Wednesday, 23 November 2011

November Garden Ramblings

This bit of snowy, windy cool weather on our typically temperate island, has had me playing catch up indoors, as I much prefer the steady drizzle of rain to this slushy mess. However, decided to venture forth outdoors to clear my head, while shaking the heavy snow from trees and shrubs to prevent breakage.  

The David Austin English roses are remarkably resilient, not only hanging in there, but actually blossoming in these cool temps.  

Sharifa Asma

The Generous Gardener

Unknown - perhaps Jude The Obscure.

A few Snapdragons have come back to shine, as well...

Heather is flourishing...

This Pyracantha has not yet been noticed by the birds, as fruit still clings to it's branches. It's orange-berried neighbour has already been plucked bare, so perhaps this red variety is not quite as tasty?

Paperbark Birch is stunning at any time of the year.

The Fothergilla has not quite yet lost it's gorgeous, red leaves, though, I suspect that they will fall in the next week or two.
Fothergilla Mount Airy

Nandina also clings to it's fall foliage.

The native Mahonia in the neighbouring woods has begun to change from green to ruddy and then this lovely burnished red colour, while Salal remains green year round.

Today...Sun is shining, air is warmer, and rain is in the forecast. Yay.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Sorry all, I see that when I made some blog updates last night, the text from several postings has been covered over by the picture 'frame'. This has occurred mostly on 'Where It All Began' and 'Greenhouse Goes Up'.

Please bear with me, as I first take a good walk outside to clear my head, so that I can continue my (attempts) reparations with a less fuzzy brain.

Update...Think I got it fixed. Yay! Please let me know if you have any further problems viewing the posts.

A Nurse Log ....  A fallen tree, soft with decay, which provides a fertile, moist environment for seeds of other trees, shrubs, and plants to germinate, take hold, and grow in the rotting wood.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Greenhouse Ramblings

A spot of unseasonably cool weather combined with a broken  heater valve, has made it a touch too chilly in the greenhouse for much (comfortable) puttering.

However, the plants continue to thrive in the cool sunshine.

Roses, Geraniums,  Heliotrope and Pansies continue to bloom, while the Yucca's and Phormium's vibrant tones add a tropical feel, during these cool, autumn days.

Cleaning and organizing the greenhouse continues, despite the weather.... The re-potting area has seen much action already, crafting area had been whipped into shape, and seeding area is ready to rock and roll.

This coffee/wine nook takes up quite a bit of space, so only gets to stay till the serious seeding,  potting, and planting begins, once again.

However, this time of year is all about pretty and fun in the greenhouse, to enjoy, socialize, craft, and play. Hope to see you all at the greenhouse soon!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Where It All Began...

Two years ago, September 2009, we moved to rural Nanaimo, on lovely Vancouver Island. The acreage was completely un-landscaped, just a house in the woods, clay soil, solid hard-pan, rocks, boulders, pesky Alder trees and weeds.
Slowly we began to chip away at the raw land, making the house into a home...

First to go up, spring 2010, was a 7.5' fence around the back acre or two. As we live smack dab in the middle of the woods, literally, it was important to have this garden area protected from deer, bears, porcupines, and other animals.

Hubby then built 23 raised beds to create a true potager garden. The beds are 6'x6' squares or 12'x6' rectangles that house our veggies, annuals, strawberries, asparagus, rhubarbs, a few roses and perennials. As Vancouver Island is one big rock, our ground, aka native, natural 'soil' consists of rock and hard-pan, so we garden 'above' ground, as opposed to 'in' ground. 

This fenced in haven is where we safely grow our small fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb, black currants... ), veggie's, and fruit trees (apples, pears, plums, cherries). A large border garden is home to deer tasty trees, shrubs and perennials, like Japanese maples, hydrangeas, and roses.

This spring, in March of 2011, we put in the front yard, an amoeba-shaped lawn encircled by a 6' wide garden bed.

This unfenced area serves as both family yard and trial garden, a testing ground for the deer proof-ness (hmm, is there such a word?) of trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials.

Some of the test plants in this garden...

1st Row - Gaura, Forest Pansy Cercis, Feverfew, Brunnera
2nd Row - Rhododendron, deciduous Rhododendron, Bleeding Heart, Magnolia
3rd Row - Annual Verbena/Geranium baskets, Rudbeckia, Asst dwarf evergreens, Rugosa rose.

The small greenhouse/nursery business where I grow and sell annuals, perennials, roses... for my own yard-scaping purposes and for re-sale. I focus on deer proof plants, mainly out of necessity. It seems prudent <smile>.

The nursery is fenced with 4' high invisible deer fencing. To date, this has worked really well for us. The premise is this... the deer can feel the fence (bump it with their noses...) but cannot see it, therefore they are afraid to try to jump the fence, not knowing how high it actually goes.

