Friday’s Flowers in my November Garden

I live on the southwest coast of BC where the winters are mild. All panic will set loose with the prediction of slight flurries tomorrow. Grocery stores will line up so people don’t starve through  our 1cm of snow. Yes, I am dead serious. We don’t get snow often enough to have snow tires let alone know how to drive very well in it. That’s just the nature of living near Vancouver. Luckily for us the snow stays up on the mountains most of the time.

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Today the sun came out after a miserable week of rain. My boots squished down into the soil as I walked across the lawn. Yes, the soil is saturated here but it’s normal for this time of year. What I love about November is the anticipation of blooms on the Viburnum bodnantense. I have been watching it produce its plump buds all month.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

The flowers are a light pink with a delicate fragrance. They are just beginning to open.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

Viburnum bodnantense loses its leaves before the flowers open. With our long summer I didn’t think they would ever drop. There are still many leaves on our trees here.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

It’s a dense woody shrub which grows every which way. I made the mistake of pruning it one year and was left with ugly stubby branches in winter.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

Now we just remove the eye pokers  from this shrub. Mowing the lawn can be a challenge in itself without dodging branches that hang at eye level. There are still many flowers to come on the shrub and they will last until the end of February.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

The Heather is showing colour in the front garden. Don’t you love the glaucous blue foliage on this one?

Fridays flowers in my November garden

In the greenhouse I have a few plants taking refuge from the cold. I cut back the Geraniums in October and brought them in the greenhouse. To my surprise they are blooming again.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

The greenhouse is heated with a tiny heater that keeps it above freezing at about 5 C.  I am using a floating row cover to cover the plants when it dips below freezing outside. It seems to work well for me.

My 3 Most Popular Posts of All Time

I want to take this moment to thank all of my readers. I love that people from all over the world comment on my blog and I read every comment. It’s so much fun to share our gardens virtually and I strive to become a better gardener by reading about your gardens. The month of November has been busy around here. We hired contractors to rip out our 25-year-old bathrooms and our walk in closet. You know you need to do a renovation when the shower leaks through the kitchen, yes, that happened. They are rooms we knew we couldn’t do ourselves. Well, seriously we could but it would take us forever. We kind of like having a shower. Luckily we have one bathroom still working. Its next in line.

Christmas Love

Our renovations started on November 3 and they are well underway. So where have I been? I have been writing my 50,000 words for national novel-writing month of November. I know, like I didn’t have enough going on. I had to be around while the crew was working so I moved my office to the dining room where its a bit quieter. I finished my 50,000 words today a week early and will be letting the first draft of my book sit for six weeks as I try to get some semblance of holiday decor out. I can’t believe Christmas is just a month away.

So since I have a brain that feels like mush after all that writing I am going to share my top posts of all time with you. It’s interesting to see what interests readers of my blog. I have tried a couple of different writing styles but the one where I can just be myself seems to work. I write because I love to and not because its my job. If I can teach just one more person about gardening I will be satisfied.

What is the White Stuff in my Soil?

Yesterday I received an email from the Peace Corps requesting use of one of my photos. I was happy to oblige as it will be using for educating troops on food security. It was a photo of mycelium. I know, whats that? Read my post on “What is the white  stiff stuff in my soil?” I was working in my community garden bed one day and noticed the tiny threads of hyphae in the soil. Gosh, this is kind of geeky soil talk so stay with me. Over the next few weeks I had other gardeners asking about the white stuff in their soil. Everyone kept thinking they had this bad mold issue happening. I was glad to be around to give them advice. This post has been my top post of all time. Now, I have only been blogging since January of 2010 so I think of myself as a writer in progress still.

How to create a Halloween themed miniature garden

My second top post is Creating a Halloween Themed Miniature Garden. I had so much fun creating it and I hope you enjoy the read. I am a natural-born thrifter. Well my Mom has me well-trained. It’s all her fault. I am all over the idea of reusing and repurposing in the garden. When I saw the cute Halloween figurines at the thrift shop for 50 cents, how could I resist? I had the perfect home for them.

How to keep your brassicas pest free

My third top post of all time is titled “How to Keep Your Brassicas Pest Free”. Now you have to understand. I have this dislike for that cabbage moth that daintily flutters about like its her garden. What is she thinking? I got tired of losing my Brassica crops to her larvae and had to figure out a way to slow her down. It’s not perfect but using a floating row cover certainly helps until your plants are gigantic. Then she carefully sneaks in the only gap the plants have popped open during their growth. The cabbage moth and I will always be at war. Hubby even bought me a butterfly net as a joke knowing I may just use it. I haven’t but it’s tucked away for my grandson to use next summer. The idea of setting little one year old legs after cabbage moths make this Grandma happy.

