Sunday, March 23, 2014

Primula and hyacinths

Did I tell you I also went shopping?

They are so tiny but they give me such enormous joy! I can sit in my favorite chair with my knitting and I have only to glance up and I can see -- colour!

I bought  some Hyacinthus orientalis in a blue, and Primulas in pink and yellow. I'll have to dig again for the actual varieties as they came from the garden centre with only generic labels. The ivy is a variegated one I found in the woods and dug up. Engish ivy is a garden escapee here on the Sunshine Coast as it is in much of the Lower Mainland of BC and is very invasive, so I feel not a twinge of guilt in digging it up. I will not allow it to get full grown and set seed.

There are many ways of looking at the problem. The purists would have you stick to only native plants. Others will leave a bit of room for horticultural varieties that aren't considered thugs and unlikely to survive without a gardener coddling them along. And then at the other extreme are those who say Mother Nature mixes it up all the time and we might as well let them duke it out.

English ivy does only seem to be found especially in partial shade in second growth forests and disturbed soils. I have yet to see it in the middle of the deep shade of the coastal forests, but I wonder. Because it is so prevalent the Vancouver area, especially on parts of the North Shore, I have participated in restoration meet-ups to try to get rid of it.

Narcissi and violas

Well, this is what it is now. The planter I did up last fall is coming along nicely and is about the only colour in my garden so far. It won't be this dreary for long!

In my enclosed patio area:

Narcissus 'Tête à Tête', Carex oshimensis 'Evergold', Gaultheria mucronata 'Variegata', Viola cornuta 'Black' and mystery heuchera.

The blueberries have come through the winter with the strawberries and the wintergreen at their feet. In the blue ceramic pot, Vaccinium caryumbosum 'Patriot', and an ever-bearing strawberry ?. In the white planter, Vaccinium x 'Chippewa' and Gaultheria procumbens, also with the ever-bearing strawberry ?.

Under the spruce in the north-west corner of the yard by the walkway: my own Lavandula stoechas 'Silver Anouk' and L. angustifolia 'Hidcote', plus the assorted sedums and ?red campion from the wooden planters left behind by the previous tenant.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Donkey work

Spring is starting to show what has survived.  Here, the planter that I did up last fall is finally giving me a little cheery colour, narcissi and a dark viola with the gold sedge, some heuchera and a variegated lingonberry. Of course, with the move and stuff still in boxes, I have no idea what I did with the labels. Maybe eventually, I will be organized and will be able to rescue the correct names from somewhere.

(update August 19, 2014: found labels. Narcissus "Tête à Tête" -- planted by my former housemate and her mom; then, Viola cornuta 'Black', Carex oshimensis 'Evergold', Gaultheria mucronata "Variegata', and the Heucheras are still a mystery.)

The planter was one that was here when I arrived last fall. My housemate and her mom had planted it up with a few things, the only surviving things being the narcissi. They are lovely. I moved them around a bit to accommodate the things I added last fall.

Can you see the pea shoots going crazy?

So, an afternoon's work and between my upstairs neighbors and I, we got the soil shifted.

The Plan is that Marla and Steve will put their veg into the first bed, and I've been allocated the bed towards the back.  Both get a fair bit of sun, Marla and Steve's in the morning through until the late afternoon, mine being completely in the sun from just before mid-day to early evening.

Marla is a beginner and quite nervous, despite my assuring her that I've killed a lot of plants along the way...Maybe that's not reassuring!

Under the spruce, there's a dead spot that I layered with compost, cardboard, soil and bark mulch. Into it, I moved the bits of sedum and stuff that the previous tenant had left behind in the planting boxes, and also my own lavender from my pots. The front of this bed gets lots of sun for most of the day and is very dry in the rain-shadow of the spruce.

To border the bed, I repurposed the driftwood that had been stacked up in one of the veg beds for some reason or other.

Now, to recover! Shifting that heavy wet soil has been back-breaking! I'm pretty sure I am going to be sore for the next couple of days at least!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

This is what joy looks like

Continuing on that lace theme, I found some delicious yarn and am starting a scarf for my other Favorite Daughter. Isn't it gorgeous?

Soggy Mess

Voilà! I had a scary load -- several cubic yards of top soil mix and bark mulch -- delivered and there it sits in the driveway and I have to shift it into the garden!

It is a soggy mess because it is raining nearly every day for hours and hours. It is still our rainy season here on the coast. We often do get a bit of clearing in the late afternoon, just as the sun is going down, but not enough for this lot to dry out.

I did wish the truck driver could have dumped it directly into the yard, but that was impossible. Handling that soil will probably cause any clay in it to bind the soil into nasty lumps of concrete. Well, it can't be helped; it has got to go in the garden. I just hope I can minimize the handling and mitigate the damage somehow later on.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I have had some adventures exploring what is on offer at the local nurseries. I am noticing that after a few years without a garden besides what was on the balcony, I am unsure of the rhythm of the season and what to expect to find in the nurseries and when. It seems like the nurseries are awfully bare right now.

Still, I found some supplies for starting my seeds. I have lots of pots I have saved which I will scrub thoroughly before using. But I thought I'd show that it's also possible to reuse and recycle containers for seed-starting.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Taking stock

Yeah, so, it doesn't look like much does it. I see possibilities but there's a lot of work to do, a lot of cleaning up to do and a lot of plants to acquire from somewhere.