Mosaic Bird Bath Delight

We’re sort of lazy gardeners. We follow the no dig, layered methods and don’t go in for applications of herbicides, pesticides or unnatural fertilizers. We don’t do a big fall clean up either. We just let the garden be at the end of the season, leave the leaves, leave the seeds, don’t take down plant growth. We just walk away and leave it all for the birds and squirrels.

And the birds reward us by coming by and eating all the seeds left on flowers and plants, the berries on our shrubs, the seeds in the trees and rooting around for insects in the layers of leaves and whatnot. We keep a set of binoculars at our kitchen window right next to a couple of bird books to identify who flies in for lunch.

The best thing, of course, is watching our bird baths. The two baths are placed just so we can get a good view.

Two Mosaic Bird baths, summerhouseart.com

We’ve had a bit of cold snap here in usually balmy Victoria, and the water in the birdbaths has been frozen. Yesterday the temperature came up and with it a lot of birds in the garden, mostly Robins.

We saw one Robin trying to get drink around the ice in the birdbath and decided to do the birds a favour.

The layer of ice was taken off and the baths cleaned out and refreshed with new water. Within minutes of our return to our kitchen window we were rewarded with a steady stream of birds coming to bath.

First one, with one waiting on the rim…

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

then two,

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

then three Robins ..

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

and then two Robins and a Towhee..

Mosaic Bird Bath, summerhouseart.com

and then the baths were full of rowdy, splashing birds!

Mosaic Bird bath, summerhouseart.com

We actually had to go out two more times to clean out the baths and refresh the water and each time, within minutes, the baths were filled with splashing and happy birds, who then flew up into the trees to preen and clean their feathers. Thought I’d share our little bit of bird bath delight today. And thanks to Will for creating this little video, he says apologies for the bumpiness and bad resolution.  But hey, you know it’s just for fun.  And also big thanks to Kevin McLeod, who seems to make just the right music for us to use.  You can find Kevin’s work at incompetech.com

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )

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Dahlias, apples and a new batik tablecloth

astersFall seems to come a bit later here on the island. All the trees haven’t quite turned yet, but the annual fall color parade is definitely on its way. This is the time when the leaves and the flowers show off a bit.

Our apple tree is a volunteer, probably started from a stray seed and we still haven’t totally decided what type of apple it is. We’re guessing Gala. In all the previous years, we’ve had, at the most, six apples. This year it actually gave us a whole bowl full. They’ll make a few tasty apple crisps, I’m sure. And we did leave a few for the birds. The grapes were not quite as abundant so most were left for the birds. I always like to keep something in the garden for them to munch on anyway.

applesBill likes the look of Dahlias and this year we added a few to our collection. Now I did mean to keep the names of these handy, but as usual, lost in the piles of stuff that accumulates. And, to be honest, as artists, we don’t really care about proper plant names, just lust after the colors and looks. This white beauty with shots of pink is the size of a dinner plate and looks so lush.

peppermint-dahliaThen there is the purple-burgundy making quite a show..

purple-dahliaAnd the reds looking like a fireworks against the green. Love that little late poppy poking up too.

red-dahlias-wmThen this week just as all the Dahlia were at their peek, and after weeks of what was becoming a drought, it absolutely poured down. And the lovely,luscious heads of the Dahlias, heavy with rain, just fell over.

So I brought in a whole bouquet to arrange in a vase and display on my new garage sale find, a lovely indigo batik tablecloth. Looks to me, like they were all meant to be together.

bouquet

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An awkward front garden that always surprises us

both-sidesOur front garden is to put it bluntly, awkward. It is bisected not only by a straight ugly sidewalk but just a few feet away is an even uglier driveway. We have a space of about four feet in between the two and that leaves us with a strip in the middle to make something out of. On top of that, the soil needs constant amending since it is rock hard and dry all summer. Victoria, for all it’s rain in winter, is desert-like all summer and we live with water restrictions as well.

So keeping that in mind we have tried to use mostly plants that can stand both extremes. The goal eventually is to have some plants like the cedars give winter interest and fill in with all the dry land plants for summer.

