Flowery Prose

Growing words….


Alberta Snapshot: Forgetmenot Pond.


A late-day shot of the beautiful pond in the shadow of Forgetmenot Mountain, near Bragg Creek, Alberta.


This cheeky gray jay (whiskey jack) was out with his buddies, buzzing daringly near my hubby and I, looking for handouts.  The pond is a popular picnic site and fishing hole during the summer, so the birds are used to getting “people” food.   I know they don’t migrate south for the winter, but I had to look up their cold-weather diet:  like their Corvidae relatives magpies and crows, they’ll eat pretty much anything from fruit to carrion, and they’ll even cache food in trees (actually, “on” trees is more accurate, as they apparently glue their food to tree branches using their saliva).  Interesting little guys.  I find them so entertaining to watch.


Planting Garlic: Pre-treatments and crop rotation.

Garlic B&W

Do you grow garlic?  A co-worker and I were discussing our plans to plant it this year and we got on the subject of soaking the cloves before putting them in the ground:  yay or nay, and in what media?  Soaking garlic is supposed to deter fungal infections and insect infestations, and presumably because the cloves are healthier, the subsequent plants will be as well (which translates as better yield and quality).  Soaking garlic is standard procedure for many growers – is it something you do?

It seems there isn’t a consensus about what to soak it in, however – or even how many steps you should take to accomplish the task.  My co-worker just puts the cloves in rubbing alcohol for three or four minutes and then sows as usual, but I’ve read that some gardeners use a pre-treatment of either an overnight soak in plain H²O or a combination of liquid seaweed, baking soda and water, followed by the alcohol rinse.   Alternatively, you can leave out the rubbing alcohol (or vodka or hydrogen peroxide or ?) and just go with the seaweed mix.  Commercial growers appear to have their own brews, including guidelines for the optimum temperature of the soaking media.  What is your go-to concoction?

Or…you can do what I did last year and not soak your garlic at all.  I didn’t have any problems, but would that have been a risk you would have taken?  How seriously do you consider the source of your seed stock in determining if you soak the cloves or not?

And then we started talking about rotating allium crops…she doesn’t, I do.

Garlic growers, what are your thoughts?


Alberta snapshot: Larch and blue sky.


Amazing colour practically* in my backyard.

(*It’s in a public park just over the fence.  But if I actually had a backyard, there would absolutely be a larch or two in it).


Whether they’re the wrong hardiness zone or you don’t have the space or the right conditions for them, which plants do you dream about growing if you could? 


Gold in the hills.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

-Anne, Anne of Green Gables (Lucy Maud Montgomery)


I may be as delighted as Anne about the vibrant colours of fall, but I woke up this morning and realized it was October 3 and I still have a million things to do yet in the garden.  I was a little…um…ENTHUSIASTIC during recent trips to the garden centre and while perusing the mail order catalogues and so there are quite a few packages of snowdrops and muscari and a pound of garlic (am I crazy?) yet to plant.  I also bought some tarda tulips, which I’ve never grown before.  I have really high expectations for these little beauties, and I’m already eager for spring to see how they do!  Unfortunately, time doesn’t seem to be on my side…we’ve had some pretty serious frosts here and the soil is already hardening.  I have to get moving!

While I dally, autumn speedily rolls along….





Photos taken at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta – 24 September 2014

Tomorrow is our fall clean up day for members of the community garden – it feels like we collectively blinked and summer was over, but apparently, we had enough time to have a fairly productive season (early snowstorms notwithstanding).  If you’re interested in seeing what we’ve been up to over the summer, you can check out the garden’s blog here; I’ve posted a bunch of photos I took over the growing season.  The diversity of crops is amazing to see: gardeners grew everything from asparagus peas to zucchini!

What garden successes have you recently celebrated?

Do you plant spring-flowering bulbs?  What are your favourites?


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!   :)






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


Snow in September, part two.


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! 


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.


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!


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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