the_plan: (Seal Cove)
Didn't get nearly as much work done outside this weekend as I'd hoped - considering the weather was fine. Still we got 2 of the rugs pressure washed, and some trees trimmed. However, it did mean wanting to get an early start today before the sun got too hot. I know some of you Aussies are laughing at me calling 21°C "hot", but with the full sun beating down it's still plenty warm for yard work.

It did make for a beautiful morning in the garden though - hat, sunglasses, SPF 45, and bug spray and I actually got in a good 3 hours - which was the plan. Grant you, last night not really cooling off till after midnight, and we two being night owls by nature anyway, we didn't get to bed 'early' as planned. Still for us to be up, dressed, fed, and in the yard by 9am (an hour later than I'd originally planned), is really not all that bad. Work through the cool of the morning, lunch, and nap through the heat of the afternoon.

So the brush from the tree trimming is cleared, the bushes round the edge of the forest have been beaten back, weeding is done, a few more plants in, the lawn mostly mowed, and the edges mostly weed whacked. The yard looks far less like the forest is taking it over now. We managed to lose the soap nozzle for the pressure washer - still looking for it in the grass, so the other two rugs, and the outdoor furniture cushions will have to wait. Still once the sun is round the other side we should be able to finish pressure washing the deck.

Cool drinks, bacon and cheese sammiches, and an afternoon nap are now in order.
the_plan: (Welcome to the Kitchen)
There's nothing quite as satisfying as food made from ingredients from your own garden...

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake:

3 cups cut rhubarb
16 oz strawberries
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 lightly beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter

In a saucepan combine the rhubarb and strawberries, cover and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Combine the sugar and corn starch; add to the fruit mixture. Cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes, or until thickened and bubbly and the sauce is slightly translucent. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor bowl combine the first measures of flour and sugar with the remaining dry ingredients cut in the butter and pulse till the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Mix together the milk eggs and vanilla and add all at once to the dry mixture. Stir together just until well moistened.

Spread half the batter in a greased 9x13x2 baking pan. Spread the cooled fruit mixture over the batter. Spoon the remaining batter in small mounds on top of the fruit filling.

In the food processor bowl combine the 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/4 cup butter, pulse till the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs liberally over the top of the batter.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

(recipe from Better Homes and Gardens -All Time Favourite Bread Recipes)
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
Let's play another round of 'Let's Guess The Flower!"

In other green news - the wild rhubarb hiding behind the stables has taken off like a mad thing again!!

Darned good thing we love rhubarb - I got some strawberries on sale this week, so I suspect there's a strawberry rhubarb crumble coffee cake coming tonight :)

In honour of happy surprises in our little patch of forest

Wild Strawberries
By Shel Silverstein

Are Wild Strawberries really wild?
Will they scratch an adult, will they snap at a child?
Should you pet them, or let them run free where they roam?
Could they ever relax in a steam-heated home?
Can they be trained to not growl at the guests?
Will a litterbox work or would they leave a mess?
Can we make them a Cowberry, herding the cows,
Or maybe a Muleberry pulling the plows,
Or maybe a Huntberry chasing the grouse,
Or maybe a Watchberry guarding the house,
And though they may curl up at your feet oh so sweetly,
Can you ever feel that you trust them completely?
Or should we make a pet out of something less scary,
Like the Domestic Prune or the Imported Cherry,
Anyhow, you’ve been warned and I will not be blamed
If your Wild Strawberry cannot be tamed.


Jun. 8th, 2011 04:25 pm
the_plan: (Default)
Be still my beating heart...
My Gravenstein Apple tree is blooming!

the peach trees... not so much, one tiny tiny bud... but at least they're growing, new twigs new leaves... they haven't given up on me.


Jun. 5th, 2011 04:32 pm
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
The septic contractors were good as their word and arrived bright and early yesterday (just as I was on my way out to 'Mom's Day Off').

James was very pleased with how they worked. Their attitude, care and professionalism was first rate! Despite having to wait on the pumping truck they got everything prepared and ready to roll, then got some lunch early while they were waiting. No time wasted. Unfortunately with the ceiling of the tank caved in they couldn't pump out the rocks that were in it. So the answer was to pump out the sewage, leave the rocks, dig a hole right beside the new one and rebury it, filling it in with rock and dirt (no more collapses!)

They had to move the pile of topsoil I had in the driveway for the flower beds, so they very kindly moved it all to the big empty hole at the back where the tree stumps came out (which was exactly where I wanted it). Couldn't talk em into digging the rest of the swamp drainage trench for us, but we're really gonna have to get the mini excavator again anyway to finish smoothing out the BIG hole, but all in all not bad.

