29 September 2011

There's a Nip in the Air and Conclusions

There is no doubt that it is officially autumn.  When I left for work this morning at 6 am it was only 2 degrees Celsius, barely above freezing.  There are quite a few barren-esk (I take the liberty to make my own word here) trees in the city already.  Rumour has it it is more to do with an abnormally dry fall than the temperatures or the decreasing day light hours.  

Maples are showing off their striking frocks, celebrating the briskness of the air, while the Pink Diamond Hydrangea is now truly pink.  The peonies leaves are vibrant in red and the deep purple of the Schubert Chokecherry is a strong contrast juxtaposed with the yellow foliage of the neighbouring trees.  It is beautiful, no doubt, as every season has its beauty.  Last week we had day time temperatures near and just above 30 degrees Celsius.  Today it is only 18 with a strong cool wind, another contrast that marks the change of seasons.  To everything...turn, turn, turn.......

While you are here, please be sure to drop by for a visit with Glenda at Tootsie Time to see what's new in her neck of the woods as she hosts Fertilizer Friday/Flaunt Your Flowers.

In case you were wondering, my Endless Summer Hydrangea did not flower this year though it grew to almost double its size of last year.  As you may recall I moved it to a sunny bed where it grows luxuriously, though it wilts during the heat of the day.  Perhaps next year will be the year it decides to bloom again.  Fingers crossed.

Paper Pots Product Trial Update:  I found this to be a satisfactory planting solution for my Lemon Boy Tomato.  The plant grew tall and healthy, produced a few good tasty fruit, and is still going strong.  If it weren't for the tendency to retain moisture, which isn't a good thing when you are beating rainfall records, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.  If it holds up, I will try it again next year but will add a few drainage holes to see if it works better.  All in all, I was pleased with this product.

24 September 2011

Eye Movement Study at UBC to Study How the Western Eye Interprets Japanese Pruned Plants

UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research
Additional Western-raised adults are needed for an eye-movement study on how Japanese-pruned plants are "seen". Volunteers must be between18 and 59, raised in a Western country (especially Canada!) since the age of 3 and able to see 1.5m without eyeglasses or hard contacts. All volunteers meeting the inclusion criteria are welcome, but additional males in particular are needed. For more info, visit: http://ht.ly/6wymk

The UBC (University of British Columbia Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research) is located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada).

19 September 2011

Giant Hogweed on the Spread

Giant hogweed found in Richmond Hill. Tracey Steele,
Richmond Hill's manager of natural heritage and parkland
acquisitions, stand back from dangerous giant hogweed plant discovered
and destroyed last year, that grew back and had to be removed again this year.
By Adam McLean (photo courtesy of yorkregion.com)
More toxic than previously thought.....

Many of you may remember the post I wrote last year about the Giant Hogweed and its toxicity.  Now the Giant Hogweed is being blamed for increasing the risk of cancer and birth defects because the sap contains carcinogenic compounds (according to Lifestyle at Sympatico.ca) !  Over 400 plants have been recorded within a single area in Ontario.  High concentrations of Giant Hog Weed have been recorded in British Columbia, Ontario (Muskoka area, Richmond Hill and Toronto) and New York.

"If you come across giant hogweed, it’s not recommended that you remove it yourself, but anyone handling the plant is urged to wear protective clothing. A rain jacket, plus waterproof gloves and pants are considered ideal.
The highly visible plants can reach heights of five metres tall and if detected, residents should call the ministry’s invading species hotline or phone a private lawn care company."(Killer Plant Invades Canada, LIfestyle@Sympatico.ca) 

Frost Warning and First Day of Autumn for the Northern Hemisphere

Drats, folks, I have to say the "f" word.  FROST!!!  What did you think I meant?  Twice during the last week we received a light frost, but nothing that did any damage to the vegetables still growing in containers.  Today I harvested all the tomatoes, red and green, some oregano and parsley, green peppers and carrots.  I brought in the basil and geranium and covered the fuchsia.  Tonight I covered the remaining oregano and parsley with a sheet as we now have an official frost warning.  Lows near 4 Celsius, which could just as easily dip below zero, especially in outlying areas.  Mittens or driving gloves are recommended for the morning, folks.  Autumn has arrived, though not officially until Friday, September 23, as shown in the table below.  And you know what that means....right?

YearNorthern Hemisphere
Fall - Autumn begins on ...
2009Tuesday, September 22
2010Wednesday, September 22
2011Friday, September 23
2012Saturday, September 22
2013Sunday, September 22
2014Tuesday, September 23
2015Wednesday, September 23

16 September 2011

Fog on the Horizon - Sky Watch Friday

photos taken by Matt

Looking out from the balcony on the 23rd floor of a downtown high rise, you can see a fog bank on the horizon.  Rather an interesting view from here, isn't it.

Sky Watch Friday features sky shots from all over the world.  Stop in for a new view.

