Flowery Prose

Sheryl Normandeau's growing words….


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Owl art: Silver Springs Botanical Garden.

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The Silver Springs Botanical Garden here in Calgary has added a couple of instantaneous-smile-generating sculptures to their collection.  These little guys are pretty cute!

What are your tastes in garden ornaments and statuary?


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Flowery Friday.

Bidens Campfire Fireburst

I’m a little gaga over the colour of this new Bidens I’m trialing for Proven Winners this year – this hot little number is Campfire ‘Fireburst’.  A huge bonus is that it’s seriously drought tolerant – a good thing, because I can’t seem to keep up with the watering this summer….  :)

Do you like orange flowers in your garden?


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Book review: Good Garden Bugs.

A quick book review today!

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Good Garden Bugs:  Everything You Need to Know About Beneficial Predatory Insects – Mary M. Gardiner, Ph.D.  (2015, Quarry Books, Massachusetts)

Every gardener needs to be able to identify and understand the role of the most common insects in the garden – a difficult task, to be sure, but it can make a huge impact on the way integrated pest management is practiced.  There are a myriad of excellent insect ID books out there – both general and regional in scope – but to my knowledge, Dr. Gardiner’s is the first to specifically cover only beneficial predatory insects.  If you are trying to keep your garden as chemical-free as possible, a working knowledge of the insects described in Good Garden Bugs is essential, as they are your allies against any insect pests that might attack your plants.  We’re all familiar with the role ladybird beetles play as voracious aphid feeders – but have you thought about how useful insects such as assassin bugs, lacewings, wasps, antlions, and the parasitoid flies are?  What about arachnids such as spiders, predatory mites, and scorpions?  How about the water beetles that can help protect your pond plants?

Good Garden Bugs is easily accessible to the home gardener:  the profiles of each insect offer sufficiently appropriate (not overwhelming) details about identifying features, distribution, and behaviour/habits.  The full colour photography is outstanding and is a huge asset to anyone looking to make a positive ID of the six- or eight-legged critter found in the bean plants.

I was particularly interested in the short discussion of the feeding habits of the insects, as the way that they eat (piercing, sucking, etc.) is important to consider when examining their effectiveness as predators.  Excellent macro photos illustrate the various mouthparts.  There are also good tips on designing an “enemy-friendly” landscape, including a useful list of attractive plants (focussing on natives and those with extrafloral nectaries).

The readability and the stellar photography in Good Garden Bugs make this a must-have resource in any gardener’s library.  Next time you go out in the garden and you see an insect you can’t identify, consult Good Garden Bugs.  You might just be getting a helping hand in the garden!

(My copy of Good Garden Bugs arrived compliments from the publisher, Quarry Books.  This review is 100 percent my honest opinion.  Maybe even 110 percent).    :)


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Alberta snapshot: Badlands in Drumheller.

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Drumheller, Alberta – Interpretive trail, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology

My hubby and I recently spent a day with two awesome friends in the starkly beautiful Badlands of Drumheller.  If you are planning a trip to Alberta or haven’t been to Drumheller in awhile, it is well worth however many kilometers you have to drive/swim/jetpack to get there.  Make sure you at least walk part of the trail system, and tour the Midland coal mine site nearby.  And don’t forget to spend a few hours in the incredible Tyrrell Museum!


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Not so happy Monday.

Ugh…what a start to the week.  I received a call early this morning that the community garden I belong to had been severely vandalized overnight.  Of course I had to head off to work, so I wasn’t able to get down and assess the damage as soon as I would have liked, but it’s just as well…it was pretty upsetting.  If a neighbour in one of the nearby houses hadn’t chased off the culprits, who knows how much worse it could have been?

The door to the shed had been forced off its hinges and everything inside scattered about (nothing was stolen, though, fortunately). A kind donor had given us several glass light fixture covers for use as cloches and all but one of them were smashed, which meant broken glass everywhere.  Our brand new arbour was badly damaged, but at least it’s repairable.  One of the apple trees had its leader cut off.  The worst thing was the damage to the individual beds – some gardeners had cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and onions yanked out.  Other plants – tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas, raspberries – were topped.  Trellises and tomato cages and garden ornaments were pulled out and broken.  And for what?  So some bored young adults could get a good laugh?

I just spent the last hour delivering the bad news to our members and letting those whose beds were most affected know the extent of the damage.  Not fun.

IMG_1546My smashed potato plants….

Of course, community gardens are public spaces and this kind of thing can happen, but we’ve been lucky so far (the garden is six years old). I really hope this is just an isolated incident.

The garden that I tend at the apartment is also in a public space and I’ve seen a lot over the years – hens and chicks and begonias stolen, plants chopped down to the quick with weed whackers or sprayed with herbicides, used syringes in the junipers (seriously!).  But you’re hearing more and more about trees and perennials being dug up out of private residential gardens – back yards, even. I personally know a lady who had her entire lily collection carefully excavated from a bed in her front yard in the middle of the night.  And I know when I worked in the garden centre, people were constantly trying to stuff geraniums and other plants into their handbags.

Of course, there are other far more serious things in the world to worry about, but it does make me sad to see this kind of thing happening.  Fortunately, I think many of the damaged plants in the garden will make a speedy recovery, especially as we’re finally getting some much-needed rain.

Have you ever had any of your plants deliberately damaged or stolen?  


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Alberta Snapshot: Kananaskis River.

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A view of the wide Kananaskis River from the Flowing Water Interpretive Trail in Bow Valley.  This is a really pleasant, short, and easy walk with some fantastic scenery and lots of wildflowers.  There’s even a beaver dam (but apparently the beavers were bunking down in their little log cabins out of the gloom on the day my hubby and I were there.  I would have liked to see some babies, but alas). The trailhead begins in Willowrock Campground and is well-marked and worn.  This is another good hike for young families – there is one section of wooden stairs, but they are not too steep.  The stairs would make it tricky for anyone with mobility issues, but the rest of the trail is accessible.

I’m always fascinated by place names – and as I’ve lived here in southern Alberta for several years, I was familiar with the idea that the word “Kananaskis” meant “meeting of the waters.”  But it turns out that’s an erroneous marketing gimmick – the real truth behind the name is actually far more fascinating and…well…bloody.  Check out the historical account here.

Have you ever come across any “tourist” information that wasn’t really true?  Isn’t it interesting how stories are altered over time (or depending on agenda)?

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