Friday, June 27, 2014

Turning the corner on the garden reno

The last two days have seen an incredible change in our back garden. After weeks of construction and dust and debris, things have really come together.  Just take a look at these before and after shots.

The west corner of the garden yesterday morning with tools and debris, and this morning with the wall finished a a big coral bark maple planted.

The photo on the left is looking down the west side of the house yesterday morning with exposed irrigation pipes and Connor working on the arch. The one on the right is the same view this morning with shrubs being planted. The arch is almost finished.

And here is the arch completed; Connor is finishing the cap on the brick wall. By the way, most of these bricks came from a chimney in an old church, probably built around the time that this house was under construction in 1898.

The green in the photo above is the top of a large Coral Bark Maple that will be the focus of this corner.  I was thrilled to see that we could get such a large specimen.
Here you can see them getting it off the truck, and on the right it's waiting to be planted.

This view is from the back porch looking west yesterday morning after some cleanup, and below is the same view this afternoon. What a difference a day makes!

We still have a ways to go with lighting, finishing the water feature, some more planting and adding an arbour just where you can see Connor building some brick footings in this photo. But when the sun comes back out this weekend we will actually be able to enjoy some time in our beautifully evolving garden.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Up-cycling at the Moss Street Market

The Moss Street market market has been running here in Victoria for over 20 years on Saturdays from May through October on the grounds of an elementary school in Fairfield, a central neighbourhood. Now that we're back in the city it's easier to get there, and it's really grown in the nine years that we were away.

It used to be just a few farm stands and some handicrafts, but now it spills out onto the sidewalk and into an adjacent community building. There's organic veggies, local vinegars and oils, honey, baked goods, food booths, live music, crafts, and much much more.

This guy plays beautiful music on a metal pan-type instrument made in Germany.

I love these curly garlic scapes. You can't buy them in the store. And these orange peppers are the sweetest ones I've ever tasted.

One of the things that's really big now at the market is the concept of up-cycling. This is where creative people go to thrift shops and get old clothing and other cast-offs and repurpose them into clever and attractive things that they can sell.  Here are a couple of examples.

This young woman and her daughter create monsters out of felted wool sweaters. Some are purses complete with eyes and smiles. Others are big huggable creatures with deep pockets in their mouths or tummies for kids to keep their treasures. Isn't that clever?

Here's Sue with a skirt she loves that was created from a pair of blue jeans. What a great idea!

And this one was so cute.  These are felted wood that's transformed into clothing for little ones. Once it's been felted the fabric can go into the washing machine. And it's warm and totally sustainably produced.

Just look at the variety of kids clothes that has been created here!

Don't you just love the concept of up-cycling? These creative young people give me hope for the future.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kingfisher Resort and Spa

My sweet sister took me up-island to the Kingfisher Spa as a birthday treat.  It's a special spot on the east coast of Vancouver Island. We had a terrific time. It's been a long time since we've traveled together and it was really fun.

Here are few images from our two days there.

Wine and appies on the terrace looking out to the ocean.

Some photos from our beach walk.

A view of the gardens at the Kingfisher. We had a lovely dinner in the restaurant at the left one evening.

I'm not sure what this amazing flower is, but I love it.

This is the entrance to the spa at the Kingfisher. It features something quite unusual, the Hydropath. It's a man-made cave looking like sandstone caverns, housing seven different water features to immerse yourself in. There were mineral pools, rivers to walk in, waterfalls to sit under, steam baths, mud baths and more.                                       
You can read about it here. My favourite was the hot mineral pool with the lukewarm rainfall overhead. Heavenly! What a lovely treat it was to spend some time at this beautiful and relaxing place with Jan.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The wall gets reinforced

Before we left on our trip the work in the back yard had come to a halt because of the cracked cement wall at our rear property line. It took the apartment owner about six weeks to get an engineer's drawings and line up people to reinforce the wall.  This week they did the work in just one day using a lot of heavy equipment. 

A large T-shaped hole was dug in the parking lot and this big cement block was lowered in there. 

On our side of the wall two steel plates were installed and steel wires attached them to the cement block. These are called "deadmen" for some reason.  Once the deadmen were installed the hole was filled and the whole thing paved over.

Here you can see the new steel plates on our side of the wall just below Logan's hand at the right. 

And crouching down is Connor, a brick mason who is doing an awesome job creating the pool that will form the focal point of the water feature.

Here you can see Justin working on the bluestone terrace. It's a painstaking job.   Now the brick wall that hides the cement one can move forward.

We think it's going to look really good once it's done.  And we're hoping there will still be some summer left when the project is complete.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

four different gardens

Sue and I went on the Teeny Tiny Garden Tour today, featuring thirteen different gardens open for viewing.  It's an annual fundraiser for Hospice and a great way to spend a sunny Sunday.  Of the ones we visited, four stand out as very special. Each is very different.

This is Abkhazi Gardens, which is actually not teeny-tiny, but is a Victoria heritage garden built by an exiled Russian prince and his wife in the 1940s. It features amazingly large specimen trees and exquisite flowers. I'll call this the historic garden.

There's also a wonderful pond just full of lovely water lilies.

The second garden is a cottage garden set in a very small yard on a quiet back street in the heart of Oak Bay. This house a cottage style from the early 1900s with a sweet front porch.

It's very tidy and organized with lots of vegetables and varied foliage.  The one on the left is a lovely hosta in bloom. On the right another sweet one but I don't know the name.  This garden was very understated with mostly white flowers.

And at the very bottom of the yard is this sweet little painting studio.  

Garden number three was a garden of whimsy on a regular street but once you passed the gate you were in a fantasy land.  Fabulous plants set off with garage sale finds, bottles, fountains, mirrors and all kinds of treasures.  

And finally, the English Country Garden, thirty years a labour of love, with banks of roses, arbours, pathways and a gorgeous mix of flowering plants.

Going to see these gardens was a complete inspiration for the garden we're making here at Yukon Street. Now all I have to do is decide what kind of garden I want to create.