Friday, May 31, 2013

When Iris Blooms are Smiling!

I was happy to see Mom's iris all doing really well this year.  Here's the second one to bloom ...
I had been hoping to have a few of her old-fashioned varieties that she transplanted from her mother, which were rusty browns.  Unfortunately, it would appear that all the buds on these iris are purple.  Which is still nice, I just had my fingers crossed ... you know how it is ;)
One of my favourite flowers is the columbine ... and in particular, this larger pink and white variety.  I don't keep track of the exact names of the flowers, so you'll have to excuse me there.  Lately, all I seem to find popping up in my garden have been the tiny dwarf flowers in columbine (and they pop up everywhere!), but then this larger flower appeared along the back fence ... surprise!!

Below is one of the dwarf columbine flowers, which are really quite tiny and I'm not that fond of them.  Up close in the macro setting of the camera they look quite pretty, but unless you want to carry a magnifying glass around the garden with you, it's difficult to see their charms ...

... especially when their tiny heads hang upside down and you have to lie on the ground to get a good shot!

I recently purchased two hens & chicks plants as I wanted to try growing one in the crevice of a small limestone rock I have in the garden.  Here in Ontario there is a lot of limestone, and quite a few limestone quarries (one of which was just down the road from where I grew up in Lowville).  The Niagara Escarpment is all limestone rock and it's a very craggy rock that has lots of pits and hollows, and the escarpment is full of interesting caves to crawl into (I even know where there's an underground "lake" ... really just a small pool of water, but underground! ... I'm not even sure there is still water there after many, many years).  I spent a lot of years hiking the Bruce Trail which runs the length of the escarpment, and is a real treasure to the area.  If you're ever in this part of the province, be sure to check it out. 
Back to present day ... on my street there are a couple of old couples that have these big rocks in their front yards with hens & chicks growing right on top of the rocks, and I thought I'd like to try that and immediately thought of the small chunk of limestone I have. 
 So I pushed the big fat hen gently into the crevice, and have carefully watered it every day to keep it from drying out (maybe misting would be better so that I don't wash away the dirt before the roots have established themselves). 
Now I just have to sit back and watch and wait.  And wait.  And wait.  I guess I won't really know if this is working until next year.  The final test ... will it survive the winter?! 
Gardening can be so slow, can't it?!

Thanks for stopping by!
Linking up with Fishtail Cottage and her Cottage Garden Party #5

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

All Buttoned Up!

She's a finished!!
I finally got the finishing details all sorted out on my daughter's zig-zag cushion.  I had to figure it out on my own though as the pattern only suggested that you sew the entire cushion cover closed over the cushion form.  That would've been the easiest thing to do.  However, I wanted my daughter to be able to remove the cover easily for a wash every so often, so I opted for a button closure.  I had run out of the turquoise, pink & green yarns, so I couldn't make the strips any longer than they are.  I decided to knit a band all around the bottom with yarn-overs for button holes (I do know how to make nice neat button holes, but I didn't feel like getting all fussy about this as I'm fed up with it now!). 

Since I've collected all these pretty vintage buttons for the longest time, I chose all different buttons.  I had all the colours except the hot pink. 

Aren't they nice?

When I showed my daughter, the first thing she said was "I like the buttons!".  And here I didn't think she'd hardly notice them ... yeah!

It was very cloudy and rainy today, so I couldn't take photos outside, and the only good light was in the front window.  I still want to take a photo of it on my daughter's bed with the quilt to see how it looks, but I'll have to wait till it's sunny again.
I'm glad this cushion cover is finally finished.  It was a lot of work (for me!), although I'm sure a more experienced knitter could've whipped this up in a couple of days.  After numerous changes to the pattern and the sewing up of this cushion, I wonder at what point do you call a pattern "re-do" your own?  The only thing I kept from the original pattern was the zig-zag concept.  I found the pattern lacking and a bit sneaky.  It was written in a children's book, but the written pattern didn't seem to match the photo in the book.  The increases & decreases looked different, and they could not have used the suggested whip stitch to connect the strips as I tried to do it that way but it looked horrendous!  I am very happy with the way my cushion cover turned out, and would make this again ... I'll just have to write out my notes in good before I can't make out my scrawls!
While I was taking photos of the cushion, I spied the baby robin (American Robin) outside with one of his parents.  See the adult listening for the worms underground.  So glad the baby is still surviving. 
(poor quality as they were taken through the window)

