Friday, July 31, 2009

A Little Friend For My Impatiens

Concerned that my plant in the front entrance was a little lonely, I decided to get it a companion. Okay, it didn’t actually tell me that it was lonely; I just assumed it must be. But wouldn’t you come to the same conclusion? I mean, how can a plant not be lonely all by itself in the front entrance of a home? How can it not want a little plant friend? Who will it discuss the weather with? Or insect attacks? Or flower performance anxiety? Or the abuse it endures? Like the drought it sometimes has to tolerate because the mean lady in the house occasionally forgets to water it. And because of that, it has to drop a leaf or two and even some flowers it’s worked so hard to develop, which totally sucks.

Yeah, I thought it would be a good idea to get it a friend to discuss all these issues with, so I went plant hunting and came back with this:

Don’t these two lovely bloomers look happy together?

There was a little bickering in the beginning because the Begonia took over the plant stand that the Impatiens was happily occupying. But when I explained to the Impatiens that I had taken it off the plant stand to move it up front where it could receive more light, all was well with my botanical world again.

Plants can be reasoned with, you know, especially where light is involved.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pretty Pink Petunias

Three weeks ago, I picked up this plant:

When I first brought the above petunia home, it had stems that trailed about two feet below the container, so it was quite massive. And although it looked pretty impressive, the plant looked a little stressed and in need of rejuvenation. So I did what I’ve always done to my annuals around mid season: I gave it a haircut.

Within a week, the plant thanked me by putting out new growth and filling up with blooms, so I guess ‘I done good’.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Buzzing Around The Oriole Feeder

It seems that every winged and wingless critter in the neighbourhood wants a piece of the free food action – including the bullies that monopolize the feeding areas

First there was the bushy-tailed rascal (the squirrel) hogging the peanuts and the bird seeds; now it’s the winged rascals hogging up the grape jelly and the nectar at the Oriole feeder.

When I first put up the Oriole and Hummingbird feeders, I was concerned about ants invading. But my husband made ant moats and that put an end to that problem. Up until last week, there were no problems at the nectar-providing feeders. Because up until last week, the wasps hadn’t discovered them. (Well, there still aren’t any problems at the Hummingbird feeder because it has wasp guards, but the Oriole feeder is quite a different story)

I’ve learned that once wasps find something they like, they buzz around it until the entire food source is finished. And it doesn’t take them long to finish it either. Within a few short days all the nectar in the Oriole feeder was drained and all the grape jelly in the small cups was eaten. I’ll concede that their tenacity is certainly impressive, but their presence is quite annoying.

Last night I took down the Oriole and Hummingbird feeders in hopes that the wasps will move along. After a few days, I will place them back outside, in a different location. Apparently, these pests are not too bright, and they will assume that the food source is gone forever even if you’ve moved the feeders just a few feet away.

I’m also planning to rub a little cooking oil around the feeding ports, which is supposed to repel wasps. Or so I’ve read online after some intense research on how to rid these feeders of wasps. We’ll just have to wait and see if it works.

If anyone has a suggestion on how to get rid of the wasp problem, please share it with me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Satisfied Customer

It wasn’t too long ago that I planted this Coneflower under my kitchen window:

In addition to being recently planted, it also got a late start into the season. And despite all that, it’s preparing to bloom.

How’s that for gratitude? Gratitude for finally being planted into the soil. And gratitude for being lucky enough to be cared for by a garden guru. What do you mean who?


This Coneflower that was given to me by Joy from ‘Garden Joy 4 Me’ is obviously a very satisfied customer, perfectly content in its new home and very pleased with my gardening skills. It is botanical customers like this ambitious little plant that remind me why I love gardening.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Magnificent Marigolds

I’ve been able to track down a couple of places that still offer some annuals and perennials for sale. And because of how late into the gardening season we are, most of the flowers I’ve picked up are priced very low. So life is good.

One of those priced-just-right pickups is the marigolds that I added last week in my recently-revamped area under the kitchen window:

Marigolds are one of the easiest flowers to grow with a delightfully long blooming period. They add a bright, cheery touch wherever you place them. And the only thing they ask for in return is a sunny location and regular watering, especially when it’s hot.

