Have remnants of Hurricane Harvey arrived in Ottawa?

Have remnants of Hurricane Harvey arrived in Ottawa today?  There are a few signs that say he may have…

First off the wind is unreal (of course, not nearly as bad as Texans experienced)  When I left my house this morning it was cool (I needed long sleeves and long pants) and cloudy out, but rather nice for gardening (especially compared to yesterday when the sun was very strong and hot).  Two hours later I was weeding and pruning shrubs in my son’s garden and I could barely stand up and the lawn waste bags were like kites…

 

 

 

On my way home I noticed the price of gas here in Ottawa has gone way up too.  Apparently, that too is a remnant of Hurricane Harvey.  With many refineries on Texas’ gulf coast forced to close due to the storm, the wholesale price of gas has risen.  To Canadian consumers, that has translated to at least 10 cents per litre.

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I thought this price was bad, two days later it was up to 131.9 cents per liter….Crazy!

 

I’m pretty sure Canada has its own share of oil refineries so why has the closure of some in Texas affect our gas prices so drastically?  Is it because we must charge an international price for gas to prevent Americans from flooding across our border to fill up if our rates are significantly cheaper?

We wouldn’t mind, after all, we Canadians are the welcoming, friendly sort.

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Texas gardens

I had the pleasure of planting a garden in TEXAS this past January, something totally different for my GARDENS4U business located here in Ottawa, Ontario.

Texas obviously has its own gardening issues, with extreme drought and heat at the top of the list.  I chose a variety of succulents and cacti for the focal points of this garden as well as the ground cover between the larger plants.  As the ground cover fills in, weeds are choked out and both the roots of the specimen plantings and the soil are protected from the extreme temperatures and drought conditions…

Ground covers also work well in containers for the same reasons.  Because soil in containers dries out faster than soil in a garden, the use of ground covers can reduce the amount of water your containers need to stay healthy looking.  Nutrients in the soil are depleted slower too when the soil is protected.  Planted just inside the rim of the container, the ground covers can “spill” over the edge and cascade down the side of the container, creating a beautiful focal point for your patio, deck or porch…

Gardens4u creation thriving in Texas

In January, I visited my sister in Corpus Christi, Texas for her birthday.  While I was there, the nice weather and the search for a unique birthday gift inspired  me to get creative with my green thumbs.  My design included a small garden in her front yard, with drought tolerant plants in pots to add color to her patio.  Gardens4u working in January; that’s a first!

My sister is a mother of three and grandmother of three, working full-time as a nurse.  Gardening is low on her priority list, so she wanted something easy to look after that would thrive in the Texas heat and drought. Succulents were perfect for the garden and patio pots.  Here are a few pictures of my creations, including updates taken two months later…

 

patio planters with a dwarf bottle brush shrub and succulents:

 

garden plantings of succulents, with rocks and mulch:

 

Although it is always tricky working in a climate zone very different than the one you are accustomed to, I am thrilled to see that these plantings are thriving.   The garden plants should be established by now so will require very little extra watering.  However, soil and plant roots in pots dry out very quickly, so these will have to be watered when the soil feels dry.

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

My gardening website can be viewed at www.gardens4u.ca

 

 

A busy birthday week in Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas is a beautiful city to visit, especially when the weather is cold in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Last week I surprised my sister for her birthday, spending a whole week with her visiting all of the popular tourist spots and catching up on sister stuff. The surprise party was held at Talon’s Sports Bar, owned and operated by friends of my niece, and a great location for the party to kick off the birthday week…

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As mentioned in my previous post, I did manage to get some gardening in by planting a garden in my sister’s front yard.  I do love seeing the different varieties of plants that grow in the places I travel to.  I knew that succulents and cactus are prevalent in Texas, I just never knew there were so many varieties of each…

 

Another great thing about vacations is that I don’t have to cook.  This past week I experienced most of the culinary delights Texas has to offer.   At restaurants, a few of which are located right on the water, I feasted on seafood, including delicious crab cakes and gumbo, Mexican, Italian and Thai food,  and of course steak, a Texan favourite.  Home-made, deliciously spicy, chicken tortilla soup, pico de gallo and guacamole prepared by my niece, as well as jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, then wrapped in bacon, grilled to perfection and served with sausage wraps on the beach by her husband.  I think I will stay away from the scales for a few days…