 Nothing on the go for reading at the moment ... too busy gardening!
My earlier spring flowers ...
Aren't these collages cool!
And flowers now blooming in my backyard ...
Thanks for stopping by!
Linking up with:
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Young 'uns

I remember when you were no bigger than a dandelion ...
This little munch has been living under/behind my shed.  He was eating dandelions on the lawn while we ate supper tonight.  It reminded me of a story of my youth, which I then told my daughter. 
When I was young my dad was putting in a new fence along our property line (oh! just that fence brings back another memory, but you'll just have to remind me to tell you of the "horse & buggy" story another time).  We found a nest of baby rabbits right in the fence line and we had to move it.  I don't know why my dad didn't just say to move the rabbits a little ways off and leave them alone, but we collected them all and put them in a bushel basket.  That night we took the basket down to the barn and put it in the stall with the two goats, beside the stall with the horse.
In the morning we ran down to the barn to check out our basket of rabbits, only to discover they had all hopped out of the basket in the night!  We thought they had all escaped under the barn door, and into the woods.  However, while we sadly mucked out the horse's stall, we discovered that two of the rabbits had hopped into the horse's stall and our dear old Scamp had laid down on top of them.  Flattened to about 1/4 ". 
It happened so long ago that it's quite permissible to laugh about it now.
Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cloudy with a Chance of Flowers

An overcast day today ... yesterday we had some rain, so the ground is now too wet and heavy for gardening  :( 
Some of my flowers are coming into their prime however ... 
... gorgeous iris in the softest shade of purple ...
... bleeding hearts  in pink ...

... and white ...

... dwarf columbine ...
... this one was a surprise in its muted pink ...

... and of course the lovely scented lilac ...

... still heavy with  yesterday's rain ...
I've been negligent with the knitting, and plugging away slowly on my book (lack of interest there too), so haven't joined in with the Yarn Along this week (again).  But there's no pressure for that is there?
I felt like blogging today, but nothing much happening here to share.  Happy Wednesday everyone.
Thanks for stopping by,
Linking up with Fishtail Cottage's Garden Party

Monday, May 20, 2013

Victoria Day Weekend of Gardening

I have had a very productive weekend of gardening!  I was so happy to finally have gotten started on the backyard gardens, and we had the most beautiful weekend to do that :)

I started off earlier in the week in an effort to move my composting box from one side of the yard to the other.  Over the past few years, our lilac bush was swallowing up the back corner of the yard and the compost was no longer in full sun, but full shade, and it was taking a long time for the yard waste I threw in there to compost.  I didn't take any 'before' pictures, but under the lilac was the compost box, long uncut grass, a huge pile of dirt in front of the compost (from my son's pond expansion last summer), and masses of weeds growing happily on top of the dirt pile!

Here's the corner and the lilac now (the yard is full of the scent of this beautiful lilac!)

