91. Buzzing Bushes

I wish I knew how to record my bushes so you could hear them buzzing.

The California Lilacs are buzzing.


A symphony is playing softly in the lavender and rosemary.


And in the indigo.

Those Lithodora are more gorgeous because of their gentle song going on while I water the garden.

Even the colourless raspberries have got a bee party going on.

Maybe D’s mason bee condos have something to do with the buzzing bushes. He must have installed eight of them around the yard. Clearly the vacancy rate is low in this neck of the woods, because we get dozens of minute tenant applications every day, delivered on grains of sand.

Our neighbour has hives. It’s lovely to think, when he gives us a jar of his beautiful honey, that we are eating some of our own plants’ nectar.

In other news, I’m excited about our first gooseberries.


The big bed in the rooftop garden had a renovation a while ago – the surface was overrun with Marchantia liverwort.marchantia

It chokes off the light and holds the water at the surface. I sliced off the top 1.5 inches of soil, and discarded it. Then I mixed a sandy loam with perlite and applied about 3″ of it to the soil to improve the drainage. It seems to have worked – my plants love it and I haven’t seen any of that horrid Marchantia return (so far).

In the greenhouse, the tomatoes are loving their new bedroom, and most of the seedlings have been planted out.

From a gardening friend I learned this neat trick with cinnamon: sprinkle it on the surface to keep mould at bay – it’s antibacterial.


It’s been so very dry here – I don’t think we’ve had rain for the whole month of May. The water storage cistern has to be topped up with town water for flushing toilets and watering the garden. It’s a constant chore to water – more so this year than any other. Not as bad as California, but unusual for southern British Columbia. I’m afraid I’ve lost my new Umbrella Katsura tree to the drought.

But the bees and their comforting hum help me feel better.

Sharing with: Tuesday Garden Party, Savvy Southern Style, Lambert’s Lately


90. My Happy Place – Mothers’ Day

Yesterday was Mothers’ Day. Our family has declared that both Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day are Hallmark holidays. Nevertheless, I decided to only do activities that I love, activities that take me to my peaceful zone.

The sun wakes me every morning. bedroom sunrise

I started with my usual cup of tea, made for me by my sweetie – did I ever tell you how much I love tea? (Oh, and how much I love my sweetie?)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, I went out to the garden to pick an early season tussie-mussie. As I wander in the garden, I see plants that remind me of people I appreciate and cherish. The old ranch rhubarb brings memories of my parents and grandparents.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe medicinal garden brings back the fun experience of designing it with our daughter, who declared she didn’t want a bouquet of roses like her fellow university graduates. Rather, to really commemorate her graduation, she wanted me to buy plants and seeds for the medicinal garden, and then she planted them with me.pondEvery area of the yard reminds me of our 33 WWOOFers over three summers. They have left their mark in the most beautiful ways.patio with hammock


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIrises came to the garden from my friend, Cathy. Peonies were a gift from my father and brother for my birthday two years ago.birthday peonies

And, I could go on and on. Suffice to say that a day spent in the garden, even weeding, or hiking in the forest, gets my serotonin happening big time.


bird at feederBirds are singing. The sun is shining. D is making dinner while I lay in the hammock, reading.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter dinner, a card game and a movie (Driving Lessons), with both a foot rub and a hand rub! And finally to bed, in sheets that have been laundered and hung on the line – wow! The best smell in the world, and I feel so content, so lucky. bedroom at nightIt IS the small things that give pleasure and meaning in my day. Ahhh!reflected sunset

Sharing with: Cozy Little House (FEATURED!), The Enchanting Rose, Savvy Southern Style, Ivy and Elephants, From My Front Porch to Yours, The HomeAcre Hop, The Charm of Home, The Chicken Chick, Dwellings: the Heart of Your Home, The Dedicated House, Tuesday Garden Party (FEATURED!)

89. Garden Upgrade – Greenhouse Tomatoes

harvest 2014A garden is such a personal document. Its design reflects who I am (and who I was), and who I want to be.

Every garden undergoes change, of course. Particularly if our hand is not in it at all.

Plants want to grow. Especially weeds.

Decisions I made about new garden design four years ago may not suit my current goals. I shared, in this post, some lessons I’ve learned about the dangers of overplanting. And, in my zeal to plant a drought-tolerant xeriscape, have I missed some very desirable plants?

Those trees are now big enough that they shade the tireside garden too much. I can plant cooler season crops there this year.tireside garden

And, are those self-seeding hollyhocks actually getting more pink each year, when what I wanted was a red and white colour scheme there?hollyhocks

red & white flowers

The blueberry plants were completely shaded by the abundant raspberries, so if I want them to produce, I’ll have to move them.raspberries

I swear that plants are tricksters. They like to keep me on my toes. A plant that does very well one year is the very one that nose-dives the next, even when I diligently practise crop rotation. Slugs have gained a foothold on my rooftop garden. The carrot fly has finally discovered my patch. Some bird has fixated on my tiny pea shoots. Edamame never did grow. But disappointments are often offset by pleasant surprises – finally, beets and basil have decided to grow, and OMG, would you look at that stevia and that wasabi!wasabi

Last year, the first year I had a greenhouse, I was so looking forward to growing perfect tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, eggplants, and peppers in this “perfect” environment. I would say the cucumbers and basil were successes, but I’m not sure, because they also did well in the open garden.

