Garden Makeover in the Rain

Rainy days are good for a garden makeover, except for the mess that is inevitable. Today was such a day. Gardens4u got this project going early this morning before the rain started, but a drizzle started a few hours in, followed by a torrential downpour. Downpours to me mean lunch time, sitting in my van. Luckily, the rain subsided enough for me to continue until the job was complete. Well, except for the cleanup. Trying to sweep up my mess on the wet stone was not very effective. Nothing a hose down won’t fix though, a job I left for the homeowner when the rain stopped, long after I left.

These are the “before” pictures. The tree is a dead maple that was removed with the stump ground down before I started the makeover.

The burning bush (far right in third pic), lilac (center in center pic) and hydrangea (right corner in center pic) were salvaged, with the lilac getting a good pruning to whip it into shape. Everything else was removed. New shrubs and perennials were strategically planted and composted manure, my new favourite soil amendment, was added.

Here are the “after” pictures…

New plantings in this garden makeover include a pink magnolia (center of bed), a “Wine & Roses” weigela, several ornamental grasses, coneflowers, pink and purple sages and lavender, as well as several varieties of sedum and stonecrop to spill over the edges of this sunny garden. Once the new plants are established and well watered, I will add mulch to complete the job.

A second bed, between the sidewalk and the garage, is next up on my garden makeover list. Stay tuned for more before and after pictures.

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Flowering shrubs scream “Spring is Here”

It’s a good thing the flowering shrubs know it’s spring. Mother Nature on the other hand, has forgotten that the weather is supposed to warm up. The sunny yellow blooms of my neighbour’s forsythia are a beautiful sight from my bedroom window…

and my own magnolia is also screaming “spring is here!” with its fragrant blooms…

with the blossoms of plum trees not far behind…

My roses (at least the ones in my front yard that are protected from the north winds) are also showing signs of spring…

flowering shrubs
climbing rose
flowering shrubs
shrub rose

Now, if the cold and wet weather would clear up, spring would be awesome!

Journey and Pat Benatar Tribute by Fire and Ice

The Brass Monkey on Greenbank Road in Ottawa was rocking last night thanks to vocalist and drummer extraordinaire Roy Nichol and his group of talented musicians known as Fire and Ice. Guitarists Mark Day and Don LeCompte flanked Nichol and his drums for the set of Journey songs with Tammy McRae joining in as lead vocalist for the Pat Benatar set.

Journey and Pat Benatar Tribute
left to right: Mark Day, Roy Nichol (drums) Tammy McRae and Don Lecompte

The music was a walk down memory lane in more ways than one for me. I grew up two doors down from Mark Day in Cornwall. As a tomboy, I spent many hours with Mark, his oldest brother and my own brothers playing everything from hide and seek to flag football. We lived on a dead end, small street, a safe haven for all the neighbourhood kids. As we hit our teenaged years, Mark moved on to spend more time with his guitar and rock band friends, so we lost touch. We reconnected recently on Facebook with other members of the McGregor Avenue gang.

In my late teens I met Roy Nichol at a friend’s cottage where she hosted many a summer party. Roy often played the drums and occasionally sang at these parties. His speciality (as I remember it) was Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Every time I hear that song, even 40 years later, it brings me back to those days.

Enough of the nostalgia and back to the present where Roy is currently the drummer and vocalist for a few different bands, including Canada’s April Wine. That skinny boy on the drums from my 70’s memories has certainly done well for himself.

Currently, and especially as this was a tribute to Journey, Roy’s vocals share an uncanny and remarkable resemblance to those of Journey’s Steve Perry back in the late 70s and 80s. Not that I am an expert of anything rock related, but must one not be incredibly talented (not to mention coordinated) to excel on the drums and the vocals at the same time? Obviously the crowd gathered last night agreed as they sang along and danced the night away.

While reminiscing for a few moments with Roy between sets last night, I did ask him if he still performed Stairway to Heaven. His reply was “not for many years, but maybe I should get back to it”.

Yes Roy, you should!

