Fall is not my favourite time of year, in fact it is probably my least favourite season here in Canada. (Almost) everything in my gardens is dying off and there is a distinct chill in the air hinting at the winter weather that is lurking around the corner. There are a (measly) few things however that I do like about the season. On my list of the best things about fall are…
warm, fuzzy sweaters
boots, especially the little, lightweight ones (booties) that go with every outfit
glorious splashes of orange, yellow and red provided by the leaves in the otherwise drab landscape
the roses in the gardens that just don’t want to give it up
Today, October 9th is PANDAS/PANS awareness day. This is very interesting to me as autoimmune disorders appear to run through my extended family. One of the strengths of social media (thanks Facebook!)) is that we can now keep in touch much easier to learn about and offer support as these disorders are diagnosed.
We have frost in the forecast for the Ottawa area tonight. Isn’t it a bit early for that? To me, it’s a nasty “f” word…
3:24 PM EDT Thursday 04 October 2018 Frost advisory in effect for: Ottawa North – Kanata – Orléans Ottawa South – Richmond – Metcalfe Frost may damage some crops in frost-prone areas.
To us gardeners, that means our annual plants and crops will be dead tomorrow morning. Fortunately, I have already moved any I wish to preserve inside. Other than this one night of near freezing temperatures, the weather looks pretty mild for the next few weeks, meaning my gardening season isn’t over quite yet.
As an experiment this winter, I am planning to leave some (very) hardy perennials in their big pots on my back deck to see if any survive the winter. I have planted perennials in containers before but never had much success with leaving them in their pots for the winter. I have tried rose bushes and ornamental grasses but apparently they are not hardy enough. The general rule of thumb is they should be at least two zones hardier than your area to survive in pots instead of in the garden.
So, this season I am trying shrub roses, (much hardier than bushes) false spirea, forsythia and lilac bushes, as well as a plum and a maple tree, all of which grow prolifically in my gardens. With the exception of the plum tree that might be a bust, the others are reliably hardy for this area (zone 2). The two mature plums trees in my gardens send up shoots all over the yard so I won’t feel so bad if the one in the pot does not survive. These subjects of my experiment have all been grown from cuttings in my ICU...
Anything else currently in pots that I wish to save must be brought in for the winter. This year that will include a beautiful non-hardy ornamental grass that was extremely expensive, too much so to replace each year…
One of the best things about fall (autumn) is the glorious sunflowers that seem to sprout up so quickly this time of year. Fall is probably my least favourite season, with spring being favourite, but I do like the cheerful sunflowers. This past spring I planted a variety of sunflower seeds with my grandchildren. Some in pots on the back deck and a few in my front garden…
My latest DIY project was a patchwork quilt created from my granddaughter’s old clothes. Knowing it would be a BIG project, I started last winter and just finished in time for her 5th birthday last weekend.
The bigger the desired quilt, the more squares you need. I was making a quilt for a double bed, so I needed lots of squares. These are the original squares, and the piles of nine squares (for the nine patch block) laid out on my dining room table…
When researching ideas, I loved the look of the “disappearing nine patch” quilts. This pattern is a variation of the traditional nine patch block quilt where you sew nine squares of fabric together into a three by three block. The twist happens when you then cut the sewn blocks of nine squares through the center both horizontally and vertically. This gives you four larger squares, each with different shapes in it so the nine equal and square blocks have “disappeared.” Experiment with the layout before you cut through the centers so you know which fabrics will be more dominant in the final pattern. For example, large patterns should be placed in the outer corners of the original nine block so they will not be cut.
You then arrange these four new squares and the four squares from each of the other cut nine patch blocks into an attractive pattern.
This will create your quilt top layer. Here are a few pictures of my assembled (still unpressed and unquilted though) quilt top…
Once all your blocks and squares are cut, arranged and sewn together you will require a co-ordinating backing fabric. The size of quilt will dictate the size of the piece of fabric you require. Your third layer of the quilt will be your batting which goes between the quilt top and the backing. This is my pieced backing (I used fabric I had on hand and pieced it to fit) and the (white cotton/polyester) batting…
Sew the batting to the wrong side of the backing piece, then sew the backing and quilt top together with the wrong sides together, leaving one short side unsewn. Turn inside out so both right sides of quilt top and backing are showing and then stitch the last side. There is another method that involves binding, but it is much more labor intensive. You sew the batting to the wrong side of the backing piece as above, pin those two layers to the quilt top (so batting is in the middle and right sides of both quilt top and backing are showing). Then add strips of backing (or other coordinating fabric) to all edges to “bind” the layers together.
