Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We've come a long way, baby

I'm certainly giving away my advanced age with this title. "You've come a long way, baby" comes from a cigarette ad in the '60s I think. But I feel it applies to this article which a friend just sent me. Apparently this is an actual article from a 1955 Good Housekeeping magazine. Click on the image to read some of these good housewife tips. Somehow I don't think much of this has happened at my house. Although the tip about not whining and complaining as he walks through the door is a sensible one.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mellow Yellow California poppies

I'm on a roll these days with photos of California Poppies. I generally think of them as orange but you can see here that they come in a variety of colours. These three are predominantly yellow. (Isn't that cream one lovely?) These are my offering for Mellow Yellow Monday.

I just love these flowers and have fond memories of driving through fields of them along the Mendocino coast of California. There are lots blooming wild in Victoria too.

Here's hoping there's a spot of brightness in your Monday. Find more mellow yellow photos here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Before and after

We're still working on the front yard but the change from the old yard is now very obvious. Here are a few sets of before and after photos.I wish I had more "before" shots but as usual I neglected to take many. Still there are a few that show the transformation. You can see that there's a lot more to look at in the yard and it takes the attention away from the intersection (which was the plan).

By now the sod has started to grow and the plants and trees are getting acquainted with their new homes. It's starting to look more natural now and we're thrilled with the way it all worked out. I'm going to put together a little slide show tour once we get the mulch put in place and it's all looking tickety-boo.

Shadow Shot Sunday

Here's a bright shadow shot taken along the sidewalk where the California poppies grow. I like the way you can see the shadow of the foliage on the petals. I just love these flowers--they are so cheery. You can see all the shadow shots at Hey Harriet's blog here. Happy Sunday.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A sweet gift

Jamie made this beautiful thing for me as a gift. Isn't is lovely? It's a coffee tamper. He saw one in a coffee shop and decided that he could create one using the lathe at the bike shop where he works. He went to a hardwood specialty store, chose the walnut and laminated it together for the handle. He's done a beautiful job of designing it: the handle's perfect for my hand and the the tamp fits the size of our espresso machine's coffee holder. I'll enjoy this every time I make coffee. But more than that I'll remember the sweetness of my grown-up boy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wasps at work

My friend Heather has a sweet little bird house in her back yard. It's been there for a while and I don't think any birds have ever actually used it. But yesterday she discovered that the wasps are doing a redesign job on it. Isn't this amazing? Yesterday it was just the waspy paper with no sign of life.

But today they're crawling all over the place. Kind of creepy. But they sure are industrious. I guess they prefer mud brown to turquoise.


I have to admit it: I just love pink. If I have a choice of flower colours I'll almost always choose a shade of pink. I chose a pink Magnolia for the front yard, although I won't get to see its colour until next year. In this photo of sweet peas through my kitchen window it's the sweet pink one in the upper left corner that catches my eye.

My five-year-old niece also loves pink but I think she's been manipulated by the media and the toymakers. And the pink that is used for girly things is perhaps the one shade that I'm not that fond of. I don't wear pink though, never have. I tend more towards neutrals, same goes for paint colours. But there's nothing like a little spot of magenta or tender pink to lift the spirits. Here's hoping there's a little pink somewhere in your day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Done planting

We finally finished planting all the trees, shrubs and ground cover in the front yard. It was quite a task--as you can see from all these empty pots. There were 13 trees and large shrubs, about 30 smaller shrubs, countless ferns, grasses and native plants, plus 22 flats of ground cover to dig in. Whew! We're glad to have it over with.

The next step is to spread out this mountain of mulch. I think we're going to take a couple of days off first to catch up with the rest of our life, though.

The garden is looking absolutely lovely. I'll do a little slide show once it's all tidied up.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mellow yellow rose

Well this is what I call mellow yellow. Isn't it an amazing color for a rose? I have no idea of the name, I just stumbled on it at Vancouver's Van Dusen Gardens when I visited there a couple of weeks ago. You can find other Mellow Yellow posts here.

Happy Monday. I'm busy with errands today and pilates and finishing planting in the front yard.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fathers and daughters and sons

Happy fathers' day to all dads. To me fathers, day is bitter-sweet. I woke up this morning thinking about my dad, who was killed in an accident when I was only two years old. His passing left my mom with two little ones, my sister only six months of age. So I don't remember my dad and don't know much about how it feels to have one. I think of him and how hard it must have been to leave his two little girls and their mother.