15 September 2011

Tour of Agatha Christie's Holiday Home and Garden

In celebration of the birthday of Agatha Christie, I have been compiling information about this incredibly brilliant woman and came across this video.  It is a few minutes long (8:43 to be exact), so relax, grab a drink of your favour and enjoy this tour of Greenway in Devon, Great Britain.

03 September 2011

The End or the Beginning: Celebrating the Garden

It is now early September and a definite nip has replaced the warmth of summer.  Evenings are markedly cooler and day light hours noticeably shorter.  Deep within, this makes me cringe.  The older I get, the more I seriously dislike winter, and fall to the extent that it is the harbinger of winter, often accented with days of snow, far too early in the season.  

I once, not too long ago, lingered on the deck in the evening, languishing in the warmth of a summer's dusk.  Now, I hide indoors, with a sweater, sighing as only a lover of summer and gardening does, knowing that the joy I hold dear is passing me by.  Readying itself for a long winter's rest, the garden begins to take on the first signs of a change of seasons.  The Pink Diamond hydrangea blossoms are turning a delicate pink on the edges, soon to be a full dusty pink, beautiful in their own right.  I spotted a few yellow leaves on the birch and promptly removed them, lest the rest of the garden should feel inclined to follow suit. Berries of the mountain ash are now a deep and beautiful orange, hanging gloriously as the accent of colour in the far corner of the yard.  Even the peony leaves are finding new shades of red to brighten their existence in my garden.  The garden seems to celebrate the end or the beginning of the season by donning its brightest colours.  

As I contemplate this change of events, from the plants' perspectives, I cannot deny them this yearly ritual for I too glory in the magic of the change of scenery.  The magnificent accents that dot the landscape or sometimes set it awash in divine brilliant colour, makes my heart leap in joy.  Yes, I love fall too.  Such a gloriously colourful season.  I imagine the crisp scent that permeates the air with the change of seasons, summer into fall, and there is something energizing in it.  It makes me long to walk in the wilderness, bundled in my favourite sweater, long jeans and comfy shoes.  Of course, what would such a walk be without my camera?  It is a frequent companion on such occasions and soon I will be posting photos of the delights that capture my senses.  Is it the end or the beginning?  Whatever it is, I too shall find joy in it!

Here are some of my favourite photos of the passing season......

I'm celebrating the garden with......
Mosaic Monday at Little Red House
Cottage Flora Thursday at Fishtail Cottage

Thanks for visiting, dear friends.  Have a great one!

02 September 2011

Conversations with a Moonflower - book review

Conversations with a Moonflower
Author:  Christine T. Hall
Published:  2011
Publisher:  Bonneville Books, an imprint of Cedar Forts, Inc.
Pages:  120

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  You may see my full review at http://shirley-mybookshelf.blogspot.com.

The plot of Conversations with a Moonflower centers upon the most unlikely of things, a plant.  Actually the moonflower plays a secondary role to that of Chris, the narrator and main character, but its role is vital to the telling of the story.  Without the moonflower, there would be no story.

Chris was presented with a moonflower plant as a gift from an Amish friend who knew the joy and peace of such a present.  Taken home and planted, the moonflower took hold in Chris' garden and flourished there. To her amazement, Chris noticed that the synchronizing of the opening of blossoms at dusk and the visits of neighbours and friends was becoming a regular thing in her garden and soon the introduction of a bench facing the moonflower was made.  Odd that it didn't face the front, but rather it faced the plant, but if you were witness to the display put on by the plant, you'd understand.  However, the moonflower offered to Chris so much more.  Her frequent visits did something for her spirit and mind, something she desperately needed and had desired for a very long time.  You must read Conversations with a Moonflower to see the subtlety of the message and the hope therein.  Then you will understand the miracle of the moonflower.

About the plant:
Oenothera biennis, moonflower, is a yellow biennial which blooms in the summer at dusk.  

Light:  full sun to part shade
Height:  24" - 60"
Spacing:  15" - 18"
Water:  average moisture
Fertilizer:  2-3 times during the summer, no later than August 15th in zone 3
Susceptible to snails and caterpillars.

There are a variety of plants that are referred to as moonflowers and Oenothera biennis may vary.

Instructions to enjoy your moonflowers (from the author, page 118)
"Place several lawn chairs in front of the plant about ten to fifteen minutes before the normal blooming time.  You can either sit quietly by yourself or invite a family member or neighbour to share the joy with you.  Pay attention to your thoughts as you sit peacefully in the twilight waiting for each blossom to open.  Breathe deeply.  Ask questions.  Listen.  After the plant has finished blooming, sit quietly a few more minutes.  Reflect on your blessings.  Breathe deeply.  Listen a little longer."
The following photos are courtesy of the internet:


In some garden centres, the moonflower is also known as evening primrose (which is what our local garden centres refer to it as).  The evening primrose is also available in white or pink as seen below, though the plant I have grown has yellow blooms.  It is a bit of a spreader and looks very much like the plant seen above.


Conversations With a Moonflower

Conversations With a Moonflower is available at Cedar Forts Publishers, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble


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