Sunday, March 15, 2009

Richmond's First Seedy Saturday at Terra Nova Rural Park

It was a crisp Saturday morning at the Terra Nova Rural Park. I was excited about attending Richmond's First Seedy Saturday. In years past I've been to the Vandusen event, but I was so pleased that we now have one of our own.

I had just been to the Terra Nova Barn last week when I attended the Backyard Chickens information session.

As I approached the familiar red barn, I found myself walking a little faster, wondering what kind of seed's I would find.

The barn was buzzing with activity already, it was 10:15 and things were just getting started.
There was so many things to see. The Richmond Garden Club had a table, they were selling seeds that they saved from the Paulik Gardens, and also some seeds that they had found in old mason jars, saved from the original property owner and caretaker.
There were mason bee houses for sale, honey, Heritage seeds from Harold Steves, as well as the Richmond Pesticide Awareness Coalition.

Then in the middle of the room there it was, the sharing table. This was for anyone who wishes to put down seeds that they had saved from their garden, or just extra seeds that they were willing to share. I placed my contribution on table and then jumped in to begin sorting through the seeds, seeing if there was anything that I could use for this years garden. I must have spent 20 minutes just going over everything. I pocketed a half dozen packets of seeds and then I proceeded outside.

There set up just outside the barn was Laurelle Oldford-Dawn from The Urban Fruitery selling a bunch of varieties of Blueberry bushes. I couldn't walk away without buying one, the variety I chose was Reki, a heavy producer of big blue berries, I can't wait.

Next I made my way over to get my pruners sharped by donation. After a few minutes they were good as new.

I finished off the morning with a walk through the community gardens. The fresh air, quite surroundings and sunshine made for a enjoyable walk.

The seeds I selected from the table, looking forward to growing and eating those.

Some of the other seeds I dug up from years past. I almost forgot I had them. Some seeds are anywhere from 2 to 6 years old. I hope that they will still grow, there is one way to tell.

To test seed germination, I sprayed down some paper towel strips, placed some seeds from each packet between the moist paper towels, my daughter helped me count out the big ones. I placed each strip in a small snack sized zipper bag and wrote the name and date on it.

I placed the bags next to a bright window, and waited to any signs of activity.

After a week, I checked the seeds and to my surprise, the majority of the seeds had germinated, the few that didn't might just need a little more time. My daughter was happy to see the little seed she had helped me with last week now looks so different. I'm sure she will have lots of fun with me in the Garden this year.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Townhouse Garden 2008 - Flowers From The Garden

Over the season I like to take pictures of the plants when they are looking their best, having a digital camera really makes that job of capturing great shots easy. You can see right away if you've got the "Money Shot" and you can snap away to your hearts content and it doesn't cost you anything, but the beauty of the flowers will last forever.

Some Hydrangea's, the soil that they are planted in is new and on the alkaline side of things, it is slowly turn acidic now that it's had a few years of rain on it. It's neat to see the transition of the flowers from pink (alkaline) to blue (acidic).

I really like the structure of this variety of Hydrangea. The flowers are a little thicker that other Hydrangea's I have. That makes them a good cut flower.

The "Fred Boutin" Lavender is in full bloom. I love the extra long stems of this variety, they reach 2 feet long, an excellent cut flower.

Close up of "Fred Boutin" Lavender

The bees love the Lavender.

"Double Delight" Rose, I purchased this year from Southlands Nursery.

"Black Magic" a Jackson and Perkins Rose also purchase this year from Southlands Nursery. I was trying to go for an artistic shot. I love the dark red colour of this rose.

The flower off of "Klem's Hardy Gardenia" ordered through Southlands Nursery, I had heard that there was a hardy Zone 8 Gardenia out there that could be grown year round here. I purchased one for my mom for Mothers Day and one for my self. The smell is close to the more commonly know indoor double flowered Gardenia. It's a real treat to be sitting out on the patio and catch a wif of this beautiful flower.

A Clematis that was here when I moved in.

I like all the pretty purple stripping, name unknown.

"Jackmanii" Clematis, the dark purple flowers have an almost fuzzy appearance in the sun.

The purple flowers of the new Rhododendron "tree" planted this year.

Crocus's in the spring time.

Fall Aster, a gift from a neighbour. This needs to be staked or it will end up toppling over under the weight of all those blooms. An easy, reliable garden perennial.

One of my favorite Dahlia's "Rip City" it'll stop you in your path.

A bouquet of all my dark coloured Dahlia's

A bouquet of all my yellow and orange hued Dahlia's.

The Townhouse Garden 2008 - The Backyard Evolution

With the major front garden renovations completed, it's time to turn my efforts to the backyard.

There's a lot of things I want to do to this blank slate of a backyard. There were a few plants and some garden beds in place but nothing that I was going to keep. The ugly fence is going to be replaced in 2009, so I can't do to much with the backyard, just enough to make it pretty for this year.

The existing hard edged combination of brick and plastic edging are going to be replaced with something more natural and flowing.

My sister saved some Iris's from some one's garbage, I potted them, I plan to give them a nice sunny spot in the new garden.

