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!

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Gardening? Today? Who would have thunk it!

This might not seem too outrageous in your part of the world, but in mine gardening today is definitely pushing the season. After all, we still have lots of snow and today is the first day our temperature has risen above the freezing mark.

So, for those of you also lamenting the late arrival of spring here in Ontario, I will give you the exciting details of what gardening chores I was actually able to accomplish today. The rest of you can yawn in boredom as you mutter “been there, done that already.”

Every time I pull in my driveway these days, I am reminded of how sick I am of seeing the brown and crispy fall/winter arrangements that looked so green and lush last fall and for most of the winter…

Today the sun is shining and the temperature above freezing so I pulled out my garden gloves and secateurs…

gardening today
gardening essentials

First I tackled the evergreen arrangements that are an eyesore, at least I attempted to. Even though the temperature is warm today, the soil these branches are sitting in is still frozen in one of the containers. (One gets full sun all day, the other only a portion of the day) What is left of the one is just the blue spruce branches that are still a beautiful bluey green color. I know, they look kind of lonely without anything else to complement them, so I will have to find something to add, even if the plants are fake. The other container will have to wait until the soil thaws sufficiently enough to remove the branches and ornaments.

By the way, the ornaments (red dogwood branches, pinecones on spikes, etc) spend the summer in my gardening tool organizer, AKA a plastic shoe storage unit, that hangs on a wall in my garage…

gardening today
gardening tool AKA shoe storage

Another thing I tackled in my brief gardening stint today is the ornamental grasses I could reach. I like to leave them over the winter so the fronds can blow in the wind, but by this time of the year they are either broken (from the weight of the snow) or the seed heads have blown off. Before they send up new growth, and as soon as you can access them, cut them back to a few inches from the ground.

I have several in my back yard, but they are still buried under at least two feet of snow, so will have to wait for their trim. I do however, have one large clump beside my lamp post in my front garden that is accessible and several as experiments in pots on my front veranda.

As this veranda is always bathed in full sun and protected from the wind, I can get away with less hardy plants there. This year I tried leaving the ornamental grasses I planted in pots last summer on the veranda over the winter. Each time it snowed, (quite often this winter) I covered them with snow for some moisture.

The general rule of thumb for perennials in containers is that you have to (should) use plants that are hardy to two zones below your gardening zone. It appears I was successful in my experiment though as I see some green inside the trimmed shoots. That’s a sign they did not die, exciting news to me.

Earlier this week I helped a friend stage her house. She wanted fresh, live pussy willows and spring blossoms for her front porch, but as the temperature was still close to -20C overnight, we settled for plastic. Plastic flowers have come a long way; not the plastic flowers your grandma used to have!

gardening today
spring blooms

Perhaps I will go back to the dollar store and pick out some plastic flowers for my front containers.

Storm lashes Florida’s gulf coast, again

On December 19th, 2018, another storm hit the gulf coast of Florida. Unlike storms Gordon and Michael that hit in September and October respectively, this storm had no name. At least none that I could discover.

We heard the storm warnings on the radio and TV, so the ominous clouds, lashing rain and rising ocean swells were no surprise…

storm clouds
storm
storm
lashing rain

Named or not, I was a witness to this particular storm. Any of the locals I spoke to that day claimed they had never seen the waves so high. A stranger sent me this copy of a video he shot. That is my husband checking out the waves crashing on and washing over the jetty as the rest of us huddled further back from the action.

waves at the North Jetty on Casey Key, Nokomis, Florida

The news spread fast, locals and visitors alike flocked over the drawbridge that connects Casey Key to the mainland of Nokomis. The road to the north jetty was well travelled with those wanting to witness the wrath of Mother Nature. The level of the water rose so high with the wind and rain that most of the jetty was under water and the beach was barely walkable…

storm
crashing waves
storm
crashing waves wash out jetty
storm
high water levels
storm
crashing waves
storm
massive waves
storm
water level rising to grasses

Later that day, the waves subsided somewhat, the skies cleared and a spectacular sunset promised better weather the next day…

storm
here comes the sun!
storm
flooded beach
storm
beach sunset

drawing the shell collectors to the beach and the (rather bedraggled) wildlife to the jetty the next morning…

storm
shell collecting after the storm
storm
collecting shells after the storm
disoriented (rescued) crab

white ibis

sleepy pelicans

Although the beautiful beach and spectacular ocean front homes had already sustained an incredible amount of damage in the previous storms, we saw more the next morning…

storm
steps buried in sand
storm
steps buried in sand
storm
beach erosion
storm
beach erosion
storm
storm damage
storm
storm damage

Everywhere I travel, I cannot help but stop to admire (and snap pictures of) the local plants. That’s the gardener in me I guess…

storm
bird of paradise
storm
bougainvillia
storm
variegated yuccas
storm
beach access

The stormy weather lasted around 24 hours. As much as it was spectacular to witness it, I prefer walking the beach with calmer waters and sunshine.

