Porch pirates

… but not the parcel stealing kind…

No.. this is a hearty crew of two… the Double Ds, the Dastardly Duo of Daves…

My Dad and and my husband. (Yes, I married a guy with the same name as my Dad…)

You may not remember, but when we bought the house, the sun porch looked like this…

Can you see how that back right corner was sunk lower than the rest of the porch? Well all last year, we just dealt with it… using the porch, all the while it was listing like the Titanic. Doing something about it was on our to-do list, just not very high up in comparison to turning the living room and studio into usable spaces. Then winter set in and we had to wait for better weather to get a look under there and see exactly what was going on.

Well, yesterday was finally the day. Dad came out bright and early, and the pair of them got to work. It didn’t take them long to diagnose the problem. Whoever built the porch just put the support posts right on the dirt, and that one was rotted out.

So they got the corner of the porch jacked up, performed a little surgery, got some new wood in, and concrete underneath that.

And by noon, my porch was level, and my roof line was straight!

I swear, there’s nothing those two can’t do!

I spent the rest of the afternoon getting my plants and such set up on the porch. I still have some work to do there today, so you’ll have to wait for pictures.

While you’re reading this, Dave’s probably out there giving it a fresh coat of paint to get rid of the yucky oxide red. It’s going to be a lovely dark green, just like the shed!

Rose revival

I am disappointed to inform you that not one of the roses I brought from the townhouse made it through the winter.

I had four in total – White Lightning (White Hybrid Tea), Honey Perfume (Apricot Floribunda), Scentimental (Red and White Floribunda) and Ebb Tide (Purple Floribunda). Now I’m not too upset about the last two – Scentimental was never a particularly robust, and Ebb Tide was a bit of a disappointment. You only got dark purple flowers from her when the weather was cooler. When it was hot and humid, she gave you dark fuchsia flowers that opened too quickly and died off fast. In a place with more moderate summers, she’d be a great rose, but not here.

But White Lightning and Honey Perfume – those two were a big loss. I really thought they’d make it through when they started blooming again after the move. But I guess it was just too much stress to get them through the winter.

I wasn’t able to get replacements for them this year (though I will eventually), but that doens’t mean I didn’t get roses…

In fact, I got six. Some I’m familiar with, some are new:

Good as Gold (Hybrid Tea)

This is the only one that’s bloomed so far. The buds start out quite orange, but as it opens it becomes this beautiful, golden yellow.

The following pictures are not mine… but they are what I have to look forward to

Queen Elizabeth (Grandiflora)

Longtime readers will recall that this was one of the first roses I had at the townhouse. Being that’s it’s the Queen’s Jubilee year, it seemed appropriate to get it again. Plus, it’s a lovely shade of pink.

Chicago Peace (Hybrid Tea)

Long-time readers will DEFINITELY recall this one. It was my biggest and my best for about four years. It suddenly kicked off the year before we moved. I absolutely adored it! Prolific, BIG blooms, gorgeous scent, what’s not to love?

Double Delight (Hybrid Tea

This one is new, but I’m REALLY looking forward to it. I just love multi-coloured blooms.

Chrysler Imperial (Hybrid Tea)

This one I bought first, for the name (for my car guy), and second because it’s a classic red rose. It’s the only rose I have out front (the rest are in the backyard), and I suspect, will be the next one to bloom.

New Dawn (Climber)

I’ve always loved climbing roses, but I never had a place for them at the townhouse. I’ve planted this one outside the catio. The idea is that it will climb up the far end, and provide some more shade inside the catio yard for the kitties.

Now honestly, four of them (Queen Elizabeth, Chicago Peace, Double Delight and New Dawn), were not the best looking plants I’ve ever seen. The garden centre I got them from was part of a hardware store (not our usual one), and most of the plants were pretty neglected. However, they were half the price of roses elsewhere. With some life visible, I figured it was worth the chance to get them and nurse them back to full health. They seem to be doing well so far, but it may be a while before I see blooms on them. You can be sure I’ll keep you posted.

Friday felines

The recent work I did in the catio seems to be quite appreciated by the cats. They are enjoying lounging about amongst the plants and pathways. But there was still one issue with the space. There’s just not a lot of shade. It’s good until about 10 am, but then the sun gets over the maple tree, and for the rest of the day, the yard is in full sun.

The only shade comes from the mulberry bush.

Or under the barbecue.

I’ve planted a climbing rose, and a honey suckle on the outside of the catio – once they grow up a bit, the will help provide a little more cover, but that’s going to take a while.