We are pretty haphazard about it all, I must admit. And often things come up that we weren’t expecting, or things have spread and found their own spots and we tend to leave them to it. I’ve posted in the past about how this garden surprises us and even earlier about an Accidental Poppy Garden.

This summer it has surprised us once again and we’ve let it happen. To really appreciate it you have to see it from the front steps down to the street.

lft-from-frnt

Then to appreciate it even more it is necessary to go to the street and look back and enjoy the chaos and color.

left-from-front

right-from-front1

But to totally appreciate what the plants have done you must slow your progress and look closely at the individual groupings made almost all by unexpected plants like Lamb’s Ears or Mallow or even oregano ( which has escaped the herb garden and gone traveling) cosying up to what we actually planted. Those of you who know a weed when you see one will probably find quite a few. As an artist, I tend to give them a chance if they fit in somehow and look nice. At least for a while….

lavender

iris-and-sedum

sedum-close

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Not a Host of Golden Daffodils…

erythronium

We weren’t even on our way to Beacon Hill Park. We were on our way to China Town but Bill got into the wrong lane by mistake and we had to turn right . We ended up along the North end of Beacon Hill Park. And what did I see? Not Golden Daffodils, oh no, not those, but I must admit there are hosts of them are all over the Park. No, these were little lovely white flowers, a whole swath of them.

erythroniums-swath

I’m so glad we went the wrong way because I’ve never seen this before, must have missed it somehow in all the years we’ve been here. I didn’t know what they were until today. “White Beauty”, Erythronium Californium they are called, I’m pretty sure. I looked them up in my book and on Google.

erythronims-cls-up3

And then, in the distance I saw a bit of pink and made my way over and found Shooting Stars! Don’t you just love them.

shooting-stars

Ah, Spring is here. And I’m so glad Bill took the wrong lane by mistake.

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Fall color from Stop sign red to ……. pink?

stopredtree1

The other day as I wandered through the fog taking in the colors, I started to see connections and transitions in the colors around me. Walking around with a camera will do that. Our maple in the front yard is what can only be described as Stop sign red. On a sunny day you need sunglasses it’s so bright.

In another garden I came across another maple that could be a color match for a fire hydrant.

hydrantshrub

I found big maple leaves so red the color vibrated on our now green green grass. That’s one of my favourite benefits of living in a rainy place, the grass is green all winter.

red-leaves

The crocosmia in our front garden glowed when the sun came out.

crocosmia-close-up

And then the deeper red of this tree in the neighbourhood, it’s trunk full of the most lovely gray green moss.

red-tree-w-moss

But there are more colors out there, purples, like the deep purple maple leaves found in the park next to the house.
purple-leaf1

Then there is the wine colored purple and green in these swirling and twisting Canna Lily leaves….

canna-lily-leaves

Or the magenta of the Autumn Joy sedum now in it’s glory in the front garden.

autumn-joy-grn

And then what did I see but the full transition of red to pink, which is, to me, really a summer color. But no, here it is glowing under the ferns in another garden in these tiny delicate cyclamen.

tiny-cyclamen

Or in my own garden, the gorgeous pink of the bergenia leaves as they change and die.

pink-bergenia-leaf

But I leave you with the last color of the Hydrangea blooms, earlier in summer a periwinkle blue, and now, a lovely tint of magenta pink. And I haven’t even covered all the yellows and oranges…..

pink-hydrangea

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moving through a quiet foggy morning….

Yesterday morning, looking out the kitchen window I found our garden softened by fog. You would think that living on the coast we would be socked in with fog more often, but actually, it’s really not that common where we live. I love fog. But then I love rain too. Good thing I live here in Victoria. So presented with or should I say, given the present of, a foggy morning, well, I just had to go out and be in it.
Fog feels so soft like this moss growing on the garden gate.

gate-moss

In fog, sound is muffled, the air itself is quiet, much like these chimes encircled with clematis vine. Except for maybe the lonely sound of a fog horn. For me, that sound is instant relaxation.

chime-in-fog

Even the little succulents growing in the basin in the garden, seemed to drink in the moisture from this low level cloud.

sink-of-succulents

Maybe that’s what it is, what attracts me…. I love feeling as though I’m moving through a soft, moist and silent cloud that’s come down to be with me in the garden.

