Posts Tagged ‘landscaping’

Garden is in better shape than any previous year.
Social distancing enforced in the garden, before the big growth explosion next month
Soldiers and Sailors, a gift from my old neighbour Elaine.
Just learned that primroses need to be divided from time to time. Oops!
Trilliums. A protected flower in BC.

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What was under that deck? Lots of ferns, salal and blackberries…and some flat land!

A peek up at the former deck, from cottage level.

Quick, lets plant something!. I had 8 seed potatoes left, so in they went. Since big, bold deer are frequent visitors from the adjoining park, it will be tricky to fend them off.

Looking in the window.

For a start, I’m mulching my plants heavily with seaweed from the nearby beach. When I go for a walk with the dog, I take a 5 gallon pail and selectively fill it, being careful to not take too much from any one area of the beach, as it is an important part of the ecosystem.

A quick rinse and into the garden.

Opinions are split as to whether the seaweed needs rinsing or not. I give it one quick fresh water rinse to take off the surface salt. I have read that deer don’t like to eat seaweed. But I also know they love salt…Stand by for my report in the months ahead.

Rand picked up a faucet splitter that allows us to run a hose up to the new garden area. This will also allow me to keep the composter wetted. Big improvement.

There are 8 potatoes under those piles of seaweed. that mess in the background is the “door to Narnia” before I attacked it.

Behind the new spud patch, there is an area that was a hole in the now-demolished deck. My kids called it the door to Narnia.

And Rand used to sweep leaves into the hole. So now, under a stump, more blackberries and ivy vines, what do I discover but about 12 inches of dark rich compost!. So I spent the whole afternoon with a heavy maddock, chopping out huge roots.

Rand came up and sawed down an acacia (weed) tree that would impact the light. And I hauled a half ton of debris down to the utility trailer for next weeks trip to the Green Waste.

Nasty blackberry roots.
The door to Narnia is ready to plant.

I will keep collecting, rinsing and distributing seaweed, both up top, and as a mulch for the lower garden. Here are some advantages:

Its free, and plentiful

It has dozens of trace minerals and is touted as a perfect, balanced fertilizer.

It rehydrates with each rain fall or watering, and delivers its goodness to the roots by leaching seaweed ‘tea’.

It prevents evaporation of water by shielding the ground surrounding plants.

It is attractive to helpful critters like worms and pillbugs.

But slugs don’t like it because it has sharp edges when it dries, and is a bit salty.

It doesn’t contain seeds or other plant bits that can take hold in your garden. Other mulches can hide surprises like…foxtails!

Like peat moss, it aerates the soil. Unlike manure, it doesnt need to decompose before using. Pile it on, 4-6 inches deep. Or more. This stuff is gold.

The only question is, will the deer scarf it up as quickly as I can lay it down?

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Our lives are distilled to two realms: Inside the cottage or outside to work on projects and go for walks. Its all so simple. No need to keep track of the date, no need to plan days and movements around social events or the numerous groups we each belong to. So we go out whenever weather permits, and when we are tired, cold or wet – back in. Some other things going in and out:

The old sheds and deck went out.
And loads of new lumber came in.
Piles of weeds and other green waste went out…
And a fresh load of clean crush came in to be spread about.
This pine tree, which was getting a bit big for its britches, came out…
And a new deep planter for growing potatoes went in.

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When I dug out the septic access a few weeks ago in preparation for a visit from the honeywagon, I found that the hole had last been filled with loose debris, including rotting wood and bits of foam insulation.

Digging out the septic tank access

Digging out the septic tank access

We were going to have a riser installed to make the tank easily accessible for future pumps – until we priced it out: Adapter ring: $60; two twelve inch risers: $85 EACH; a $50 lid and the labour at $50/hour PLUS the cost of the pumping and disposal – priced separately. This was going to be a $600 plus operation.