A flowering plant with an extensive blooming period and very few demands? Sounds good to me.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Book Contest

I confess that I am an unabashed bibliophile (no need to report me; it means I love books) with an addiction to words on paper. And I don’t have a minor addiction, I have a severe one; I consume books the way I consume oxygen, inhaling as many as I can whenever I can. I have had this voracious appetite for books since I was a young child, way before I’d even learned my ABCs.

And I not only read a lot of books; I also buy quite a few. I’ve picked up so many over the years that I’ve managed to fill five huge bookcases with hundreds of different titles; most of which I’ve read. Moreover, if I hadn’t given away any during all the moves I’ve had to make, I would have a few hundred more.

So I love books. That’s pretty clear.

Now imagine how surprised and excited I was when I discovered that I’d won the ‘Friday Contest’ that Tatiana (isn’t that a fabulous name?) had running on her cool blog, which gave the winner a “$50.00 gift card to Amazon to spend as they see fit” Obviously, the only fit for me is books. One can never have too many books. Ever.

It didn’t take long before the order was placed and the shipment arrived:

Can you say super happy?

You know, I never win anything. I’m one of those people that will buy 49 out of the 50 tickets available for a contest and still end up losing. Winning this book contest was quite a surprise. Perhaps I should play a lottery.

Hey, thanks Tatiana! And happy reading, from one bibliophile (and Canuck) to another.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Fought The Garden And The Garden Won

Okay, so I was feeling kind of smug after I successfully reconstructed the planting area under my kitchen window and decided to put those (obviously wonderful) gardening talents to use in another area in the back. This one:

Picture taken in May

Picture taken in July. Things have gotten worse.

With tools in hand, I stepped out into my backyard, ready for the day’s mission. I started off with my usual ‘Okay garden, it’s you against me’ threat - with ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ music playing in the background, of course. Yadda, yadda, yadda...


I surveyed the mess from a distance and thought (arrogantly) “bah...a walk in the park...” But as I got closer, I wasn’t so sure anymore. From far away, the area about to be attacked reconstructed looked much smaller and not very intimidating. Up close, it was a different story. Because up close, it was much, much bigger than I had anticipated. There should be a warning sign that reads: “Caution: Garden mess is larger than it appears”, so that self-proclaimed (bigheaded) garden experts like me will approach humbly so as not to put our little feet in our big mouth and make fools of ourselves. Gardeners have pride, you know.


I took a deep breath and mumbled to self “Whatever you do, don’t show fear; untamed gardens can smell it...” Self nodded.


I proceeded with the upheaval and by the time I removed all that endless amount of unyielding evil landscape frabric covered with weeds and grass and mulch, I wanted to throw my gardening tools across the lawn, torch the backyard and run around screaming at the top of my lungs until ‘they’ took me away.


A few hours later, exhausted, bruised (especially my ego) and slightly sunburned, I threw in the towel. I did manage to dig up some unwanted plants, chop down most of what was left to prepare it for removal and rake old mulch into neat little ready-to-be-disposed piles. The end result was this:

While there is a significant improvement, it’s far from over. There is still a lot of work to be done before this area is ready for planting. That was a few days ago. I’m still recovering from all the aches and pains.


I fought the garden and the garden won.

But I’ll be back.

You hear that garden?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Kingston Hospitality

Yesterday, the real estate agent that helped us find our home dropped by for a quick visit and surprised us with this:

This kind gesture is meant to welcome us to Kingston, to congratulate us on our new home and to thank us for entrusting him to aid us in our home purchase.

First it was Joy’s wonderful welcome and now it’s our realtor’s. I tell you, I’m just going to overdose with all this hospitality. It’s quite a change from the big city I came from.

Kingston, Ontario: Beautiful City, Beautiful People

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Bushy-Tailed Rascal In My Backyard

The little fella below is one squirrel that is fast becoming quite a menace at the bird feeders:

I do admire the tenacity of squirrels, although I wish they wouldn’t exercise that trait in my backyard.

Squirrel stew, anyone?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Petunia Madness

Okay, so I’ve gone a little overboard with the petunias. I’m up to four – and counting. But how can anyone resist something like this:

I admit I’m weak when it comes to pretty flowers. And I’m also quite vulnerable at this point because I’m really eager to build a garden and there’s not much left to build it with – aside from the petunias. I wouldn’t mind some more Impatiens, but there aren’t really any left. So petunias it is.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gorgeous Geraniums

When we moved into our new home, it was a little late in the gardening season, so I knew it would be difficult to find plants for outdoors. Most of them would be sold, and most of what was left wouldn’t be worth purchasing. But I was okay with that – in the beginning - since all the planting areas around the home had been neglected for years, and every single one was in desperate need of major overhaul before any plants could be accommodated.

