Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Mystery Apple" Harvest

While we were away last week, my mom emailed me that apples were falling off my "mystery apple" tree at the back, and she picked up a few and made some applesauce with them.  So today, after recovering from my cold, and waiting for the rain (yay - that was welcomed after such a stretch of dry weather) to stop, I went out, and sure enough, there were quite a few apples on the ground.  So I picked those up, and picked any in the tree I could reach or pull into reach.  This was the best harvest yet from my "mystery" apple tree (when I bought it, it was unlabelled, so I'm not really sure what variety it is) :
Apple harvest.
Unfortunately, since my fruit trees are 100% organic and untreated, they are a bit scrappy :
...so I decided to make apple juice.  After 2 hours in the juicer, and a bit of sugar, I had a couple of liters of fresh apple juice in the fridge :
Fresh made apple juice.
...and from the mushy apples left behind in the juicer, I pressed those through a sieve, and got a similar quantity of applesauce :
All that's left of the apple harvest is one apple who looked too nice to juice, so will be eaten raw :
Organic apple from my garden, unknown variety.
I still have lots of apples and asian pears coming on my espalier trees.  I look forward to harvesting those soon, too.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Peach Harvest

When we planted our little Frost Peach tree a few years ago (in 2010), we didn't know how much fruit, if any, to expect.  I don't think I've ever had more than one to taste, and when I did, I picked it a bit early, so the squirrels wouldn't get to it first.  This year, the tree produced nine peaches!  Here is 7 of them:
I picked one earlier today, to sample it.  Wow!  It was really amazing, and I don't usually even like peaches, I prefer nectarines.  Very sweet and just juicy enough.  It separated nicely from the pit, as I like them.  Here are a few photos of that sample :
I'm really impressed.  The tree is still young, and very small.  It really doesn't look like it could bear so much fruit successfully :
I took photos of the peaches before picking them, since they look so beautiful on the tree:

Ha ha, this one is hiding next to our Black Veil Brides / Blood on the Dance Floor themed bird house.  That is a painting of Andy Biersack from BVB :

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Japanese Plum Harvest

Considering we bought our Japanese plum (Methley) tree only three years ago, it provided a good harvest this year.  Yesterday, I noticed the plums started disappearing (squirrels!), and falling (squirrels?) to the ground, so I picked most of them, leaving only a half dozen which were not fully ripe (which were already gone today - squirrels!).  Here is my harvest :
As the description promised, the plums have "dark red juicy flesh" with "mild and sweet flavour" and it is an "attractive and vigorous tree".  It is a truly beautiful tree, and I think I've done a reasonable job of pruning it so far, so it is growing in nicely.

Since the forecast yesterday was for rain, we had postponed our big BBQ for the following week, and then it didn't end up raining at all, so I spent a few good solid hours in the garden.  One of my projects was to fight through a solid mat of ornamental grass, which is growing all around my red Japanese maple, so that I can get to a nasty blackberry vine which is growing up from under the tree, and pushing through it for the last few years.  After more than an hour of chopping through the grass, I had cleared a path which is close to the blackberry, but removing it, and the grass directly under the tree, will be a job for another day.  The path I cleared was more than one wheelbarrow's worth :


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Japanese Plum

We bought a Japanese Plum tree only a couple of years ago, and it is doing very well.  This time, we dug an extra large hole to plant into.  Last year I got one plum, to sample, which was a nice surprise.  This year, it is fairly loaded with fruits, although many of them look scarred, so I don't know if that is some insect damage, or ...?  Anyhow, today I thought one of the plums looked dark enough to sample.  When polished, it looked like this:
The flesh is VERY red, mild (I'd prefer it a bit more punchy) but sweet, and the fruit clings to the stone, so the best way to eat these little sweeties will be to pop them into your mouth, then spit back the stone.  This little tree was definitely a good investment.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Frog for My Garden

We went camping in Osoyoos BC (a few hundred miles from here, the home of Canada's only desert) on the weekend.  One of my friends caught me this frog in the campsite, and I decided to bring him home for my garden.  It is much more moist here and I have lots of bugs, so I hope he'll be happy and stay here for the remainder of the year :
I set out a ceramic cylinder, although maybe it is too small for him to hide in (see my ceramics blog for more of my creations), and a couple of bowls of water, in case he wants to sit in them (frogs don't drink, they absorb moisture and oxygen through their skin).  This is the last I saw of him last night, but I hope I will see him again many times :

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Banana Tree Devastation

This picture will look odd, it is taken from above, and shows 4 young banana shoots / trees, savagely chewed / broken off near the soil level.  Who or what does this kind of thing?
Last week, in preparation for ceramics, I went out on Tuesday evening to look at what leaves would be useful, and then when I went out to cut some the next morning, my largest banana shoot was chewed / cut down near the base of the stalk.  Now, a week later, all 4 shoots have suffered the same fate.  But the leaves don't even look chewed, and only enough of the stalk to destroy the plant.  What kind of creature would wreak such apparently senseless havoc?  It couldn't be this masked bandit which makes himself at home in my yard, could it?  He looks so sweet....
...doesn't he?
 What do I need to do, to protect my dear bananas from this fate, if they ever re-sprout?  Perhaps a roll of chicken wire around the whole set of them?  Or do I spray them with hot pepper, and give this garden visitor a hot mouthful?  Has anyone had a similar situation, and what did you do?

Friday, July 04, 2014

Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, BC

My absence of posts from my garden are in no way reflective of lack of activity there, since I've been spending a lot of time weeding and pruning and hauling away wheelbarrows of plant material every week.  But I guess I've been getting lazy with not carrying the camera with me into the yard.