Offseason To Do List is Growing

Well, I pushed my garden season as far as possible……but my frozen fingers and toes convinced me to pack it up. Although I miss my garden business already (I’ve only been closed for the season for one week) I do admit there are (a few) good things about my offseason.  My to do list is the only thing growing these days.

offseason

 

‘Tis the season instead for tackling my to do list of things I don’t seem to have enough time for the rest of the year.  Some are fun, others not so much….

  • freelance writing
  • watching Ellen every morning for a good laugh
  • sleeping in, especially when the weather is bad.  Look out the window, roll over and fall back asleep!
  • baking, although that can be dangerous without all the exercise I get during gardening season
  • spending even more time with my grandchildren who are growing in leaps and bounds
  • preparing my tools (sharpening and cleaning) for next season
  • decluttering the gardening stuff in our garage

 

In reviewing a similar post from last year at this time,  I am proud to say I did accomplish lots of the items on that list, especially the sewing projects.  Can you tell I am a list person?  Of course, the things that did not get accomplished in that offseason will be added to this year’s list.

Isn’t this a dreary looking picture?  That’s the advertising on my van (or garden mobile as my son and his friends call it) being pelted by snow.  It sure makes miserable weather for gardening!

offseason

 

Enough procrastinating, back to my list!

 

 

The best things about fall

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

 

 

What’s on your list?

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.

Extreme summer breaking records

No doubt we have had an extreme summer this year in Ontario.  Extremely high temperatures and accompanying drought conditions were followed by an extreme amount of rainfall over a very short time period, then topped off with an over abundance of annoying, hungry mosquitoes.

extreme summer

We should be moving up this list as our daytime temperatures are still soaring high.  The good news is our evening/night temperatures are currently cooler, much better for sleeping.  Most people will agree, moderate is much more tolerable than extreme.

Despite the extreme weather we have experienced, after last summer’s lack of sunshine and heat, no one can complain we did not get enough of either this summer.  I must admit thought, this extreme summer has limited my time in my gardens!

 

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.

Did we pay a tariff on this heat?

If you haven’t noticed, Ottawa is in the middle of a heat wave, as are many places throughout Canada.  I wonder if we payed a tariff on the heat coming from the US of A.  Perhaps Donald Trump hasn’t thought of that yet.  If he did, we would have to retaliate and charge Americans a tariff on the cold fronts we send you every winter (currently) for free.

Seriously, the heat and humidity are so high that it’s just too hot for me to spend more than a few minutes in anyone’s gardens this week.  So, what else can a gardener do in this heat?  Well, I met a friend for coffee this morning and power washed my front veranda this afternoon.  Even though there was cool water involved, the power washing was a hot and dangerous job. As I was reaching into the back of my van to remove my power washer, I heard a hissing noise just before the back trunk slammed down on my head.  Just what I needed, a concussion to go with the possible heat stroke.

I guess that gives me something to work on tomorrow…getting the struts (that’s what my mechanic told me they are called) on the trunk repaired.  Then I will spend some time with my baby granddaughter.  After that I can continue working on the quilt I am making for my almost five year old granddaughter.  Although quilting is usually a winter passion of mine, this heat wave will give me some time to work on the project that is (still) spread out on my dining room table.

That’s Canada for you.  Heat waves and cold snaps alike tend to make us retreat to the comfort of our air conditioned or heated homes.  Just forget I mentioned the word tariff, I wouldn’t want to put ideas in anyone’s head!

photo from Unsplash

 

 

Heat waves and air conditioning

The worst part about heat waves is the air conditioning you need to keep your home cool.  I hate air conditioning, at least my body does, because it does not like to be cold.  I hate feeling like its cold outside too, reminds me too much of the winter months where we can’t wait for the weather to warm up.

Every year at this time we (my family members and I) have the same argument on whether to open the windows to cool the house or turn on the air conditioner.  I favour open windows, they favour the air conditioning.  I usually win until the heat wave arrives.  If the temperature does not cool off at night, I cave in and the air conditioner has to come on to keep our upstairs bedrooms cool for sleeping.

Me, I sleep with lots of blankets regardless of the temperature.  When the air conditioner is on I really need the blankets, even to sit around watching TV.  Even though we keep the setting to 22 degrees, (a concession to me as they would prefer 18) I still get chilled.

We are expecting a heat wave here in Ottawa over the next week or so.  Brrrrrrr.