Flowery Prose

Growing words….


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Margaret Brown Memorial Garden – Calgary.

A walk on a very cool, foggy morning in late August brought me to the Margaret Brown Memorial Garden in the community of Varsity (Calgary).  Really happy I brought the camera along!   :)

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Have a wonderful week!  Do you have any gardening (or other) projects planned?


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Snow in September, part two.

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Whoohoo!  The blue sky and sunshine today is proof that we’ve made it out of what everyone here is dubbing “Snowtember”:  three days of several rounds of heavy snow that caused car accidents, disruptions in LRT service, power outages, dicey Internet connection, ruined gardens, and so many damaged trees you cannot walk or drive any block in the city without seeing fallen branches lying on the sidewalk or roads.  In some cases, the trees actually split in half like someone took a giant ax to them; some cracked open so violently they yanked themselves up by the roots.  Tree branches landed onto the windshields of cars as people were driving beneath them, and smashed windows of houses and businesses. Most of the city parks are closed today because there is clean up work underway and there is a lingering concern that a branch will fall on someone as they walk beneath it.  The green ash that sits directly in front of our parking stall at the apartment lost a limb – fortunately, it fell on the other side of the hood of our truck!

I went to work yesterday morning only to discover we had no power, so we shelved books by the light shining in the windows until it became too cold in the library and our manager told us we should go home.  (Funny thing is, the Starbucks and the Tim Hortons across the street had power!  Hmmmmm).

IMG_0133A ‘Schubert’ chokecherry and a May day tree in our yard – hard to believe these two didn’t break! 

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Our community garden is a sad, sad collection of mushy plants right now – the root crops will be fine, as will the brassicas, but anything tender such as squash and tomatoes are finished.  The raspberry plants were straining under the weight of the snow when I stopped by after work on Tuesday to check on things and the sunflowers were pulled up and lying on their sides.  My own plot isn’t too badly affected:  as I mentioned in my last post, I had already picked all my tomatoes and zucchini, and I had taken out the fennel and some kohlrabi that was ready to eat.  The garlic and shallots had been harvested a bit ago, and they comprised the bulk of my garden bed, so I am pretty lucky.  The kohlrabi and carrots that are left should rebound quickly.

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The community garden before the final (worst) round of snowfall.

My flowers at the apartment – well, they’re still partly buried under the white stuff, so I haven’t been out to survey them.  I know there will be quite a bit of damage, so they’ll look really bedraggled for autumn.  I’m confident most of them will come back as beautiful as ever next year.  I just have to wait until it dries up a bit so I can go in and do some trimming and tidying.

It is difficult to believe that the day before the storm, our temperature was in the mid-20’s (Celsius).  We went from sandals to winter boots in less than 24 hours – which, everyone here would agree, is not extremely unusual, especially given our proximity to the mountains.  The ferocity and duration of the storm was a bit hard to take, though!

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Poplars in the park next to our apartment – at least none of these particular trees were split in half like others I saw yesterday.

For anyone here in Calgary and area who are wondering what to do about broken trees, The Yard Therapist published a very useful post this morning – you can find it here.  (This is good advice that may also apply in the event of ice storms, something our eastern neighbours occasionally have to deal with).


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Snow in summer. No, not the flower.

Well…we already had frost last Wednesday night, and an intense cold front moved into southern Alberta late yesterday.  Heavy rain overnight is expected to turn to snow flurries by this afternoon (it’s apparently already coming down in the north), and the whole mess is supposed to persist through Wednesday.

I picked all of my tomatoes yesterday morning – vine ripening at minus 2 degrees Celsius or colder is a pleasant concept, but tricky to achieve.  Anyone know a good green tomato recipe?  (I’m not keen on them fried!).

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(From the Capitol Hill Community Garden, Calgary, Alberta – photograph taken 6 September 2014)

I know this chilly blip on the weather radar won’t last, and we’ll have more sunshine and warmth before long, but this zinnia and I are thinking about packing our bags and heading south.  Like South Pacific south, where spring is just arriving.  I was talking with someone a couple of days ago and we were laughing about how weather-obsessed we Canadians are – but you can’t blame us, can you?

Okay, you know I’m going to ask it:  How’s the weather where you live?


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Alberta Snapshot: Middle Lake, summertime.

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This is one of my favourite places to photograph:  Middle Lake, in Bow Valley Provincial Park.   I always love how moody this little pond appears, depending on the cloud cover – you can see another shot of it here, snapped when my hubby and I stopped there after an ice walk in February.   These particular photos were taken earlier this month, during a fun, but rather wet camping trip in the Park.  We tent, so rainy conditions are always a bit of a challenge.  It’s really the clean up afterwards that doesn’t hold any appeal for me – we don’t have a balcony or deck attached to our suite, so I usually end up drying the tent in the shower, which means for the next few days, I’m scrubbing tag along spiders and beetles and other assorted creatures off of the walls and ceiling.  Okay, that’s a lie – it’s more like I stand as far away as possible (another room, preferably) and point nebulously and scream hysterically while my husband cleans up the wayward travellers.   ;)

Apparently the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of a truckload of teenagers, who stopped to take a swim in the cold water as we were leaving the parking lot.  The lake is a bit sludgy and wouldn’t be my first choice as a swimming hole, but the nearby Bow River was running too fast for a safe dip.  According to interpretive signs, Middle Lake is shrinking every year and will eventually dry up to become part of the meadow surrounding it.