Then I remembered my first husband, Doug, who became a dad at age 30 when our son Kevin was born. Doug was only a dad for a few short years because we lost Kevin to brain cancer at age nine. I don't see Doug much now. The last time was probably more than ten years ago. But I do know that he never had another child. So I'd like to think of him today. He adored his little boy.

And then there's Harry, the father of my second son Jamie, now almost 21. Harry has two sons, the older is Ben from a previous relationship, and we are blessed to be connected to both him and his mother. This morning we all got together at Harry's favorite coffee shop, the Cafe Fantastico, in Quadra Village to enjoy cups of their wonderful coffee and pastries. One dad, two moms, and two grown-up sons sharing some time together. In spite of losses, life is good.

The photo is of Harry with Ben and Jamie--all wearing goofy hats and feeling radical.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy solstice moon

We just got back from a little summer solstice party at my friend Susan's place. We haven't seen her since Jamie graduated from high school almost four years ago. The party was fun and when we returned at dusk it was to the sight of the lovely lantern that Jamie gave me for my birthday is glowing in the back yard. This is the sweetest light. Powered by solar during the day it begins to glow at dusk and to my eyes it looks like a little moon hanging on the arbor in the back. Happy solstice to all.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Planting, planting, planting

This has been a long, long week of planting and we're still not finished. Yesterday and today we planted 200 little pots of Uva Ursi, among other things. It's a native plant that we're using for ground cover, also known as Bear Berry or Kinkinick. We are both so tired that we can barely move. Rain is predicted for the weekend and we're hoping that it will be heavy enough that we can take a little break from all this planting.

By the way, the tree in this photo is the Japanese Snowbell, also known as Styrax Japonica. We've planted it so we can see it right outside the living room window. It has the prettiest white flowers that are now dropping prettily into the garden.

We've met more of our neighbours this week than in the entire three years we've been here. Everyone stops to comment on the change in our front yard.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This is Forest Pansy

Stephanie asked about the Forest Pansy so I'm posting some photos of this lovely tree today. It's also known as a Redbud and is a beautiful addition to the garden. It's a deciduous tree that flowers in early spring with rosy-pink flowers on bare branches. These are followed by scarlet purple leaves that mature to a maroon color. But still there is the tinge of green when the sun shines through.

The tree can take part or full sun and grows to 20 feet in height with a spread of about 25 feet. So it's very broad and can fill a corner nicely. We've placed it in the north eastern part of the yard where it will get morning and evening sun. And we've planted these yellow green choisia in front. Won't it be beautiful?

What gardeners Harry and I are becoming. It's just amazing!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Planting the front garden

Now that the garden construction is finished, all that's left is the planting. But it's a big job. Yesterday we started with the six big rhodos. And they are big. We managed to get five of them in the back of Jan's pickup truck, and the sixth crammed into the back of my van. Here's Harry with one of them in the wagon.

This wagon was his birthday gift to me last week and it's proven to be most useful for the job.

Jan is the expert on planting and she directed Harry and me in all aspects of the work.

The rhodos are placed in two groups of three, one under the arbutus tree and one near the cedars. They have finished blooming for the year so we won't get the full impact until next spring, but I think they will be absolutely beautiful.

This afternoon we're heading out to purchase a few more trees, a Japanese Snowbell, a Forest Pansy and a Sensation Lilac. Once they're planted we'll place the shrubs and plant the ground cover. There's still a lot of planting to be done.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Round Robin Photos: Looking Up

I've found another photo challenge to play with. This one comes from The Round Robin Photo Challenge and the theme for today is looking up. The idea is to point the camera towards the sky and get a different view of things. In my mind this is different from Skywatch because you're not necessarily capturing the sky, but rather the things that you see when you look skyward.

In my case, because I'm totally garden-focused at this time, the things I see are plants.

This photo is the grape leaves that are twining around the arbour by the back deck.