And underneath the lilac, my lovely remade corner garden ... this is where all the mess was.  But I dug out all the dirt, weeds and even emptied the compost box (no mean feat!) so that the ground was all nice and level again.
I emptied six (!) bags of "bark nuggets" all around the lilac ...
I replanted the hostas (which grow like weeds in my somewhat shady gardens), and transplanted some young ferns into the back corner, and then tossed the rocks I dug up into a little pile, and tossed a log in for good measure.  I love ferns.  Where I grew up there were ferns growing wild in the woods below our house alongside the creek.  They were as tall as your shoulders and smelled so wonderful.  And the dappled sunlight from the trees down by the creek was so pretty on all those ferns ... magical! 
I took away as many ferns from my mom's house as I could manage, and last year my son and I created a fern garden in his pond area.  This is how it looks this year ...
We're both glad that the ferns like this spot and are doing so well.  They've sprouted up all sorts of tiny fronds, and it was from here that I had extras to transplant in the back corner.  The stepping stones were some that I gave my parents over the years, and then brought back to my house.  This small area was fixed up last year by my son and I.  It's just beside our patio and quite shady.  Nothing really grew well under the bush (which none of us know the name of, but the flowers stink, so we have referred to it always as the "Stinky Bush"), so we lay bark nuggets down in this area and lined the edge with rocks we'd collected over the summer.
This is my son's pond, which he drained of stagnant water today and will now clean the liner, fill with clean water and two shebunkin fish (all that the great blue heron left last year), and get the pump running again.  He's had a pond for about five years now, this is the second pond (just larger than the first), and he added a waterfall last year too.  My son recently had a birthday, so we bought what I'm sure every 15-year old would love ... a wooden garden bench :)  He was very happy with it and laid some leftover stones down for the bench to sit on ... it completes his pond garden very nicely.
My husband very kindly set in the black edging all around the back garden and alongside the lilac bush.  As you can see I need to repair some bald spots in the yard, but I have a plan for that too. 
A small ring of found rocks I placed around our pine tree.  I tidied up this little area too, raking all the pine needles off the lawn and back under the tree.
My sleepy helper ...
My bleeding hearts, which grow as well as the hostas.  Can you believe that I transplanted these bleeding hearts just last summer, and look how huge they are this spring!  This garden got tidied up as well, with the edge along the grass sharpened and weeds pulled.
The iris from my mom ... and I'm happy to say that there are quite a few buds amongst those green leaves!  This garden gets hidden by our pool in the summertime, but right now it's looking pretty good.  Can't wait for the iris to bloom ... maybe this week or next!
And this is where I moved the compost box ... into full sun again.  It doesn't look like much here, but the amount of work that went into digging the compost out of the box was a lot of work, and I had to spread it around all the gardens one shovel-full at a time.   Even the box was set deep into the ground (as you can tell from the dirt marks around the bottom), and it took a fair bit of work to get it dislodged again.
Now all that dirt that you see surrounding the box, and the 2x4s leaning against the fence used to be where we had one massive pile of firewood.  I had to first move two stacks of firewood from against the fence before I could put the compost box here.  It took forever, but now the wood is stacked here ...
and I've listed it on Kijiji for free to the first person who wants it.  I have blisters on my hands from moving all this wood.  My son helped me move the last of it this morning, but it was only about one-quarter of the entire stack.  I was so tired of these wood piles looking awful in the backyard and they were attracting wasps and who knows what else.  In fact I even found a tiny black bat hidden under the top logs having a snooze yesterday.  It startled me at first because I thought it was a mouse, but when I saw how slowly it was moving I realized it had wings!!  Cool!  I removed the rest of the logs very carefully after that. 
So after three days of intensive gardening, I'm exhausted and ready for a well-deserved cup of tea.  Here's a couple of photos of the entire backyard (using my fancy 'panoramic' photo feature).  First looking towards the house from the back fence (leftover edging there, and the weedy circle on the right is where our pool will be, also why there is a fence running through the middle of our yard) ...

And then looking towards the back fence from the house ...
I hope you all had a wonderful Victoria Day Weekend ... not long now before we'll hear the explosion of fireworks in the neighbourhood!!
Happy Victoria Day to my fellow Canadians,
and thanks so much for stopping by!

Friday, May 17, 2013

G'Morning Cheeps

Baby robin who has been hopping around the yard the last couple of days.  His parents have had a trying time this year.  A red-winged blackbird took over their first nest and I found the shattered tiny blue eggs on the ground.  But the determined robins built another nest by stealing bits and pieces from their original nest.  Then earlier this week I spied a huge black crow feasting on one of their young :(  This little guys sibling.  I was happy to see the parents taking such good care of this scrappy little piece of fluff, but they were getting upset that I was around, so I left them to their work after taking only a couple of shots.
Heading into the Victoria Day long weekend ... SOOOOO looking forward to this weekend, and I'm hoping for good gardening weather!
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Back to Regular Programming

On to a new day.  Mother's Day over and done with and glad for it.  My family resists that urge to spoil me, or heaven forbid, acknowledge me on that day, and they never notice how it upsets me, and since I didn't want to sit around the house moping (especially after writing yesterday's post ... and yes, I turned comments off there for my own messed-up reasons), I headed to a store that I was saving up just for yesterday.  I knew I would need somewhere to go on M's Day well in advance (since last year!). 
You probably know the store was the thrift store.  Not too long ago, "the store" would've been the book store and the fabric store, but lately I've been enjoying the thrift store where it's always a surprise as to what you may (and may not) find.  I was somewhat disappointed at the crowds of people in the store yesterday!!  Why was everyone there on Mother's Day?!  Shouldn't they be home having chocolates and gifts bestowed upon them?  Shouldn't they still be at the Sunday brunch?!  Alas, I had to share the aisles with many others, but was still able to find some nice surprises ...
First off was a pretty crocheted throw. 