Here is just one of the many, many heaps we had trucked in, much to Delilah's delight.

Certainly, we have made a few bad purchases and had some oopsies along the way, however, for the most part... all has gone well at our new island home.  
We continue to dream, garden, build, prep, and amend. Will see what 2012 brings...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Greenhouse Goes Up

Work began one year ago, October 2010....

The area is cleared and leveled for the greenhouse...

Foundation is poured...

Floor is laid (love, love, love)...

Greenhouse went up in just one day...

I ordered ready made tables so that I could get started right away...

Greenhouse gets juice...

Propane tank provides heat...

My wonderful neighbour, John, custom built this counter for me :)
and I also love, love, love this!
Inside the cabinet is a pump to draw in the water from the outdoor cistern,
plus the hot water tank. 

Water is collected in a huge cistern, from the roofs, for watering in and around the greenhouse...

Deer fencing, gardens, and gates, are going up for the nursery...

Outside may be chaos, however, inside the greenhouse is staring to look like spring...

Hubby adds a small hoop house with roll up wall,
to house the roses and to overwinter potted perennials and shrubs...

Nursery in October 2011...looks okay here, but ...

Oh boy... much work is still being done.
Hubby building raised beds around the perimeter plus a large pergola in the middle... landscaping begins spring 2012.

Indoors is my lovely haven.
Here I can escape not only the weather,
but also the mess and chaos just on the other side of these walls.
Welcome :)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Oh Oh, Did Something Silly Today...

I love to make up seasonal pots, planters, and baskets. 

When I do up planters, I use tons of perennials and shrubs, with just a few annuals thrown in for that seasonal pop of colour.

In these fall planters, I have used Croscosmia Emily Mackenzie, Fall Asters, winter pansies, shrub Nandina, with ornamental Redbor Kale, an annual.

This fall planter also consists of mainly perennials with two different types of ornamental Kale as the only annuals.

Grasses like Anemanthele, Pony Tail, and Blue Fescue look great in both fall planters and fall gardens, as do colourful Rudbeckia's aka Brown-Eyed Susans... shown here are Cappuccino, Gold Star, and Autumn Colours.

This 'Stacked Pot' arrangement also contains some fall herbs, Sage, Parsley, and Cilantro, as they  love the cool and damp autumn weather.

The hanging baskets contain all the regulars, plus Heather and ornamental cabbage.

Here are the some of the makings for the new winter/Christmas planters... White Heathers, red berried Hollies, and Cotoneasters.

These plants will replace those in the above fall planters.

This is Delilah, my Mastiff girl... the great chaser of deer, raccoons, bear, birds, and squirrels, plus, the light of my life.

So... Delilah and I went out today to transplant those perennials and shrubs from the fall planters... into my  garden... in preparation for winter with the new red and white theme.

I decided to also plant some tulip bulbs while I was transplanting anyway...

So... the silly thing I did today?

While I planted, Delilah barked at a chattering squirrel . I listened to them yipping at each other...laughed at them...and planted 100 tulip bulbs...  right under the tree that the squirrel was in!

Yep.. might as well have rung the dinner bell when I finished! Squirrel bulb buffet... Deep Sigh.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Nitty Gritty Roses

Here are just a few of the many stunning rose varieties grown at the Nitty Gritty Greenhouse this summer. David Austin English Roses, Floribundas, Grandifloras, Minis, Climbers and Hybrid Teas.

The roses that I most tend to gravitate towards are always soft apricot or peach in colour, with a fragrance that knocks your socks off. Roses like... The Generous Gardener,  Evelyn, Jude The Obscure or Tea Clipper. Although, I must say, Jude tends to be more creamy than peachy in my garden. That's alright, however, as the whites are my second favourite rose colour.  

White and cream roses like the fragrant Blanc Double de Coubert or White Pavement are amazing looking, without that droopy, soggy, used tissue look after the bloom is off the rose, so to speak.   

Lately, I have also been very enamoured with all the fascinating purple, burgundy and orange tones.  Roses such as Intrigue, Night Owl, Burgundy Iceberg, Fragrant Plum, and the vivid orange Tropicana. Fragrant Cloud and Candelabra are also superb. Sigh, so many great roses, so many beds to build and holes to dig.     

Though I love roses of any kind, I always try to purchase/sell roses that have great colour, fragrance, and disease resistance. In the long run, no matter how lovely it is, if it becomes too problematic, it should be culled out and replaced with a less needy variety. It hurts a bit at first but once it's gone, with a new thriving rose in it's place, all is forgotten. After all, not each and every fabulous rose can possibly be suited to everyones particular area and climate. Besides, there are so many great and wonderful roses out there to choose from.   

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...