The days are REALLY Getting Shorter!

November

These are November pictures showing the two sewer pipes that I found and inserted into the ground in my xeric gardens out front to help get the Skyrocket Juniper and the Zelkova tree established when I planted them. The pipes have diameters of 4 inches and go down around 10 inches. The soil here is all gravel and packed, with the result that water runs over the top and away or it drains very quickly through the soil. There are there to put the water where the roots are and to prevent the hot summer sun from evaporating it before the tree has a chance to use it. It seems to work, as both trees have become established and soon won’t need the pipes. At that time, I’ll probably move the pipes elsewhere where they’re needed.

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This is what’s left of the Japanese Lantern plant that a neighbour gave me. It’s planted with the Clematis vine that came from the same garden. Now, I know that these plants have a desire to take over the world, which is why I put it against a building, surrounded with paving tiles. That way it should be easier to keep it in check. Also, at this time of the year, when the clematis is long gone, there’s a spot of colour at the end of the Pass-through Garden.

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Willy’s Bridge over Shallow Water, as it is now. Made of 4x4s and fence posts with a pallet covered with plywood for a bridge deck, it crosses the overflow from Willy’s Pond when I clean the water in it. I am trying to landscape it to resemble a natural little stream, with a few small shrubs and perennials mixed in.

Plans are to insert more supporting structure in Spring and to paint it all white (except the deck). Eventually, hopes are that it’ll blend in better than now!

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This is a view of my garage with the new addition behind it from one of the neighbours’ houses. As you can see, the neighbours have tucked their garden away for winter. I envy their neatness!!

 

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On to September!

Looking over the Valley

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I love September and October! The worst of the summer’s heat is past and all the gardens are lush with flowers, veggies and fruit. Some mornings, one wakes to see short-lived snow creeping down the mountainsides.

Above is a panoramic image of the Fraser River flowing through Lillooet, taken from the middle of the front driveway. You can see the lane on the left heading north, and on the right heading south. I love this view at all times of the year. The vineyard and winery across the river is deep green all summer. On Hallowe’en night, I can look over the bank and watch the groups of little ghosts and ghouls going from door to door in the subdivision down below, and in Spring it’s great to watch the leaves turn from spring yellow to light green to deep green. Right now I am watching ice floes heading down the river as it prepares for winter freeze-up and tonight, if it’s clear, I’ll see the half moon shining on the snow-capped mountain across the way. It never ends!!

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This is a view of the Main Garden in mid-September. What a mess, eh? Under the blue tarpaulin is the metal roofing for the addition. It is hard to enjoy any garden here except the Pass-through Garden at the right with the giant Nicotianas blooming their heads off. Most of the junk has now been cleared away except for the remaining roofing. Soon it will be stored in the garage until needed for the planned re-roofing of the old house in a couple of years. Next Spring this area will be under construction again, but with garden-building this time!

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This is a September 27 view of a tall Michaelmas Daisy that I brought from the previous garden. It originally came from a city park that was being torn up, so I don’t know its variety name, but I love the colour of its flowers! I managed to get a pillar of colour on it by repeated pruning beginning in late June, when I began cutting the stems at the front progressively shorter as the pruners went down. I am quite pleased at how it turned out!

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Here’s a late September view of the Hugelbed, aka, Food Forest, taken from the second story of the addition. The tree with yellow-orange leaves is the Nectarine and the very tall plants to the left of it are Jerusalem Artichokes. The Morning Glory flowers can barely be seen from the ground but are wonderful from up here!

It snowed for the first real time last night and I’m glad that all the overwintering plants are inside. I’ve already started 3 little coleuses for the Spring garden and I’m anxiously awating the first of the seed catalogues at the end of the month. Then I can once more begin dreaming!!

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August

Bougainvillea Time!

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I have been struggling to get this Bougainvillea to bloom for 3 years now, so this year I put it on the sunny side of the grapevines, in the Hugelbed. This is the hottest part of all the gardens and it’s well sheltered from any wind. It worked!!!

The bad part was that it couldn’t be seen from anywhere but in the Hugelbed, where I seldom went this year. Of course, it has to winter inside in a sunny window in zone 5, but if it blooms like this each year, it’s worth it to me! This year, it’s going near where the addition meets the old house, probably by a living room window. That area is really hot and protected, too. In fact, I’ve found few plants that do well there without huge amounts of water other than a daylily, a sage, a Tradescantia and a red yucca that I grew from seed but has never bloomed but really likes it there. Maybe the Bougainvillea will like it there, too!