So… I splashed out on a piece of outdoor cat furniture. Yep.. that’s right, they make outdoor furniture for cats. Well technically, it’s for dogs… but whatever….

I found it on Amazon. I spent more on it than I have on furniture for myself (excepting my mattress)… but well…

Only the best for my babies, of course.

Since I put it up, it’s been a pretty popular spot.

I put some potted plants around it (my banana, a hibiscus, and a pot of colourful coleus) around it to dress up the area a bit.

I’m not sure the cats care, but I think it makes it look nice.

The mat is waterproof, and the cover is washable, but I do think I’m going to make a little quilt topper, just to keep it looking tidier than the white does with all the mulch they drag in.

Around the yard

I was hoping to have some sewing to show you today, but as I mentioned earlier this week, this weekend was too nice to stay indoors. It was not too hot, not to cold… the just-right kind of weather that will be long gone soon enough, as a blazing, humid summer takes over.

There were lots of little things for me to do around the yard, but first, I have to sing the praises of my amazing husband

For the last couple of weeks, he’s been busy working around the garden shed. He cut down all the branches of an overgrown mulberry tree that was taking over; he finished cleaning out the garbage pile/30 years of debris behind the shed that I’d started on earlier this year; replaced the plexi-glass windows; and then he scrubbed, cleaned, primed and repainted the shed.

The first picture is how the shed looked when we moved in. The second picture was from when he built a new wall and doors for it, and the last is how it looks now. I still can’t get over the transformation. It’s still a beat up old shed, but it’s just so much more presentable now. I am so thrilled.

At the side of the shed, you can just see the three pussy willows I planted last fall. Eventually they will get big and tall, and I’ve got the idea of creating a little “garden room” there. I’m calling it Willow Grove. It’s going to take several years to get it to where it is in my head, but it’s where I’ll have my birdbath, a few feeders, and maybe a small bench tucked in a corner to sit and watch the birds. And of course, some other plantings to compliment it all.

To get things going there, I needed to move the bulb box. It was only a temporary garden anyway, so I dug up all the bulbs and put them in paper bags. They will get replanted this fall throughout all the gardens (along with many other bulbs, I hope). I moved the box to the middle of the yard, because I still had need of it.

There wasn’t time to put in any big veg beds this year, but I still like to grow tomatoes for fun (I don’t actually eat them – I usually give away whatever Dave doesn’t eat). I also had my strawberries, which I’d already put in the section that used to hold the crocuses.

It was only supposed to be two tomato plants, but one of the pots I bought actually had two separate plants in it, so now I have three. With any luck, I’ll be giving away scads of tomatoes this summer. And my strawberries are just loving the raised bed.

There are dozens of berries coming, more than I’ve ever seen on the plants. I may have to put up some netting so I can get them before the birds do.

Hopefully next year, I’ll be able to build some proper beds, as I’d love to grow some more vegetables now that we have the room.

But back over in Willow Grove, I got my lilacs planted (I thought they’d compliment the willows nicely, plus there’s room for them to grow there.)

Where the bulb box was, I had some nice level ground for my beautiful new-to-me birdbath. I filled all the little planting holes with a rainbow of Calibrochoa. Then I brought over my antique bird cage and hung it near.

And there I had to stop, because the rains moved in. But that’s okay. As I said, this area is going to come together slowly – I’ll work on it as time, weather, and funds allow. But for now, it functions well enough for the birds to stop by for a little refreshment.

Walkabout Wednesday

Today’s walkabout post is a little bit of a cheat… these pictures were taken in my driveway. I’d like to introduce you to Foxy the Squirrel.

The reason this qualifies for “walkabout” is because I’ve seen Foxy all over town. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to get pictures though.

In truth the Foxy I’m seeing everywhere is likely multiple squirrels. The red tail is a genetic aberration, so it makes sense that’s there’s a whole family of them, spread out all across the town.

But one, of them, seems to really like our yard (and my bird feeders). On the weekend, I was out front, weeding the island garden and he kept nosing around. I went and got a few peanuts and attempted to make friends.

Foxy was willing to get pretty close, but was definitely not ready to take any nuts from my hand. He’s going to think he died and went to heaven when I finally get Squirrelington’s back up and running.

All about Alice

I’m afraid I don’t have a Tiny Needle post for you today. I did not pick up the cross-stitching once this weekend, being far too busy in the yard. I do however, have a tiny brush post for you… does that count?