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My brother spotted this impressive old specimen of a balsam fir just off the beaten path.  Wonder just how long it’s been since it was a seed?


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Blog Hop Around the World!

When I received the invitation from Johanna to join the Blog Hop Around the World, I didn’t hesitate to jump on board! And you shouldn’t hesitate to hop over to her blog Mrs. Walker Goes Back to School - it’s a marvellous place to see her delightful illustrations and photography, and read about her travels and the books and antiques she loves and the knitting and other crafting she does.

Before I get started on the “nitty gritty” of the blog hop, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who reads Flowery Prose – you’re seriously the best! Give yourself a big hug from me. (Or, if that feels awkward, then hug someone else or your cat or your dog or your goldfish instead. It will be like paying it forward.  Maybe a little wet in the case of the goldfish, which may lead you to reconsider).

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THE NITTY GRITTY:

What are you working on?

As a part-time freelance writer, work comes and goes with the successful queries and the horrible, shameful, soul-sucking rejections, so sometimes it’s really slow, other times very hectic. At the moment, I have a couple of articles due up very shortly, so I will have to finish up the research stage and get cracking.

Besides writing non-fiction articles, I’m trying to work on more short fiction – I’m particularly keen on the micro and flash stuff right now. I am a big fan of flowery prose (see what I did there?) so to compress a story into 1,000 words or even 100 is delightfully challenging.

Oh, and I’m also trying to learn how to knit. I’ve been trying on and off for a year now (more off than on). If anyone has any tips, please feel free to share. Looks like we’re in for a long winter and I’m determined to get that scarf pattern accomplished. ;)

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How does my work differ from others?

I have a goofy sense of humour that often escapes into my fiction. (I reign it in when I’m writing about compost or winterizing ponds or designing living screens, although I really do think those subjects would benefit from some hilarity). I love fantastic stories and surprise endings. I like to have fun with words and push the English language around just a little.

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Why do I create what I do?

The freelance work aside, I do some writing as a volunteer, to educate others about various gardening topics. I have nearly completed all of the requirements for my master gardener designation and after I have received my certification, I will continue to write as a garden educator. Helping others sort out what is eating their delphiniums or cabbages or causing the foliage to fall off their mature spruce tree is quite rewarding, and not just for the gardener I’ve (hopefully) assisted. It helps that I’m an obsessive researcher and fact finding makes me happy.

As for the fiction writing, that’s my BIG DEAL. There is no feeling in the world like getting lost in a story as you’re writing it – it is even better than reading an amazing story by a brilliant writer.

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How does my creative process work?

Organization is not a foreign concept to me, but I prefer to operate using the Little Note Method ™- which means I have scribbles of very important information on a zillion little pieces of paper lying all over my desk. I don’t outline anything unless someone tells me I have to. It makes things so much more interesting. Or panic-inducing.

As for inspiration…I like to go out for walks in the mountains, on the prairies, in a city park. That’s where all the best thoughts are.

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***

And now I’d like to encourage you to check out the amazing blogs of two fellow Albertans, Deb and Thea! Deb divides her time between three blogs: h…the blog, Island Home, and Hunter Photographics (for her photography business). In h…the blog, she showcases her incredible artistic talent: she primarily works with paint and fibre (and she dyes all of her fabric and wool using plants she’s gathered in the wild and from her garden). She also shares photos and stories about her travels across Alberta and British Columbia and gives us a glimpse of cottage life and the great outdoors. With Island Home , she focusses her camera on Pender Island, in B.C., where she and her family have a vacation residence.

Time with Thea is a fun, informative blog chockfull of great ideas for organizing your home and life – and there are tons of awesome craft projects and recipes as well! (Plus, Thea has a gorgeous garden and she often shares maintenance tips and delightful decorative touches). She loves holidays and is always designing something beautiful for every special occasion – there’s always something fabulous and interesting going on if you follow her blog.

Deb and Thea will post their entries for the Blog Hop Around the World on or about Monday, August 25 – please look for them!

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Fireweed jelly.

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We recently travelled to northern Alberta and on our return trip, we stopped to harvest some fireweed flowers - I’ve had it in mind for a few years now to make jelly with them and finally had a chance to collect some nice bunches. Fireweed grows prolifically here in the south, as well, but you don’t often see it in the city – it seems that I spot it most regularly when it’s in a national park or on private land. Up north, it’s…free range. Or something like that.  ;)

We have had the longest heat wave I think I can ever remember here on the Prairies, so to drag out the boiling water canner and make jelly in an already scorching kitchen wasn’t a prospect I was terribly keen on, but this jelly was sooooo worth it! I daresay I love the flavour more than the rose petal jelly I made a couple of years ago (do you remember that?). The fireweed does indeed taste a bit like roses, but it’s far fruitier – and how can you match that incredible colour? I was very impressed – this will definitely be on my list of must-makes every year from now on. The recipe I used may be found here; you have to make the juice first before getting started on the jelly.  Don’t omit the lemon juice, as it contributes to the vibrancy of the colour.

Have you tried any new canning recipes out this year? (Jam, jellies, pickles, chutneys, salsa…etc.). And if you don’t can, have you grown or eaten any new types of fruits and veggies that you’re now a big fan of?

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