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This is a Hollyhock that also liked the hot southwest wall of the house (but which needed a lot of water). Early in the season, it was tall and full of holes from bugs of some sort when it bloomed with small, pinkish-white flowers. During the construction it was broken down and I cut most of it off, and in August it regrew with big, healthy leaves and these wonderfully-large white flowers with just a touch of pink in them. It grew about 6 feet tall, then was knocked down again!

In the spring, I plan to move it further along the wall so it won’t be in the shade of the overhead deck when it’s built. Hope it survives the move!

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This is one of my many self-sown Amaranths – “Love Lies Bleeding” that sprouted up everywhere in the gardens. This one was at the entrance to the Food Forest and I think it was wonderful!

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Here’s my little, over-wintered Fig tree that spent last winter buried outside. This year it sprouted these 4 branches and once I moved it beside the living room wall, it produced several fruit. While only 2 ripened, they were delicious!

This winter, it is in the cellar where it’s dark and close to freezing, along with the Cannas, Dahlias and Begonias. let’s hope they all make it through well and perform well again this coming summer!

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This Sedum (“Arctic Frost”, if I remember correctly), is in the Arbour Garden along with the grapes and the Morning Glories this year. It had its best year ever since a friend gave it to me several years ago. It had lots of sunshine until the Morning Glories grew up and shaded it but by then the flower buds had formed.

These two images were taken from the middle (more or less) of the Xeric Bed on the sunny, south west front of the house. The left one looks toward the house while the right one looks toward the lane. Lots of yellow in August, from Gaillardias, Solidagos and yellow Achilleas. Blue is from Perovskaya, while purple and pink comes from 2 Sedums – “Thundercloud” and “Matrona”. some of these are doing so well that they’ll need to be split and moved soon. For the coming season, I have already planted Anthemis seedlings and wild Asters as well as seeds of the native Balsamroot to see if they’ll grow in my soil.

As you can tell, I have a habit of overplanting. I do this because I know that some won’t survive, some are long-time favourites and some I’ve never heard of before. Also, I try to have something in bloom from early Spring to very late Autumn, as well as some that look good in Winter, too. I wonder how it will all look in 5 years!

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Late July

Manoeuvering Around the Project

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Further along in July, the addition is growing to its ultimate height and length, this image is a view of it from the Passthrough Garden. The tree with the shell wind chime is a “Beauty of Moscow” Lilac. The tall, pink flowers on the right are Nicotianas. The grape arbour is at the left.

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This is the path between the end of the addition and the grape arbour. At the far end of this pathway is the entrance to the Pass-Through Garden. On the right is the Arbour Garden with a white lily in the foreground and Phlox, “David” enjoying his first really good growing season in several. In the previous garden, he had too much shade while last year he had too much sun and drought. Here, he gets morning sun and afternoon shade from the arbour. Perfect! 

Where the camera person is standing, the Back-Stretch Garden leads around the rear of the addition to the Courtyard Garden. It got its name from Willy dog’s habit of taking 5 minutes or so each evening to race at top speed from the front gate, around the house to the Veggie Garden gate at the far end of the Courtyard Garden and back again, skidding around all the corners. He does this 3 or 4 times, then rests with his tongue hanging out. Quite funny to watch as long as you stay out of his way!

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Here’s the Pass-Through Garden in late July. Easy to see are the Monarda, Nicotianas, Coleus, red Begonias and Garlic scapes pushing up through the Azalea bush. You can also see how crowded is the garden shed! One day, it’ll be replaced with a shed whose door will actually close!

The shrub in the big pot is one of two pots of red and yellow-twigged dogwoods (Cornus) that I bought and started as cuttings this Spring. They’ll stay in their pots through the winter and, hopefully, will add some bright colour to the garden in late winter. Also, their leaves turn a wonderful pale yellow in Fall. They always remind me of the scenes from “The Hobbit” in which Frodo falls asleep under the old willow tree! Hopefully, one pot will go on each deck or patio.

So much for July in this quick update. As you can see, I am constantly making and changing future garden plans while trying to improve the existing ones. I have killed so many plants! Now that many of them have been here (the survivors, that is!) for a couple of years in summer and winter, I’m learning where their preferred sitings are. Lots of them are scheduled for moves this Spring. I have also begun investing in ornamental shrubs, both deciduous and evergreen.

