May 30, 2011
This the slide show I whipped together for the information booth I had at the Blooming Art and Garden Sale a few weeks ago. The photographs were taken between 2008 and 2010, with a few from earlier years. It is generally (but not precisely) layed out in a seasonally progressive way, and it features more of the diversity of the garden–the bugs and birds–than the last slide show. It is almost 10 minutes long, and it can be watched full screen if you select the HD mode.
Photographs by Adrian Thysse and Yuet Chan. Music by Gu Zeung, a section from ”Watching the Moon”.
May 29, 2011
Deep in the shade of the far corner of our back garden, under the overhanging branches of a small birch, an intruder lurks. Hearkening back to the days when reptiles ruled, this raider fears nothing. It is a fickle beast, appearing every spring to continue its determined advance into the garden, only to vanish again at the coming of the winter storms. It bristles with spines. Its’ skin is studded with rock-hard crystals of silica. Resistant against our common attacks, it goes under our defences to appear–bristling with teeth–in some other spot in the garden. What is this creature that defies us?
No, it’s not the one¹ with the artificial smile: it is the horsetails, survivor of a host of earth-shattering calamities over the last 300 million years. They are Equisetum–once king of the Paleozoic; today a slayer of horses and the
scourge scourer of pots….
¹Horsetails were already over 200 million years old before T. rex entered the scene.
May 23, 2011
Spring has been good at the home garden. The Siberian squill (Scilla sibirica) and marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris) have done their bit for the year, and the daffodils are fading. Golden Spurge (Euphorbia polychoroma) and Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) are now the highlight of the gardens. Globeflower (Trollius sp.) are brightening the pond border, filling in where the marsh marigolds have left off. In dappled shade the hosta spears are beginning to open, but in the full shade of our back garden spruce, the spear-tips are just starting to show. Our humble group of trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum), now reduced to two, have a single flower developing. Lording over all, the apple tree is in full bloom, making the east-facing patio a particularly pleasurable place to sit in the early morning light.
My major chores this year are on two fronts: complete renovation of the kitchen garden, and a reworking of the front west-facing garden.
IN 1994 our kitchen garden was first developed with raised beds–beds retained with scaffolding planks that I had scavenged. Over the years these have slowly begun to rot, and slumping soil and has forced me to tear the beds apart and to begin afresh. I am abandoning the concept of retained raised beds and going back to the simpler unrestrained Chinese (or French?) style of kitchen garden. After years of amending the soil and composting turf we now actually have an excess of soil, and I am using this soil, amended with our compost, to refresh areas of the front garden.
So what needs to be ‘refreshed’ in front garden? We have no lawn there–it is composed of two large beds on either side of the walk way to our house. They are mixed beds, with a blend of trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses and perennials. Over the years, walking through the beds to do garden clean-up and to plant new specimens has led to compacted soil. Not only that, but my Shasta daisies were behaving more like weeds than the upright citizens of the garden they are meant to be. Frustrated with their smell, and their tatty appearance after bloom, have decided to rid the garden of them completely. I also had to remove one large specimen of golden knapweed (Centaurea macrocephala), which is now listed as a noxious weed. The gaps left by these plants, and the areas that have been compacted, can now be refreshed by spading them over and mixing in the soil/compost mix from the kitchen garden. Once they are replanted, I will add mulch and we will be ready for the season ahead.
May 21, 2011
Certain plants are illegal.
The government calls them ‘noxious’ weeds. These are invasive alien species that are a threat to agriculture and to natural ecosystems. Vegetable louts, they can elbow aside native species and can infiltrate agricultural crops. The result? Ecosystems lose biodiversity, and farmers need to use more herbicides. Let’s not let our gardens be a contributing factor to the spread of these plants.
Municipalities are concerned–visit the web sites for the cities of Edmonton and Calgary for what you can do to recognise and fight weeds. It is especially important for those of us who have a more relaxed style of naturalistic gardening–there have been cases of fuss-budget neighbours using the weed control act as a weapon against what they feel are slovenly gardens. Don’t let it happen to you.
The Alberta Invasive Plants Council has information on weeds and photographs on how to identify them. Go there now…you may be surprised to find that criminals that are lurking in your garden.
Some ornamental plants are not listed as invasive, but have the potential to spread. Avoid these plants, especially if you live on land that borders any natural areas. Even the Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum), a horticultural cultivar, can revert and hybridise with the ox-eye daisy, a noxious weed. If your Shastas are self-seeding, it is (ob)noxious.
The Alberta Weed Control Act governs noxious weeds. Weed Control Regulation lists the following: (Note that ‘prohibited noxious weeds‘ must be destroyed, while ‘noxious weeds’ must be controlled–i.e don’t let them go to seed or spread)
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