Going native

As you know, one of my main goals in creating my gardens is to create better habitat for wildlife. One of the best ways to do that is to plant native plants – that is plants that naturally grow in your area.

I know some people who have completely native gardens, and I admire that. Personally, I’m not able to do that… there are just so many plants that I love, I can’t limit myself to only natives.

However, I am happy to incorporate them whenever I can. Luckily, planting native is becoming more popular, and native plants are easier to come by.

My grocery store garden centre had the best selection I’ve seen in years (And they were $2 more than all the other perrenials of the same size, so that tells you all you need to know about the rise in popularity).

I brought home a handful

I’ve seen several different asters in the wild, so I’m not quite sure how big this one is. But asters are always good bloomers so I’m happy to have it in my collection.

I had a cardinal flower at the townhouse, but it didn’t come back the next year. It was a shame, because it’s a stunner of a flower. That red is so brilliant. I’ve never actually seen one in the wild, but I’m very happy to make a place for it in my garden.

Related to it is Giant Blue Lobelia. I’ve grown the annual Lobelias many times, so I’m thrilled to have one that’s a perennial.

Sneezeweed (or Helenium) is a plant I’ve wanted to get for a while. There are many fancier versions, but I love this “common” one.

You know how much I love Bee Balm… well this is the native version of it. I can’t wait to see those lilac blooms in the yard.

And last, I’ve never heard of, nor seen Pearly Everlast, but I’m happy to include it in my collection. Apparently it’s a type of aster.

I think it will be fun watching these grow… and see how much local wildlife they bring to the yard.

Island in the sun

I am FINALLY on vacation and it’s a staycation that going to be ALLLLLLLLL about my gardens!!!! I am primed and ready to finally start the yard transformation.

I got a little kickstart the other day with the “driveway island”. It’s a little garden wedged between the driveway and the front walkway.

When we bought the house, it looked like this…

It contained some dead wood, a dead cedar, and an out-of-control Euonymous. Not long after we moved in, Demolition Dad took his sawsall to it all for me. The plan was to clear it all out and put in a totally fresh garden there. Of course, there was no time for that last year. I did my best to keep after the weeds that immediately moved into the cleared dirt, but other than that, it remained untouched.

My plans were to make it something of a wildflower garden, with coneflowers, daisies, and susans and the like. Earlier this year, I tried to dig out what remained of the cedar stump. It resisted all my efforts. And I noticed, that while it didn’t regrow last year, the Euonymous was now growing back. I decided to give my plans a little rethink.

And while I was doing that thinking… the weeds moved in..

I needed to do something about it, pronto!

You’ll notice at the back of the garden, it’s covered in those red, jagged landscape rocks. Well those rocks aren’t just on top… they are right through the soil. To get rid of them all, I’d have to dig the whole thing out, and probably down two or three feet.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Instead, I decided this would become a ground cover garden – similar to what I did with the tree garden at the townhouse. I hit the garden centre, bought up a pile of rockfoils, sedums, elfin thyme, and some creeping jenny – all things that will spread out and cover the ground, making a nearly impenetrable carpet. But they also wouldn’t care about all the rocks in the soil. In fact, it will probably help them thrive.

It took pretty much all afternoon, but I got the space cleared, plants in, and gave it all a good thick layer of mulch to keep those weeds at bay.

Quite the transformation, if I do say so myself! It looks rather sparse now, but those plants will all spread and create a wonderful carpet.

I decided this garden would also be a good spot for my weeping pussywillow.

She’s toward the back, and eventually she’ll grow tall enough to be the focal point of the garden. For now, I’ve got my welcome sign at the back, as something to draw the eye.

I tend to make my own hanging baskets, instead of buying them pre-made from the garden centre. It costs about the same, but I can use better soil, which holds the water better. In this one, I have some Calabrocha, Marigolds, and Creeping Jenny.

Since the cedar stump was too tough to dig out, I decided it’s going to become a garden “feature” and placed my broken pot garden beside it.

It’s full of ground covering sedums too (and a dollar store frog), so I figure it fits right in. Behind it, is where the Euonymous is regrowing.

Eventually, it’s going to cover the old stump any way. My only job with it, is to keep it tidy as it grows.

And while most of the plants are ground cover sedums, I did get a few flowering things.

The white and the pink bunches are both rockfoils. But the purpley-blue one is Watperry Blue Speedwell. I have other Speedwell in the catio, but their flowers are long, and bottle-brush-like. The only thing they have in common with this one is the shape of the leaves.

I also added in some Marigold and Portulaca for colour. They are annuals, but if all goes as planned, I won’t need to worry about planting more in a couple of years.

All in all, I’m exceedingly pleased with the transformation of this first garden space. Next I hope to tackle the rest of the front of the house.

While you wait for news on that… here’s a little side-by-side, before and after:

It really is amazing what you can do with a shovel and a can-do attitude!!!

Biker blues

Capping off my productive weekend was the completion of the top for the motorcycle quilt.

To refresh your memory, it’s a disappearing nine patch. You make a regular nine patch and then cut it into quarters

(Burton reminds you to measure twice, cut once!) Once cut, you rotate two of the pieces, then sew the whole thing back together. And when you sew all the blocks together, you get this fabulous design.

This pattern can look so different depending on how many fabrics you use, and where you place them. Above is my favourite way – limiting it to just three fabrics, one print, one solid and once blender.

I’ve got enough of that blue blender from the small squares for binding.

And I found some great blue motorcycle flannel for the back! Now that this is in the to-quilt pile, I’m going to turn my attention to getting the Leader/Ender stars into a top too!

Walkabout Wednesday

This week’s edition is all about trees in bloom….because baby, Alvinston’s canopy is blooming.

