Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Giraffe "Sculpture"

Driftwood in shape of giraffe head
Giraffe head driftwood
Tonight I talked the kids into some painting projects, so that I could finally tackle the giraffe project I've been planning since... oh my, August 2008, when our family took a trip to Quadra Island, and I found a tall (over 5') piece of driftwood which looked awfully like a giraffe's head.

I had decided to try to paint it, to bring out its "inner giraffe", and then put it somewhere on the edge of my garden, maybe sticking out into a pathway (like along our stairs from the lower to upper back yard).

At first, I wondered if I had made a mistake, trying to paint it, but when it's done now, I think the result is amazing:
Painted giraffe driftwood sculpture
Painted giraffe driftwood
Giraffe driftwood sculpture
Ha, this is a funny angle. Looks like he's chewing.
Funny painted giraffe driftwood
I think I'm too fond of it already, this giraffe may end up inside the house for a while, perhaps until next spring. If I'm smart, I'll incorporate him into the upper garden reno project which I'm still hoping to take on this year.

The kids also finished their projects. My son painted a fence knob (hmmm, there is probably a proper name for this) which we picked it up at a whim from a bin at the cedar shop, thinking it would make a cute little person for the yard some day. Sure enough, my son managed to make it into a little lady:
Painted fence knob lady
My daughter finished our last wooden birdhouse:
Painted birdhouse
Ha, now I'll have to figure out how to get some of these birdhouses out into the yard, rather than on my kitchen counter. (See my previous post.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

What's Up With That Apple Tree?

My little apple tree which bore only 1 fruit in 2006, and has slowly been adding a fruit or two each year, is bearing a number of apples this year:

Apple tree
In fact, a few apples have already fallen, and I've enjoyed sampling them. But a few days ago, I noticed.... blossoms?
Late apple blossom
In fact there are a number of blossoms, right alongside the fruit which is nearly ripe:
Apple blossoms and ripe fruit
Late apple blossoms with fruit
This next photo shows apple blossoms (at bottom, a bit washed out by the camera's flash) with near-ripe apples, and a number of green raspberries overhead:
Apple blossoms and fruit
Yes, the golden raspberries are putting out another crop:
Fall crop of raspberries
But that's nothing new, they seem to put out a summer & a fall crop each year, yielding a nice sweet surprise as late as October and November.

Anyhow, this is not about the raspberries.... or is it? I now remember that about a month or so ago, I decided to cut back some of the apple branches, since they were colliding with the raspberry patch along the fence, making it hard to walk through that area. Also, I figured it would be better to have shorter stronger branches rather than longer weaker ones. But looking closer tonight, I realize that it is each of the branches which I cut back, which put out the blossoms. So maybe some magical combination of a dip in temperature followed by more warm weather, and the cutting back of the branches, seemed to trigger the blossoms.

I hope this will not affect the tree's ability to respond to the REAL spring when it comes. I'll see if any fruit sets from these blossoms. I think it would be wise to remove any fruit before the winter.

I suppose this illustrates why my espalier apples are always very efficient at producing fruit (and each year I need to prune back the fruits very aggressively). Since the tree's upward growth is continually impaired, more energy is directed to bearing fruit:
Espalier apple tree
The same with my espalier asian pear, which I didn't prune aggressively enough this year (and I also need to tie up the branch tips):
Espalier asian pear tree
While I'm shamelessly showing off my fruit, here is my italian plum tree this year, which bore exactly 5 fruit last year. The fruits are very sweet, and freestone.
Italian plum tree
Italian plum closeup of fruit
I don't know what causes the scars on most of the plums, could that be a disease? Does anyone recognize it?

The grapes have finally established on the side of the shed, and this is the first year we've had fruit. So I'll be able to find out what types of grapes I've been trying to grow these past few years (since I didn't pay enough attention at the time - they were a gift of cuttings):
Grapes on the vine

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chehalis River and Stanley Park in Vancouver

Due to a (hopefully temporary) medical ailment recently, I have been careful not to spend much time in my garden. Not even much walking through it, since I can't just walk through it without starting to pull weeds, and next thing I know, I'm tackling blackberry vines (relentlessly invading over the fence!) and such.

Thankfully, I have been able to continue with just about everything else, including activities with the family. Last weekend we enjoyed a hike along the Chehalis River, and have a few photos to capture the moments (click any for a *slightly* larger view, since I reduce my photos to reduce loading time).

