Between my work schedule and the weird weather around here (no snow, then extreme cold), snowshoeing isn’t really happening this year. My hubby and I have managed one trip so far, in January. Due to the huge avalanche risk nearly everywhere on our side of the Rockies at the time, we headed for a safe place: the first few kilometers of Wintour, in Kananaskis Country. In the couple of hours we were out there, we heard the thundering crack of EIGHT avalanches in the peaks several kilometers west and east of us. That gives you a bit of an idea of just how risky it would have been to head out into the backcountry that day!
It was a sparkly, frosty day here in Calgary – but just look at that brilliant blue sky over this young elm tree!
I was recently doing a bit more reading about the origins and history of Dutch elm disease, which has decimated elm trees worldwide. (This information at this link is particularly fascinating). We are fortunate here in the province of Alberta that, due to rigid pruning restrictions and strict monitoring, our elms are currently free of the disease. Hopefully this tree and its kin stay healthy and thrive into old age. ♥
An itty-bitty Tuesday tidbits this week! (Say that three times fast. On second thought, don’t…just don’t).
Tell me something fun (or funny) or exciting or wonderful that’s going on in your life!
Family and friends and those I’m connected with on Facebook already know about her, but I haven’t yet mentioned her to all of you! I am absolutely delighted to introduce Smudge!
My hubby and I want to give a huge shout-out to Tails to Tell, the rescue we adopted her from – they do amazing work in southern Alberta and we are so happy to have the opportunity to provide a home for one of their long-term residents. Smudge had lived at the shelter for nearly her entire life – she had been brought there as an approximately two-month-old kitten (someone found her dumped at the waste transfer site near Crossfield, Alberta). She is just over two years old now.
After an initial period of shyness and much hiding, she now follows us everywhere and practices this style of devastatingly adorable art daily (sometimes several times per day):
How am I supposed to withstand that kind of onslaught? “Yes, your Ladyship, I’ll get on that yesterday!”
Those of you who have ever spent time with a cat will completely understand. We are utterly smitten with Smudge.
I finally finished my garden clean up this past weekend. I don’t have perennial beds at our new home; my new garden space is a combination of containers on the balcony and a plot at the nearby community garden. Clean up was easy: I had no issues with diseases with my container plants so all the soil was dumped into a large covered tote and left on the balcony for use next season, and the pots were all scrubbed and put into indoor storage so they don’t freeze and crack. Clean up at the community garden was also a cinch: our garden committee encourages members to leave plants in place and chop and drop them in the spring. (I am a huge fan of this! Keeping the dried plants in place over winter helps prevent a bit of soil crusting, as the garden is fully exposed during chinook winds and freeze and thaw cycles. The plants may also provide a safe haven for beneficial insects such as ladybugs, and the sunflowers in some of the other plots may be useful for hungry birds). I did pull the pumpkin and zucchini plants, as they were beset with a vicious case of powdery mildew.
My garlic is planted at the community garden and mulched and hopefully snug for the winter, and I sunk a large container of alpine strawberries into the raised bed there in the hopes that they might survive. (I don’t have any in-ground spaces like I used to). I’ll winter sow some more strawberry seeds outside in early March as insurance.
I haven’t had a lot of time to review this year’s gardening season. It was a challenging one, as far as the weather was concerned. Spring wasn’t gradual and wet; instead, we were blasted out of the gate with mid-summer-like heat and no rain. Some direct-sown seeds refused to germinate, even with supplemental irrigation. Our summer was hot and filled with forest fire smoke, and we had a couple of severe hailstorms that handily trashed plants in mere seconds. Many gardeners I talked to fought multiple insect infestations, but aside from the cutworms early in the season, I was fortunate in that regard. And then, just as everyone was still hoping their pumpkins would ripen on the vine and they would get some tomatoes that were a colour other than green, we were hit with two weeks of snowfall and bitter cold in September.
One pleasant surprise in my garden (besides these) were the ‘Le Puy’ lentils I grew for the first time. The plants are pretty, resembling some of our common vetches so much that I thought perhaps I’d get in trouble for harbouring weeds. The deer find them attractive, as well, which definitely reduced the quantity I was able to harvest. Compared to some of my other plants, the lentils didn’t seem to require much care – a regular watering schedule was the most important thing, and they made it through the heat better than my sweet peas and sugar peas.
I quickly realized that the timing of harvest is critical with lentils. The pods must be picked when they are dry, but if you wait too long (a scant few minutes, it seems!), they shatter, blasting the seeds across the soil or the entire garden or into the parking lot in the street adjacent. I swear I could hear them pinging off the streetlights before I got to them. 😉 I still managed to collect enough to enjoy a decent snack (this recipe is easy to prepare and delicious!).
Were there any pleasant surprises in your garden this growing season? What about any old favourites that were once again reliable?
We didn’t do a whole lot of hiking this past summer – I ended up working most weekends and things just didn’t pan out as we had hoped. Our trip to Junction Hill in early June ended up being quite the adventure,* but the scenery was utterly worth it. I have never seen so many shooting stars (Dodecatheon conjugens) and calypso orchids (Calypso bulbosa) blooming in one place – it was simply breathtaking! This isn’t a popular hike by any stretch and so the area is largely undisturbed, allowing the wildflowers to blanket every inch of the ground on the lower slopes. In case you’re in Kananaskis Country and want to try this trek for yourself, be forewarned: this isn’t some little hillock that you can casually saunter up and back from. It’s a certifiable mountain with a highly inappropriate name.
So, this…found at the beginning of our hike. Not ominous, at all.
And one of the exceptional views from the summit….