Archive for the ‘plants’ Category
It’s been a few weeks since I put up a post. Summer seems to have been slipping by almost unnoticed. Much of eastern Canada has been in the grip of a drought. Somewhat surprisingly, even this region of Nova Scotia, surrounded as it is by the Atlantic Ocean and with the Bay of Fundy tides at its doorstep, has been very dry too. Fortunately, we have been spared the extreme heat that has blanketed so much of the continent this summer.
It’s a little difficult to explain why I have not felt like putting up a blog post. Part of the blame goes to spending time out there living – going for long walks with Sage. As well, I have devoted at least an hour a day to working on my fiddle playing and recently began taking lessons from a local fiddler who just happens to live down the road from me. On my own, I’ve learned about two dozen new tunes this summer, but it is nice to connect with another musician and hear how they play some of the pieces that are familiar to me. As many of you will know, fiddling is a lot like speech and there are so many of what I like to think of as regional dialects.
I’ve done some mothing over the summer, but for the most part, it hasn’t been such a great season. Between the cool nights and the drought, it seemed to put a lid on things. However, I have been finding the odd moth such as the Primrose moth (Schinia florida) in the above and below photos, resting on vegetation (click on all photos for larger views).
Gardening has been a bit hit and miss. Everything was growing like mad earlier on. I had managed to get the potatoes planted, and seeds in the ground quite early, so thought there would be a bumper crop of everything. However, how soon the tables were to turn! Even the formerly prolific rose bushes finally hit the brakes as the rainless weeks dragged on.
But as I have discovered through experience, there are always some bright spots here and there and you learn to watch for and enjoy them as you find them. The new daylilies purchased last summer from Canning Daylily Farm near Wolfville, have put on quite a show.
Although much of the vegetable garden has failed, there have been a few pleasant successes, including the tasty Norland potatoes which always give me the feeling that I’m digging up edible gemstones. The potatoes aren’t very large as the tops died off in the drought, but I love new potatoes and had already started digging them to eat and share with the neighbours where I planted the vegetable garden this year.
All in all, things have been going along okay. True, there has not been much work done on the house this year. I’ve tried to figure out why that should be and have come to the conclusion that my mind and body wanted a rest after the five years since Don first became ill, and the now almost four years living alone since he died. A few weeks ago, while talking to one of my brothers on the phone, I commented that this old house was painted as much with anger and sadness as with any paint. There is more truth to that than I normally like to admit. For almost four years, I have often functioned a bit like an automaton – rising at dawn and driving myself onward relentlessly until darkness called a halt for that day. However, there comes a time when the constant drain on your mind and body wears you thin as a line and then you must stop or – well, I don’t really know that there has to be an “or” but eventually you just can’t go on. This summer, I reached that point. It was time to stop and do things in a different way. Progress has been made, but without obsession, or perhaps more that the negative energy was inverted into something positive, like long walks and fiddle playing. Whatever, it feels good to regain some of the self that I used to be.
Although the weather of the past few weeks has often been wet and dreary, I’ve tried to make the best of it by working on the yard and gardens. The entire front yard is now fenced – some parts rather wimpily, but plenty strong enough to contain my collies. Fortunately, they are not much for testing boundaries by leaping over, crawling under, or pushing through any kind of barrier. They are quite content to patrol the garden, wagging their tails as they bark at anything that seems out of place, but soon returning to sit or lie next to me while I work. They are such great companions and friends often remark on how the three of us seem like some kind of tribe. Perhaps our nomadic life is responsible for our tribal behaviour, looking out for one another, and never wandering out of sight or earshot. Whatever, it is a comfortable relationship.
As described in my last post, there is now a strawberry bed where once was a heap of rotting planks. Fifty new plants are doing well. Never one to let unoccupied garden space go to waste, I stuck a couple of dozen red onion seedlings in between the plants, reasoning that they can spend the summer growing and provide me with green tops and the odd onion for a salad as needed.
The perennial flower garden has been greatly expanded to accommodate about forty new plants. Half came from a friend’s flower garden at Bear River. A few more came from the plant sale held during the Annapolis Royal Magnolia Festival. The most recent batch came from the Champlain Garden Society sale held at the farmers’ market last weekend. My bill came to an even fifty dollars, and everyone was of the opinion that I was probably their best customer of the day. I returned home with the van jammed full of foxgove, hostas, daylilies, lady’s mantle, and other wonderful plants. All of this goes some way toward lessening the sting of abandoning a good many plants when I sold our farm two years ago. Of course, it’s difficult to replace plants given to you over thirty-plus years by friends and family, but I’m feeling more philosophical about things these days and beginning to regard plants dug from new friends’ gardens as being part of something larger – a great web of old favourites that everyone has been sharing with fellow gardeners. Different faces, but the same roots.
Anyhow, added to all of the above are two new rhododendrons which join the three planted last year – the one in the above photo is Nova Zembla (click on all images for larger views).
To round things out, I purchased quite a few herbs and some tomato plants – medium-sized yellow “Taxi” and “Green Zebra” – as those are low acid varieties. Everything is doing well, thanks to all the rain. The garden actually looks pretty good – as befits a much nicer house. Although it may not look too bad from the outside, it’s still at the “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” stage.
This year, I’ve made it my goal to try to visit the Annapolis Royal Farmers’ Market as often as possible. As most of you know, I am a notorious recluse when not traveling across the continent. It is not unusual for me to avoid going anywhere I can’t walk to on my own two feet, for at least two or three weeks at a time – which is actually not such a bad thing from an environmental standpoint. However, I’ve been thinking that perhaps a little contact with the human race could be beneficial, so I’ll make the weekly effort to drive the five or so kilometers to town on Saturday mornings. I’ve been twice now and have purchased excellent bread from a local bakery, the above-mentioned herb and tomato plants, some handmade soap from one of my Round Hill neighbours who got started into that business last summer, and two gorgeous glass insulators which I shall have to flaunt on m blog once I get round to taking some photos. In any case, I’m doing my best to help support the local economy.
To add to all of this excitement and activity, I’ve begun this season’s effort at photographing nocturnal moths and already turned up a couple of new (for me) species. More about that sometime soon. Also, I decided to sign up with the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas project to do the atlas square in which Round Hill is located. As many may remember, Don and I used to participate in several nature-related citizen science monitoring programs before our lives went to hell in a handbasket in 2007.
Little by little, I’m trying to carry on alone, picking up our lost trail. My hope is that, by getting involved in this and other similar programs, I will gradually feel more a part of this place.
Lastly, over the weekend, I began what will probably be one of those epic projects that takes a whole season of spare hours when a break is needed from working on the house. I plan to build a walking trail from the house down to the river – a steep and slippery slope – and from there, carry on along the shore until looping back through the trees. This would give me better access to this rambling bit of property which, although not all that large, seems bigger than its footprint due to the irregular shoreline and terraced woodland. The photo below is the view looking down the steep hillside from the house. I’ve progressed about a third of the way to the shoreline. It’s a start.