28 July 2015

Flowers of Summer


Agricultural Disaster Declared in Parts of Central Alberta



The drought this year has been the impetus behind the declaration of agricultural in a county near Edmonton Alberta. Parkland County has made the declaration after a dry spring and early summer.  Leduc County has received 200 ml less rain than in 2012.  Sturgeon County is also considering announcing the same declaration.  Crops are failing, there's little for cattle to feed on and now grasshoppers are an issue.  Some areas in central Alberta haven't seen dry conditions like these in 50 years.

Strathcona County, under consultation with neighbours and growers , has not declared an agricultural disaster at this time, according to a senior communications advisor with Strathcona County.  (this is a correction to my post stating they had).  Thank you Jennifer for clarifying the county's position.

It's sad to see crops like the one above clearly declining.  It spells disaster for the agriculture industry but it also means higher prices for the consumer.  Beef producers are concerned about their ability to feed their cattle now and through the upcoming winter due to crop decline and some have been forced to sell at least part of their herds.

The good news is farmers do have financial assistance available through crop insurance, AgriStability and AgriInvest.  AFSC, Agriculture Financial Services Corporation is monitoring the situation.  Farmers are encouraged to call AFSC at 1-877-899-2372 or visit the website www.afsc.ca for information pertinent to their location.  


The photos accompanying this post were taken last evening in Sturgeon County.


*The following counties have now declared a state of agricultural disaster:  Sturgeon County, Leduc County, McKenzie County, Parkland County, Brazeau County, Thorhild County. (as of July 27/15)

25 July 2015

Fastforwarding Summer

taken at Salisbury Greenhouse

Growing now in preparation for the Christmas season.

17 July 2015

Rainy Days Are Contemplative



Since I work outside at a local greenhouse, it's not uncommon to have a rain or snow day.  Today is such a day.  In fact, we have a rainfall warning. I'm grateful because I also have a summer cold. You know those ones that start with a sore throat, sneezing and then move on to a coughing storm, intermittent with nose blowing?  Yes, that's the one.  The plan for today is to snuggle up with a book under a blanket; once this post is complete, of course.

We've had a drought here in Alberta.  In fact, some farmland has been declared an agricultural disaster due to lack of rain.  Lawns are brown and plants are showing their distaste.  Wilting foliage and humans is not uncommon.  
I tried the pop bottle method of watering while away for the weekend for my son's wedding. I'm not sure if it was effective or the diligence of another daughter-in-law, but no casualties have been observed in my garden or pots.  Yay!!

Speaking of casualties, between last weekend's storm and today's rain, my poor Annabelle Hydrangeas are laying rather flat.  No, I didn't stake them, and perhaps one year I will remember to do so; but until now they were holding their own. 
Elsewhere in the garden, the flowers are fine.  I really like the foliage of the two varieties of geranium I planted this year: Vancouver Centennial Geranium (left) and the other on the right is Mrs. Pollock (a brocade leaf geranium).  


The Vancouver Centennial has flowered.  I wish they'd improve upon the flowers though.  Not my favourite but I do love the foliage!

Vancouver Centennial Geranium (left and right)
I love the brocade leaf on the Mrs. Pollock Geranium (below).  It has yet to bloom.



Blue Waterfall Campanula is hardy to zone 2 and though it's grown in a planter, it won't remain there come fall.


Red Prince Wiegela is crowded much to close to Annabelle.  Whoever planted this bed prior to our residence here didn't take into account the mature size of each shrub.  Hopefully I'll get this rectified in the spring.  Red Prince has been flowering for weeks now.  It started before the hydrangea and just keeps going. It's a zone 4 but don't tell it that!


My favourite planter this year combines an almost black upright petunia, the chartreuse potato vine, white alyssum and a dracaena.  I'm considering designing the same next year, probably in more than one planter, and using New Zealand Flax as the thriller instead of the dracaena.  I'd gain some contrast amongst the foliage but lose it against the brick.  What do you think?



Last but not least, this interesting little annual caught my eye and made it's way into a container with a Fireworks grass.  It doesn't bloom continuously, this is its second flush, but it is certainly worth considering at least once.  It's Calceolaria herbeohybrida, aka Lady's Purse or Slipper Flower.  Read more here:  http://www.plantsrescue.com/calceolaria-herbeohybrida/


The tomatoes are fruiting very well, lettuce has had one harvest so far and the herbs are brimming their respective pots.  Looking forward to the days ahead. May your harvest be bountiful.  

Be back soon.  Now for that novel!


09 July 2015

Front Yards in Bloom - Judging


This week I had the privilege of being a preliminary judge for Front Yards in Bloom.  "This recognition program is all about celebrating the efforts of our neighbours in beautifying Edmonton's neighbourhoods." (http://www.edmonton.ca/programs_services/landscaping_gardening/front-yards-in-bloom.aspx)


I visited the nominees within a specified area and placed a lawn sign along with a brochure to indicate the garden was nominated/recognized for Front Yards in Bloom.  While doing so, I filled out an evaluation sheet for those that impressed me the most.  Using this same sheet, I used the criteria to select two yards which would proceed to the final judging by professional judges; the ceremony for which to be held this fall.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the favourites gardens and their respective gardeners receive recognition for beautifying their front yards.

Here's one front garden that impressed me.














23 June 2015

Twice-stabbed stink bug

Photo by Dryad's Bounty
Pentatomidae - Cosmopepla lintneriana - Twice-stabbed Stink Bug

That's the little stinker seen above on the columbine in a local garden.  While this particular bug, the Twice Stabbed Stink Bug, will not defoliate a plant, it does have a penchant for seeds which can be a problem for raspberry growers and apparently pea plants.  Otherwise, there's no need to be alarmed when you see them as they pose no significant risk to your perennials.

The Twice-stabbed Stink Bug can be identified by its markings, the two red dots on its back.  It is black with a shield shape.  They are common in the prairie provinces and a mild winter may precipitate sightings of greater numbers.  Usually the cold winters of the prairies keeps their numbers in check.  

To help prevent future "infestations," do a thorough clean-up in the fall of all debris.  The stink bug likes to overwinter in leaf litter.  They may also be seen gathered together beneath mulch and rocks.  

If you are inclined to pick them off by hand, wear gloves because these shy stink bugs bite!  They're not called stink bugs for no reason either.  When threatened they release an odor similar to that of cilantro.  You may pick them up and drop them in soapy water to dispose of them, as one gardener suggested.

You will find their eggs lined up neatly in rows on the undersides of leaves. Check for dark markings on the eggs before disposing of them as the markings indicate they have likely been parasitized so the work is done for you.

Parasitic wasps, ladybugs and birds are their natural enemies.  So welcome these predators to your garden and avoid the use of chemicals which may harm beneficial insects as well.

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