The tomatoes, in pots, were my biggest disappointment. At first, they had lots of green growth, and appeared to be happy.

tomato plants in greenhouseBut then there was a hornworm infestation, while I was away and couldn’t spot them myself. And all the tomatoes had blossom end rot, even though I used the soil mix my nurserywoman recommended. Obviously, somewhere along the line, I missed the need for calcium.used pots

This year, with D’s help, we emptied all the soil from the pots and sterilized it over the fire.sterilizing garden soil

The purpose here was to start with a fresh base. I know that all the helpful bacteria and microorganisms that we were killing benefit the soil, but I was intent on getting rid of insect eggs, and there was no evidence that there had been any earthworms in there at all.

After thoroughly scrubbing out the greenhouse (and finally cleaning the windows and putting screens over the opening windows to keep out most flies), I replaced the tomato pots with planting beds, built from our scrap lumber pile. Some of the cedar boards were from a sling of used fencing from the former flower farm, now the Beer Farm. I hope that’s good karma for my tomatoes.tomato beds in greenhouse

Ground up eggshells and oyster shells add more calcium.eggshells for tomatoes

oyster shells in tomato beds

Also, cleaned out the bottom of the compost to add that black gold, which teamed with earthworms. Some lime, more Salish Soil, epsom salts, organic fertilizer, and perlite for aeration, and I think I’ve found a good balance. I sure hope so, because there is absolutely nothing as delicious as a fresh tomato off the vine. (Well, maybe a fresh raspberry!)

I’ll be planting some tomatoes in the planting box in the sun under the eaves, with a stone wall for a heat sink, for a controlled experiment, and even a couple in the rooftop garden, so we’ll see how that goes.protected planting bedAlways learning, I’m sharing with:

Lamberts Lately, From My Front Porch to Yours, HomeAcre Hop, An Oregon Cottage, Rooted in Thyme, The Charm of Home, Fabulous Friday, The Chicken Chick, Cozy Little House


88. Fall Leaf Patio Table Top

glass table topOn a hot sunny summer day, our patio table’s glass top came to a crashing demise:broken patio table glass

We have no picture of the glass all over the flagstone, because we were very busy setting up for a house concert. The band carried right on with its rehearsal, unphased by the crashing glass.

Apparently, I could have ordered a new glass table top. But, nooooo, Gail has to make a new one. I considered using the broken glass in epoxy as the table top, but thought it would make it too heavy and use too much epoxy. Little did I know….

In the fall, I collected and pressed leaves from our yard.

I located, at the landfill and Habitat For Humanity’s Restore, some weathered-looking wood. I was looking for a more barnboard look, but this is what I found:lay out boards for patio table

I cut the boards, bevelling and painting the perimeter edges, and joined them with my biscuit joiner (neat tool!)Biscuit joining

Hot-glued the leaves to the boards.laying leaves on tabletop

Masking-taped the holes from the bottom.

Set up an epoxying station with plastic on the level floor of the workshop.

Bought a kitchen countertop refinishing kit ($50 at Home Depot). It consists of a two-part epoxy that needs to be very thoroughly mixed together.countertop epoxy

Here are the very easy instructions for using this product:

Step 1: Combine parts A and B and mix thoroughly. Step 2: Pour on countertop.  Step 3: Spread with brush.epoxy coat #1

The kit “covers” 30 square feet. Applied product will set in 24 hours, with full cure in 72 hours. See this post to read about my first experience with this interesting product in our powder room.

Unfortunately, because I didn’t glue the leaves down thoroughly enough, most of their edges lifted up. The first coat did not cover the leaves.

After I apply the epoxy, it finds its level, like water. In other words, it settles down into any hole or crack it can find, and I wasted a bunch of it because it collected on the plastic underneath the tabletop.

This is all to say that one coat didn’t cover the leaves.

Two coats didn’t cover the leaves.

And, in fact, three coats didn’t quite cover the leaves. But, at $50 a pop, I declared it good enough. Finally, for the last coat, I taped up the edges so the epoxy wouldn’t just flow right off the surface.B&W leaf table

3 coats of epoxy

We’ll see how it wears, and I may break down and apply another coat. leaf-covered patio tabletop

In the meantime, Tess took a lovely photograph of its reflections. She calls it “What’s water, what’s sky?”Sky or water?

Thank you for stopping by.

Here are some link parties I’m joining:

Miss Mustard Seed, Simple Nature Decor Blog (FEATURED!), Funky Junk Interiors, Savvy Southern Style, Lamberts Lately