following up with some snooping to find…

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Rhubarb and, of course,

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Strawberries. This is the sunny south side of our yard and a heat trap but still early and makes me happy!

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Spring into action….

Time to get outside! Amazingly, it is not even April yet but the temperature is warming up….I must remember not to get too hasty though. An icy blast can still hit any time. This year has been remarkably warm though so I will chance setting up the mini greenhouse and get lettuce bowls started today…..

Bleeding Hearts

Perennials…..my favorites in the garden by far…..but, I always say that each plant, regardless of size or color or re-bloom, or re-plant…..all have a place in this little space.

Kind of a metaphor for life, isn’t it. No matter who we are or where we come from, how long we have been here, or any other factor, we all have a place….some don’t necessarily fit so well together, but then, a little nudge to the left or right and voila! Beauty!

Okay, I admit I am a little weird at times, but I am also a bit melancholy. We have had a few hiccups in our world, nothing major, but ‘life happens’, and we need to adjust from time to time. This is why I have been missing in action a bit of late. Just taking care of business….and that is how it should be.

We have made our way back to the garden though, and with it, substantial changes. I am especially enjoying the daily change of the colors and foliage and blossoms! I swear my ferns grew 2 feet in 3 days, and what is up with the irises? They are happy happy happy. The rock phlox is nearing it’s finale, with blossoms, and considering the winter kill back, I am amazed that they flower at all!

IMG_3012But today we are looking at the bleeding hearts. I love them. Old fashioned though they may be, they are troupers through and through. The graceful foliage, delicate flowers, and early consistent blooming makes me appreciate them all over again each year.

As a child I remember the one and only bleeding heart Mom had on the east side of the house. As all children, we were fascinated by the weird blossoms. “They really look like a heart” we would tell one another each year. Now that seems like a silly statement, but to a 5 year old, a heart shaped flower is AMAZING!!!! As are so many things in the garden.

Our mother would not allow us to pick flowers without her permission. And even then, we were very limited in what we could pick. She was a practical farm woman, who didn’t want to waste anything, so why would you pick and kill a blossom that could potentially live on in the garden another week or more? Makes sense…when you are an adult…not a child. I have a much more relaxed thinking…..if you like it, and it won’t harm anything….please enjoy!!!

I have only 3 variety of bleeding heart: Dicentra spectabilis, D. spectabilis ‘Alba’, IMG_3013and D. formosa. The first 2 represent the common type, that is easily shared….although the Alba is a white flowering bleeding heart, which is not really all that common. I have the pink ones on the north side of the house, but not up to it, so they receive morning and evening sun. The Alba is on the west, but also is shaded to the south by the garage so it only gets late afternoon and evening sun. I love it. It gets about 2 feet tall and is a beauty.

IMG_3011The fern leaf, or fringed….Dicentra formosa…..I have on the north side and also in an eastern exposure bed…..it is amazing and low growing, and, honestly, I love the foliage more than the flower!!!

Give them a good drink throughout flowering season. They can take sun or shade, but prefer a mix. And, if your climate is quite hot in the summer, the plant will turn brown and disappear, but will show some growth as it cools and it will treat you to it’s regalia in the spring once again!!

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

What’s new in the garden?

Yesterday was warm and full of promise, today is chilly and leaving us doubtful. Every spring it’s the same: get all fired up to do some outdoor ‘something’, and then head back indoors to wait for a warmer day. Ah well……we still enjoy the opportunities when it is warm enough to do something out there! Yesterday saw us (finally) putting our Christmas decorations to bed…..yes, you heard right. We have a supply of outdoor lighting, decor, etc that is stored in a neat little shed throughout the year, and not used for anything else. Of course, when we are unbundling the decorations in late fall, the pathway to the shed is clear, or at least has only a small amount of snow. By the time we get around to taking down all the decor, some of which have been frozen into the ground, the path to the shed is no longer clear. It is, in fact, a skating rink covered in snow! Last year I attempted maneuvering the ice belt too soon, and paid a painful price, so, we wait, decorations all stacked neatly by the back of the house, until we can safely make our way to the shed. Waiting sometimes involves hubby grabbing a sledge hammer and taking a few whacks at the ice to break it up, but still…..

Now that that little job is complete, we can move along…..and there will be a lot of other little jobs very, very soon. While we were outside, I scraped away at a bed, and pulled out some grass that has strayed off course. The soil is nice and moist, and the grass pulled out easily. And, we had to toss back some gravel that had been shoveled with the snow, onto the beds…..and hubby did an overhaul of the wood chopping area, picking up small pieces of bark and wood, filling the indoor wood box, and moving some wood into the wood shed….all little jobs, but all waiting for us. It’s still too early to do much on the lawns, and we have time. It is just nice to be outside, puttering. And planning. Always planning…..

Just being outdoors makes me feel refreshed somehow, and I know I am not alone. Winter keeps us indoors so much! I wrote a college paper once on Seasonal Affective Disorder……it is an interesting and very real challenge for many people. I am not sure if I have it or not, but I do know that my mood dips at the end of winter, and I am often quite cranky….verification of this is quite simple….ask Hubby!!

IMG_2887I take time to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible now, and as the weather warms, it is hard to get me indoors! Of course the walk about, to see what is growing…..I’m never disappointed….seeing buds swell on the shrubs and trees, and little shoots starting….such an amazing time! I found a little viola blooming alone, away from any beds, but obviously in a good spot for it!

And, one of my delphiniums has decided to make an entrance….making me a little IMG_2885nervous as it is early! It sits in an eastern exposure bed, tucked into a protected spot by the house, and enjoys lots of warmth, so not surprised. Delphiniums are hardy, and if it suffers a frosty set back, it will grow again.

Of course, no surprise to see the daffodils emerging! I used to grow tulips…..they IMG_2888are like candy to deer!! Even with some deer fencing, I am not chancing it any longer….I love tulips, and grew them prior to living here, but I will enjoy other spring bloomers that are not so enticing! Daffodils, alliums, little prairie crocuses….lots of beauty elsewhere.

Finally, I had to check the raised beds, now covered in black plastic to kill back some weeds…..the strawberry patch is growing, along with the rhubarb….again in IMG_2886a warm, warm location that catches a lot of sun most of the day. Soon I will cover the strawberry’s with a light mesh to keep the birds away….They love to zip in before me to get their share of delicious fruit!

I wonder what else I can find out there………