An unusual bounty

We have a pear tree. We think it’s probably a Bartlett. It’s not a very successful pear tree; for the first couple of years we owned the place I didn’t prune it, and it produced only a handful of tiny gnarly spotty pears. By the time we cut the nasty bits out we only managed one small bowl of fruit each.

Then I looked up pear trees, and how to care for them, and, well, I don’t do everything I should but I do prune. But it’s still not a very successful pear tree. We’ve never gotten more than a dozen pears off it, though their quality has improved significantly.

Until this year.

Continue reading “An unusual bounty”

the battle continues

As explained in a previous post, this year I ran netting across the entire top of the veggie garden, because the raspberries and blueberries had decided to produce fruit at the same time. A great benefit to me in many ways, because it’s made walking around the plot so much easier.

Evidently others have found certain things easier too. Continue reading “the battle continues”


Garden netting is a pain in the ass to set up, but I do it every year because if I don’t, the birds get all the blueberries and raspberries, and after letting them have the cherries I draw the line. (I also like blueberries and raspberries a lot better than cherries.) Continue reading “Netting”



The dianthus is blooming.



some kind of onion flower buds

… and blue. This is some kind of ornamental (?) onion that pops up in the lavender bed every year. It’s very subtle but I really like it.

Last week

snowdrops at base of willow tree

Last week, we had snowdrops


and daffodils

crocus among snowdrops

and crocuses

cherry blossoms

and cherry blossoms.

crocus in snowdrops

Last week the crocuses were just starting. This week we have LOTS of crocuses. I’ll post more pictures tomorrow.




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…

Today’s garden harvest

roughskin newt

Definitely not edible, but kinda cute. I was digging up a small fern that had popped up where I didn’t want a fern, and it fell out of the foliage. It’s a roughskin newt. You can just see a little of its flaming orange underside below the chin. (The warning that I’M POISONOUS DO NOT EAT ME.)

It was cold and sluggish to the point of near immobility when I first picked it up, but the warmth of my hand made it rather lively quite quickly. So taking a picture consisted of kneeling on pea gravel (ouch) trying to hold the camera with one hand while using the other to keep it corralled long enough to snap a couple of shots. (An interesting challenge when trying to avoid camera shake.) This isn’t a great image, but it was the best I got.

We’ve seen these little guys a few times before, and last summer I’m pretty sure I saw one laying eggs in our pond. So go, newts! They’re nice little neighbours to have around.


water standing in walkways between garden beds

The freezes have ended. The snow and ice has melted, and the storms have filled our cistern. Consequently I’m considering a new approach to weeding in my garden; just drown the suckers. It’s not as high as it’s been some years (yet) but at this rate it shouldn’t be long before this is a viable alternative for the raised beds.

pools of water between garden beds

Oh, and the lovely branches and reflections of branches? That’s what the willow does over winter. I swear, all you have to do is sneeze and half a dozen branches fall off. So one of the things I need to do before I can do anything else is uncover the yard (and garden) from knee-deep willow clutter.


new buds

I took this picture last week. This can’t be good, can it? I mean, if the weather goes back to normal winter freezing spells…

With dog for scale

squash vine climbing over fence

I’ve tried planting squash in the garden a couple of times, but never had much luck; they seem to want more sun than this garden gets. But ever the optimist, I keep trying. This summer I planted summer squash. This is a kind I’ve never actually eaten before, much less grown. So I didn’t know what to expect.

What I didn’t expect was a zucchini crossed with the Eggplant That Ate Chicago.

I also planted a ground cherry (and the seller didn’t warn me about that, either). They’re side by side and seem to regard the garden as a botanical Coliseum for no holds barred combat. They both keep GROWING.

The squash plant produced two 18 inch long squashes before we quite noticed. (It’s dense under those leaves.) Since then I’ve been patrolling for new invaders fruit regularly, and have managed to head them off before their size exploded. But I swear, the one showing in this picture was only 3 inches long and half an inch in diameter 5 days ago. Sheesh. And then there are the dozens of blooms and baby squashes all over it…

And it’s not as if they taste wonderful.

As you can see, the squash made its way out of the raised bed, and across the walkway, and up the fence, and is now on its way down the fence. God knows where it will stop. I’m sharpening the machete.

Leaf on grass

blue fescue with red leaf

A couple of weeks ago I bought some fancy grass (blue fescue, Festuca glauca) for a planter that was going to cover something up. (Okay, cover up an access to the septic tank. Important to put Something Pretty over it.)

I figured I’d add something for contrast later, but haven’t gotten around to it so far. But no worries, nature did it for me, depositing a leaf from the ornamental plum in Just the Right Spot.

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