Instead, I dug it out – and Miles from Bonniebrook Services (home of the Poo Pirates marine septic service!) helped out when it turned out I hadn’t dug quite far enough. After the pump truck had gone, Cottager and I put our heads together and figured out this home made fix that cost $30 and took about 90 minutes to fabricate and install. Its just a strong wooden box, built to fit, that exactly fills the space between the tank and the gravel courtyard. Yep, that simple.

Fashioning a sturdy box to fill the gap between septic access and courtyard surface

Fashioning a sturdy box to fill the gap between septic access and courtyard surface

Next time I will just rake away the gravel and lift out the box.

Next time I will just rake away the gravel and lift the lid off the box.

The next hole to tackle was one built into the deck where bamboo had been planted long ago and gone out of control. I trimmed the bamboo down, pried away the rotten wood frame and screen it had been growing through, then cut the bamboo down to the ground and carefully applied a lethal dose of herbicide into the open stalks. Sadly, short of taking up our whole deck, there was no other way.

This bamboo has got to go.

This bamboo has got to go.

Then cottager cut some planks to fit the hole. Not a perfect fix, but once I power wash the deck and re-stain it, it will be invisible but still give us access to the space under the deck. I will put a climbing plant of some sort in a large pot in this location. The running bamboo will likely need some further intervention, but this is a start.

A necessary fix. And now I can paint that peeling wall. One thing always leads to another.

A necessary fix. And now I can paint that peeling wall. One thing always leads to another.

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Trellis-Style Gate Repair

Trellis-Style Gate Repair

A good friend and neighbour of ours enjoys spending a few days with his son at Keats View during school holidays and they always leave things better than they found them. Over Spring Break they noticed that one of the gates was off kilter and sagging badly. As a result the gate didn’t swing smoothly and it had to be hoisted up in order to secure the bolt. The gate hangs on a post attached to the boundary fence and the sagginess was actually in the fence.

So here is the nice solution they came up with. The fence is now straight and stabilized; the gate hangs straight and swings smoothly and a short extender allows the bolt to work properly.

In addition, I have a new trellis-like structure to support some kind of climbing plant – get me to a nursery!

I plan to stain the gate’s frame and the post and top bar of the trellis brown to match the railings. Add that climbing plant and some spring sunshine and it will look terrific. Thanks guys!

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Its usually just called “Fight Club” weekend, but this year, I was a bit sad that Cottager and his friends would be having ‘guy time’ just when my favourite giant shrub is in bloom – about three weeks late owing to the cold spring. So, to pacify me, the boys weekend was rechristened.

We have been going all out, as we generally do in springtime, to make improvements in advance of the summer rental season. This year, it was new stairs, new gravel for the drive and paths, and a hundred other little things besides.

Cottager pre-fashioned the stairs earlier this month and spent about three hours hauling gravel, half a metre at a time, on Friday morning, so that when his mates showed up they could get right to it.  The arrived on the first ferry, and after bacon and eggs breakfast, they set about giving the cottage a bit more curb appeal.

Here are the before and after photos:

Collapsing stairs and dirt driveway


New stairs – with handrail! – and tidy gravel driveway

Right where those rocks are piled against the shed is where the bears and I hope to soon have an espaliered Italian plum tree – (Mother’s Day hint to my urchins.) 

Doug was a wizard at fixing some problem spots in the deck, and everyone worked together to haul some gravel to the path around the back of the cottage and stabilize a bit of precarious rock wall.  Then they moved on to the beer and barbecue part of the program. Andy took charge of the grill while Doug got the fireplace roaring:

Cooking up a hungry-man dinner


I can’t be sure, since I wasn’t there, but I believe that the rest of the evening was devoted to admiring the Sweet Olive tree.

Thanks guys, for pitching in on this project. You are the best! 

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I posted a link of my problem weed post at the “Name that Plant” forum on GardenWeb and before the day is done, I have my answer – The amazing Carrieb advises me that what I have is GOUTWEED! 