 

To wear off some of the calories, I was coerced into dancing, Texan style, at my sister’s favourite nightclubs Whiskey River and  Ropers . Thanks to her very patient and kind dancing friends Sinoel, Martin, Benny, Ray and others, I had lots of fun and many laughs trying to master the art.  One-two-three and quick-quick-slow are still echoing in my head…

 

Of course, when heading south to escape a Canadian winter, you have to go to the beach. The beaches in the Corpus Christi area of Texas are spectacular and plentiful.  Padre Island National Seashore, McGee Beach, North Beach, Packery Channel and Mustang Island are just a few popular spots.  Even though this was my fifth visit, I still find the waterfronts confusing.  Bay, gulf, channel, port…

 

My last day in Texas was the only one warm enough (78F or 26C) to hit the beach.  Although I found the water was too cold for anything more than dipping my toes, there were a few brave people playing in the waves.  It is winter in Texas too, although winter temperatures there are much more enjoyable than those here.  We walked the beach during the day and then enjoyed a bonfire on the beach using dried out Christmas trees collected from curbs in my sister’s neighbourhood…

 

We spent a few hours shopping for bargains too, and even though the Canadian dollar is currently so low in value, I was still able to get a few good deals on clothing.  Although we did not venture across the border into Mexico, I picked up a few Mexican inspired souvenirs in Texas, including an adorable ceramic gecko for my garden and some tequila…

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The best part of this trip to Texas was the opportunity to spend quality time with my sister, her children and grandchildren.  I kind of put her on the spot by showing up, not just for her surprise party, but also announcing that I was staying at her place for a week.  I had already made arrangements with her son to use his bedroom in her home for the week.  Thanks to Facebook messaging, I was able to make plans with my niece and nephews before my visit without my sister suspecting a thing.  The only time she was suspicious that something was going on was when her son got up early the morning of my arrival to clean up his room.  Also fortunate, and much appreciated, was the fact that she was able to play hooky from work all week to spend time with me, thanks to her staff Cristi, Chrisy and others.

The birthday week in Texas was a huge success and tons of fun, but over much too fast.  Reality has called me back home to Canada and my sister back to work.  Arriving back in Ottawa via Houston and Toronto, I was greeted by snow and missing luggage, both indicators that all good things must come to an end…

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Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

My gardening website can be viewed at GARDENS4U

 

 

Gardens4u in Texas

In Corpus Christi, Texas this week for my sister’s birthday, I just couldn’t stay out of the dirt.  For her birthday gift, I promised her a new garden in her front yard, one that she could not kill.  Seems like she did not inherit the same green thumb I did.

First, for inspiration, we went to the Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens to see what will survive in this hot environment.  Instead of cold hardy as I am used to in the Ottawa, Ontario area of Canada, I had to think heat and drought tolerant…

 

 

We chose succulents, agave, cactus, sedum, aloe and various stonecrops for ground cover and trailers.  All are drought tolerant once established and can handle the extreme heat here in Texas…

 

 

Below are the before, during and after pictures….

 

Hopefully this new garden renovation survives the heat and drought conditions in my sister’s Texas yard.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, especially the surprises

This week I am in Corpus Christi, Texas to help my sister celebrate her 60th birthday. My niece planned the party; my job was just to show up.  I flew from Ottawa to Chicago to Houston to Corpus Christi, landing a mere 45 minutes before the surprise party started Saturday afternoon.  My sister’s birthday is not until Wednesday, January 13th, but we decided to make it a birthday week…

Flying into Corpus Christi, I could easily see why it is dubbed “the sparkling city by the sea”…

 

Arriving at the restaurant where the party was held just 10 minutes before the guest of honour, my brother and I took our positions behind the bar pretending to be bartenders.  Our sister arrived, was greeted by her friends and family who guided her to the bar for a margarita. The expression on her face when she realized the bartenders were her brother and sister visiting from Canada was priceless…

 

The surprise party was a huge success, just the beginning of a wonderful week spent with my sister I haven’t seen in several years.  Stay tuned for more pictures as the birthday week goes on….

 

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW