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Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
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Saturday, November 14, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Cover your working area with newspaper. This is going to get messy! Then cut the top off the pumpkin. Taper it a bit so that the top doesn't fall down into the pumpkin when done. There are lots of special tools for pumpkin carving. Unfortunately I have given them all of mine to my DD so that the students in her class could carve pumpkins. So, I used a knife, but be careful! Pumpkin 'skin' can be really difficult to cut!
Next, hollow out the pulp and seeds. I used an ice cream scoop. This is a kind of messy step, so get the kids to do it! I don't have any kids and Mimi would not even come to take a look, so I guess I'm on my own.
The seeds are edible and can be roasted in the oven. Just spread them onto a baking sheet and bake at a low temperature for a couple of hours - like 275F. Sprinkle with salt and eat! I decided that I didn't want to eat them this year. (I am trying to cut down on salt) so I put them out for the squirrels. After all, it's Trick or Treat for them too, isn't it?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Lovage is a herbaceous perennial. It is also called Maggikraut or Maggi plant. Its seeds and leaves are used to flavour soups and stews. It is a cousin to celery and has a similar growth habit and taste. I bought this plant at a sale of the Scarborough Horticultural Society. I had no idea what it would turn out to be, but I am really happy with this tall plant. It is considered a good companion plant and is said to have qualities that keep insects and diseases away from other plants.
Lovage has been used as an antiseptic to treat wounds. It has also been made into a tea to treat digestive disorders.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
This photo was taken right here in Scarborough, Ontario. I was on my way to McDonald's to buy dinner for my family. I was still gainfully employed at that time and I just didn't have any energy left on a Friday evening to cook a meal. The kids loved my rather sketchy mothering skills. And I had my camera with me! Lucky me. It is one of my favourite photos!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
It is thought that the name, "Daisy" comes from "day's eye" because the flowers open in the early morning. I haven't really noticed this with my daisies. They tend to open and stay that way for several weeks. The flowers are made up of white petals around a yellow centre. The centre is an assortment of hundreds of tiny tubular Florette's. This makes the daisy an effective pollinator. Over the past few weeks I have noticed that goldfinches come to sit on the spent flowers and eat the seeds. Yesterday I heard their familiar chirping and noticed that I had dozens of goldfinches, black capped chickadees and vireos in my garden. They were busy eating the seeds of my lavender and coneflowers too. It was such a happy sight!
This next photo is of a different variety. It is a smaller daisy, growing only about 10-12inches tall. I planted this one several years ago and I have lost the tag that went with it. I think it is one of the newer varieties, since the flowers are much whiter and larger than my Shasta Daisies. Daisies are in the Asteraceae family. There are over 20,000 species! They include daisies, asters, gerberas and dahlias. Lettuce is also a member of this same family as well as artichokes, sunflowers and endive. Their genus has been under dispute. Some botanists now list it as Leucanthemum but it had earlier been listed as chrysanthemum.
Daisies have astringent properties and have been used in folk medicine as a skin cleanser. In ancient Rome, surgeons who accompanied warriors into battle extracted the juice from sackfuls of daisies in order to treat spear and sword wounds. This pale yellow one is my favourite!
Daisies are simple, yet sophisticated. They are one of the most beautiful in the floral world - at least in my opinion. They convey cheer and symbolize purity and innocence. According to Celtic legend, each daisy represents a child who died at birth. As the daisies bloom each year it is a gift from God. These are the flower whose petals are picked off one by one as a hopeful young girl yearns, "he loves me, he loves me not, as in Goethe's Marguerite in "Faust". Old wives tales believed that eating daisies would stunt your growth, hence the saying, "please don't eat the daisies". And who can forget the daisy chains we made as children to wear on our heads, in our hair or around our necks and arms? According to medieval tales, a girl wore a wreath of daisies on her head to tell her suitor that she accepted his proposal of marriage. And let's not forget the morbid saying, "pushing up daisies", which came from the poet John Keats when he announced on his deathbed that he could already feel the daisies growing above his casket.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The next photo is of Rudbeckia hirta. They look very similar to the other Black-Eyed Susans, the R. fulgida Goldsturm, but this one is an annual or perhaps a biennial. It might have come to my garden from the fields and ravines around us. The flowers look the same, but the leaves are very narrow on this plant and it grows tall and lanky. The other Rudbeckia in my garden are more compact. Their leaves are rounder and the plants don't grow quite as high. The R. hirta come up all over in my garden, but the R. fulgida Goldsturm only grow in the established areas or where ever I plant them.
A few years ago I planted a couple of plants in my front garden, right by my front door. These have taken over. They are about three feet tall and blooming like crazy! They are a happy welcome to visitors to my house. These plants are often called cone flowers because of the dark centres which form a high, round centre. Goldfinches love to come to my plants and eat the seeds out of the cone-shaped centres once they have ripened.
Family: Asteraceae. Genus: Rudbeckia. Species: R. hirta and R. fulgida Goldsturm.
Common Name: Black-Eyed Susans.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Phlox are a herbaceous perennial. They are very easy to care for. In fact, they almost care for themselves. Once they are established, they will continue to come up each spring. They like some extra water if the rainfall is less than an inch per week during the summer. It is best to water them in the early morning so that the plants can dry before dark. One of the most common diseases of phlox is fungus. Watering the plants later in the day might lead to fungus growth. The leaves will turn white as if covered by dust. Although unsightly, this does not seem to harm the plant however and the following year the fungus is gone and the plants are fine. Phlox attract butterflies and hummingbirds. One of my primary reasons for having these plants in my garden!
I have three different colours of phlox. They are all perennial and grow up to 3 or 4 feet. The white ones are growing in the very back of the garden and are in deep shade now that other plants have grown up around them. I will have to transplant those next spring or I might lose them. I could not get a photo of them because they were too far back. I also have a light pink one that is very pretty. It has a darker rose colour in the centre of each flower. This plant is still small. I planted it a couple of years ago. This one is definitely a P. paniculata.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Once you have decided on the colours you will be using, cut the fabric into 2 X 3 1/2 inch strips.
You will need 192 of each colour group. In my case, 192 pieces of red fabrics and 192 pieces of off white fabrics. Start by sewing two of the background or light fabric strips together. You can strip piece these if you like. You will need 48 blocks. Press seams to one side. It does not matter which way the seams are pressed. If you are using only one background fabric, you could make this unit by cutting a 3 1/2 inch square and eliminate this seam.Now sew a red or colour strip to each end of the first unit. Iron seams to the red or colour fabric.
Now piece a light strip and a colour strip end to end, like so. You can chain piece these also. You will need 96 of these. Now stitch these units to the rest of the block. Always have the red or colour piece at the top left of the block. That way you won't get them confused. The bottom strip has the red or colour piece at the bottom right, like this.
Sew 48 blocks like this. Each block should measure 6 1/2 inches square. (finished 6 inches square) To layout the blocks rotate every second block so that the red or colour units form a sort of cross or star-like pattern. I have laid these out so you can see the 'cross' but I would not recommend sewing them together in blocks like this. Rather, I suggest sewing them together in rows. That way you can make the seams all go in one direction on each row and blocks will butt together more easily. Good luck with your quilt. It is a very easy pattern. If you need any more information, just leave me a comment and I will get back to you. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. It is also good to have a helper like Oscar!
Monday, August 10, 2009
This is my evening primrose. It is a herbaceous perennial. This plant was one of the only plants in the garden when we moved into this house. I have transplanted it often. Some years I have a lot of them and in other years, like this year, they have been crowded out by other plants. I hope to have more room next year and then I will place these in a better spot.
The flowers on Evening Primrose open in the late afternoon. They have a long history of culinary and medicinal uses. The young roots can be eaten as a vegetable and the young shoots as a salad. The plant has been used to prepare an infusion which is supposed to have astringent and sedative properties. It has been called "King's cureall", because it was used for everything from gastrointestinal disorders to asthma, whooping cough and to treat wounds and bruises.
In the following photo you can see the unique stigma with four branches, which forms an x-shape. Only certain bees are able to pollinate this flower. And given that it only blooms in the late afternoon and evening it would seem that it would never form seeds. But this does not seem to be a problem. It is easy to grow and its bright yellow blooms are a delight. There are about 125 species in this genus, but I have no idea which one I have.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
As I sat on my DD's back deck this evening I heard the sound of drums. The sound grew louder and louder and I realized that it was a procession of people, led by a drummer, walking slowly up her street to the end and then continuing on up into a wooded area. All this was happening just as the sun was going down. The drums stopped and I could see a large bonfire burning through the trees. After about 20 minutes, the 'parade' made its way back down the street and disappeared into some tents that had been set up at one of the houses on the street.
I had no idea what it was all about, so when I got home I decided to do some research on my computer. I discovered that today at sundown the Celtic celebration of Lammas had begun. Lammas is an Old English word meaning Loaf and (maesse) meaning Festival. This is a time to celebrate the Festival of the First Fruits of the Harvest. It is also called Lughnasadh which is pronounced, Loo-nah-sah.
It starts at sundown on July 31st and ends on August 1st. Originally a Pagan ritual, it is a time to gives thanks to Mother Earth for the year's harvest. The days of summer are coming to an end. Sunlight hours are getting shorter and the weather, cooler. It is a time to bake bread and share it with friends and family. I like the idea of this festival. Being ever mindful of the Earth which sustains us, I am surprised that I had never heard of this celebration before. I am glad I was at my DD's house this evening, because I have learned something new. I think I will bake some bread tomorrow and maybe make a doll out of corn husks to mark the occasion. And be thankful for all the things that come from our earth to sustain us and give us life.
"Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn." - William Arthur Ward
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I used to spend hours pulling this stuff out of my garden. I really didn't want my cats rolling around and eating it. I dug many of the plants up in springtime and gave them to my sister who said that she wanted this stuff so she could dry it and use it in cat toys. I had my entire garden clear of this weed, but then Mimi objected!
So I looked this plant up on the internet and found out that it is non toxic to cats. So I asked my sister to bring a couple of plants back to me, so that I could re-introduce it into my garden. Now I have several plants. Funny how the circle of plants goes around, isn't it? Apparently only 2 out of 3 cats are affected by the scent of catnip. Well, I have three cats and they all go crazy over this stuff! Here is a photo of Mimi. She has not had any catnip before I took this picture. She really doesn't need any. She can be quite silly without anything hallucinogenic! Give her some catnip and she goes absolutely insane! But she is still my sweet kitten!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The first on our tour is a white variety. I have three different white lilies in my garden. Here is one of them. This is the one that had its buds chewed off. (on a previous post) There were still several more stalks of them, so it didn't really matter. This one has a fantastic fragrance, which is especially noticeable in the evenings.
This is another one in a different area of my garden. This one has brown speckles. Can you see the damage done by the lily beetles? Those holes in the petals. I will have to be more observant next year and make sure I get all the beetles and their larva before they can do so much damage.
This third one is very beautiful. There were no beetles on these plants. I have no idea why not. Perhaps they just hadn't gotten around to these yet. This one also has a lovely scent.
I also have a few of the pink variety. In this photo it is easy to recognize the sexual parts of the lily plant. The stamen is light coloured 'knob' in the centre. It sits on top of the style. These are the female reproductive organs. The stamens are the six, brown rod-shaped anthers, each held up by a filament. These are the male parts which contain the pollen.
These salmon-coloured ones are really pretty. They are speckles with dark brown flecks and remind me of the old-fashioned tiger lilies. These plants are really tall. I love the way the petals curl to the back!
Here are some more salmon ones. For some reason these plants are shorter. All of my lilies go dormant in the winter and come back up in the spring. There are about 110 species of lilies within the genus Lilium.
And last, but not least, are some huge yellow trumpet-shaped lilies! Fantastic, aren't they? I love this one! I only have three stems of this variety. But that could change. Next year I plan to put a lot more lily bulbs into my garden. I can hardly wait!
Friday, July 24, 2009
The next one is a Hosta. So what's my problem? Well, you guessed it. I am sorry to say that the Bellflower has to go. I doesn't really seem fair. Both are pretty. Both are similar in shape. Both come up every year without any fuss.
But the Hosta will stay and the Bellflowers will be pulled out. But I know that won't be the end of them. They are very hardy. You can read all about them here, on a post I wrote a couple of months ago on my other blog. I know I will be battling these things for many years to come.