This year in September, I added a Skyrocket Juniper and 2 blue Junipers as well as a pink Rose of Sharon. Also an orange everblooming bedding rose. All of these were well marked down in price and needed lots of water to help them get settled, even with all the rain. Let’s see how they get through Winter (-20C and windy tonight).

Next time, we’ll move on through August.

 

 

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July – Already the Days are getting Shorter!

Early July

The days may be getting shorter, but they are certainly getting hotter! Normally, July would be a hot, dry month, but this year, there was lots of rain. In fact, I included a picture of one of the rainstorms with a double rainbow over the Fraser River to prove my point!

Top left – Lysimachia purpurea, with purple leaves contrasting with bright yellow flowers came from my previous garden and likes it here so much that in 2 years I was able to split it into 3 plants. Here, it seems to prefer areas with afternoon shade, as in nature, its ancestors lived along riverbanks with moist soil. Sunny areas here are much too dry for it!

Top Centre – One of my locally-collected native asters, also in a shady area, although it could succeed in a sunny, dry place like the Xeric Garden out front. This one was outstanding this summer!

Top Right –  Pink Phlox, “Norah Leigh”, in bloom in the first week of July. Also, a yellow Echinacea, “Cheyenne Spirit”. Norah is always the first of my phloxes to bloom and start the perfuming of the garden. it’s one of my oldest plants but I think it needs more humous in the soil, as it isn’t getting any larger since being here. I have 3 of them near each other but they aren’t growing together into a stunningly beautiful clump as I had hoped they would. Oh, well . . . maybe another year!

Cheyenne Spirit is new to me. I’ve had a terrible time getting Echinaceas to last longer than 2 weeks in my garden. This one lasted well and bloomed all summer. It also has a bright red/orange version that I have in another garden. There are three of them in all, and they seem much stronger than the other new hybrids. Now the question is, “Will they survive their first winter? It’s going to -20C tonight (Dec. 7) with no snow cover yet.

Bottom Left – My favourite view of the Pass-Through Garden, showing the variegated coleus doing well in its pot, the red tuberous Begonias blooming at the back in their pot and a new, dwarf red Monarda, “Cherry Bomb” (I think). There is also Feverfew.

The Pass-Through Garden did really well this summer. I planted Nicotiana seedlings there and they bloomed from August until the other day when it froze hard. Some of them were six feet tall, and among them, they scented up the entire Main Garden every evening! I collected seeds from them for next year!

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Now, to the Hugelbed (Food Forest). Hidden behind the arbour is this overgrown looking area. In the foreground of this image is a self-sown Tomato plant, but the star of the picture is the Goji berry bush with ripe berries already in mid-July. It kept producing until late September. I tried to dry the berries, but they all dried at diferent rates so I had to throw them all out. Next year I think I’ll try juicing them and then freeze the juice instead. Then I can add it to salad dressings or just use it as juice.

As I mentioned earlier, this bush needs lots of pruning and raising up to get those branches off the ground. It is really closer to other berry bushes than it should be, but, live and learn, eh?

That’s it for this entry. Next time there will be more pix of the July gardens and maybe some from August.

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June Brings the Longest Day of the Year

You can almost hear the plants growing!

By June, planting was well underway and in the Courtyard Garden, some plants beside the house had to be moved elsewhere so as not to be trampled while construction took place. New additions to other gardens kept me busy along with demolition and preparations for new foundations.

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This antique metal urn was a going-away gift when I moved here. It still needs a paint job (didn’t get it this year – maybe next) and after a couple of years’ stint as a mini firepit, I finally planted it up this year. Some frilly petunias and my large agave look pretty good! See how the Mullein has grown! Eventually it will become like a prehistoric dinosaur and be a conversation piece for walkers along the lane.

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One of the plants in the Courtyard Garden that stayed in place blooming profusely in early June. I discovered that with regular deadheading, this Sanguisorba menzeisii bloomed until Fall. What a time I had, though, protecting it from construction workers and falling timbers!

The Pulmonaria, with spotted leaves, along with its mate further along this bed, did extremely well in this relatively shady area and grew so large by Fall that I was able to split it into 4 to spread as an edging to the bed for next Spring.

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In this June picture of the arbour you can see the morning shadow of the 2-story extension as well as the fast-growing Morning Glories. Already, they had hidden the grape vines and were providing shade from the blistering afternoon sun in this part of the garden. The arbour is about 6 feet away from the building, so with a 2-foot flower bed for semi-shade loving plants, there’s room for a 4-foot wide pathway, just enough for my garden cart to pass along. I think that in the next year as the grapes fill in, I’ll need to move many of these plants to the sunnier place in front of the new patio. They will be replaced by hostas, ferns and pulmonarias.