I’ve completed another one of my painted post creations… this one for best friend, Samantha. She’s a big fan of Alice and I wanted to see If I could rise to the challenge of recreating her on a pot. Naturally, I chose to include the Cheshire Cat.

I found some Alice colouring pages online, and they were the perfect inspiration. Unlike the other pots I’ve done, I only put a design on the front of this one, instead of all the way around. For the rest of the pot, I covered it with a sort of rainbow ombre.

You can’t really see it in the pictures, but the whole thing has a glitter wash over it, giving it a little bit of sparkle magic.

In it, I planted a cutting I rooted from my mini-monstera plant.

Samantha and I are currently working out the details for a play date, so Alice and Ches will be going to their new home soon.

I have two more pots primed and ready to paint… I just have to decide what to paint next!

B is for BORING

With June here, I really wanted to get a move on my Christmas list. I’m actually planning on making fewer things this year, but a few things are on the bigger side.

Like the present for Dad. In the winter, he’s always cold, so my plan was to make him a Grandpa cardigan. Something he could throw on and off. Mom gave me some yarn from her stash – she’d got it ages ago with plans to make Dad a sweater, but never got that far.

When I told her my plans, she said I’d be safer with a pullover vs a cardigan. And the plainer the better. She’s been married for him to for 45 years, so I bow to her wisdom on the matter.

In the end I came up with Southwood.

Top down, raglan… and plain, plain, plain! The yarn is Patons Classic wool in a cream/light grey twist. I’ve got the collar done, and that’s all I can do for now. For some reason, I don’t have a 5mm circular needle. One has been ordered from Amazon, but it probably won’t arrive until the end of the week.

While I’m waiting, I’m working on the Static man sock.

It’s coming along quite nicely, and I’m working my way down the gusset. I love the pops of yellow in this pair. It just adds a touch of excitement in an otherwise simple knit.

Seeded

Now… with all this gardening going on, you’re probably wondering what happened with all those seeds I started.

Well first… winter sow was an absolute bust this year. My experiment with different types of containers failed. I think they weren’t big enough to keep enough warmth in. The two that were in larger containers started to sprout, but then we had a few wind storms and they got all knocked about and the seedlings just died.

Second – the seeds on my grow stations… I give it about a 30% success rate right now. Some seeds didn’t take at all, and then when I first put them outside, I put them in a place with too much sun and most of the tender little seedlings got toasted. A few things did bounce back, and they were finally at a stage where I could “pot them on” as my favourite gardening guru Monty Don says. (put them in a larger pot to let them grow more before putting them in a garden).

Of those initial seeds I have four types of plants, Black-eyed Susans, Malva (related to Hollyhocks), Delphiniums, and Lupin.

The Lupin are by far, the most robust..

Each of those pots has at least two lupin in them, some have three. It was a pack of mixed seeds, so I have no idea what colours I’ll get. Hopefully a whole range. If they grow enough, I may find out by fall, but it’s more likely I’ll have to wait until next spring.

But I still had lots of seed. As soon as it got warm out, I planted a bunch of things up and put them on the sun porch.

This is a tray of all annuals, including cosmos, snap dragons, violets and more. The cosmos are doing by far the best. Cosmos are great for adding colour on those hot hazy summer days when everything else is wilting.

I did do a couple trays of perrenials though too…

Some of them are things that I died off in the first seed planting (shasta daisies, columbine, penstamon, etc), but there are few new ones including fox glove (I LOVE foxglove and want tonnes of it), silver dollars and some cat nip for the rulers of the house, of course.

It will probably be mid-summer to fall before any of these are ready to go in to the garden, but it will give us much to look forward to. As I said before – a garden is never static.

And last, but not least…

Sunflowers. I love sunflowers and I have lots of room for them here. I have several varieties and all colours here. Some are slow to sprout, but we are seeing some progress none-the-less. If I can get them in the ground by the end of June, we should have a good show for July and August.

The garden so far

With the bulk of the gardening work complete, it’s time to catch you up on all the things that have bloomed in the meantime. I brought as much as I could from the townhouse, and while the show so far hasn’t been as spectacular as it has been in the past, there’s still plenty of blooms.

First, the Lily of the Valley:

This is one of my absolutely favourites. Since it spreads so easily, I only brought a small clump from the townhouse. And when things started coming back this spring, I thought I’d lost it. It wasn’t until I started clearing out along the fence line that I found it buried under a pile of weeds. It’s now blooming and of course, smells wonderful. This clump will be moved at some point – when we move the fence and I create a “woodland garden” under the maple tree. But for now, I can just enjoy it as is.

