Sunday, May 29, 2011

Japanese Garden Renovation

Overall view of Japanese Garden after renovation.

About five years ago we have build a Japanese Garden that we could see from our living room. Right from the beginning we have enjoyed the view and serenity of this little island. As all our gardens it was changed or redesigned on yearly bases, usually in the spring. Originally, it had a stylized stream represented by large pebbles. Four years ago I have decided to put in a real water feature with small rock waterfall close to middle and a bamboo water spring spout at very beginning of the stream. It attracted a lot of birds of all sizes, from tiny Chipping Sparrow to large Grackle. The water level is from few millimeters (fraction of an inch) to about 15 centimeters (6 inches).
This spring I had noticed that the stream was very muddy and there was a lot of algae on rocks. That meant only one thing: Complete renovation. It was a slow going in the beginning and very hard on my wonky back. I was on my knees all the time removing and then washing about 150 pounds of rocks and pebbles. Then I had to install new pump, the original one was leaking oil after about 25 years of intermittent use, first as a pump for our hydroponic veggie garden and then in our Japanese garden. After that it was the stream edging turn, I put down bigger flagstone slabs. It was hard and at times frustrating work but it had to be done and it will have to be done again, I’m sure.

Waterfall before renovation.

Same area after all the rocks and pebbles were removed.

Waterfall after the much needed cleanup.

Waterfall close-up. Few years ago I made ceramic tile with Kanji symbols for Tranquility.

This is where stream starts.

Close-up of bamboo spout. Limestone slab has carving of Kanji symbol for Water.

When the ground part was done it was time to prune Japanese Maple that grew a bit too big. It wasn’t hard work but the job was so tedious! Only way to prune was to cut couple branches starting at bottom, stand back and see which branch or twig is next. It took 4 days and I think that I will cut some more. One thing I have learned very quickly that you can’t prune if there is even slight breeze, it completely distorts the shape of a tree. This is why it took so long, but now it is time to sit back and enjoy our garden.

Maple before pruning...

and after.

View at night. Actually, I used 3 camera flashes with my Canon Rebel T1i, all 3 were off camera J.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lobelia Mix and Snapdragon Lampion

It has been almost 5 months since I have planted my first seeds and finally I start to see fruits of my labor. Or should it be flowers? Despite one of the wettest and coldest spring that I have seen the blooms are opening more and more every day. If the sun comes out I expect that in few weeks the baskets will be covered in blooms.
All other plants I grew from seeds are doing quite well, especially Zinnias, Thunbergia, Red Millet, Petunias, Nasturtium, Salpiglossis, Nicotiana, actually all of them. It is just that I didn’t realize how long Lobelia and Snapdragon need to grow to the trailing stage. Next year I won’t be so impatient, I hope.
Her are some photos.

Lobelia Mix started to bloom.

Snapdragon Lampion started to bloom as well.

Zinnias are in flower for whole month.
Petunia and Nasturtium,

Snapdragon Rocket.

Sunflower Sunny Smile

Nicotiana and Zinnias.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jumping Robin is Raising New Family

So, here goes another Robin post J. Yup, our JR has built new nest, a nest that is much more friendly to my camera and eyes! He build new nest at about 6-1/2 feet high but close to edge and down-wind, the trunk of tree shades nest from wind. I still don’t know how many eggs are in nest, he barely leaves, but I will know soon. I don’t think that first fledglings survived on the ground, too many cats are prowling at night.

May 24, 2011 Update
This morning all eggs have disappeared from the nest. There is no trace at all in the nest or around the spruce tree, no shells, no egg yolk, nothing. The nest is clearly visible from neighboring house’s roof tops and crows like to hang around there. Also, few squirrels and chipmunks pass by daily...who knows. So, it looks like this season is over for our JR. Better luck next year. L

Monday, May 16, 2011

Final Vegetable Seedlings Update

The vegetable garden is planted and doing fine. Some tomato plants already have a fruits size of a pea and peppers are fruiting as well, just a bit smaller. Last 2 days was quite cold, high of 7 °C, and raining non-stop for over 48 hours. Not too good for hot weather loving peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. Peas are growing nicely and so does garlic and all the herbs. Last week I have planted seeds for yard long Chinese beans and yellow bush beans but no sign of sprouts, too early I think. I already have second harvest ready patch of Arugula and Mizuno greens as well as bunching onions that grew in my cold frame through whole winter. They were planted last November.

Note: Big Thank You has to go to Marjo for transplanting most of the seedlings into pots, baskets and ground. I did the tomatoes and banana peppers, that’s all.

Tomatoes Montain Magic, Sweet Baby Girl and Margharita.

(L-R) Lemon Grass, Pimento and Red to Green Peppers (clay pots and boxes), tomato Mountain Magic and Eggplants Gretel.

Red Banana Peppers and trellises for Yard long Beans (top) and Yellow Bush Beans.

Snow Peas.

Mizuno & Arugula greens, bunching onions.

Garlic and French Chives, Parsley, red-Green Scallions in bed.
Thai Basil, Rosemary, French Tarragon,Marjoram and Bay Laurel in pots.

Cosmos at bottom, French Tarragon and in the back my garlic strip.

Final Flower Seedlings Update

All the flower and vegetable seedlings have been planted and now we finally have our house back! In late winter I have lost my basement workshop bench because that was the only place that had fluorescent fixtures above table/bench. Then in spring when plants were moved to sunroom we have lost use of our favorite dining spot and finally, when plants were being hardened off they took over our deck. It was quite an experience! In retrospect, I think that I have over done it a bit this season. I started way too many plants under lights, way too many. Lesson learned and I hope that I will remember next winter. All we have to do now is to keep the weeds out and feed the plants. Watering is not a problem since I have fully automatic irrigation system on all flower and veggie beds as well as all hanging baskets and most containers as well.
Now is the time to enjoy our gardens.
Next update will be Flower and Vegetable Garden Update in about two weeks.
Note: Big Thank You has to go to Marjo for transplanting most the seedlings into pots, baskets and ground. I did the tomatoes and some peppers, that’s all.

Most containers and hanging baskets are on or close to south side of our walkway. Front containers have a mix of Black Eyed Susan Vine, Nasturtium and Lobelia.

On porch stairs are planters with Zinnia, Snapdragon Rocket, Lobelia, Petunias, Nasturtium and BESV. Large green container in front has a Jasmine Scented Nicotiana.

Island in front of porch has containers with Red Millet, Snapdragon Rocket, Petunias and later today we will plant Dahlias.

Hanging basket on left has Snapdragon Lampion mix only and right basket has Lobelia, Nasturtium and BESV.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Seedlings and Garden Update, May 4th, 2011

Hanging Baskets
All the plants inside sunroom are growing so fast! I am hoping for warmer weather so I can plant them in their final container or in the ground but it has been so wet and cold last few weeks that I couldn’t even take some of them out for few hours to acclimatize them to wind and sun. It has been the worst spring that I have seen in last 45 years. At least we don’t have floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, bush fires or tornadoes even though last week we had winds gusting to 100km/h. It was so strong that house shook in its foundation. Not a nice feeling.
In the garden the birds are raising their families at incredible pace. I have never observed so many birds building nests in our 3 spruce trees. It is amazing that Grackles are nesting in same tree as House Sparrows, Chipping Sparrow and Mourning Dove. It is also interesting to see Grackles defend the tree from American Crows when they come close to the tree.
Yes, it is a very busy time for birds and before we know it, we will be busy outside as well. Let us hope.

Zinnias and Snapdragons

French Tarragon

Herb Patch
Snow Peas
Looks like Spring, but...