They took GREAT care not to damage the flower bed out front, which was quite amazing, it was so close to the hole I figured it was a goner. Not a single flower disturbed! And despite all the digging they did a very neat job of cleaning up after themselves and smoothed the soil out very well. Yeah I've still gotta put a little topsoil down there to cover some rock, and seed it with grass seed... but it's actually quite neat, considering how much we'd had it torn up from the excavator last fall.

When I think about the disaster that the septic tank caving in was, I'm really very pleased and relieved at the eventual outcome.

For the local folks - if you've got an issue, I can't recommend Wade's Excavating and Septic Services in Flatrock highly enough. These guys were just great.

AND as a bonus, James managed to get the laser working again (we won't talk about how BIG a scare having THAT not work was! Fortunately it was a very short lived scare) and did them a sample glass. They then bought an order of 20 on the spot! Ya know we could really make a go of the whole laser, dye sublimation printing thing if either one of us had a clue about marketing or sales (but that's a whole other post ...)

More musings on gardening. Pretty much the majority of my landscaping budget had been spent and I wasn't really planning on doing a lot more to the gardens this year, but MUN Botanical Gardens were having their annual flower and cuttings sale. It was for a good cause and I hadn't seen the Botanical Gardens yet, I slipped a few dollars in my pocket and off I went. I probably spent another $50, and I still don't really have a lot of an idea what I'm doing. I've got a general overall idea what I want to accomplish; so I got some more ground cover plants; a couple kinds of phlox, needed some ferns for the great gaping hole by the forest, some other interesting bits and pieces. But the real value of the trip was the inspiration! They have some amazing shade gardens. The biggest pain for me has always been how much shade I have to deal with here, nothing is completely a 'sunny' spot, and I've always been kind of unimpressed with the plants recommended for shade gardens. What I discovered was "Wow a hosta I actually LIKE!" and that I can have bright colour in a shade garden. Lots to inspire me, but I was also rushing. I did get some lovely photos of the gardens before my camera batteries died. So I think another more paced trip is in order, especially as more of their summer stuff starts filling in, with full camera batteries and a notebook in hand.

where I get carried away with pretty pictures )
Now I think I'll go re-pot some tomatoes and herbs.
the_plan: (Default)
So ..
A large number of wild bushes and shrubs grow here in our forest. These two are a couple of my favourites, but I have no idea what they are.

This is a 6-7ft tall bush with small white flowers

This is a smaller 3-4ft shrub/bush with small purple flowers (they're not all the way open yet)

Can you...

Guess That Flower?
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
What knowledge and inspiration I do have for the gardens, has come from these that I turn to for answers:

Canadian Gardening subscription (although it does tend to be a bit Ont/BC centric)
Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials (a gift from my Mom when my ex and I bought our first house in 1986. A good reference)
Reader's Digest's an Illustrated Guide to Gardening in Canada - it's a handy reference for the stuff I can't identify
Freeman Patterson's The Garden (a photographer, and philosopher, and spiritualist who finds photographs, life, and god, in his garden - my deepest inspiration)
Kitchen Garden A-Z (a cheapie I grabbed off a remainder table, or at Homesense, it has been helpful for information on edibles)

I like the idea of growing edibles as and as part of an overall untamed ornamental garden, (there's a wonderful article on 'The Edible Garden' in May's issue of Canadian Gardening I'm hanging onto.

This one was one I was reading at my mother-in-law's house the last time we were in Australia.

Apparently they keep rereleasing it every few years (I don't know what year hers is). I can't afford a new 2010 copy at $75, and it seemed rude to hint she might want to gift it to me. So after some hunting around and some patience I did find a 1989 release for $2.94 + shipping. Amazon has a few other Christopher Brickell edited gardening books that look tempting, most of them are new, too expensive, not relevant and reworks of the book I bought, but I did buy a copy of The Gardener's Companion for $4.04+ shipping as well. Together with shipping, they cost me $20. I figure that's not gonna blow my budgets too badly.

And I'm gonna keep my eyes open for any of Peter J Scott's books. They were recommended by a friend experienced in gardening in Newfoundland and he's retired from MUN where he was a professor in the Biology Dept - Botany.
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
When we last left our intrepid heroes they had a bunch of big gaping holes no plan, less money, and few plants from around the place had been moved.

But not knowing what we're doing has never stopped us before... )

Yeah it's still a long list.
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
Many moons ago I started working on the gardens. Gardens are tricky, really to be done properly they are a looooooooooong effort - years. I know there's all these silly shows on TV... Desperate Landscapes, Yard Crashers, Yard Wars.... they all make it look like it can be done in 24 hours, and given an army of helpers and an almost unlimited budget, there's a LOT you can do in 24 hours, but you can't grow a plant in a weekend.