The tulips are all done now, but you’ve yet to see my purple parrot tulips, which were the last to bloom.

Such a pretty little tulip. I plan to plant SCADS of tulips this fall, so next spring should be absolutely spectacular.

As the tulips died off, the irises begin to bloom.

This dwarf bearded one is one of my faves. It originally came from Mom’s garden, and it’s deep dark purple is almost black in some light. By the time we left the townhouse, I had several clumps. I brought two with me, and gave a couple to neighbours, so it’s legacy lives on there.

And speaking of neighbours…

These two gorgeous varieties came from neighbour Krista before I moved, though I completely forgot she gave them to me until they bloomed. To be honest, I don’t remember her giving me the burgundy one at all… but she said she did so I’m just going with it. She’s the most likely source, anyway.

These other two though… I do remember! They both came from the grocery store garden centre near the townhouse. It was odd to see anything other than purple irises there, so I snapped them both up as soon as I saw them.

New neighbour Sean has asked if I would like to do an iris trade when they are done blooming. He really wants some of those white ones and I’m more than happy to oblige. He has some lovely pale purple ones, so it seems like a good deal.

In other iris news….

This is my Shaker’s Prayer iris. It’s a Siberian Iris, so it’s smaller and more delicate than the bearded irises above. It came from the townhouse as well, and like the Lily-of-the-Valley, I thought I lost it at first. But, I was just mistaking it for day lilies. I planted it along the fence with the day lilies, and when the foliage first starts coming up, they are very similar. I’m so happy I was wrong, because I just absolutely love this one.

And the last iris…

This is my newest one – one of the native plants I showed you a few weeks back. It’s a Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor). It’s even smaller than the Siberian Iris, but so pretty. And how small??

Here it is with my hand just below it. And look at that little spider… it’s already attracting wildlife! That’s some successful native planting if you ask me!

Speaking of native plants. The native Loblia has started to bloom.

It’s not the most showy plant, but beneficial none-the-less.

Elsewhere, you saw my pretty sage plants last weekend, but they are worth another look.

I had sage at the townhouse, but it died off the year I did the garden revamp (the year before we moved). It’s nice to have it again, as it blooms all summer, and is a great pollinator magnet.. I have a third one, that I planted last fall, but it hasn’t bloomed just yet. (These two are both brand new this spring).

My pincushion plant (brought from the townhouse) just exploded this year. In fact, it did so well I split it into three separate plants and they are all just starting to bloom.

It’s more pink than purple, as it seems here, but it’s a fabulous plant that the pollinators love. And it blooms all summer long.

Over in the island garden, all my groundcovers are doing well. And my sagifraxa has bloomed.

It’s a very odd plant. It has leathery leaves shaped like sedum, but it grows low to the ground like hens and chicks. But it gets the little, delicate flowers on really tall stems.

I bought and Alpine Aster this year. I had them before, but they didn’t do well in the heavy clay soil at the townhouse. I figured they would do much better here. And so far, the second try is going amazing

My previous one was a white aster. This one, as you can see is a stunner of a pink. It’s an amazing pop of colour in the island garden.

The Lupin I brought from the townhouse is doing spectacular.

I actually had two varieties at the townhouse – this solid purple one, and one with purple and white flowers. The latter didn’t make the trip, it seams. But I had bought another Lupin in the fall, and it was supposed to be white, but…

Its apparently purple too! At least it’s a different shade (more of a blurple), but I was really looking forward to some white ones. Hopefully there will be some different colours in the seedlings I started (more on that tomorrow).

Quite a few of the asiatic and oriental lilies I brought from the townhouse are getting ready to bloom. And I planted some new bulbs in the front garden that have yet to sprout, but I just couldn’t resist these orange ones when I saw them at the garden centre.

They are a double bloom which I don’t see very often in lilies.

I’m happy to say, I did get a lilac bush… in fact, I got two!

I found one called Madame Lemoine, which is very similar to the white one (Beauty of Moscow) that I had at the town house. It’s quite small, and doesn’t have blooms yet, but I’m happy to wait. But I also picked up this one a few days later. It’s called Bloomerang!

If it sounds familiar, it’s because Dee has one in her yard. It blooms in both spring and fall! I can’t wait!

Friday felines

It seems the cats aren’t the only ones happy with the catio conversion. Burton and I had our first toad visitor already (you will recall the toads came frequently to hang out last summer)

I imagine we’ll only see more of them as the plants grow and give them more cover.