Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where did summer go?

What happened? School starts next week and my garden's a mess... not that those two things are related! There have been quite a few garden highlights after all this time (as I'd hope!), but the one I want to tell you about is 'how I brought my pond back to life'. I have a small pond in the garden - about 2mX4m and 70 cm deep. It ticked along beautifully as a still pond for a dozen years. Then about three years ago, it 'winterkilled'. When everything thawed in the spring, the fish were dead and the pond had developed an otherworldly purple coating on all of the submerged plants. It stunk. I drained it, cleaned it, and put the best of the oxygenators back and tried again. Next year - same thing. I have to admit I was flummoxed. I made a point not to add fish, and I netted out the worst of the mess and just left it. Needless to say, things were no better this spring, but since inactivity didn't seem to be making it worse, I left it and began to contemplate taking it out. After a month away from home this summer (that made two months away all told), I was in the garden and noticed GOLDFISH in the pond. My first thought was 'where did you come from?", quickly followed by the realization that I couldn't leave them to stew in water like that. I had been toying with the idea of an aquascape system, but really didn't feel like I could afford $1500 + on a pond cure. I decided to create my own filter/circulation system. The basic ingredients - a black plastic storage crate, furnace filter material, hen grit, a submersible sump pump that moves 1350 gallons an hour, and the short black hose that is used to connect your washing machine. I skimmed the leaf debris out of the pond while running the garden hose into one end to give the fish some breathable water while this went on. The pump went into the crate and a 'box' of filter material was fashioned around it. Hen grit was used to fill the space between the pump and the filter box. Larger gravel was used to fill in the rest of the crate and support the filter 'box' in the center. The black hose was attached to the pump, and the whole thing was lowered into the pond. (thank you Heather!). I hooked the end of the hose over a log, and plugged in the pump - voila - a lovely strong jet of water gushing over the log and into the pond. After three days there was a noticeable improvement. Two weeks later, I can now see the bottom of the pond, the purple slime has disappeared and the stink is gone. I think the fish are much happier. All this for the cost of the HST on the Aquascape system. I'm feeling pretty good!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring at Last!

OK.. .So it's supposed to snow tonight - it can't last.
Every morning Rudy (angelic border collie) and I stroll the garden, depositing bird seed on tree stumps scattered through the garden. It gives me time to take in all of the changes that are going on as my garden comes awake. My Arnold's Promise hazel has been in flower for 6 solid weeks, and still going strong. The thrill of those little petal filaments unfurling with snow all around was so welcome! The garden is blue with Chionodoxa and Scilla siberica, the snowdrops in the woodland are finishing their third week of flowering. My white flowered daphne had a dozen open flowers this morning, and the fragrance was just heaven. The pulmonaria is blooming its heart out. There are all kinds of crocus, and the corydalis foliage is rapidly covering the floor of the woodland. My little tree frog is chirping away at night. It's no time to leave home, really.. but I'm off to the UK to teach next week. My heart falls when I think of all the things I'm going to miss! Mark has promised to send pictures every few days. At least there's someone at home to appreciate it! Tomorrow morning I'll take photos and post them on the What's in Bloom page - that way I can keep looking at it over the next few weeks!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Don't forget the beauty of the winter garden

Most of us wait in anticipation for the the awakening of the spring garden, but there is much to enjoy in the garden now. Shapes and forms within the garden take on a new beauty with a blanket of snow. Seed heads and blowing grasses stand out against the freshness of the snow and the vivid blue skies. I love the shape and colors of the garden pots, benches and any other feature that braves the elements waiting for warmer breezes again. There is a peace and restfullness in the garden as well. I don't have to worry about what needs to be done next.

So, take a walk in the garden or sit in a sheltered spot and just breathe and rest, for all the activity of gardening will soon be upon us again.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter's half over!

Well, we've made it this far! I was really grateful for a blanket of snow when the temperatures dipped so low last week. I hope the plants came through it with few fatalities. It was so cold that my border collie, Rudy, didn't want to walk on pavement. We set out for our morning stroll, and he kept hopping along on three legs, taking turns resting one hind foot, then the other. I cut the walk short and spent some time in the garden with him instead.

The catalogues and garden magazine subscription renewals are arriving daily. I'm not sure about renewing my magazines - how many times do I need to read about basic garden tasks and the author's favorite plants? Maybe I'm just in a winter funk. The catalogues are much more exciting - and my garden is FULL. Well, we live to dream. Right now I'm dreaming of a studio in the garden at my parent's house in Kentville. Do you have garden dreams for 2011? Let us know what they are by clicking the comments button and telling us about it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's a New Year!

After a monsoonal autumn, the saturated soil has finally started to freeze. I'm bracing myself for lots of dead plants in spring - nothing kills plants like frozen wet soil. I was eyeing the discarded Christmas trees as I walked the dog... to drag them home and cover the garden, or not? So far I haven't done it.
After taking a thoroughly enjoyable pottery class this fall (my creative self was crying to get out), I've decided to spend a day a week with my hands in clay. Happily you don't have to be good at it to have a lot of fun! I guess that's a lot like gardening. Unlike gardening, you can sit down while you do it!!
A few seed catalogues have arrived. I get the 'fever' even though there isn't anywhere to put new plants. I suspect there will be come May! I'm conflicted as to whether that will be awfully exciting, or just awful!