To my American friends, may you have the best Thanksgiving ever. I am almost tempted to have a second Thanksgiving. What a great way to start the upcoming holiday season. I am off to decorate for the holidays but will be back with winter flowers and decor.

Happy gardening,

Kristin

 

 

 

 

Sedum Saved the Day!

Its been a busy week as I work on my book while listening to the guys renovating my home upstairs. On top of that I had the windup for our community garden to think about. It was a potluck so food wasn’t the issue. It’s all the details that need to come about to make the night fun. First thing on my mind all week as what I would be using for centerpieces. I hoped to use fresh flowers from the garden and anxiously watched as the leaves slowly fell  and the weather turned cold.

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This beautiful pineapple sage was my flower of choice for the arrangements. Then it happened. -6C happened overnight. My pineapple sage had endured lows of -1C but the -6C was the last straw. It looked dead yesterday morning. What could I find in the garden to replace it? I grabbed a large basket and some secateurs and off I went in search of plant material.

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This is what I found. The leaves of Cotinus coggygria looked amazing and few leaves have dropped from this shrub. I threw several stems in the basket. I pinched a few evergreen branches off a tree along the waterway that borders the yard. I love the smell of fresh evergreens. As I walked by my herb garden I picked a few stems of rosemary. They would add fragrance to the bouquets. I walked around the garden but there wasn’t much to be seen in the way of flowers until I reached the rose arbor. The Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ was in full bloom with its deep intense maroon colour. It would blend well with the leaves of the smoke bush or Cotinus.

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I grabbed about five vases and went to work placing a few stems of each in a vase. Is it just me or do all gardeners accumulate vases? I must have fifteen vases to choose from but picked all the crystal ones for last night’s celebration.

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I love the blueish green highlight s of this evergreen. Once the vases were filled they were heavy and I had to figure out how to transport them to the event.

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I remembered the cute flower box with a handle that hubby had put together in the spring. I was able to fit all five vases in the box .

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The flowers made it to the event safely and with a bit of rearranging they were added to the tables. It’s not normal for my garden to be without flowers so the Sedum saved the day. It won’t be long before the winter flowers open with the yellow buds of Jasmine and pink buds of Viburnum bodnantense.  I can’t imagine a month without blooms, can you?

Novembers Garden Tasks for Delta

November garden tasks for Delta

I don’t like to talk about winter but with our first frost happening this week, its time to think about protecting your garden. If you haven’t brought your containers near the house or inside to protect them from the elements now is the time. I like to bring my hardy plants in their containers to a position close to the home. If it gets extremely cold I can cover them easily if grouped together.

november garden tasks for DeltaUse burlap to wrap your pots for extra protection. I am very lucky to have a greenhouse to bring things inside but the only heat I use is a small heater. As long as the greenhouse is around 5C everything survives, even the Geraniums and Boston Fern. Last year our winter dropped to -10C which made it hard to keep things warm in the greenhouse. I used some bubble wrap to carefully cover my precious plants and it worked. I didn’t lose a thing.

I like to place cut evergreen boughs in my containers. I have a couple of containers planted with bulbs and sure don’t want to lose them. If you don’t have evergreens in the yard that can be spare a few branches then check out the garden center. As Christmas trees arrive as so will boughs of evergreens for decorating. I like to use my cedar and Osmanthus branches for decorating.

November garden tasks for Delta

Skimmia is a pretty choice with its tiny rose-coloured flowers in bloom now. So why didn’t I just plant them? The container is so full of bulbs there is no room for plant roots. If you haven’t planted spring bulbs get them in as soon as possible for a good showing next spring.

November garden tasks for Delta

Take a walk in your garden to watch for fallen branches that may come down during stormy weather. Collect them and compost what you can. Use branches to decorate your containers. Branches from red twig dogwood  or blueberries look great popped into a container. It gives your container that needed vertical element.

November garden tasks for Delta

Be sure to rake the leaves off your lawn. Too many leaves can suffocate your lawn. Rake the leaves on to garden beds and let them naturally protect your garden. Yes, that’s my yard above. It’s a daily chore to rake the leaves in November.

