Sunday, July 18, 2021

Can you believe it, I bought a house!!!

I am lucky enough to live on one of the Gulf Islands off the West Coast of Canada. Quiet, rural, small… And I’m also lucky enough to have had my offer on this ‘full of potential’ house accepted. 

As you can see the .37 acre yard is pretty much virgin and that is exciting. The soil in this area is not good so there will be much amending to do. (You will notice the two very stunted lilac trees in the lawn) But that is a project I am excited to start. What it does have here, is water. Which is quite rare on the island. 

I am anxious to share this journey with you. I take possession in about a month, so we will continue this part of my story then…

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Last of my plants from my old garden are planted

It has been quite an experience bringing my favorite plants, many grown close to or over forty years, from my old house in Sidney to Gabriola Island. Some were dug out and moved, some I took cuttings. Some bulbs moved too. Today I got the last of them in the gardens. I particularly enjoyed planting my Bleeding Heart. It had always been in a pot, because they never did well in Sidney's clay. I found a shady but bright spot for it in lovely soil. I have such high hopes for it. They have been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. I had hydrangeas from cuttings. Fuchsias grown from cuttings. I brought one rose bush, a David Austen ‘Graham Thomas’. The other large rose bush I left, but took cuttings. Two of the three took and are now both in the gardens. 

This is an old primrose that was given to me by a friend and co-worker when I 
worked at the Post Office in about 1981. He lived in Sooke and was a lovely human.... thank you Alan. 

My forty year old Ogilvie Peony thriving here

I brought several of my hydrangeas with me. Flower buds!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Gardening is a great stress reliever in this unusual year

I feel very lucky. Now that it is spring, there is so much to do in this huge yard, that I forget there is a pandemic. I forget the stress. I forget for a while, that I can’t see or hug my friends and family. I just dig. And weed. And go to my garden calendar to see what needs to be planted in the next few days. I can focus on my tomato seedlings. I can prepare a hoop house for the onions and leeks that need to be planted now. I also have someone to hug and love here. I am blessed. 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Mulching the flower gardens

Doing a second very thorough weeding before putting mulch down. There are acres of meadows full of weeds that scatter seeds everywhere and it is virtually impossible to keep ahead of them.

I am using animal bedding wood shavings. Laying it several inches thick.

This bed was done in the fall and you can see that the bedding turns a darker more natural looking colour. There were maybe a dozen little weeds in this bed vs thousands in the others. 

One of my favorite narcissus. Tahiti.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

I never dreamed I would make my own orchid bark

I have been growing orchids for about 45 years. Sometimes I have more of them, sometimes less. Right now I have about 16. I have been upping my orchid game lately and bought a wonderful LED grow light panel. The one thing that has eluded me in the location I live now, is a good supply of orchid bark mix. There is literally nothing available on Gabriola Island and there is only one brand available in ALL of the garden centres in Nanaimo area. I hate to complain, but it is horrible. They seem to have completely cornered the market as there used to be bags of plain fir bark chips you could always get in any garden centre to make your own mix, but no more. The available ‘mix’ has pieces of wood that can be skinny slivers or wide chunks 4-5” long right down to almost powder. I have found what looks like dried long grass in every bag. There is so much very fine charcoal and perlite, that half the bag is more like sand than orchid mix. I thought I got a bad batch and bought two more bags but they are exactly the same. So... I planned to contact the Victoria Orchid Society next time down island and buy some from them. It is beautiful. But that didn’t help me now. 

Then my garden buddy said... “our neighbour has a whole pile of fir bark that he said we can have, that I could chip and see if that would work for you”. So yesterday we flashed up the wood chipper and I’ll be darned, it worked. We used a screen and sifted it into two basic sizes. So I have a huge container of roughly 1” pieces and another of fine. That should take care of my orchid needs for years. 

Chipper at work

Sifted out larger pieces

Fine pieces

Repurposing our old recycle bucket for bark storage

My lungs can’t take wood dust at all, so one of the masks 
Mom made for me for Covid works just perfectly 

Pile of raw fir bark slabs. Raw beauty.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Spring... isn’t it glorious

Spring. Even the word makes your heart feel good. It is so much fun to start plants that you watch grow into full grown bedding plants. My favorite still being tomato plants. We bought a second upright freezer this year to keep frozen produce from the gardens. So whatever I can grow, I have room to store it now. 

The other thing about spring is the blooming things, after months of no colour. Here are a few things blooming around the gardens right now.