There are so many trees in bloom, but I just love the magnolias.

There are quite a few different ones around town, and many of them look like they’ve been there for decades – much bigger than any I saw in our old city.

There are also many, many Forsythia around town…

I’ve always loved Forsythia, such a bright pop of colour at the start of spring. I’m debating on getting one for the yard.

And of course, there are lilacs…

There will definitely be a Lilac or two in my yard soon.

I think this gorgeous tree is a crab apple, but I’m not 100%

What I do know is that is beautiful and it was absolutely ALIVE with bees the day I took this picture. Standing under it, there was so much buzzing you would have thought you were inside a bee hive!

And these aren’t blooms, but…

I just LOVED the red of these pretty Maple Keys.

From the trees to the ground, there are flowers everywhere…

My yard has hundreds of dark purple wild violets, but I found these pretty white ones on the side of the road about a block away from the house.

And last…

It’s Dandelion season! I know lots of people don’t like them, but I do. I leave as many as possible for the bees.

Tiny Needle Tuesday: Tudor Bee FO

Huzzah!

My little Tudor Bee is complete. My colour scheme is a little different than the original, but other than that I was pretty faithful to the pattern. This one was definitely fun to stitch and I enjoyed every minute of watching it grow.

It was a little difficult to frame as it didn’t turn out at any of the usual “photo” sizes. In the end, I got a 8 x 10 float frame and just centred it.

Photo is a little blurry, but you get the idea. Dad came by on Friday and I was in a rush to get it packed up and sent home with him. You see, this was Mom’s Mother’s Day gift!

And now it’s time to start some stitching for me!!!

Back on the block

This weekend was my first one at home in almost a month, and I made the most of it. It was a hot one (almost 30 Celcius), so while I spent the mornings and the evenings out in the garden (more on that later in the week), when it got too hot in the afternoon, I hung out in the studio and finally got some sewing done.

I had a fair bit of work to do to catch up on the Blockhead blocks.

Naturally, I did it all under the watchful eye of my feline overlord. And doesn’t he just look so proud of our blocks. I admit, I am too. I’ve said before I’m not a huge fan of sampler quilts, but working with these kitty fabrics makes it just so much fun.

When we were done, we laid them all out to see how things were shaping up.

Pretty darn good if you ask me! We still need several more blocks to make a quilt, but at least I’m not falling behind any more.

Tulip time

I have sad news to report. Dave’s Grandma passed on Wednesday night. We’re glad she didn’t linger in pain, but her loss will definitely be felt for many years to come. As you can imagine, the mood around the house is on the gloomy side. It makes me extra glad spring is moving along, and things are picking up outside. Dave’s Grandma loved flowers just as much as I did, and I know she’d be happy to see things in bloom in our yard..

There’s several pretty “bonus” tulips, as well as ones I brought from the townhouse

I just love the light frilly cream ones, and the pale yellow with just a little blush. Neither of those were mine, but a pleasant surprise from the previous owners. When they are done blooming, I’ll be digging the bulbs up to plant more strategically this fall.

And I don’t know about you, but I just the inside of tulips.

So neat.

The daffies are still blooming nicely, and I’m happy to see my frilly fancy ones survived the move.

Though I think I lost the small ones with the single peachy centre.

I’ve brought my seed trays outside to soak up some sun during the day

They still have to come in at night to avoid any potential frost, but they are doing well. The lupin are probably doing the best – you can see them just starting to form their signature star-shaped leaves.

My grocery store does a weekly promotion where if you spend $250 on groceries (not hard these days) you get a free item. Every week is different, but I was THRILLED when last week was a free hanging basket.

I chose this fiery begonia with a spider plant. I’m keeping it on the sun porch for now, but once we are past the danger of frost, it will hang on the porch at the side door for a nice pop of colour.

And last… I finally discovered why all those grape hyacinths in the catio haven’t bloomed.

And it’s not because Rupert likes to roll in them. It’s because they aren’t grape hyacinths at all…

They are Star of Bethlehem flowers. And as pretty as they are, they are also terribly invasive. These one in bloom are at the side of the house under the maple. It’s pretty dry under there, so I think that keeps them a little more in check.

The ones in the catio though – have absolutely taken over. If I can get the time this weekend. I’m going to start digging them out. There’s a lot of digging in my future…that’s for sure!

Friday felines

You all know that Burton is a bit of a particular cat. It’s probably my fault for giving him a grand name and title… but one of the things he’s VERY particular about is the desire to drink his water from a drinking glass. I’m forever fighting him off when I have a glass of water.

Well for some reason, I got the brilliant idea to give him his own glass he could drink from on the upstairs bathroom counter. There I could easily fill it up with fresh water for him, since he insists on accompanying me to the bathroom almost every time I go.

I worked out well, and he quickly learned that he could find water up there at almost any time of the day, as I’d refresh it whether he came in there with me or not.

And it was all good until one day, the water level got too low for him to drink and he decided to let me know by pushing the glass into the sink where, naturally, it shattered into a billion pieces.

I decided he wasn’t getting another glass glass, but I had to find something that wouldn’t break, but still appease his delicate sensibilities and look like a glass.

It cost me $10 for just one, but I found the perfect plastic glass at the grocery store.

Since then, all as been hunky dory. Oh… he still smacks it into the sink if the water gets too low…

“Excuse me…. my water cup is empty, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I just dumped it in the sink…”

Please note the water dripping down the side of the cabinet.

And Burton is not the only one enjoying this second floor refreshment bar. I’ve come into the bathroom and seen both Rupert and Relic up there getting a drink.

And sometimes…

There’s even a line-up!