November garden tasks for Delta

Did you cut your garden back this fall? If not, don’t worry about doing it now. You don’t want to walk on frozen soil. Let the leaves turn into compost like Mother Nature does in the forest. In the spring, many perennials like Hostas are easier to rake up as they have decomposed.

November garden tasks for Delta

We are very lucky to live in the pacific northwest as winters are usually mild and only three months long. We seldom have a hard winter like many other parts of the country and I am grateful for that.  Once its too cold to work outside start reading all those wonderful seed catalogues that start coming in the mail. Plan your garden, sort through your seeds and decide what you will plant next year. Do you need more seeds?

November garden tasks for deltaBefore you know it spring will arrive with the appearance of snowdrops begging you to come back outside.

Its November and Flowers are still Blooming!

There is nothing better than living on the south-west coast of British Columbia. Here we can enjoy cool summers and mild winters with our zone 8 climate. I was surprised to see how many flowers were still in bloom in the garden. I had wanted to get some fall foliage photos but took many flower photos as well. There is a hint of cold weather on the way. When we think cold weather here we usually mean around freezing or just above. Its time to think about bringing my Echeveria inside the house as the greenhouse has no heat. There are so many last minute tasks to do in the garden before it freezes. If only the leaves would drop so we could be done, right? This gardener likes to put her feet up for a bit during the winter to plan next year’s garden.

look what is blooming in November

Above is Salvia elegans or pineapple sage. I have always loved this plant for its striking red flowers.  I planted it in my vegetable garden and it is quite the sight. It has grown to three feet high and wide and came into bloom in October. I was actually worried it wouldn’t bloom. Not a walk goes by that I don’t grab a leaf to smell the heavenly scent of the leaves.

Look at whats blooming in November

I rarely buy Chrysanthemums for the garden as I find they don’t come back the next year. The one I have planted with Heather in a  large container continues to surprise me. The Heather is crowding it out so it needs to be moved. I love the orange tones of fall on this tiny flower. It’s no more than six inches high. Obviously its a tough plant to come back year after year in a container. The container will be brought close to the house during the cold winter months just to give it a little added protection.

look at whats blooming in November

I still have Nasturtiums growing in the garden. This single flower is poking out of a container of blue grass. The grass is on its way out. It’s too invasive to go in the ground but sure doesn’t like this container. Any takers? I was gifted this plant and it looked wonderful in their yard. Perhaps it needs more sun than it is getting.

look at whats blooming in novmeber

This Primula is blooming out of season. It was from a gift basket that I planted out last year. Pretty colour but I can just hear the slugs calling their friends to say dinner has arrived. I was told the other night that if your plants such as Rhododendrons are blooming again in the fall that it’s a sign of a bad winter ahead. It’s quite common for some plants to send out the odd flower in an off-season but it shouldn’t burst into full bloom.  Not that we can control how the winter will be but tender plants should be protected in some way. I bring my tender plants in the greenhouse but you can shelter plants temporarily in a closed garage as well.

look at what is blooming in November

This is a blurry photo but I cannot wait for this to bloom. Yes, you can have flowers from now until February if you just plant Viburnum bodnantense ‘Pink Dawn’. It’s a medium-sized shrub. Mine is very mature and probably about twelve feet high and about ten feet wide. I would not do without it.

 

look at whats blooming in November

Just take a look at how the Viburnum will look during the winter. As soon as the leaves drop the flowers start to open. If you are looking for winter fragrance this is the shrub for you. Who says we can’t have flowers year round?

look at whats blooming in November

My Weigela shrub was also sporting a couple of blooms. This plant blooms twice during the season. Once in early spring and them again in summer. It’s nice to see flowers in November but kind of unusual. This is one of our mildest November’s on record.

Look at whats blooming in November

As we move forward into winter, look for plants such as Hellebore to brighten up your winter garden. There is nothing better than seeing flowers during the grey winter months. It just helps us remember that spring is not far away.

How to Collect Basil Seed

I love growing basil and this year has been one of our best growing seasons. Warm weather plants such as basil, pepper and tomatoes have loved our long summer heat. Now that fall is upon us I have been out harvesting seeds from the basil plants. I grew both sweet Genovese basil and Thai basil but preferred the sweet over the Thai. So it was time to see if I could collect some seed for next year.

How to collect basil seed

With colder temperatures returning at night I had to harvest the last leaves of basil. I could see some cold damage on the leaves and I was able to harvest enough basil to make a bit more pesto sauce. To harvest seeds from your basil plants you must let them produce flowers, even if its on just a few plants. Basil produces tiny white flowers which are loved by bees. I left the flowers to turn brown on the plant and brought several stems in the house. The round brown bits along the stems are the finished flower buds.