Oh sure, you CAN buy mature plants, if you have the source and the cash, and don't mind a lot of annuals that'll be gone next year and have to be replanted.

When we moved in here, I wasn't thrilled with what gardening had been done. The bushes in the front beds weren't attractive in my mind, some of the plantings were very nice, but didn't seem to make much sense; things just dropped down in a place with no rhyme or reason. However, it was fall when we moved in, I had NO clue what I was doing, and I wanted to have a plan before we started.

Never did find a plan really... )
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
I now have 10 beautiful and healthy mature heather plants, (and two mostly mangy and dead looking hydrangeas - left in the Feychild's room to keep em out of the cats claws they have - expired)

This weekend will be dog washing day and gardening - for pleasure

Bathroom saga still to be told (in several parts)
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
I've been working - off and on - on the gardens and landscaping since we arrived here. Mostly it's been piecemeal, a bit here, a bit there. Largely it's been destructive - plant removal. Not necessarily because they were ugly or sick, but because they didn't fit overall with the feel of the place.

So here's a nice little rendering (no laughing at my art skills people!) of the layout of the property - back when we were planning on adding a pergola and a workshop (amongst other things)
labled plot plan

As you can see it's mostly wild and forested. We liked it that way. The horse yards and it's accompanying swamp were separated from the house and drive, and the house is well hidden from nosy neighbours or truck drivers.

Essentially there are 4 main planting beds, and 2 minor ones.

front bed
One under the front window...

front side bed
One along the side of the garage.

bed by the forest
One at the front running along the forest edge.

driveway bed
There's a small bed on the far side of the driveway

the day lily bedday lily bed out back
And the bed I made for the daylilies in the backyard under the kitchen windows

We never much liked the bushes and the peonies and the rhododendron that were planted along the driveway - the dogwood etc are perfectly nice bushes, but there's no rhyme or reason to their placement and they look out of place.
driveway bushes

I always thought the front gates needed something to soften them up - a couple large lilacs on either side maybe.
front gates

It didn't look bad when we moved in - it just didn't look right. I didn't love all the pea gravel, and I'm not fond of hostas, and the juniper bush was out of control.
front vistaview from front door

We never did plan on changing the layout much. We just wanted to make sense of the spaces that were there and tie them in with the natural forest that surrounds us. So we moved a couple awkwardly placed rose bushes, took out a young japanese maple that was badly planted. Then we cut down some trees at one end of the yard last year to enlargen the front lawn and brighten things up a little. We took out a small stand of scraggly pines along the forest edge, and one large maple that was killing all the light.

tree stump removaltree stump removal
Finally in November we rented a digger, and managed to pull all the stumps. This left a great gaping hole in that end of the yard and one more enormous planting bed.

While we had the digger here - I took advantage and dug up all the beds. With the sheer volume of rock in Newfoundland soil it was the only way to get any kind of a decent planting bed.
digging the bedsdigging the beds

As usual, we were dreadfully late getting going on all this and after it was dug up all that rock had to be sorted and cleared. James got 2/3 of the trench to drain the swamp dug and I got the worst of the rock out of the planting beds but it was slow nasty cold going and in the end no new bulbs got planted, and I was even too late in the year to get a load of topsoil in.

So as the snow starts to melt - I've got about 4 to 6 weeks to plan what to DO with these great empty beds once I get some fresh soil in them. (we have a great compost heap of lovely dirt but it's at the bottom of a gully where the digger can't go - I'll have to buy a truckload)

Without any bulbs planted last fall there won't be much early colour, but my Spring Garden catalogue arrived today. It's time to start ordering plants, but I'm overwhelmed by the choices and my own lack of any kind of experience in planning a garden.


The juniper is gone, I moved the 3 small peonies to the spot under the window but I don't know if they'll take. I got a couple nice gigantic landscaping boulders, a large blue hydrangea I moved to the corner by the garage from out back, a couple of the hostas left and a handful of columbines that seem to want to run rampant have been divided up amongst the beds.

I need ideas. Hell I need a PLAN - not too expensive (planting budget is no more than $500). I just need it to look neat and tidy and not empty and colourful and fit in to the forested lot - nothing too formal. I need a PLAN that will do well in shade and wet and rock and fits into zone 4 and just make the front yard look NICE again.

Surely someone out there has some gardening experience / ideas they could help a girl out?

... and I still think I'll do a couple lilacs by the front gate.


the_plan: (Default)

July 2011

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