Carrieb was even kind enough to provide a link to a profile of goutweed on the Plant Conservation Alliance’s list of “least wanted” plants which says in part…

” Goutweed, also known as bishop’s-weed and snow-on-the-mountain, is an herbaceous perennial plant. It is one of several species of Aegopodium, native to Europe and Asia. Most leaves are basal, with the leafstalk attached to an underground stem, or rhizome. The leaves are divided into three groups of three leaflets, making it “triternate.” The leaflets are toothed and sometimes irregularly lobed. Foliage of the “wild” type is medium green in color; a commonly planted variegated form has bluish-green leaves with creamy white edges. Sometimes reversion back to solid green or a mixture of solid green and the lighter variegated pattern occurs within a patch. 

Small, white, five-petaled flowers are produced in mid-summer. Flowers are arranged in flat-topped clusters (called compound umbels) and are held above the ground on a leafy stem up to about 3 feet tall. The seeds are small and elongate, similar in size and shape to carrot seeds, and ripen in late summer. In contrast to the dense foliage cover produced by goutweed, flowering shoots are uncommon in densely shaded areas.

The rhizomes of goutweed are long, white, and branching, superficially resembling those of quackgrass (Elytrigia repens, also known as Agropyron repens). Patches of goutweed typically form a dense canopy and can exclude most other herbaceous vegetation. Because of this, it is often used as a low-maintenance ground cover.

Goutweed is an aggressive invasive plant that forms dense patches, displaces native species, and greatly reduces species diversity in the ground layer. Goutweed patches inhibit the establishment of conifers and other native tree species as well.

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This very innocuous seeming three-leafed plant started popping up along my fence lines – on BOTH sides – two years ago. I didn’t pay much attention at first. Sometimes I plucked it and sometimes I didn’t. Last summer it suddenly filled a small path on the western side and it took me a while to pull it all.  But this year, when I resolved to start the season with a really thorough weeding and timely top-dressing I made a dreadful discovery: This stuff was everywhere! It had huge massy nests of roots like spaghetti that went 6 – 8 inches deep in the soil. 

This is a sneaky invader  The surface plant has a little knuckle, just at the soil level, so when you pull on it, it breaks off.  And it twists itself around existing plants, infiltrating my hostas so when they are split, it migrates with them to a new spot too. 

I spent hours trying to dig every bit of this out, and I have no illusion that I was successful. But from now on, it is enemy number one. Wherever it appears, I am going to have to go in with trowels blazing.  Knowing its name would give me some power over it, so I hope someone can help. I’ve searched on-line without finding pictures or a reasonable description.  Any information or advice most welcome!

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I knew I was approaching middle-age when I started getting excited about new appliances. So what does it mean when I’m thrilled by a garden tool?  Don’t answer please…rhetorical (and uncomfortable) question.

Spoiler Alert:  Family members look away now as you are likely getting one of these for your next birthday, Mother’s Day or other gift-giving occasion.

Telesco Weeder in action

I hunted this down at Garden Works. It is, to be honest, a bit over-priced (35$) when one considers the simplicity of the design and materials.  But the fact is, it works really well. My son used it to gently remove moss from the roof, and it did a good job there too.

Removing moss from the roof

This tool is light, maneuverable and effective.  I wish I could afford to have one at home and another at the cottage. My frugal side is toying with the idea of trying to make one with some of my plentiful bamboo, a bent tuna tin and some duct tape. I don’t really think it would work like this, however. 

Sitting or standing - works like a charm

If you do invest in this item, you can feel very good about the fact that it is Made in Canada – in fact, I think it is manufactured in Powell River, B.C. – another lovely town on the Sunshine Coast!  They also make a hand tool version, the Garden Bandit.

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Here’s a brief pictorial essay on the amazing folding trailer that has made our verdant plot a joy to groom.

Best part is how little space it requires to store.


Cranking it open

Drop in the tailgate (which doubles as a ramp)

 Load it up and were ready to go. Cottager likes that it matches our Honda Element. I like that the spiders now travel to the Green Waste depot outside the car.

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