Canada 150.

2017 is a big year of celebration for Canadians, as it marks our country’s sesquicentennial (150th anniversary of Confederation). While working on some research for a writing project, I came across a few fantastic links that I thought I’d share…even if you’re not Canadian, you might enjoy the insight that these resources give into our people, our history, and our culture.

Library and Archives Canada is putting up a post #OnThisDay, for every day of the year, noting significant events and people in Canadian history.  It’s a fascinating follow – if you hurry, you can catch up on all of January’s entries before February first rolls around.

Heritage Canada is diligently providing digitized archives of millions of documents from the 1600’s to the mid-1900’s here. This is a massive treasure trove of Canadian history, free for everyone to access. Genealogists might find the site particularly useful.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is doing a 150 Stories project to celebrate multiculturalism in Canada.  Read the stories of new Canadians, notable leaders, and historical events here.   🍁

Family Literacy Day.

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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!

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(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.

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(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…. 🙂

 

 

 

 

National Poinsettia Day.

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Apparently, it is National Poinsettia Day in the United States. I don’t have a poinsettia this year, although I love them. It’s been so cold here that transporting one from the garden centre to home might completely do it in before I even had a chance to enjoy it. Arctic air masses that lounge around for days and days on end are not fun for anyone, and especially not if you’re from the tropics, as this plant is. Which is also perhaps why it is not National Poinsettia Day here in Canada – we’ve established that temperatures in the minus mid-to-high twenties (that’s Celsius!) are not ideal for such a celebration. Really, for any celebration. Except one involving hot chocolate and Irish cream and a warm fireplace.

Even if we don’t have a special day to honour poinsettias here in the frozen north, I can still share a fascinating bit of information: did you know that the dense, multi-branching habit and stunted growth of our holiday poinsettias results from infection by a type of pathogen?  This article has more information about how it works.*  And here is another for further perusal.  Enjoy the reads – I’m off to petition the government to make National Hot Chocolate and Irish Cream and Warm Fireplace Day a reality.

Are poinsettias part of your holiday celebrations?  What colour is your favourite?  And have you ever seen a poinsettia in tree form?  (I haven’t).  

*UPDATED: I managed to track down a photo of a “wild” poinsettia, as the photo in the first link isn’t accurate – take a look here.

Flowery Friday: dianthus and yellow flax.

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This wasn’t planned, of course – it was a case of “I’ll just stuff this plant into that currently unoccupied bit of soil” – but the colour combination of ‘Flashing Lights’ dianthus and yellow flax makes me smile.  Especially as it is now the end of November, and June, when I took this photo, seems like a very distant memory….

Calgary snapshot: Scabiosa.

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A late bloomer – really late. I can’t say I’ve ever had anything blooming in my garden at this time of year – and this is the only plant that is. It’s November 16th and there is a single Scabiosa caucasica ‘Perfecta’ flower merrily swaying in the frosty, foggy breeze.  How sweet and beautiful is that?

Flowery Friday: ‘Picasso in Purple’ supertunia.

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Here’s a flashback to a gorgeous sunny morning in mid-June, and these new Supertunias from Proven Winners were really putting on a show in my garden.  What do you think of the brilliant green edge on ‘Picasso in Purple’?

(You can preview the 2017 collection from Proven Winners here).

Flowery Friday: ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum (Hylotelephium).

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‘Autumn Joy’, indeed.  As always, I am delighted by this ubiquitous Sedum (I mean Hylotelephium) – it is seriously the very last plant blooming in my garden, bravely weathering multiple heavy frosts and more than one snowfall.  But this might actually be it for the year.

Do you grow any Sedum spp. (ahem, Hylotelephium)?

Garden journals.

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Although I’m still waiting on a super late bulb order that I hope makes it to me before the ground is so frozen I can no longer dig, I’ve pretty much packed in the gardens for the year. (The snow has certainly helped to expedite my work). Before things get too busy and I forget, I made a bunch of notes in my garden journal – a list of things I want to accomplish next year, plants I want to either avoid or repeat, doodles of potential layouts for my raised veggie bed, etc..  Prior to this year, I had a gorgeous 10-year bound paper garden journal that my parents had given to me, but I stretched it out beyond ten years and it is so crammed with notes and lists of plants that I no longer have any room to write more.  For 2016, I’ve been using a Word document and writing dates, tasks, and notes – but it’s not as refined as I would like (or as lovely as that paper journal).  One tweak I will make right away is to keep a separate list of the plants I added this year – just so they don’t get lost in the notes when I want to quickly refer to the cultivar name that I’m struggling to recall.  I am waffling on the creation of a map, however – I used to make little crude, not-to-scale-but-sufficient-for-my-purposes diagrams of my flowerbeds but I haven’t done so over the past couple of years. Recently, I have performed quite a few changes to the beds (and intend to make more), so a map might be useful.

How about you?  Do you keep a garden journal, and if so, what format do you prefer?  What types of information do you keep track of? Do you include diagrams and maps of your gardens?  Do you save plant labels, seed packages, and other information about the plants you grow?  Have you ever moved onto a property where the previous homeowners kindly left you with a record of the plants in the garden?

Foliage Friday: Autumn leaves.

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Leafy fun with the scanner on my printer….

The leaves haven’t all fallen from the trees yet, but I’m not sure we have much more autumn left in store here on the Prairies – we’re headed straight into winter, it seems! Plenty of snow in some parts already and, as I write this, the white stuff is accumulating on the ground here in Calgary.

Early wishes to everyone in Canada for a very Happy Thanksgiving!