One of the first things I bought for the garden this year was an ornamental cherry tree "Kwanzaa" is the variety. After seeing all the flowering cherry's lining the streets I just knew I had to get one. I like the full flowers and late blooming of this variety, this tree will grow large in 15 to 20 years, but by carefully pruning the branches, I hope to keep a open airy feel about it. I would like some shade but not all shade.

The garden needed some height, one way I tried to achieve this is the addition of these free Rhododendron "trees". I totally scored with these beauties, I can often be found trolling the Craigslist's, Farm and Garden or Free listings, I've found it's a good way to acquire cheap or free mature plants and I lucked out one day when some one had posted free Rhodo's. Knowing how shallow rooted Rhodo's are I went with my utility trailer and shovel to dig them up. When I arrived they were exactly what I was looking for, 6 to 7 feet tall, and the lower branches had already been removed years earlier. It took a little digging and two people to lift it out of the hole but up they came and I've never looked back. One is red as shown and the other is purple. They bloom at different times so there is some colour for almost a month and a half strait.

The purple Rhodo in bloom.

After each of the tree's finished blooming, and before the new growth really started to grow I removed all the old leaves by carefully snapping them backwards. The old leaves were not in good shape and by removing them, it enabled me to clean up the spent flower blossoms from this and previous years and I could see the "bones" of the trees. I cut out any crossing branches and opened up the tree for good light and air movement. I find you can prune them hard and they are very forgiving.

Another total score, courtesy of Craigslist, were the granite rocks I was looking for. They weren't free but who can argue with $20 and a case of beer. They look terrific as the new boarder for the back garden beds. They add more of that natural element I'm trying to going for.

The granite rocks go all along the backyard, curving here and there. One thing I would like to add sometime would be the addition of a small shed to store the wheelbarrow and all my gardening tools, perhaps on the shady side of the fence once the fence is replaced next year.

I painted the ugly fence this year and I also attached some painted plywood to the upper portion of the fence to cover the lattice. Our backyard faces the street and I didn't like the fact that anyone walking by could look through the lattice and see into the yard and into the living room at night.

The combination of the shade from the fence and the dog, does a number on the health of the grass in the backyard, I'm constantly watering a patching up the doggie damage it really is a losing battle. I'm considering removing the grass and replacing it with some crushed stone next year. That will be a no maintenance, water saving option, not to mention it will keep the mud off the dog's paws in the winter when the grass seems to turn to a muddy mess.

A different perspective

The back fence isn't strait across, it juts in about 2 feet from the property line half way across. Next year when the fence gets replace, the fence will all be the same depth, running on the property line. This should give me and extra 20 square feet to garden in. Right now nothing can be planted along the fence by the gate, but next year the gate will stil be in the same place, but I will have all that extra room. The granite rocks will have to be re-worked to accommodate the extra bed.

The Townhouse Garden 2007 - The Front Garden Grows

2007 wasn't a busy gardening year, with no big projects ahead, I can take time to watch the front garden grow.

The Crocus's are the first flower to bloom in my garden. I've planted them in front of the Lavender bushes, the Daffodils are planted just behind and are just starting to bloom. Later in the season the Lavender hides both the Crocus and the Daffodil leaves, as they can be kind of ugly at that stage.

Spring time and the Daffodils are in full bloom and the Japanese Maple is just starting the leaf out. The "Basket of Gold" Aurinia saxatilis is also just starting to bloom, I love how this plant will cascade over the rocks.

The "Basket of Gold" is starting to cascade over the rock border and the small yellow Rhododendron is blooming.

I don't know the name of this pale yellow Rhododendron, but is looks like it can be kept small. I transplanted it from the back garden last year and it seems to be doing much better in this location.

Closer to the house is mostly a shade garden, the small cedar hedge make sure of that. It's the perfect spot for some Ferns and a Hosta. I've also planted a Hydrangea, Astilbe and a "Nelly Moser" Clematis growing up a trellis on the down spout.

I added interest to the entrance way by removing some of the agrigate bricks and plastic edging that were there when we moved in and replacing it with some flagstone and re-worked the planting area with some more of the bricks. This to is shaded 80% of the day, I've planted some Bleeding Hearts, Ferns and more Hosta's. I tried growing some moss between the flagstone but this area was just to shaded. I'll have to rethink what I should use to replace the moss.

The red Rhododendron in the distance is a well know variety, Jean De'Montague. I've always loved the Rhodo's that have big clusters of red blooms and dark green leathery leaves, and now I have one of my own. The Dahlia's are just starting to come up. Shasta Daisy's are planted just below the living room window and a Rosemary and Bay Leaf bush are planted below the kitchen window. A Late Dutch Honeysuckle is climbing up a trellis attached to the downspout. I started this plant from a cutting off a 30 year old Honeysuckle that's at my parents house.

The west facing side of the townhouse is a tough area to grown plant's in. It needs watering every day in the summer, to solve this problem I installed a drip irrigation systems to water all of the front garden. Sherri from Lee Valley Tools was a speaker at a recent Richmond Garden Club meeting, she talked all about installing a drip irrigation system, using the products offered by Lee Valley. I looked really simple, so I gave it a shot, and I'd have to say it was money well spent. What use to take me at least 30 minutes to do, now takes me about 2 minutes, to hook up the hose and turn it on, and if I get really lazy I could always hook up a automatic timer.