Not too large, but very nice colours (more pinks showing up in real life).  Hanging on Grandmother's clothes horse to dry this windy and cloudy day.  I should probably dry it flat, but I've been rotating it around on the rack, and it isn't too large so I don't think it'll stretch (too much!).   It's quite soft in texture, and I believe it's a wool/acrylic blend as there was some colour left in the water after the washing, and a steal at just five bucks!
Then I found these two pottery dishes ... why is pottery I find lately all blue?  I want to paint my kitchen blue sometime soon (right now it's a ghastly deep yellow, which I loved when I first painted it, but am tired of it now 6 or 8 years later), so these should fit right in. 

And another blue pot ... have you noticed I have a thing for lidded pots?  Something to hide bits and pieces of crafting clutter I think is my objective, although in truth, they more often than not don't end up holding anything!  This pot has lots of birds and butterflies and all things spring-like and lovely :)
Then I bought this book ....
of which I now have two!  I found this book earlier in the year, and bought it because there was one craft that I thought looked really cool.  When I brought the first book home (it too was a thrift store purchase), the page with the instructions for said craft were ripped out of the book!!  Why would someone do that?!  Just keep the whole book rather than fool someone into thinking it was complete.  So needless to say, that was disappointing!  I didn't return the book either because there were other crafts that also looked good, and I may even one day get around to making.  But when I saw the same book yesterday, I scooped it up again.  Of course I checked to make sure the crucial page was still intact first!
I also found a little creamer for when I want to make myself a pot of tea.  Just big enough for milkfor one or two cups of tea.  There was no matching sugar bowl, but I don't put sugar in my tea anyway, and have been looking for a lost little creamer that needed a home :)
Then onto the drug store where I bought a pretty magazine with lots of wonderful images of cottage-styled rooms, and even more blue pieces!  And a bag of chocolate malt balls which just about made me ill after a couple of handfuls (I should know better, but I was trying to cheer myself up).

There was a white-on-white and a blue-and-white theme going on throughout the magazine.  Love the look of crisp cotton vintage linens tucked into a natural wood cupboard :)

The blue & white stuff was pretty too, and something I've always had a fondness for.
These are some of my own blue & white plates which I will one day (!!) get displayed on the walls again.  They once belonged to my Great Aunt, and my great grandmother or great-great grandmother before her.  I've always loved that shade of grey/blue and the details of birds and flowers is so pretty.
... the stamped bottom for those who are interested ...

So the day ended not too badly, even though no one in my family was aware of my purchases.  I also stopped at my favourite gardening centre which has a huge selection of wonderful and often unusual perennials and picked up a couple of poppies (I don't have any in my garden and have wanted them for a long time).  Even though my husband refused to join me on Saturday when I asked him to go there and he threatened "you can't buy anything yet because it's too cold!!" .  They're hiding in the garage, but they're a spring plant and I'm sure they'll be fine.  I also bought some packets of seeds, and I'm looking forward to getting those going indoors this week. 

My garden is so pathetic right now, as I've not had any spare time to clean it up and sort it out.  The hostas all need splitting, and I need to organize a lot of plants that I brought from Mom's garden.  This weekend it was actually snowing on Sunday ... snowing!! ... and so cold and windy that it was no fun being outside (although I enjoyed my outdoor time at the gardening centre admiring all their plants.

So I'm happy to move onto another week, and hope that the weather warms up because I don't like putting the furnace on in May!  And now back to regular programming and chores ...
Thanks for stopping by, and thank you very much to those who left comments on other posts regarding my mom's post, they were all very touching (I was just feeling a bit disheartened yesterday).


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