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How the Garden Went On Without Us

cardoon-closeup

It’s been one of those summers when we just haven’t done as much gardening as we’d like. One thing or another kept us from it. Things like me getting a rotator cuff strain from pulling out an exceptionally tough weed. That took a lot of ice and ibuprofen to get right. Or sinusitis that just left me exhausted and sore from all the coughing. So Bill ended up doing most of it and he didn’t have time for more than watering and a bit of compost control. Then there were the craft shows to do, and get ready for, more hours at jobs, well the list went on and on and on….

And in the meantime, the garden just kept on without us. Today I ventured out with my camera to see how it’s doing. And you know, it’s looking ok, well, kinda weedy and wild, but OK. And tall.

Our lovely cardoon is towering and blooming.

cardoon

But  the Fennel is just as high. I’m 5 foot 4 inches and I’m looking up.  I had to bend the stalk down a bit just to take the header photo of that gorgeous cardoon bloom.

fennel

Here they are together, all as tall as a elephant’s eye. And what is that plant with the blue flowers on the right, that is as tall as the cardoon?

fennel-cardoon-lettuce

Well, here’s a close up. Can you guess? Would you believe it’s Romaine lettuce in flower? Now that didn’t happen from our neglect of the garden. We let the lettuce grow tall and flower every year. It blooms all summer and the bees just love it. No one ever believes it could actually be Romaine lettuce.

romaine-closeup

The grapes vines on the arbour are a bit wild and could probably benefit from a bit of pruning, but I like that look.

grapes

The squash plant is growing and looking happy. Please don’t ask what kind it is. We bought the plant at the Moss Street Market, and all I remember is that it’s an heirloom variety. I’m sure the tags are somewhere in the garden. But I’m also sure we’ll enjoy it later, no matter what its name. Just love those spiral tendrils.

squash-growing

Just caught the Gooseneck Loosestrife at its best today.

gooseneck-loosestrife

But the beautiful blue Hydrangea is almost done.

hydrangea

I leave you with this Honeysuckle bloom on our new vine. Poor thing spent ages in the pot until Bill managed to find a bit of time one afternoon to create a place for it and it rewarded us with some lovely blooms.

honeysuckle-vine

Hopefully, now that things are quieting down a bit, we’ll be able to spend a few hours catching up with the gardening again. Although I must admit, it seems to have done all right with out us.

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Hart’s Garden of Rust and Whimsey

Way back in May I gave you a little glimpse or Installment #1 of the zany little plot of paradise that is our friend Hart’s garden. In May, the focus was on the Rhodos with just a little dollop of mosaics. But today, be prepared for a peek at how an artist “decorates” his garden.

Now the three of us have spent years at Art college and I suppose what art college teaches you most is to see possibilities in even the humblest of things. To see beauty in texture and form. To create compositions and focal points, and in Hart’s case, to create what I like to call “arrangements”. In fact, my nickname for him is the “Lone Arranger”.

Take for instance his arrangement of rust in a tucked away spot on one of the many paths in his garden. Here the garden wall is decorated with a collection of muffin tins left to rust, creating a grid like texture that sets off the mosaic bench in iron oxide colors, that even has a suitably colored ceramic fish as part of it’s surface.

muffin-tin-wall

As your eyes take that in you are led to a rusty cowboy figure, a rusting feathered heart ( a garage-sale-find-birthday-gift from us) and a birdhouse decorated with ….. yes that really is a pair of pears.

cowboy-and-birdhouse

And rounding out this rusty feast for the eyes is a rusting bedstead curling through the greenery. I just love this spot.

bedstead

Carrying on with this tour, we come upon Rodin’s The Thinker, lost in thought, of course. The Gazing Ball behind him could represent the world, maybe the focus of his thoughts. But note the arrangement, the way the colors of the ferns and Japanese Maple complete the scene Hart has created.

the-thinker

Next, near another wall is the Half Man. I noticed when I was getting the photos ready that I’d managed to inadvertently create the proverbial “fig leaf” with cedar. Funny story here, a neighbour could see this figure from her window and phoned to say it freaked her out first thing in the morning. Hart obligingly moved it for her.

