Sunday, 8 December 2013

When Hell Freezes Over

Living in the Lower Mainland of BC for the last 20 years has kept me quite insulated against winter. We normally rarely ever get below zero on the thermometer and at most, might get a couple of days of snowfall which usually melts the next day. This whole year has been weird from the get go. Summer started at the beginning of May with a massive heat wave that went on for weeks and just stuck around to become summer with little or no precipitation until October. So far it has been an extremely dry Fall and now we are being hammered with temperatures ranging from minus 7 to minus 20.

 We have been scrambling to winterize the house, stuffing insulation in any cracks we find, plastic over all the windows and installing a much larger water reservoir seen here on the deck wrapped in blue insulation. The day after it was put in place we got walloped with a huge wind storm which kicked up huge waves which battered the house and docks.

 These pictures don't do it justice at all. The docks were bucking up and down, huge waves were washing over the docks which instantly turned into ice. The dock at the back of the house got picked up by the waves and smashed into our house three feet up the wall. This action tore the kayak off the wall where we had it stored and sent it out into the middle of the river. My crazy ass husband then went out in a small skiff in this violent storm to get it back.

At one point when he was trying to tie the dock in better he was washed off the dock between the house and the dock. The only way out was to swim under the dock and come up the other side so as not to get squished. I honestly don't know how he survived that, the water and air are freezing cold. I was at work when all this was happening, so all I could do was worry and pray.

This picture was taken earlier in the day, by the time I got home at 11 pm, the ice on the docks was over two inches thick. Thankfully one of the neighbors boats was close enough to the dock, that I was able to hang on to it and inch my way home.
Thinking that storm was the worst of it, we were shocked to see this the next morning. The whole river covered in massive sheets of ice that were coming at us with the speed of a freight train on a huge 16.6 foot incoming tide. As the ice started hitting our outside dock, it began to break up and pile up like a slow moving tsunami. 

 Shortly after this last picture was taken, the tide finally went slack and eventually started to run the other way. The rest of the day was mostly uneventful, but I was woken up this morning by the horrible grinding, sliding sound of another massive ice flow coming up river at us. All I can do is pray that it doesn't do any damage and that the temperature gets milder soon, so this all melts. I have had no running water for 5 days now as all the pipes are frozen and the system outside got torn apart in the storm. Of course the parts we need to fix it can only be bought at a store that is closed on the weekends. I think I am getting to old for all this drama!


Here are some pictures from this mornings onslaught.

That ice is about 2 inches thick!

The shoreline frozen over

The skiff frozen in place with my rescued kayak in it.

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Saturday, 9 November 2013

A Year in my Garden

It is my goal to someday have a thriving food garden but I settled for a perennial flower garden as this was my first year here and my time and energy has been spent on building the house. These pictures were taken over the summer as I documented the progress of growth. It is my hope that these plants will continue to grow and spread over the years, making these flower beds full and lush.
The cherry trees lining the driveway. Its funny, I wanted to plant some cherry trees as I love the colour and didn't realize we already had these two beauties as they flowered a few weeks later than the trees in Steveston.
The two smaller beds on the east side of our storage shed. The Hostas did not fair too well here, the slugs had their way with them like it was their personal salad bar! The Ivy grew slowly but steadily and if it survives the winter, it should over the years cover the walls. The Forget-Me-Nots are still blooming the second week of November. I am hoping they will spread and fill out. I transplanted two Bleeding Hearts into the beds that had been in pots on the deck, hoping they take to their new home.

The Astilbe ( the tall red flower in the back) survived the slugs with no problem
The Solomon Seal was a transplant from my neighbor. I hope it comes back next year.
We built and planted a bed in front of our storage container in an effort to hide it's industrial nature.

It looks pretty sparse at this point!

Added a trellis built from wood scraps

The plants are starting to take root and a few are starting to flower

The Lilacs were some of the first to flower. Sadly, I thought I bought one white and one purple, but when they flowered, they were both white!

The little seedlings coming up in the back row are sunflowers.

A few weeks later and they are really taking off!