And this one is what I think of as a "faerie's view of the sky," taken by actually lying down among the irises and roses and pointing the camera up.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Skywatch Friday

I found a blog where you can post photographs of the sky. I thought today I'd post this photo taken at the top of the ridge on Saturna Island. You actually see more of the sky reflected in the water. Check out Skywatch Friday here. There are hundreds of skies to look at from all over the world.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Three and a half days to a new front yard

That's all it took for the guys to create our new front yard--three and a half days. I am in awe. They worked really hard and they were so friendly and helpful. The first day the lawn was scraped away, the second day the soil was delivered and the piping for the irrigation went in, the third day the irrigation was completed and the rocks were laid, and the last half day the timer was installed, the turf was laid, the plants were delivered and the big trees were planted. All of these photos were taken today. What a transformation!

I am exhausted now though. Jan and I were out at the wholesale nursery this morning at 8:00 picking out plants and trees--a lot of them. Then this afternoon Harry and I replanted a couple of the trees because after the guys left I realized (and this is typical of me) that I wanted them in a slightly different spot.

Then we used some of the leftover turf and gravel to do some work in the back yard, finally finishing around 7:30 in time for a frozen pizza dinner.

We still have all the planting of shrubs and ground cover to do, as well as picking up those beautiful rhododendrons and a couple more trees that weren't available at the wholesale nursery. That will happen early next week. Now I'm heading into a hot bath and then a nice glass of wine. It's been a whirlwind.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Curves in the front yard, color in the back

It's all about the curves. Jan and I have designed the front yard garden with a lot of swooping curves. The grass areas are curved, the planting beds are curved and the stone path is curved. Today we saw some curves come to life when the guys finished shaping the beds and brought in the rocks for along the edge of sidewalk and the path. I am thrilled. The stone path leads through the trees like a little walkway into the woods. And this is only the beginning. Tomorrow the sod will be installed and some of plants put in. We're still tracking down the trees we want but some of them will be planted tomorrow along with the shrubs. It's beginning to come together and it's going to be really pretty. It looks even better than I had hoped.

I'm also including a photo here of some blooms in the back yard. I just love the contrast of the vibrant peach of the rose with the pale mauve of the iris. Aren't flowers incredible? What a gorgeous world we live in!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ruby Tuesday Peony

For Ruby Tuesday here are photos of the most amazing peony I've ever seen. The buds are red but when the flowers open they turn the most lovely ruby pink. And just look at the gorgeous centre when it's completely open. I saw this beauty in Vancouver's Van Dusen Garden and I think I need to find one to plant in my back yard. I find myself just captivated by flowers this spring, especially the ruby ones.

More about Ruby Tuesday here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A flyball tournament weekend

I thought it would be fun to post a few photos from our flyball tournament this weekend--just to show what it's like. The people from out of town come in a variety of camping vehicles and set up in the parking lot just outside the barn where the racing takes place. This is our ancient motorhome with a pen for the dogs set up in front. You can see beyond it that we have a little gathering place where we can sit and socialize.

Racing starts early Saturday morning and we run between six and ten races in a day. Each race has from three to five heats. Here's a video of four very fast dogs racing. This is the fastest team in our region--our club's teams run a lot slower than these dogs but it shows what a race looks like. In between the races we hang out, play with our dogs, or help out with the racing.

Saturday night after racing we get together for a potluck, often also held in the parking lot.

There are families with kids and people of all ages, some even in their eighties. And of course the dogs. Here are two of my team mates posing with a few of the flyball dogs while waiting for the last race on Sunday afternoon.

It was a really fun weekend, although we do come back kind of tired out. We've decided we like the summer ones best.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Returning after a brief time away

It's nice to be back at home after four days away. Thursday we spent taking the ferry over and then going up to the university for the grad ceremony. It was hot, hot, hot but still lovely. Then we went out for a celebratory dinner with our Mexican friends. On Friday I spent a couple hours at the Van Dusen Gardens (a beautiful and inspiring spot) and then we changed gears and drove out to Cloverdale to the flyball tournament. Two fun and busy days of racing and camping out with the team. Tonight we managed to get the 5:00 ferry and got home in time to unpack our stuff from the motor home and clean up a bit. Bliss to sink into a bath after two nights camping. The front garden is still waiting for another truckload of soil and then we'll be planting this week. I can't post any pictures from the weekend as my my camera cord isn't here, so I'm giving you a photo of those beautiful California poppies that grow in profusion here this time of year. Don't you just love the way the light shines through the overlapping petals?