Lily

Did you know there are many varieties of lilies?  A friend brought this lily to my garden last year just before it was about to bloom. Somehow the conditions weren’t right for the bloom to last very long so I have been waiting anxiously for it to bloom again this year, so I could take its picture for posterity. The  long-hoped-for rain  arrived the day the lily tried to bloom. Would I be lucky enough to see the flowers this year? Not only did it bloom, but it graced my garden with three blossoms. I see that the first to bloom is already a little “rough around the edges” but the other two are still fresh. Notice the dark pollen on the stamens? Then please read the poem below the photo and tell me if this has ever happened to you.

Dainty lily blooms a while,

When she does it makes you smile.

But if you invade her space

Staring right into her face,

In her bloom your nose you poke,

Be prepared for Lily’s  joke.

Those who sniff her sometimes pay.

Pollen on their nose will stay.

Orchid Goes to Town

Another orchid is waking up. The first bud is squinting with one eye to have a look around. She’s not sure she wants to come out completely. It looks a bit gray out there. Where is summer?

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She waits a day or two and soon reinforcements come along. In the company of her sisters, she feels brave enough to face the world. But what faces they have!

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One of the things I love about orchids (besides their long blooming time) is that each type has such unique characteristics. It seems that the colours and designs are infinite. DSCN8532

 

What beetle with its bleeding feet

Has marked my orchid, once so neat?

Or maybe she’s not feeling well

And has the measles, I can’t tell.

I know! She’s going into town

To sport her polka-dotted gown.

Wild and Crazy

 

Spring didn’t really happen this year. It was winter right up until nearly summer. I’m way behind in my weeding, but the poppies are telling me, “Don’t worry. We’ll put on a show to distract any critical eyes.”

“Order, Order!” shouts the judge.

“Bring this yard to order, please.”

But the gardener’s brain is sludge,

Toes and fingers start to freeze.

 

Weeds are shouting everywhere,

“We’re part of winter’s doom and gloom.

Come and pull us if you dare.

But wait, what’s this? The poppies bloom?”

 

Poppies growing where they like,

Squeezing into any place.

What a pretty pose they strike,

Wild and crazy wins the race.

 

Community Garden

On Protection Island, near Nanaimo, BC, my visit continued with my friend acting as tour guide. Here is a community garden where residents can maintain a raised bed or contribute in other ways to the island’s garden project.

Can you see the glimpse of ocean through the trees? Now imagine that fresh sea air warmed by the sun. The garden is surrounded by trees that keep the humidity  hovering over the fruit and vegetables grown here.

Two special things got my attention:

  1. The potato plants in the two boxes at the front of the picture. In the ample loose soil in those boxes, the roots of the plants are able to produce more potatoes.
  2. The huge cage to the left is like a bird cage in reverse. It it meant to keep the birds out and the raspberries and strawberries in. What a great idea! So much better than netting that can tangle the birds’ feet.
    The garden is well looked after and is producing abundantly already. Outside the garden is a “Help Yourself” table where gardeners can share produce. Sometimes a person can only eat so many tomatoes or whatever vegetable has suddenly become prolific. It’s great to share.

Buttercup Squash

Last year I couldn’t wait to plant the  seeds I had saved from squash given to us by a friend in Montana.  I should have waited a few weeks. The seedlings were ready to transplant into the garden way before it was warm enough. I managed to baby them until I dared to plant them outside and luck was on my side. I ended up with a great crop of squashes.

This year, I thought I’d be smarter. I waited until it was closer to spring and warmer weather. I planted the seeds of the crop from last year and so many popped up I was quite pleased with myself. Until … they grew so well they started stretching for the light too much and were getting gangly.

It was supposed to be getting much warmer by now! Where was that warm April weather? I was STILL too early. Now I’ll put these eager plants into individual little pots, give them a pat, and tell them, “Slow down. It’s not as warm as it should be. You’ll have to rein in your enthusiasm.”

Here is one of last year’s squashes. I hope to have many happy plants this year too.

When I look at this young beauty, I’m encouraged to work at getting a good crop of these buttercup squashes growing again this year. They are one of the tastiest, sweet squashes I know. Great keepers and delicious to eat. If I remember, I’ll share a recipe later this summer.

 

Winter Apples

As it snowed heavily all around today, the Captain brought in some of this fall’s apples we had stored in our workshop. How bright they look against the snow. I think the smaller red one on the left is a MacIntosh, and the other three are called Wilmuta, which is a cross between Jonagold and Gravenstein. The Wilmuta is a great winter apple. It matures in October and keeps well in a cool place. What a treat to see them today in a January snowfall. The rest of my garden is asleep under the snow, but the apples are still edible after a sleep in the workshop.

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What sleeps in winter garden beds?

Some kale and wilted lettuce heads,

Carrots tasty, shriveled chard,

In soil that’s frozen very hard.

The chives are shivering with cold,

But in the springtime they’ll be bold

And send up shoots that say to me

Your salad’s where I’d like to be.

One day the sun will warm the soil

And Anne-li will go out and toil

Turning over weedy dirt

While working in her short-sleeved shirt.

She’s anxiously awaiting spring

So she can go and do her thing.

 

 

 

The Sunny Side of Life

We have five apple trees. One is a baby, a Gravenstein, parked right next to the grandfather Gravenstein tree. The little tree is doing fine but the big one has been leaning towards the sun more and more each year. By the time I noticed, it was too late to pull it back, but it probably would have been a good idea to put a stake in and tie it back anyway, to stop it from getting worse.

And worse it got!

With this early spring and warm summer, everything grew more than usual and the apples grew mostly on the sunny side of the tree, weighing it down even more on the leaning side. One day, I realized that the whole tree could fall down under the weight of so much fruit all on the sunny side. The apples must have watched the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou?” When I went out into the  backyard, I could have sworn I heard the apples singing  “Keep on the sunny side of life.”

I propped up the tree with a 2 x 4 as a desperation measure until the Captain could come home to help save the tree.

The plum tree to the right of the apple tree has a long branch that is also low to the ground. It is so loaded with plums that it lost two branches under the weight.

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The photo below shows a Wilmuta, an early cross of Jonagold. They are late apples — hardy, sweet, and juicy.  Again, the sheer weight of the apples on this dwarf tree, mostly on the sunny side (apparently they listened to the same song), had branches breaking and the tree trunk leaning.Tying it to the nearby plum tree helped for a while, but as the apples got bigger and heavier, the tree leaned even more. A couple of pieces of wood put in to prop the branches and the trunk have not prevented breakage and the tree is still in need of triage (or is that tree-age?) As soon as the apples are harvested, I’ll call  NINE- TREE-TREE. 9-1-1 is only for people, I think.

dscn6375The other two trees, a Transparent and a MacIntosh, are behaving well. I have certainly been able to have “an apple a day,” but this year, maybe we’re having too much of a good thing.

P.S.  A friend just reminded me that I haven’t pruned the trees for a while and that is a major contributor to my problem with the breaking branches. I know she’s right!