In addition, there would be a lot of things to be done because of the move, like opening boxes, settling furniture, organizing closets, and so on. Well, things moved faster than I expected and when there were no boxes to open or furniture to settle or closets to organize, I began feeling a little restless - a need-to-so-some-gardening type of restless. So off to the garden centers I went.

I wasn’t wrong about there being a shortage of plants to choose from, but I was wrong about there being nothing worth purchasing. Because I discovered that there were a lot of beautiful flowering plants in containers like this one:

Geraniums are one of the most popular plants, perfect for any spot in your garden that calls for a splash of vibrant colour. They can be grown in containers, hanging baskets, window boxes and in beds. They are perennials, but because they can’t grow outside year round in regions with severe winter weather (like where I am), people treat them as annuals and discard them when the gardening season comes to an end. This is not necessary, as some of you may already know, because geraniums can be brought indoors for the winter.

There are several ways to do this, but I will recommend only one, which I find the easiest. When the temperature dictates that it’s almost time for your plants to be moved inside, prune them back to ½ or 1/3 their height. If they are planted in the ground, dig them up and pot them up in containers. Do not move them immediately indoors; you must acclimatize them first. The process of moving them indoors should be done slowly so the plants can adapt to your home’s environment. If you rush to bring them inside, without allowing for acclimatization, they will react negatively, dropping flower buds and losing more foliage than you’d like. To start, you should place them indoors at night and take them back outdoors during the day. Gradually begin bringing them indoors during the day, a few hours at a time, extending that period until they spend entire days and nights inside your house. This process usually takes about two weeks.

Once they are inside for good, make sure that you place your geraniums in a spot where they will receive as much light as possible; direct sun is essential. Artificial lighting may be necessary if your home does not have a sunny location available. Water thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry considerably before watering again. In the winter, reduce watering. Average household temperatures are fine during the day, but cool nights are preferred.

If you have the ideal spot in your home to over-winter your geraniums, consider moving them indoors when the temperature takes a dive. You’ll be able to enjoy these beautiful plants – straight from your garden - during the gloomiest months of the year. That’s cool.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Bird Bathing

The best part of my day is the assortment of birds visiting the backyard and the flurry of activity they bring with them. In order to encourage regular – and abundant - visits, I’ve added a few feeders and bird baths for their pleasure. And they do find pleasure in them, like this little fella below:

“Splish, splash I was taking a la la la”

“Hey everyone, come on in! The water is great!”

Witnessing a moment like this puts a smile on my face and warms my heart. There’s nothing quite like the simple things in life.

I think I’m going to need a better camera...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Okay Garden, It’s You Against Me

Okay garden, let’s tango! I’ve got gardening tools, gloves, yard waste bags, soil, bone meal, plants and motivation. And now that I'm fully equipped, I'm going to clean up the planting area under the kitchen window whether you like it or not. You can fight me all you want garden, but I'm gonna dig you up!

[The music from ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ begins. But instead of Clint Eastwood riding up on a horse, a middle-aged woman steps into her sad-looking garden with sandals, some garden tools, squinted eyes and a determined look on her face. Yeah, that would be me]

Let us begin...

Step 1: Evaluate The Mess
Double yuck...

Step 2: Get The Tools Ready

Step 3: Put On The Gloves (so creepy crawly critters don't touch skin)

Step 4: Sigh In Despair. Rekindle Motivation

Step 5: Clean Up The Mess

Step 6: Toss Garbage Into Yard Waste Bags

Step 7: Turn Over The Soil With The Spade

Step 8: Add Fresh Soil

Step 9: Dig Holes And Add Some Bone Meal

Step 9: Add The Plants

Miniature Yellow Roses (1)

Miniature Yellow Roses (2)


Coneflower (1)

Coneflower (2)

Step 10: Admire The Result Of Hard Work
Ah, much better

Step 11: Reward Hard Work With BBQ

Words of wisdom to garden:
Never mess with a woman on a botanical mission, especially when she's equipped with gardening tools - and a BBQ.


For those of you that don’t know the popular music from the classic Clint Eastwood movie 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly', click below to listen: