Flowery Friday.

SSFPNormandeau2

SSFPNormandeau5

Ah…lilac flowers.  Divinely dreamy.  Even if they make me sneeze.  😉

Wow, do I miss summer already! I snapped these photos while taking in the gorgeous sights of the Silver Springs Botanical Garden here in Calgary at the end of May this year.

Do you grow lilacs? If so, which ones are your favourites? (If you have any photos on your blog or website, feel free to link them here so we can admire!). 

SSFPNormandeau


SSFPNormandeau6

SSFPNormandeau3 

Book review: Container Gardening Complete by Jessica Walliser.

61Kfg54PAqL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Jessica Walliser – Container Gardening Complete: Creative Projects for Growing Vegetables and Flowers in Small Spaces (2017, Cool Springs Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc.)

If you’ve followed Flowery Prose for a while, you’ll know I recently moved and had to give up my in-ground garden beds. Besides caring for my hastily-planned and planted plot at the community garden in my new neighbourhood, I didn’t do any gardening this summer, but for next year, I’m hoping to set up a small balcony garden in our new home.  Container gardening isn’t something I’ve done a huge amount of in the past, so I am particularly excited about Jessica Walliser’s new book. As “complete” as its title suggests, Container Gardening Complete is a goldmine of excellent information, from the design and sowing of a wide range of plant selections (perennials, annuals, vegetables, fruit, even trees and shrubs), to cultivation and harvest and dealing with potential pest and disease issues.  Suggestions and detailed directions for the creation of themed and seasonal container designs are concentrated in the back half of the book and are guaranteed to inspire.  A clean, attractive layout, beautiful photos, and above all, clear, precise, and useful information from a knowledgeable expert make this book a fantastic resource for anyone interested in container gardening – whether you’re just getting started, or have a bit of experience under your belt.

*Quarto Publishing generously provided me with a review copy of Container Gardening Complete, but my opinions of the book are 100 percent my own and honest.

Lichen the mystery.

LJCFPNormandeau

I am struggling to ID this colourful lichen, so I’m calling out for assistance: is there anyone out there familiar with lichens in Alberta (or perhaps North America) who can help me with a name for this?  While hiking in Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park this fall, a group of us found a prolific brilliant yellow growth on several trees in one particular location.  (This was above the upper falls, en route to the Ink Pots).  It actually looked as if the trees were glowing, like they had been spray painted gold.  There was a trickle of a mineral-laden spring nearby and we wonder if that has something to do with the unusual growth on specimens in just that area, but we really can’t explain it.  I am familiar with old man’s beard lichen and wolf lichen (and know that the latter can sometimes be bright yellow in colour) – but this doesn’t appear to be either of those.  Thanks in advance if you can help out on this one; even if I don’t get a positive ID, it’s still a fascinating find.

FP2LJCNormandeau

Alberta snapshot: Upper Kananaskis Lake hike.

UKLFPNormandeau

This gnarled/gnarly (!) tree stump was posed dramatically in the middle of a massive rock slide area that we crossed on a recent hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake. If you find yourself with a few hours to kill in Kananaskis Country, this is the hike to do – it’s 16 kilometres of incredible scenery and diverse landscapes that are not to be missed.  As a bonus, the elevation gains are minimal so if your knees are a muddled mess like mine, you can still nicely manage.  And there are TWO waterfalls!  Truly difficult to top.

Aaaaaaand then the stump got me thinking about gardening (well, pretty much everything does so that’s not a huge stretch)…and specifically, wildlife and naturescape gardens and stumperies.  I haven’t seen too many designed/planted stumperies in the city, but there is a fantastic one at the Ellis Bird Farm in Lacombe, Alberta that wowed me when I saw it a few years ago. What are your thoughts on converting leftover (dead) tree parts to garden elements? Have you ever done it? If so, how did you go about creating your design?

A very short list of a few of the things in my neighbourhood I’m going to miss…

…now that moving day is nearly here and we will be heading to a new community all the way across the city.

The grocery store just up the street. I know where absolutely everything is, aside from the egg replacer (turns out no one there knows where it is, either…might have something to do with the fact that there is some question as to what, exactly, it is). The friendly faces of the staff members will be missed, as well – including one gentleman my hubby and I both worked with years ago at a different job, and a courtesy clerk who treats my hubby like a rock star and makes us smile about it every time.

Our landlady, who has a magical green thumb and grows the most incredible nicotiana and tomato plants I’ve ever seen, and who has always been so kind and generous and thoughtful.

The perennial flower beds that I’ve tended for nearly twenty years…which, well, *sob.* I can’t even begin to tell you how much I will miss them. The balcony in our new place is small and I will be restricted to just a few plants in containers. It will be very difficult for me.

The community garden that I’ve been a member of for five years and served on the organizing committee for.  I met some fascinating people through the garden – everyone with diverse backgrounds, education, and opinions – and learned several lessons about plants and life (!) during my experience there.  I am delighted that there is a community garden near our new place, and I’m already growing some veggies there. I’m starting off small this year (both due to a serious lack of time and a cutworm problem that is unfortunately keeping the plants in check), but hopefully next year’s growing season will be more promising.

The plants in the community that mark the seasons in their own ways: the neighbour’s yellow forsythia in early spring, the soft-needled larch trees in the park next door, the ginormous lilac hedge along the drive.  The mayday tree out front with its sickly sweet-scented but gorgeous white flowers, the snowball viburnums in front of the building across from us.  The plums and crabapples down the street, and the splendid mountain ash with their persistent berries.  Even the green ash tree that has threatened to drop branches on our truck in stormy weather several times over the years.

Nose Hill.  If you’ve followed Flowery Prose for a while, you’ll know this is my favourite place to walk and I have posted many, many photographs of the flowers and the landscape there.  Of course, I will still be living in the same city and I will still be able to travel to Nose Hill to walk there but because of the distance, I know I will not be able to go there as often as I do now.  On the plus side, in the new community, there will be several new parks to explore.

fpnhnormandeau

The northern flickers that nest in the trees outside the back door of our apartment building. They are a joy to watch.

FFPNormandeau

Photo credit: R. Normandeau

The jackrabbits and the squirrels.  Yes, they ate or dug up great chunks of my garden most years, but you can’t help but smile when you see these little furry bundles of energy.  Even while you’re clapping your hands and chasing after them, screaming, “Get out of there, you little ********!” and your neighbours are all going to their windows and lifting the curtains and wondering what the crazy lady is doing this time.

IMG_8988

The library branch I used to work at, a twenty minute walk from my home. I dearly miss the friends I made there – but I know I will keep in touch with many of them in years to come.

That dude who takes his acoustic guitar out on sunny days in the summer and sits on the bench in front of our building and treats us all to some great music.

Cross country skiing in the park next to our apartment.  Especially fun after a fresh snowfall, at night, when it’s quiet and you’re the first to make tracks and the snow is all powdery and perfect and sparkling in the street lamps.

The courtyard of the school where, in the summer, I used to go to read and enjoy the weather on my lunch breaks from work.  One late afternoon, I hid out under the roof for nearly an hour while the most insane thunderstorm I’ve ever seen raged around me.  There was so much lightning and thunder and rain that I had to wait it all out before safely walking home.  Lightning hit a generating station a few kilometres away and the resulting sonic boom was terrifying and awesome.  And…then there was that time I was reading and I heard a noise nearby.  I looked up to see that something…someone…had opened the window of the classroom next to me and stuck a hand out the window.  To say I was freaked out is an understatement, as the school was closed for the summer.  Sure, it could have been a janitor (that’s what I tell myself, anyway), but in truth, there were no cars in the parking lot and the hand sort of just “felt” the air and went back inside, leaving the window ajar. Not really the behaviour of a janitor, but how else to explain it?  And no, I wasn’t reading Stephen King at the time.

The neighbourhood Korean barbeque place that doesn’t have an English name, where my co-workers and I delighted in some really delicious, cheap meals for birthday and other celebratory lunches.  It has the plainest decor and you can seat perhaps a maximum of twenty people in the place, but the food is really stellar.  Sometimes those tiny hole-in-the-wall places are the best.

The community arena where my hubby and I occasionally watched junior lacrosse games.  It’s one of those places where the reek of sweat has completely saturated the entire building, from the floorboards to the ceiling, and you can probably get athlete’s foot from merely sitting on the spectator bleachers, but it’s so fun to watch Canada’s national summer sport grow with these kids.  Sometimes, if we were lucky, we caught a glimpse of one or two well-known professional (current and retired) lacrosse players coaching their students in the field outside the arena.

If you had to move today, what are a few of the things you’d miss about your current home and the community where you live?  

 

Family Literacy Day.

fld-2017-web-250x250

Today, January 27, is Family Literacy Day here in Canada! Since its designation in 1999 by ABC Life Literacy Canada, Family Literacy Day is an annual celebration of reading and other activities related to literacy.  “Learn at play, every day” is this year’s slogan, reflecting the link between play and reading and the development of children.

At work this week, I found a couple of picture books that were so appealing I just have to share…the first one is Planting the Wild Garden by Kathyrn O. Galbraith (illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin). Although it’s classified as fiction, it approaches non-fiction in its clear explanation of the many ways seeds can be dispersed by wind, water, animals, and people. I love how everything seems to be moving in this book, expressed in action words and noises: the crisp sound of pods snapping, the “per-chik-o-ree” of a goldfinch, the chomping of raccoons on blackberries. Portions of the text are even printed topsy-turvy on the page, reflecting the constant motion of seeds.  So clever!

kg

(2011, Peachtree Publishers, Georgia)

Well-known children’s book and fantasy author Jane Yolen’s poetry is simple, sweet, and lyrical in Sing A Season Song, and combined with Lisel Jane Ashlock’s spectacular illustrations, this book is positively breathtaking.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have kids or you’re a long way from being one yourself, it’s worth finding a copy so you can delight in the artistry and beauty.

jy

(2015, Creative Editions, Minnesota) You can find more examples of Ashlock’s art on her website here. Chances are you may have already read a book she’s illustrated or provided the cover art for.

Spend some time reading to or with a child – not just today and not only if you’re Canadian! Kids + books = something magical and amazing!  Adults + books, too…. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Alberta snapshot: Nose Hill.

A flashback to a very frosty, foggy, and spectacularly quiet November morning here in Calgary, before the snow arrived to stay.

Hope you’re enjoying your holiday preparations!  If you’re setting up your Christmas tree this weekend or putting up some lights (or if you already have), have fun watching this completely over-the-top way to do the job. Have a wonderful weekend!