Sigh. This is a busy time of year for me. I can barely remember what it was like to have spare time to think about the garden... I still don't have time to write much, but I hope to get back to it in a few weeks when work isn't so hectic.
In the meantime, here's a Christmas ornament I made over the week-end. I got the idea from my Mom's Harrowsmith magazine, and I think these are lovely! They're simply lamb's ears (the plant! ha ha) glued onto a styrofoam ball. I wish I had more plants to harvest more leaves from - I only had enough to make 2 balls, and since my kids insisted on "helping", I only ended up with one nice one (or maybe I should say adult-quality). Wouldn't a bunch of these look nice in a bowl, maybe with some berries or red twigs?
... and update: here it is in a place of honour on my mantle.
My husband thinks I'm just a wee bit crazy for stealing leaves, so I had to tell him about this story - at least I don't pee in the compost, honey!! But if the National Trust is doing it, then it must be OK...
I know I said I was too busy to post but I couldn't resist posting this picture of my christmas cactus blooming its heart out - it obviously likes my sunroom because the last few years it has burst into so many flowers I've been afraid it would bloom itself to death! But it even reblooms (though not nearly as heavily) in late winter. This plant is at least 7-8 years old.
Sigh. So many ideas to write about (Piet-Oudolf inspired design for Calgary gardens; yearly review of what worked/didn't work in my gardens this year; changes I am pondering for next year...) but no time right now. This is a busy time of year at my "real job" at Mount Royal University. I'm sure you don't need to know but let's just list what I have to do in the next few weeks: get through a huge pile of marking; do an evaluation of a peer's class; review a paper for a journal; finish my contribution to a paper I've been collaborating on, which includes doing more literature review before I can finish writing; write an ethics application for a project I want to do next semester; advise students who are either panicking about what to drop out of now, or what to register for next semester, or both. And that doesn't include teaching classes and the regular projects and committees I'm working on! You can tell I'm stressed because I usually try not to talk about work on my gardening blog...
So, long story short, I'll start posting again in a couple of weeks once I get over this hump. I gotta say, I love that my work is seasonal and the busy times occur in the winter. If I was this busy during gardening season I would lose my mind!!!
Lately I've been studying a few of Piet Oudolf's garden books. His garden design philosophy has been described as "naturalistic", as he uses mostly perennials that look close to their wild ancestors and that have long seasons of interest. His gardens are gorgeous - let me repeat, GORGEOUS! - and best of all, many of the plants he regularly uses in his designs do well in Calgary - a bonus!
I'm planning to write a little more about his design principles here in the next few months, and maybe even an article for the Calgary Horticultural Society's newsletter (I'm getting ambitious, aren't I?) But in the meantime, have a look at some of these photos posted on other websites. I could spend all day staring at some of these, couldn't you?
Thanks to the time change, this morning I woke up early and
what did I do with that extra time?Snuck over to my neighbour’s and stole their 3 large garbage bags of leaves,
Let me back up a bit here.First, the context.I have ten
large spruce trees on my lot and only one medium-ish mountain ash tree, so not
very many leaves to speak of.I always
envy those people who bag up lots of extras to put in their compost, rake onto
the garden, or to store and make leaf mould with.I’ve also read about people who patrol their
neighbourhoods and steal their neighbour’s bags of leaves, but I’ve never
before had the guts.I don’t really know
what I’m scared of – probably just being seen and being thought of as that
crazy lady who steals leaves…
Now fast forward to last night, as we were coming home from
a potluck at a friend’s house.Driving
past the neighbour’s place, I noticed 3 huge garbage bags of leaves sitting in
their back alley.What?With a leaf drop-off just a half a block away
from our house?Shameful!I decided then and there to steal them.So I did!And now rather than smouldering with negative energy and thinking that
my neighbours are terrible people for putting their leaves in the garbage, I
have rescued organic material from the landfill that will eventually become a
mulch for the garden.Everybody wins!
I’ve never actually made leaf mold before (because I’ve
never had leaves), but here’s the minimal work method I plan to use to turn
these bags of leaves into a beautiful soil amendment:
·Fill a bag with leaves (done, the neighbours did this part! man, this is easy!)
·Moisten the leaves, seal the bag and cut some
slits in the sides for air flow.
·Let the bag sit.Give it a shake every few weeks if you want to speed things up a bit.
·Check the bag every month or two for moisture,
and add water if things are dry.
·In 6-12 months, use the leaf mould as a mulch or
dig it into the garden to amend the soil.
Now somebody stop me before I start stealing people’s