half-man

On my way to another part of the garden, Mojo, one of the cats, had to get cozy with my camera. He’s very affectionate.

mojo

Other people on a pebbled beach see pebbles. Hart sees heart shaped rocks. Here a collection is featured, set off by rust and greenery.

pot-of-heart-rocks

Another mosaic bench set in the front entry to the courtyard, matches the lushness of it’s surroundings of ferns.

bench-in-ferns

Even a gateway is not left unadorned. Here the little mosaic stepping stones create a counterpoint to the bars of the gate.

small-stepping-stones-gate

The garden has many gathering spots, places to party or to relax. For this spot the beaded curtains and flags are enticing, pulling you in, to find out what is beyond or behind them.

beaded-curtains

And beyond is another example of recycling and rust. The round mirror, already giving way to nature, garlanded in tacky plastic beads becomes elegant.

beaded-mirror

A wooden mirror reflects not only the view but becomes the subject of an arrangement itself.

wooden-mirror

And the pink flamingo? Well, that was another garage sale find of ours, that I painted up and we gave Hart on another birthday. Well, in a garden full of whimsey, I was sure the flamingo would feel right at home.
pink-flamingo

So I hope you’ve enjoyed Installment # 2 of Hart’s garden. I know we never tire of it. There is still more to see, but we’ll save that for another day.

(BTW, if you’d like to make a comment, just click on the title.  It’ll take you to comments….and we do appreciate comments )

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Letting the Garden Surprise Us

poppies4

Last year, at this time, we had the Accidental Poppy Garden in the front of the house. It had happened because Bill had gone out one day in the winter and sprinkled a mixture of poppy seeds all over the place. By June we had such a delightful mix of poppies that we were in awe.
This year we waited to see if the poppies would re-seed themselves as they’d done in the back garden for years. But instead we got a whole new surprise garden. This garden was not the result of planning or work, but more of a wait and see garden. In fact, other than a bit of weeding of the most obvious weeds, in other words one’s that we knew for sure were weeds, we did very little. We just went out and looked to see what would come up.

left-of-front-walk

For someone who is trying hard to learn not to be controlling, to have a much less judgmental attitude, to go with the flow, this garden has become one of my best lessons.

next-to-driveway

This was the year for Foxgloves. They are biennial and bloom every second year. I’ve never planted them, they must be from the old garden, an inheritance from the last person who grew here before we moved in. Or maybe they are dormant in our compost heap and come up where ever we spread new compost.

We have snapdragons, and have been enjoying the Bumble bees who crawl right inside each blossom. And there is a new plant, a volunteer, we had to do a bit of research to find out what it was, since we’d never planted it ourselves. It’s called Purple Toadflax, and is considered a weed by most but we left it, since it was tall and worked well with the Foxgloves that had spread themselves everywhere. Also giving some colorful zing with their bright yellow-orange blooms were the California Poppies. Now we do have a packet of seeds but it’s never been opened. These girls are volunteers all over our garden and are Bill’s absolute favourite.

calif-poppies

On the way to one of the gates leading to the back garden we have the California Lilac in full bloom.  Oh we know it really needs a pruning and shaping, and maybe the Snow on the Mountain is getting away from us and a few things are coming up again unplanned, but you know it looks kind of exuberant and wild and quite over the top.  We kinda like it, even though you can barely get through to the gate.

calif-lilac

So far it’s been a rather nice succession of things coming up and going to seed. Right now the Fried Egg or Poached Egg as the British gardeners prefer to call them, are going to seed. We’ve never had so many! The next phase I think, will be the lavender now almost ready to bloom and there are signs that the Artemesia has gone rampant. Who knows what will surprise us next. But we’re enjoying it.

I suppose I was never cut out to be a tidy, planned gardener. After all, as artists, Bill and I both tend to go for the expressive and intuitive arts like abstraction and mosaics and collage. And anyway, maybe we’ve somehow discovered that low maintenance, no work garden that all the books keep promising. It may not be for everyone and I certainly don’t think it should be, but we’re enjoying this “Surprise Me” way of gardening and trying to learn from it.

 

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