I love these "spooky" moss-drenched trees we get out here on the west coast. I am dreaming of attempting a painting of such a scene one day (or maybe I should finish my first painting project before I start a second one - ha ha):
I love the textures on this mossy rock, found near the river:
This neat bug (somewhat purple in the iridescence of its wings) appeared to be some sort of wasp:
This tree looked curious, perched precariously above the river, as if the ground has been swept away below it:
It made a great spot to sit for a photo:
The other side presented a similar opportunity, with the kids crawling underneath its roots:
Me, I wasn't as adventurous for my photo:
Early that week, we took the kids out for their first rollerblading adventure, on the seawall at Stanley Park:
It was sunset:

Kind of magical, don't you think? We live in a beautiful part of the world, for sure.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Down on Your Knees" Photo Contest Entry

Gardening Gone Wild is having a Photo Contest with the theme "Down on Your Knees".

This is my entry. It is from an enchanted boggy place I discovered in October while hiking with my husband "in the bush" somewhere on the Sunshine Coast of BC. I was delighted by these brightly coloured mushrooms (click photo for a larger view):
Magical Mushroom Scene
I would have been even more delighted if I had spotted the fairies playing hide-and-seek there just moments earlier (click for closeup)...
Fairies Playing Hide-and-Seek
...but after all, there is no such thing as fairies, right?

For more details on the Photo Contest, which closes August 22, click here. Happy snapping and good luck!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wildflowers at Mt Baker, WA

One of our favourite places to hike (and ski!) is Mount Baker in Washington State. It is only a couple of hours away by car. But somehow we haven't made it up there for a few years. So when we had the opportunity to go this weekend, and also take my sister, who hasn't been to the top (Artist's Point), we were happy to go, even if the weather was a bit overcast.

Mt Baker is an exciting place, since it is snowed in most of the year, so the road up to Artist's Point may only open for a very short portion of the year (in August and early September), before the snow starts again. So there are always some patches of snow to enjoy (which is a really neat treat in the heat of the summer), and it seems all the wildflowers are in a rush to bloom at once (and there are miniature wild blueberries too!).

This time, we drove up into clouds, so it was "half" the experience. A pretty trail through wildflowers, but with no surrounding rugged snow-capped peaks for view. It was different. I hope my sister has another chance to visit and see it on a clear day, with the beautiful peaks - maybe next year.

The family had to stop and wait for me a number of times while I snapped flower photos (and catch my breath, too - it's been a while since I've been hiking, because of all the problems with my feet this last year). I hope you enjoy them! As always, click on the photo for a slightly larger view (although perhaps I reduced some of them too much, so the misty & dewy effect is not visible):
Wildflowers at Mt Baker

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Dinner with the Prime Minister

Tonight I took my kids to have dinner with the Prime Minister of Canada. Well... sort of. An intimate BBQ dinner with about 1500 other people.

We were able to listen to him speak from the back of the big crowd (click any photo for a slightly larger view):
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
...where we were enjoying our BBQ chicken dinner (on the lawn, since we came too late for a spot on the tables):

After his speech, the Prime Minister shook hands with the crowd, before being whisked away into his motorcade. My kids didn't want to press into the crowd to see him, but my daughter agreed to a photo in front of the crowd and the PM. I am not a very politically-inclined person, but I figure she'll have something unique to show her teacher when she goes back to school in September.
My daughter with the Prime Minister Stephen Harper
I did however, ask Stockwell Day for a photo, and he graciously posed with the three of us. From what I have observed, he is an admirable man with solid moral convictions and values. He had a significant part in re-building the Party which is now the ruling Conservative Party of Canada. He was really personable, and asked my kids their names. We chatted a bit about math and chess, and he seemed genuinely interested. I was proud to shake his hand and get a photo.

Mystery Monday Answer

Congratulations to Inf G, for correctly identifying the wasp's nest in my Mystery Monday post.

I discovered this nest a few weeks ago, when I went to retrieve a pot from my stacks of pots piled in the secluded corner of my house (I also have lots in my shed, but that is a long way to walk, so I leave some near the house also). The pots were piled upside down, and I could see the wasps flying in & out at the base of the stack. At the time, I used a long pole to flip the pots over, and sure enough, a dozen or so wasps came buzzing out, and I could see the nest inside a large paper-based pot:
Wasp nest inside an empty flower pot
I rarely if ever have used any chemicals on any sort of pest, but this time, I didn't see much choice. If I were ever to retrieve any pots, or any kids were to run into this area, it could be a disaster. So I bought a can of Raid Wasp Killer, and sprayed down the nest quite thoroughly. I sprayed it again that night, just to be sure. Then have been watching it ever since, but there is no sign of activity.

I think I'll leave the pot there on display. I understand that wasps are territorial, so a sign of a nest already there (especially a poisoned one), may be a deterrant to other wasps who may get the same idea.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Mystery Monday

I've recently discovered and enjoyed the "Mystery Monday" posts by Crafty Gardener, even if I have not been able to guess any yet.

So I am pleased to post my own mystery photo today... As you will see, it is certainly not a flower. But that's already too many clues.

What is this picture?
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