Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Garden Summary for 2010

Let's see...a summary for the garden this year.  Well, let's break it down.

First there are the potted annuals.  They did pretty good this year.  I always seem to fall back on the traditional favorites.  I guess they're favorites for a reason.  The impatiens, lobelia, alyssum, vinca vines, snapdragons, petunias, geraniums and marigolds did great, as always.  However, the sweet potato vine did not.  I keep trying it in different spots and it never looks like it does in the magazines!  I think that maybe our nights are just too cold for it to thrive.  I tried adding some perennials to the pots this year and I really liked the viola, lamium and English ivy.  Gotta be more reliable watering my window boxes.  The neighbours' looked great, but I know she watered everyday religiously.  Maybe there is some new gimmick I could try?  But not that weird gel stuff.  I'll have to think about it.

Next, we have the perennial/mixed garden beds.  I added  two new beds this year.  One against the back fence (perhaps my fall garden?) and one in the area between our house and the neighbours.  Both turned out pretty good.  Lava Girl really wants to add a bench to the back garden bed so I might have to rearrange some plants in the spring.  Overall everything did pretty good this year.  We hardly watered (since we had the wettest summer ever! - have I mentioned that before?).  I fussed a bit to one of the beds (I think I'll call it the summer bed) to add some more summer flowering perennials.  Can't wait until next year when they've filled in.  Also, my front yard spring garden performed great this year!  I just finished adding some more spring flowering bulbs, so next year is going to be even better!
Here is the fall garden when it was first planted in June.
Here is the fall garden in October - it has filled in a bit.  I still haven't decided what to put at the left.
 The garden between the two houses was a group effort between myself and my neighbour who is an awesome gardener!  Her garden is fantastic!  I'm trying to learn as much as I can from her.  Anyway, we wanted to keep this garden simple, so we planted mostly tough shrubs, lots of junipers, and then had fun with a few barberries.  I'd also like to add some elephant ears fro spring colour and maybe some ferns at the back for some more height.  That can wait until next year.

Here is the garden between the houses before the makeover in June.
And here it is in October - for some reason I forgot to take a picture immediately after the makeover.

Lastly there are the vegetable garden beds.  Most things did pretty well this year.  The corn, tomatoes and squash had a tough year.  I think I'll skip the squash next year.  I have become obsessed with home made pickles, so I think that I'm going to have some devote some space to some cucumbers.
Here is the garden in July - the rhubarb is huge!

And here it is in October - I've already started clearing it out, but the sunflowers are huge!
Well, that's all for now.  Time to plan for next year!  Happy gardening!

The Battle of Native vs. Invasive Plants

For some reason, I have become obsessed with weeds lately. Weird, I know. But think about it. They are amazing! Half the time they grow where nothing else can, they can spread amazingly quickly, and in the course of a summer, they can manage to outwit my weekly weeding, lawn mowing, dumping of salt and vinegar(gotta be green) and still manage to grow, thrive, flower and send hundreds of seeds out into the wild. Pretty incredible! But what makes them so special? What makes them thrive where other plants wither and die? I guess it could be that they are more suited to the environment or that they are an introduced species that does not have any natural predators. Of course, other gardeners I talk to often suggest that I should try a "native" plant to try and solve my tough gardening areas. Aren't they always tougher and therefore better? Can they stand up to the weeds?

I read this interesting article at Cold Climate Gardening about what is a "native" plant. Of course, we all know that everything is native to somewhere, just maybe not here. But what is interesting to think is that even the plants we call weeds are native plants somewhere. Do people plant them in their gardens wherever they come from? Or are they weeds there too?

Then I remembered this article I read on the Garden Rant about how some foreign plants actually seem better suited to our environment and how the local fauna is actually using them. Does that mean all invasives are bad? It's an interesting debate.

As it stands I am fascinated by weeds and, one day, I hope to post a comprehensive catalogue of those that visit my backyard. But that will have to wait for another day - I'm going to go and try to pick the last of them before winter sets in. Hey, even a lover of weeds doesn't want them in my garden!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

So how's the garden been doing anyway?

Well, we had our first hard frost a yesterday. Time to start tidying the garden for winter. We did have a soft frost a few weeks ago and lost the rest of our tomoatoes, corn and squash, and some of the annuals too. I began looking up recipes for fried green tomatoes - do you know that the traditional recipe has them fried in bacon fat! But I digress...

The beets and carrots don't mind a bit of frost and there are still a few flowers blooming right now. Since we had such a cold wet summer, some things are a little later than usual and some things didn't flower at all. For some reason, my purple coneflower didn't make any flowers this year. I think it is in a marginally sunny spot and maybe this year she just didn't get enough sun - we had alot of rain this year!

But I just had to run out and take some pictures of the frost. It looked so cool! And it showed how some plants didn't mind it at all - like the lupin, while others look a little sad - like the beets, tomatoes and corn.

But the sunflowers did great this year and my goldenrod is flowering beautifully. And the phlox has started blooming. Love the purple! Of course, my Autumn Joy sedum is loving the autumn and my beebalm looks good. I really love fall-coloured flowers in the fall. Just seems to complement all the tress. So pretty!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Here are some fall photos from a wonderful little hike called Many Springs in Bow Valley Provincial Park, only a 45 minute drive from Calgary. This is a great hike for kids since it is fairly flat and there are lots of interpretive signs. My three year old thought it was the best hike ever!

This last photo shows a great view of Mt. Yamnuska which is a popular rock climbing mountain and also the classic example of the McConnell Thrust. The McConnell Thrust is a fault line dividing the harder, older carbonate rocks on top from the softer, younger clastic rocks below(covered in trees). This shows how the mountains were built!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It has been a while!

Wow! It has been a while! A couple of reasons I guess. Partly because we were having so much fun over the summer I didn't have much time for the computer. Also, partly due to a feeling of my blog being judged somehow. Seems weird, since I'm posting stuff for the world to see, how can it NOT be judged! But, I decided that I am just keeping this log for myself and that I should just have fun with it, so here goes!

So, since I have a few quite moments early on a Sunday while the kids are watching TV, I thought I'd share some photos of the awesome fall we're having in Calgary this year. It started off rather cold and rainy (very rainy!), but the last two weeks have been great! And the trees have loved all that rain because the fall colours this year are fantastic! Fire Boy and I went for a walk in Fish Creek Park while the older kids were at school. It was beautiful! I got to enjoy the tress while he threw rocks in the river and we also collected some fall leaves. I have some craft ideas.

Then yesterday we joined up with some friends to go Geocaching. Our first time ever! It was fun! The kids loved the thrill of the hunt and we enjoyed a nice walk on Nosehill. Handy Man was in charge of the GPS and the kids were in charge of randomly racing through the grass.

We manged to find three. It was neat seeing the different things that other people had left and all of the kids got to go through the knickknacks and pick something to trade for one of the knickknacks we'd brought from home. We will definitely do that again!

Well, that's all for now. Hopefully I can get back into the habit of making this a regular thing.