Archive for June 2009


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One downside to a long, rainy spring is fireblight. Fireblight is a bacterial disease that is much more prevalent in warm, wet weather. It is thought to be spread by birds and bees, and most often affects members of the large rosaceae family of plants. Apples (including flowering crabs) are particularly susceptible, but other woody ornamentals, such as mountain ash, hawthorn, serviceberry, and quince, can become infected as well. The disease moves rapidly through the plant, and there is no known cure.

We noticed our quince (Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Cameo’) hedge was infected---almost a dozen branches with crisp, dried leaves---and took action yesterday to help prevent more damage. The best method is to prune out the diseased wood, 8-12” below the infected area, and dispose of the clippings in the garbage (not compost). It’s also important to clean your tools with a bleach solution (1 part bleach: 9 parts water) between each and every cut.

Ready for action

Sterilizing the loppers between cuts

Cutting the branch all the way back to the ground

Ready for the dumpster
Luckily, we identified the problem fairly quickly and the pruning didn’t deform the planting at all. We’ll keep a close eye on it the rest of the summer and keep the bleach handy, just in case.

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Smashed to Smithereens

It just wouldn’t be June without a good hailstorm to whine about! Last weekend we had a doozie. Not bad enough to damage the roof or autos, thank goodness, but it sure did a number on the garden.

Of course the plants with large foliage got it the worst, like this poor Crambe cordifolia and the water lilies. Some plants were just flattened, and are slowly coming back to normal, while others had their leaves stripped right of their stems. It’s ugly, folks.

So glad I can share this photo of what the garden looked like just last week! Here’s wishing you a hail-free summer!

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'Yes I Can' - People Preserving Food

In the advent of the 100 mile diet, more and more people are taking to their hot water baths for some steamy home preserves. Interested in promoting SAFE canning techniques, a few hungry individuals came together last August and formed the People Preserving Food. At the end of May, we finished our first 'train the teacher' canning workshop. The experienced and inspiring experts, Diane Collis and Ellen Wickberg, walked the students (and soon to be teachers) through both a theory and practice session. The goal of the project is to have canning instructors in local organizations around Vancouver all working together to promote safe canning techniques.

People Preserving Food (PPF) includes the following people and organizations:

Ellen Wickberg - Kiwassa Neighbourhood House Canning Community Kitchen
Diane Collis - Fresh Choice Kitchens, Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society (
Jill Dalton - Eastside Family Place
Diana Day - Vancouver Coastal Health (
Debra Elliot - Circle of Eagles Lodge
Roberta LaQuagua - Your Local Farmers Market Society (
Melody Kurt - Hastings Community Centre
Ian Marcuse - Grandview Woodlands Food Connection
Tara Moreau - Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (
Rihanna Nagel - Environmental Youth Alliance (
Liz Perkins - Fruit Tree Project (

The makings for fun and delicious rhubarb stew include:

Great teachers - Ellen and Diane.


Safe, clean and organized work stations.








I wanted to say a special thanks to Lynn Leong who was instrumental in getting this project up and running. Thanks so much Lynn - we will miss you:)

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Garden Tour Favorites

Japanese mapale, Acer palmatum, in a protected side yard. Note the shadow and reflection of the leaves! Cool.

Beautiful color combo in this container.

Colombine, Aquilegia, tete-a-tete.

Making the most of a utilitarian area.

Superior craftsmanship---by the homeowner, a former professional carpenter. Yes, that's a live squirrell you see in the lower right!

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A taste of Wendell Berry for you.....

The Man Born to Farming

The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout,
to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he swallowed that the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water descending in the dark?

Do you ever feel like this when working in the garden? Blissful...

our good friend kamran on a field trip to the garden - he really enjoyed his gardening experience!

remeber the picture of the cute zucchini and celery a couple of posts ago? look at this - do you see any celery? us neither... (mental note - zucchini takes up LOTS of space!)
but I must say, the flowers are beautiful indeed...and delicious too!

we have already begun the process of saving seeds for next year. this is teomi and zlatko tying mesh bags to catch the seeds on the flowering greens.

we finally have some labels on the vegetables! we've planted 7 different kinds of tomatoes in total, so it will be important to know which is which!

but not all is peaches and cream in the garden....
just as we suspected, rats had been crawling under our composter (an unfortunate reality of urban gardening).
so many thanks to beng's hard work installing this 1/2 " wire mesh beneath (thanks again our neighbourhood Canadian Tire for donating this!) and we moved the compost bin and set up another bin for leaf storage (thanks to our friends in Engineering).

also, the composted horse manure that seems so promising in the beginning, has seemed to stall the efforts of these little plants to fulfill their destiny. i'm afraid lois might be right - we may need to just cover this and begin again...the good news is, not only have we learned something new, our winter seeds have arrived and now we have somewhere to plant them!


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'Tis the Season

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For iris, that is! Don’t miss an opportunity to visit this fun iris farm, Iris4u Iris Garden, right in the heart of Denver. My DH and I visited just last Sunday and were so impressed by the beautiful grounds, the huge array of iris offerings, and their well organized business. (Note: this is NOT a paid endorsement, I just love to pass on any fun and new garden info that I come across!) All of the plants are labeled, and with their excellent catalog in hand you can learn the basics about each variety. Visit the Iris4u website to get the scoop on location, viewing hours (thru June 21 only) and sales policies. Of course, I was so shutter happy that I took photos without getting any variety names. Guess you’ll just have to discover them yourselves!

Another fun garden activity this weekend (Saturday, 9-4) is the annual Enchanted Gardens tour of northwest Denver. The historical neighborhoods here have some wonderful and eclectic gardens, most of which are designed and tended by the homeowners. The tour is a benefit for the Conflict Center; go here for more info.

Enjoy beautiful June in your garden, too!

Iris germanica photos taken at Iris4u Iris Garden

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After much activity lately, there is not much to update on, we continue to enjoy harvesting radishes, spinach, mesclun, lettuce, and basil from our garden, and are (already!) thinking about what to plant for the winter garden, blessed as we are here in Vancouver....
this is the new bed we created, which was inspired by a backyard garden I saw over the weekend. The wooden posts were scavenged from a back alley and cut down. In it, we planted some green zebra and orange tomatoes (seeds collected from last year's plants), and will plant marigolds next week to keep them company.

Our square foot garden, now beginning succession. We have harvested all the radishes from one of the squares, and have planted bush beans in its place.

We will be in the garden again next Sunday, as always, all gardeners are welcome, regardless of age or experience.

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Pretty Peonies

The tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa variety?) flower you see above is about seven inches in diameter (7”!), undoubtedly the largest flower in my garden. The plant was a gift many years ago from a gardening friend, and this is the first year that it has lived up to its potential. I’ve recently learned that tree peonies take five to eight years to mature, so I guess it’s right on track! My plant dies back almost to the ground each winter; now I know to cover it with compost and leaves in the fall to give it a jump start on new spring growth. I often cut the flowers and bring them indoors to enjoy because they are so heavy that they droop pitifully on the shrub and can barley be seen at all.

The other photos are of herbaceous single peonies (Paeonia lactiflora), variety unknown, that are a joyous and exuberant celebration of June! I spied these while out and about in a lovely Littleton garden. Check out the “inhospitable” growing conditions!

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