How to collect basil seed

It wasn’t a lot of basil to use up but after a quick wash I was able to make some pesto sauce. I will be happy to have some in the freezer for winter meals.

How to collect basil seed

I took the stems of the dried basil flowers and ran my fingers along the stem to loosen the flower buds off. I used a large dinner plate to place the flower buds on as it would make searching for the seeds easier to see.  The basil seeds are black so I used a white plate.

How to collect basil seed

I tried sifting through the buds and squeezing them gently to loosen the seed but it was a very slow process. I needed a way to thresh them. I rolled my hand into a fist and gently crushed the flower buds over and over. It was still a bit time-consuming so if you have an easier way to do this, I am all ears. I could have placed the flowers stems in a brown bag and left them for a few weeks. I am sure it would have worked and the seeds would have fallen out in to the bottom of the bag after some more drying time.

How to collect basil seed

As I kneaded the seed heads I could see tiny black seeds appearing on the plate. I carefully picked them off the plate and placed them in a bowl. There is a lot of chaff compared to the amount of seed. The chaff can be composted once you have found your seeds.

How to collect basil seed

I was able to get enough seeds to use next year from just a few basil branches.  I am sure there are over 60 seeds in the bowl and that will be more than enough. I do not need to grow thirteen flats of basil like I did this year. I think six flats will be plenty. Be sure to place your fresh seed in a labelled envelope. Store all collected seed in a cool garage that is frost-free.

Food For Thought

Food for thought

Last week I read with interest the story in our local paper about the hiring of a consultant to come up with a plan to keep local business thriving. You see, we are about to get a huge mega shopping center in the next two years with a store like Walmart as the key anchor. The community is worried about losing business to this mega giant of a chain. It’s interesting as I remember too well how worried Save On Foods was when Walmart came on the grocery scene years ago. Yes, there was a time when Walmart didn’t exist here. Now its common to see them in bustling communities. Have they impacted Save On Foods business? Not really. Has it hurt the smaller businesses? Yes, in some cases it has. So what can we do as a community to promote local business?

But wait, I have an idea. I will let you ponder this one and let me know what you think. About six months ago, I watched a very inspiring ted talk by Pam Warhurst. Pam Warhurst started the Incredible Edible Project in Todmorden , England, a small town like ours. I will attach a clip of it for your viewing pleasure. I watched and listened as she showed photos of what her volunteers had done. I thought to myself, could we replicate this in our community? Could we bring people to our town and shops this way? Why not?

Food for thought

I agree with Pam that we all talk and center our conversations around food. I like to frequent the local cafes and join a friend or parent for conversation. We all do. Imagine how people would stop to look at food planters and wonder what happened. It could create conversation. So many people have never seen how food grows. Did you know the most asked question at the community garden is what is that plant as people refer to brussel sprouts. Yes, many have no idea how food grows. This is our chance to show them and help our local businesses.

So here are my thoughts. We start small by installing a few planters about town. They need to be raised because dogs, need I say more. We need to form a committee of volunteers to get this off the ground. It’s not hard. I did the same thing when starting the Ladner Community Garden. We need people who love this idea, love gardening or have a business in town.

Food for thought

Where do we start? Perhaps we can start by using one of the city planters, just one at first. Lets plant it with rhubarb  in the center followed by a display of lettuce and early season crops. In summer, this can be followed by potatoes or tomatoes. Just look at the flowers above and tell me they aren’t pretty.

Will it look good is what some people will say? To them I say, why wouldn’t it? Done right, the planters will be amazing. As I think about all the wasted space along Chisholm street that could be used to grow food and flowers, why aren’t we?

Food for thought

We could plant a large herb container in front of the kitchen store. It only makes sense. How about a tea plant with herbs near Stir House coffee? A pizza garden could be planted by Vagellis. Imagine a planter loaded with fresh ripe tomatoes, surrounded by basil and peppers. The ideas are endless.

Sure, some of the food may be taken but perhaps this is our way to help the less fortunate. One thing I know is this.  I don’t know of any other community doing this in BC. Why not be the first? What have we got to lose? Its cheaper than hiring a consultant. We could start small and grow our project. We could produce a food map for Delta. The map could be used by tourists to bring them to see our village. So tell me what you think.