Other than being very time consuming, the DIY project went well. One of the problems I did encounter with this patchwork quilt was the size of the clothing I had to use. All were baby clothes, so quite difficult to get many 6 inch squares from any one piece of clothing. Next time (if I ever use this pattern again) I would go smaller and use 4 inch squares. Another discouraging fact was that these pieces of clothing were made of different types of fabric, some much stretchier than others. That made matching the seams of the blocks very difficult. The best advice I can give you when creating this type (or any other for that matter) of quilt is to iron/press between steps. Iron your fabric before you cut it into squares, before you sew the squares into rows or blocks and your seams after sewing the rows and blocks and borders together. You will thank me for this advice when your seams are easy to match together and turn out nice and straight!
My granddaughter loved the finished product, (as much as any five year old can appreciate a quilt) but I think her mother appreciated it even more as it invoked a trip down memory lane.
These spectacular Mahogany Splendor Hibiscus are annuals in my zone 4 to 5 area of Ottawa, but wow, are they gorgeous. Unlike the colorful hibiscus I posted about recently, these do not have spectacular flowers, but their foliage makes up for that fact. A few Mahogany Splendor hibiscus were added to the gardens at the hospice I helped plant recently to fill in the bare spots and add color between the immature perennials. As a result of the diligent watering by the hospice garden team throughout our extremely hot summer these hibiscus (and the rest of the gardens) look spectacular.
They look much like a Japanese Maple, but are shorter, with the same deep burgundy color and same maple leaf shaped leaves. Japanese Maples are notoriously expense around here, so these Mahogany Splendor hibiscus have been nicknamed “the poor man’s Japanese Maple”
They are so gorgeous in fact, that I plan to dig them up and bring them inside for the winter so I can put them back in the garden next spring.
Tis the season for asters, butterflies and bees in our zone 4 gardens here in Ottawa. I am seeing lots in my GARDENS4U clients’ as well as my own gardens. These perennials make a beautiful splash of color in the fall when others have finished showing off. Growing up to five feet tall, and preferring full sun conditions, their upright, strong stalks are covered in bright green foliage and small pink or purple flowers that the butterflies and bees just love…
Asters are easy to grow, and require little to no maintenance. I cut mine back after flowering, but this is not necessary. They also seem immune to bugs and disease. If your gardens are lacking color this time of year, consider adding some asters. The butterflies and bees will thank you!
Hardy hibiscus are my show stoppers in my GARDENS4U gardens this August and September. Their unbelievably vibrant blooms, often the size of a dinner plate, will literally make you stop and gawk at their incredible beauty…
soft pink and ruffled with red center
I love the hibiscus so much this season that I tried some in containers and fertilized them heavily to keep them blooming all summer…
As with any plants you expect to be perennial (they come back each year) read the labels before you purchase them! These hibiscus are called hardy because they are considered perennials in more (colder) areas than their less hardy cousins. These are hardy to USA zone 4, which are perfect for my Ottawa gardens. Just be careful and patient in the spring, as they are slow to recover from their winter hibernation. Because they die back to the ground in winter here, I put a marker near mine so I don’t inadvertently disturb or throw it out during spring cleanup.
Another important fact to consider is that perennials planted in containers are less hardy (2 zones) than when they are planted in the garden. For example, although these hibiscus are hardy to zone 4 when planted in gardens, they would only be hardy to zone 6 in containers. That means I will be moving these gorgeous containers inside before the first frost.
Recently, a video I saw on social media caught my attention. I had a few minutes to spare, so listened to Dr. Amy Lee explain why gut health is so important to achieve and how to achieve it. Dr. Lee specializes in internal medicine as well as wellness, nutrition and obesity. Listen to the video and make up your own mind if it makes sense to you.
It made complete sense to me as I have battled with my gut health for years and finally feel that I am in control. I learned the hard way what works for me and what does not. This information may educate you and steer you in the right direction if you too suffer from poor gut health that presents itself in numerous symptoms. Keep an open mind, you may not even realize your gut health is so crucial.
The video did turn out to be an infomercial for a specific product that Dr. Lee is selling, but the information she shared throughout the commercial was interesting. I can attest to the fact that she is bang on about the foods that are bad for your general health. If you have followed any of my previous posts, especially my very earliest ones, you will know that I have suffered for years with the pain resulting from food sensitivities and poor gut health.