This Boston vine didn't grow as fast as I thought it would but finally had a growth spurt near the end of the season. I have to say, I am amazed that this garden did as well as it did. I had no easy access to water. We had a dry, hot summer with basically no rain from the beginning of May to the end of September. I think I only watered these beds 3 or 4 times the whole season. If they are still alive it's because they grew large tap roots to access the water table, not because they got any kind of nurturing from me :(
Here it is with its bright red fall foliage starting to show.

I planted 4 of the Torch Lilies, the flowers were nice but short lived!



This was an exciting experiment, I planted an Olive Tree! Those are baby olives.

I got one decent looking olive by November. Not stunning but hopeful as it was its first year and had no water to speak of.



 The Peony is about to give birth to plate size flowers



I don't know what this is called, my neighbor gave it to me. It is supposed to be a good ground cover. It had nice purple flowers for awhile that attracted bees. It didn't fare as well without watering, so not sure if it will regenerate next year? *UPDATE  MY friend Caren has informed me that it is called Ajuga and it loves shade. Bad me , I planted it in full sun, no wonder it wilted. If it comes back next year, I will transplant it to the east side of the shed.


Another gift from my neighbor, again, it looked a little wilted by the end of the year

The Chinese Lanterns really spread and filled out, got a good crop of flowers from them.

The gooseberry bush was another experiment. I have never had them before. They grew nice size berries that were sweet/tart and turned dark blue at the end


The Grape Vine grew slower than I thought it would as well, but again it had a bit of a growth spurt near the end of summer, no grapes this year!



That's the grape vine on the end, it was two 6 inch long sticks when I bought it, not sure if this is normal growth for one year.
Two bunches of Lavender faired well

This Hollyhock did well, I'm hoping it spreads.

Two Columbines, one pink, one purple did well

The slugs helped me by thinning the Sunflowers. I went up every night and tossed at least 50 of them into the river, blech!!! They are voracious when they find something they like. I had a Dalia in this bed and they mowed it right into the ground

Although the slugs feasted mightily on the Sunflowers, a few survived the onslaught and went on to become giants. Bet you forgot there was a shipping container back there!
I left them for the birds to feast on!
The rest of my flower garden is on my deck and docks in containers.
 I loved the beautiful colour of these pansies, but sadly they didn't last all that long.

 The Honeysuckle in bloom.

I had just finished planting this planter which I hung under my bedroom window. The taller pink and white flowers in it are Night Scented Stock which release a gorgeous smell in the evenings .

Here is the planter in place and the two new hanging baskets on either side of the door. They filled out quite nicely over the summer!




Another experiment. I grew a small pineapple on the deck.

I brought it in the house when it cooled off and it continued to ripen. I guess I should try it and see how tasty it is!

The Lobelia got quite bushy, but I didn't realize when I planted it, that I had bought an upright variety when what I wanted is something that would drape over the baskets! It grew so fast and tall it shaded the purple Petunias behind it and they never grew all that well.

I have these two blue pots with second year Bleeding Hearts in them. Once they finished blooming, I transplanted them up in front of the storage container and repotted the pots with summery flowers ( Dalia's, Sweet Potato and Asylum).

I have two of these Rosemary bushes, one on each side of the kitchen door.




 This is Scented Geranium. The leaves smell heavenly! It grew to a fairly good size and I brought it indoors in the hope it will survive the winter.






 I rescued two large planters from a business that was going to throw them out. Some tender loving care and the Hostas came back to life and I happen to know that there are Bleeding Hearts buried in there waiting for a spring show!
 The baskets were starting to look a bit leggy as the summer drew to a close, so I removed the plants and replaced them with perennial evergreens that are supposed to survive the winter. The two bunches of plants in front went into the hanging baskets.

The window baskets got some Ivy, Winter Pansies and whatever that tall thing is in the middle
Somebody was throwing out this cute planter, so I rescued it and planted a Wintergreen bush in it

 I also planted several hundred spring bulbs in the perennial beds and in some of the pots on the decks. I started out with a colour scheme but quickly got confused while planting the bulbs, so it will be a total surprise next spring to see what comes up.

 I am quite happy for a first effort at gardening. Its all a learning experience as I see what can handle the weather here and what can survive the slugs. I am sure that over the years I will continue to add plants as I work with colour schemes and try to achieve a year of constant colour around my home. I have always been inspired by lush English Gardens and strongly scented flowers. I am looking forward to next year already!

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