Journey and Pat Benatar Tribute
Mark Day on guitar, Roy Nichol on drums

Owner’s Commitment to Winning

The owner’s commitment to winning (or lack of) says it all. Another top player is leaving the Ottawa Senators; it was just announced minutes ago that Mark Stone was traded to the Las Vegas Knights. Stone is the third player within the last week to announce they are leaving, with Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel the two other Senator stars we would have preferred to hold onto. After all, these three players rack up the majority of the team’s points.

The (most telling) reason for Stone’s decision was the “owner’s commitment to winning” in Vegas. Without mentioning Ottawa Senator’s owner Eugene Melynk by name, Stone implied that personal relationships (or lack thereof) make the difference in the locker room and on the ice.

As well as the top three performers on the ice this season, the Senators traded Erik Karlson and Mike Hoffman recently as well. All Sens fans suspected that the Senators owner’s commitment to winning was obviously absent. These last few trades made it painfully obvious. If the owner is not willing or not able to finance these top players, why not sell the team?

I cannot wrap my head around trading an excellent player for a possible draft pick. Take Erik Karlsson for example. Opinion within the hockey world is that Karlsson is the best defenceman in the league. So, trade him to get a draft pick for someone that may be as good, someday? Sounds counterproductive to me, even for a team in “rebuild” mode. Giving away your top five players leaves your team pretty depleted.

Senator fans are quickly losing faith in their team. And what about the (predominantly) rookies and few veterans left as the dust settles? They must be absolutely deflated and discouraged with the changes.

I can picture the Senators players currently left in the dressing room, all wondering if they are back in the minor league.

Kitchen Tower by J.L. Woodworking

A kitchen tower is an awesome idea for those of you with small children (kids or grandkids) that love to “help out” in the kitchen.  The ingenious design allows toddlers and small children to be safely at counter height for baking, snacking or just watching (as my grandson loves to do) you cook.

This kitchen tower design can be adjusted for height and folds up for easy storage too. Constructed of painted or unfinished (your choice) wood, they are made just south of Ottawa (North Gower). Scheduled deliveries are currently available to Toronto and Montreal.

My neighbour and friend has one (the original prototype) for her grandson.  Her nephew-in-law makes this line of children’s furniture in his spare time, over and above his day job.  Recently moving the start up business from a single car garage to a more spacious workshop, he and his wife are on their way to their ultimate goal of a full time family business.  The demand for these kitchen towers in particular has skyrocketed.  Please check out their website at JL Woodworking for more information, pricing and ordering.  This hard working couple would appreciate your business, so please be sure to like and share their info

This Grandma has ordered hers!

FROST, isn’t it too early for that?

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.

Mahogany Splendor Hibiscus, poor man’s Japanese Maple

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.

mahogany splendor hibiscusmahogany splendor hibiscusmahogany splendor hibiscus

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.

Asters, butterflies and bees, oh my!

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, butterflies and bees asters, butterflies and bees asters, butterflies and bees

 

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!

Rain drops keep falling on my head

Gardening in the rain is usually not a problem for me, in fact I prefer a light drizzle to the intense heat we have been experiencing lately.  A light rain keeps me cool and keeps the bugs away. It also cuts down on the amount of sunscreen I use.  I do draw the line however at thunderstorms or torrential downpours.

Today started off great.  A light rain was falling so I headed to one of my favourite gardens, located in the exclusive and very private setting of the Kanata Rockeries which were designed by one of the founding fathers of Kanata Bill Teron.

 

 

Then the dark(er) clouds rolled in bringing heavier rainfall and distant thunder…

 

rain

 

That was my cue to head (run) to my van.  When the downpour did not let up after five minutes and the thunder got closer, I headed home.

A moose on the loose

There is a moose on the loose on the eastbound 417 in Ottawa this morning.  Well, no longer on the loose, he is hemmed in by police cruisers (as if that would detain him if he really wanted to leave) until wildlife authorities can get there to tranquilize and remove him.  He was first spotted running on the 417 around 630 this morning.  From the pictures I have seen, the moose appears to be a young male.  Reports say he is slightly injured and will be taken somewhere to recuperate by the ministry of natural resources.  Poor little (not really) guy, he must be terrified!

moose.png

photo courtesy of CBC news

 

Only in Canada eh?  Stay at home a little longer this morning if you are headed east, you won’t be getting anywhere fast!  I was headed that way to a garden, but will switch things up and head west instead.