By the way, the orange plastic lid is part of a clean-out for the new sewer line that runs along the back side of the extension.

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On the left side of the last image you can see the shelf made for this bonsai sumac tree. I bought it as a seedling last Fall and started training it this summer. In about 5 years it should begin looking really good! In Winter I lower it to the ground and cover the pot with leaf mulch.

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Back in the Courtyard Garden once more but on the other side of the pathway, June provides blooms of white Valerian and Campanulas. While they appear white in this picture, these Campanulas are bright pink and end up 4 feet tall as the bloom all summer. wonderful plants, but I had no idea how big they’d get!

And, standing over them all, is the Cornus florida that I showed in an earlier image when in bloom.

There’s also a dwarf Alberta Spruce beside the bridge over the creek from Willy’s Pond. Later in the Fall, I finally got most of this bridge built. Next Summer I need to install the braces and give it a coat of white paint.

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Last, for today, are these carrot flowers from last year’s crop. I left them for seed and scattered the seeds around in November to see what would happen in Spring. Time will tell!

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Memories of Last Summer

The Merry Month of May

Today I’m catching up with some pictures taken in May. May is a wonderful month for flowers here in Lillooet!

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This is my first Azalea – “Golden Lights”, which came from the former garden and which is extremely hardy (zone 3). When blooming, it scents up a large area around it. It’s in the Passthrough Garden, beside the back corner of the garage where it gets morning sun and afternoon shade. It is surrounded with Geranium, “Mourning Widow”, Feverfew and, later on, with pansies.

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This is one of the many blooms I had from an unknown variety of peony I was given from an old Lillooet garden a few blocks away when the owners passed away and the relatives gave me some plants. I quite like them! I just hope that they are not all the same kind!

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This is my only Tradescantia – “Blue and Gold”, I think. You can see the gold beginning to appear in the leaves. later, as the sun gets higher overhead and the plant sees more of it, the gold spreads among the leaves and contrasts well with the blue flowers. This year, it bloomed from mid-May until November! It is sited beside the building on the south side where it’s extremely hot and dry. This flower bed is due for a major upgrade and enlargement this summer, once the new patio is built. 

At the end of this bed is where the new addition meets the old house. A new concrete patio with a deck overhead is planned for that area so this bed will bend along the front of the concrete in a curve. I’ve been growing Japanese Quince seedlings for a short, pruned flowering hedge to prevent people from walking through the bed when going to and from the patio. We’ll see how THAT works!

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Mid-May in the Hugelbed. My mini food forest is doing well. Some residents are doing TOO well, such as Chocolate Mint, Rhubarb, and the male Sea Buckthorn. The female was almost done in by Willy, the dog, in its first winter and is slowly recovering. In the left foreground you can see some arching branches of Goji Berries and in the left background is the new Nectarine that is replacing the many failed peach trees. 

If you look closely, on the fence you can see one of the grape vines on its way up. I pruned them for the first time this year. In a later post, I’ll show you how well they did during the summer. I did get my first little crop of delicious grapes in September! I didn’t have time for this garden all summer, so it really went wild. This spring I’ll have to prune and build supports for the Sea Buckthorns and Goji Berries, as they tend to lie on the ground and send suckers everywhere. This overcrowds the space and makes it hard to walk without tripping. I really need to “chop and drop” many more guild plants like Comfrey and weeds to open up more air space for bush fruits to ripen.

Last year, you may remember, I planted gourds on the arbour to close this garden in. This year, I seeded Morning Glories and Moonflowers instead. I didn’t see any Moonflowers but the Morning Glories took over almost as much as the gourds did last year! In 2017, I’ll leave it to the grapes to fill in and perhaps just plant a few Sweet Peas on the fencing.

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Here’s the climbing rose, “Night Owl” that I brought from the previous garden, looking good on the front fence after a massive winter pruning by Willy. I think it’s very pretty and I look forward to it eventually stretching out along the fence.

This summer I added a blue Juniper to this part of the Main Garden bed. When it fills in somewhat, it should make a good evergreen punctuation mark to this end of the bed.

This summer, most of the centre of the main Garden was occupied with piles of building materials to the extent that the gardens on either side could hardly be seen. Nevertheless, the plants all did reasonably well and should be in a good position to do very well in 2017!

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