Found it!


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pvc piping and valves

We bought our house six years ago. When it was originally built and landscaped (some 11 or 12 years before we bought it) it was apparently a showpiece, but subsequent owners lost control of the garden and it was pretty overgrown in some areas when we got it (there are lots of places that have the potential to be overgrown in an acre and a half).

One of the things that came with the purchase of our house was a set of diagrams, hand-drawn on what appeared to be a paper bag. These diagrams showed how the pond waterfall pump system works, in great detail, and with annotated labels on all the on/off valves. It includes an explanation of how a sand filter is incorporated into this, and instructions for setting valves to flush the system, and so on.

Unfortunately, since we couldn’t find the sand filter, this has not been much use.

Much of my gardening efforts simply go into holding my own against encroaching nature. But every once in a while I whack back some brush and find something interesting. One year I found a smoke bush and then a couple of years later I discovered a current bush. And then yesterday I beat my way into the depths of some dense salal and hardhack to cut down a small tree that had died, and found… this.

It’s the top of the sand filter! Hurrah!

A hiking and cycling map of the 707



Pericat has put together a wonderful downloadable map of Gabriola’s 707 Park, with additional detail maps of sections of the park. They’re sized to work on iPhones or other handheld devices or you can print them (there are black and white versions for greyscale printers). The maps show which trails are suitable for cycling and which are not—or at least, which require higher levels of skill and a significant degree of attention—some of those trails are windy and only a foot wide!

Weekend wildlife


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osprey nest on power pole

What could possibly be a better place for an osprey nest than a power pole?

Saw a bit of wildlife this weekend. Unfortunately didn’t get a picture of the moose, but here’s some of the rest. There are deer everywhere around (and in) Princeton. And I know, we see deer all the time at home, but these were in a different landscape!

fawn silhouetted against skyline

Fawn, not sure it liked being photographed, but on the whole not very disturbed.

doe and 2 fawns

Doe and two fawns.

What we did on our (long weekend) vacation


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Bevan Bartlett, Princeton Traditional Music Festival

Went to the Princeton Traditional Music Festival, of course. You should definitely add it to your list of Things To Do in the summer; it’s free and loads of fun. Everything from traditional British folk music to 1930s Argentinian tango to a Balkan brass band.

And of course a great time was had by all—music, old friends, music, new friends…. Sang myself hoarse at the Saturday night party (you know the shanty singing is loud when it makes waves run through your beer). Continue reading




garden maintenance - digging out edging pebbles

Some time last year I was doing something by the pond waterfall and thought to myself, “Huh. Wasn’t there a shutoff valve on the piping for the waterfall somewhere around here?” But I couldn’t find it. And then I promptly forgot about it.

We have a fairly big pond, with a pump that sends pond water through pipes up a small rise and over a big rock to run down a short channel layered in pebbles and rock ledges and back into the pond. (It’s called a “pond waterfall” but that term can only be applied accurately if it’s applied very loosely.) But it looks nice and it sounds nice and the birds have baths in the channel.

A couple of years ago a big tree fell on the big rock. It didn’t appear to damage anything, but we realized that summer that the rock’s angle had changed very subtly, so some adjustments to the piping were necessary to keep the water going in the right direction. But even with those adjustments there seemed to be some leakage, so this year I decided to see what I could do to fix the problem short of engaging a backhoe. So once the water level had dropped till the pond contents were mostly mud and the pump was turned off it was time to start work.

The plan:

  • dig out all the small (20- to 30-pound) rocks lining the channel and remove the earth and weeds now engulfing them
  • rehabiliate the pebbly edging on the outside of the channel in order to slow the assault of the engulfing weeds
  • adjust the channel lining where possible in relation to the earth in order to ensure that water flows in the right direction and can’t get over the edge (this is challenging as one of the pipes goes over the liner edge)
  • remove the crud from the channel so there’s more nice rock and pebbles and less slime and gunk

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks. I’ve dug out a section of the smaller rocks and cleaned up a top section of liner. And then I started the pebble rehab on the outside.

My god, what a job. It consists of digging up pebbles—yes, digging them up, they’re buried under years of forest debris that in our climate quickly turns to dirt—and sorting them into a clean pile, then more or less levelling the dirt (filling in the pebble holes, anyway), laying new landscaping cloth and replacing the pebbles on top. It takes an hour or better crouched bent over on a gardening stool—oh my aching back—to do an area about two square feet. The photo gives an idea of the process.

At any rate, today I remembered that the missing shutoff valve was somewhere near where I was working, so I had a go at raking back the soil and pebbles in that area. And there it was—at least four inches down. Since I’d last seen it about four years ago, this means that the rate of accumulation of detritus is at least an inch a year. This does not bode well for the newly cleaned pebbles…



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slough at Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Three or four weeks ago I visited the Big City and in the process went on an excursion to the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Wrong time of year to see birds in quantity and variety—the migrations have passed through—but still a lovely place to visit.

lots of swirling carp in slough next to duck

Oh, and one of the sloughs has carp in it. If I were this duck I think I would be looking a bit more alarmed.


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