Loving Lavender

The other night DH and I were watching an episode of Downton Abbey. One of the  characters, (Daisy), was busy in the kitchen stripping the dried flowers from lavender stems. She mentioned that the flowers were going to be made into sachets which would then be used to scent clothing and linen cupboards. Lavender scent famously repels moths as well.

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It was a long, cold winter and I worried that my English lavender plants would be killed off. Happily all three survived, are in full bloom, fragrant and abuzz with wild bees.

Feeling confident about their ability to thrive in our less than optimal growing conditions I thought I’d try an experiment to see if I could propogate lavender from stem cuttings. I found abundant  information on the internet  with directions to do this.

The first step was to take a few woody stem cuttings using a very sharp knife:

After stripping the leaves from the bottom 5 cm and removing the flower from the top end I dipped the bottom end into root stimulator; natural unpasteurized honey.

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I had prepared a clay pot ahead of time by soaking it overnight in water. When I was ready to take the cuttings I filled the pot with potting soil.fullsizeoutput_68

The prepared cuttings were then inserted into the soil, evenly spaced around the edges of the pot.

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Finally, I enclosed the entire pot in a clear plastic bag and placed the pot in a bright window.

 

Only time will tell whether my experiment is successful.

Canada Day 2018

Happy Canada Day (July 1st) to everyone, whether Canadian or not.

The weather here is promising to be extremely hot and humid – a good day to get outdoor chores done early and head inside before the sun gets high in the sky.

The hiatus I took from writing this blog lasted much longer than intended, so now I have tons of catching up to do. It won’t be in any particular order.

Canada belongs to the British Commonwealth and  Queen Elizabeth is our head of state. Therefore, the wedding of her grandson, Prince Harry to Megan Markle was an occasion to celebrate. Having watched every one of the televised royal weddings in my lifetime, beginning with Princess Margaret’s to Anthony Armstrong Jones, I soberly realized that this one could be the last on television for many years.

Television coverage began  locally at 4:00 a.m. which meant rising early. A few days before, I planned an “afternoon tea” to celebrate  the wedding. For some strange reason, anyone I invited to join us at 4:00 in the morning declined. Alas it would be tea for DH (my dear husband) and me.

 

Our lilacs were at their best and very abundant this year and I didn’t mind cutting a few branches to decorate the living room. China teacups and tea service were set on the tea trolley.PrinceHarry_and_Megan-1

 

Egg salad sandwiches, fresh baked scones, lemon curd  and strawberry meringues with whipped cream made up the menu. PrinceHarry_and_Megan-2

Fashion for watching the wedding on television: I wore coral coloured satin pyjamas,  and for fun, (since it was required of the wedding guests), a hat; DH was dressed in lounge pants and oversized tee- shirt. What a fashionable couple we were!

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When the lovely ceremony finished, we toasted the couple with champagne and enjoyed our tea.

The Missing Monarch

Not that many years ago, we saw so many Monarch butterflies at this time of year that we were oblivious to their presence. This year, sadly the numbers have declined so much that I could probably count on one hand the number I’ve seen. This alarming decline is attributed to several factors, including loss of habitat and increased use of pesticides and herbicides.

The significant absence of these beautiful insects was the inspiration for the following mixed media canvas:

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I applied butterfly images from Tim Hotlz’ Ideology “Botanical Layers”, a vintage botanical print of a milkweed plant and chipboard butterflies and word onto the prepared layers of a 30 X30 cm canvas. The milkweed image had been printed on my laser printer and transferred onto the canvas using matte gel. I then used Derwent watercolour bars to give it some colour.

 

June Garden

Flowers have bloomed and faded away over the course of June. Early in the month, our wisteria actually bloomed for the second time in sixteen years. flowers-1

Unfortunately, its flowers were all at the bottom of the plant!

Irises bloomed profusely. They will need to be divided next spring.

This Columbine had been growing wild along the road last year until I rescued it. The town insists on  mowing down all the wildflowers which grow beside the road and make walking such a pleasure.

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Bachelors buttons and bridal wreath spirea came into bloom at the same time as the irises.

 

I’m not sure whether chives are grown for their flowers, but I do like them.flowers-6

Encouraged by the success I had with the two rose bushes I planted in 2015, I splurged and added two more plants this spring:

The purple one is a floribunda and the pink one is a David Austen.  It is thrilling to see their first flowers.

Coinciding with the first day of summer,  hollyhocks behind the house began to bloom.

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The lavender flowers are ready to be harvested and dried.

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I love hydrangeas and have several plants. I try to encourage the flowers to turn blue by adding aluminum sulphate to the soil at the base.  It appears that this plant needs a little more.

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Finally, after all the digging, lifting, planting, watering, and weeding, we can take a break  and enjoy the garden.

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