Today I went with my 13 year old to Queen Elizabeth Park, and was also too lazy to carry my camera, mainly since I knew I had my mobile phone camera anyhow.  I ended up taking a number of photos, because there was just so much beauty there.  I hope I convey some of it with my sample of photos here.




The beautiful dome roof of the Bloedel Conservatory, which apparently was built in 1969, is under repairs (although the conservatory remains open for visitors), so in the meantime there is this funny tent-like scaffolding rising high above the dome.





As you may have noticed, the Gunnera manicata (which as a kid I used to think was a giant rhubarb!) is featured in many of my photos.  This plant is the highlight of the park, in my opinion, and is now also a much-loved plant in my garden, too.





Another much-loved plant in my yard, the Davidii involucrata (dove or handkerchief) tree, was also inspired by the grand old tree at Queen Elizabeth Park.  Mine is still years away from blooming, but the QE tree not only blooms but is full of fruits/nuts at this time of year.  The gardeners had removed a branch, and I pinched off this piece, which shows the beautifully textured leaves and the nuts.  (If you follow my ceramics blog, you'll soon see some pieces which were inspired and created from the Davidii leaves.  The first one is #28 of this set, and I have two more pieces in progress.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hey You!

Oh, hello there!  What are you doing there, on the edge of a commercial parking lot?

Who me?  Just hanging out, lookin' pretty!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Liriodendron Tree

I walked to the nearby playground with my kids this evening, and while I was sitting on one of the playground rides / structures, I noticed the beautiful lobed leaves of a large tree next to the playground, and then was surprised to see yellow flowers, too.  The flower reminded me of a magnolia, but the leaves were very different than what I'd expect from a magnolia.

Looking it up this evening, it seems to be a Liriodendron, and it seems the Liriodendron tulipifera (although with all the inconsistent information, I couldn't be absolutely certain it's not the Liriodendron chinense), and it is in the Magnolia family.  What a beautiful tree.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Maple Bonsai

A few years ago I spent some time looking at photos of bonsai trees, and being quite inspired.  I think at that time I had already noticed a small red maple seedling in my front garden.  I had hoped it was an offspring of my red Japanese maple, but it didn't have the same leaves.  However, it did look like it had a weeping form, rather than an upright one.  Anyhow, about that time, I actually searched for and bought a bonsai pot, for when I was ready to try my hand at it.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally dug up that small maple, which has grown in the past few years, but has a really beautiful shape, even without manipulating it.  Here it is, after planting it up.  It is a deep red color, not glowing, as the photo would indicate, since it was taken in the evening with artificial lights on it.
I have not tried to manipulate it any further, yet.  At this point, I have it in a sheltered location in my garden, and am monitoring that it stays well watered, and will settle into its little pot.  Once it safely settles in, I will take another good look at the shape of it, and what I would like to alter.  But I already like it quite a lot.

We had the privilege to visit China in March, and I got a few photos of the bonsai collection in the "Humble Administrator's Garden" in Suzhou (near Shanghai):

Here are a couple more photos from the garden, which was quite peaceful, even though there were lots of people everywhere, even on a rainy day :

One these days, I'll sort out some technical difficulties, and post more photos from China.  We had a wonderful trip, visiting Beijing, Xi'an, Qingdao, and Shanghai (including nearby Suzhou and Wuzhen).

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fairies Make Way for the Dragon

There will soon be a new dragon in the garden, and the fairies have graciously agreed to the removal of their long-abandoned home, to make room for her.  Anyone who is following my ceramics blog may have seen my dragon, she is still in progress, but should be finished in the next few weeks, and ready for the garden :

Today I spent some time cleaning up the garden, and also considering where the dragon will take up residence.  I am grateful to my sister Rose for pointing out that the fairy home is no longer being used by the fairies, and is in a state of serious disrepair, having pulled through 6 winters now.  Here it is in one of its better days (2009) :

Here it is, a couple of months ago.  I'm very proud of how it has held up structurally, considering it was made from cuttings of my buddleia tree connected by wire, but the roof is leaky and the fairies have found other homes.  Besides, at the rate I'm progressing with the ceramics (see my ceramics blog), next time I can make them ceramic homes :

I should have taken a "before" photo before cleaning up this area, but here it is tonight, part way through clearing out the area :

I plan to create a "lake" for the dragon, from blue glass.  The miniature tree will stay, but the beautiful lilies may need to be find another home, too.  Stay tuned.

Monday, March 03, 2014

The Furry News Coverage Continues

There were a few other papers which had photos of the VancouFur furry convention, but Ande didn't appear in them.  But we were both featured (talking!) on the CTV news last night.  I don't know if this is a permanent link, but here is the video.  I was nervous that people from work may see me on TV (although if they did, nobody has admitted it yet), but here I am, posting it on my blog.  Pretty safe, since my friends and family mostly don't read my blog!  Ha.

When I have a chance, I would love to assemble a few photos from the construction of the fursuit, and post them.  Would anyone be interested?  Or am I just posting for myself?  (Oops, did I actually type that?)

Oh yes, I finally did remember to get a photo of Ande and me together, on the last day of the convention:



Saturday, March 01, 2014

Ande is Famous Already!

There was a photographer from the Vancouver Sun at the furry convention today, so "Ande" was in one of the photos in the online newspaper by this evening.  Pretty cool.

Here's the whole "page":

I got lots of photos today, but as I downloaded them this evening, I realized that the one photo I don't have yet is a photo of me with Ande.  So I'll need to remember to get at least one tomorrow.
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