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Posts Tagged ‘raccoons’

Having finally stopped feeling so poorly, I am rushing to get things done before the Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend which I will be attending with my friend Sheila.  Allan will be holding down the watering chores for our business, and my own garden will remain neglected.  It has never been so overgrown.  (Allan has a small, but not too small, area of his own and it is impeccable…but much smaller than the 9 beds which comprise my original garden.  More on this…sometime…)

I took a photo essay today of the plants which have survived two years of considerable neglect.  (Last year we had three gardens on the annual late June garden tour in our beach community; the year before, our own garden was on the tour; its decline since that pinnacle of perfection has been disconcerting.  I am starting to learn to say no, to quit boring jobs, and hope by midsummer to have more time in our own garden, and to never again let it be this bad!  (Just missed three good gardening days due to illness; normally would have puttered anyway but was determined to get better for the study weekend.)

I can’t find time right now to write about the plant treasures which have survived neglect, so I offer this instead:

Jena's garden

Allan weeding a client’s garden yesterday

Above: a secret garden in Seaview which we attend to a couple of times a month.

poppy

poppy in Jena’s garden

A poppy in the same garden; might have gotten the seeds from  Sheila.

lower gate

our lower gate quite overhung by roses

One must duck buzzing bees to enter, but I can’t bear to prune the roses during their once a year bloom time.

trouble

trouble brewing outside our upper gate

This mother tried to have her babies under the floor of our enclosed porch; she was foiled by some hastily nailed on boards.

And that’s all for now!

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Yesterday, at The Anchorage Cottages, a charming and dog-friendly cottage complex just north of Long Beach, we amazed our favourite innkeeper, Lola, by removing two decidedly unfriendly Phormiums which had been foolishly planted (not by me!) next to a parking place. (I advise wearing safety goggles for such tasks!)

Phormium removal

Allan begins Phormium removal

Phormiums gone

Now: future home of Cosmos

We will plant cosmos later. The always handy Lola already has plans to move two window boxes to adorn these windows.

While Allan then tackled the horrid job of chopping down something like fifteen enormous and miserable looking Pampas grasses around the property, I got stuck into the idea of more destruction and removed a large but increasingly tatty old rosemary and two compact Barberries from the courtyard garden; I was heartily sick of getting poked by the latter, and they were situated in a way that made the border look unbalanced and too heavily weighted at one end.  There is also the ongoing task of keeping the Arbutus and Ceanothus shrubs pruned down to a level where they do not block the wireless internet signal from getting in through the cottage windows!  The garden, which was originally installed years ago by the famous Heronswood nursery back in the Dan Hinkley days (when Dan’s partner’s sister was one of the owners of the cottages), has a backbone of good shrubs that were not planned to be internet-friendly.

Toward the end of the day we were going to leave five huge Pampas by the roadside untrimmed till today, but heard rumours of rain so kept clipping, raking, and piling into the trailer till dark.  And a good thing, the rain is torrential today.  Thus we are still carting around three flats of violas with dreams of getting them into the Long Beach planters before the weekend.  With more rain and high winds predicted, I wonder if we will.  And ever-looming is the pruning of the 300 hydrangeas…which I do hope we will not have to do in the rain. It’s a three year plant for the private bayside garden of hydrangeas, which had been badly pruned before, and years one and two saw us working in rain, hail, sunshine, and even rainbows.

viola flats

the traveling flats of violas

Today, we are firmly ensconced in the house.  Later this week, we may end up planting violas in awful weather, but I would rather hope that Friday might be better.  Out the window just now, Allan saw raccoons cavorting in the rainy pond, no doubt hoping to eat our school of surviving fish.

raccoons in pond

our pond, with raccoons

three raccoons in pond

trouble x three

They are cute, the raccoons, but vicious.  One night Allan went out with a flashlight to scare them out of the pond, and came back scared himself as they had growled and hissed in the blackness…

They tore the cedar shakes off of our roof in 2005, requiring the installation of a very expensive metal roof.

I have hardly been out into my garden at all this year.  I think I’m in recovery from an exhausting 2009, when we had three gardens on the Peninsula garden tour and then a month of helping my mother move into assisted living (where we are creating a new garden for her to replace, at least a bit, her fabulous garden show garden).  After the 300 hydrangeas, I hope to take 4 days for a very late garden clean up here. There are a few vignettes that I see  between the house and the car…including blooming hellebores whose leaves I should have cut back but did not…

Brazen Hussy

Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussy’

spotted leaf

have forgotten name!

brazen hussy

Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussy’

These are all growing on a table top garden…in this case, soil piled on top of an old trunk.

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January 23:  Only one more pile of clay to go….Thank you, Allan, for moving two heavy wheelbarrows full when I was tired.  By the way, the reason behind on the pond dredging was cute but deadly raccoons.  A few years back some rough development on the neighbouring street changed the drainage pattern and caused a small landslide into my pond.  The resulting shallowness tempted raccoons to wade into the pond and eat some lovely, large fish, including “The Great White”, my particular and enormous favourite.  I also suspect that they ate some of our frogs.  (Raccoons also tore holes in our shake roof, inspiring an expensive green metal replacement.)

With only four large fish left, I knew the pond had to be made deeper, so for two years in a row have spent labour day weekend dredging by hoe. The pond then becomes so murky with liquefied clay that I wonder that the fish can breathe…but when it settles, they are safer. A swimming raccoon is apparently not as effective at fishing. I was sorely tempted to haul some more hoe-fuls out yesterday, but then the new clay muck would have to sit and dry, and I would never be done….I can see now that the pond is clear how much deeper the bottom is, and have thrown a couple of heavy old timber bamboo pieces in the bottom for the fish to hide in.  I count 4 large fish…one white and three orange…and one small brown fish in the clear winter water.

The winter blooming witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’) is just starting to unfurl its spidery blossoms, smelling of apricot, and the Edgeworthia papyrifera has fat buds. I have one of the red winter witch hazels also, ‘Jelena’ or ‘Diane’, but made the mistake of planting it in a corner of the garden that I rarely visit.  It’s better to plant winter flowers in a spot that is frequently passed, I think, because bad weather does not inspire a trip to the far reaches

January 24: I put on my muddy clothes to make myself go out and do that last clay pile!  Maybe I “just want to do the pretty things.”  An acquaintance once asked if I could find her some gardening work, and I told her I could have her weed a certain driveway…”But I just want to do the pretty things!” she said.  I think she imagined that a garden career involved wafting about deadheading, wearing a floppy straw hat and flowered gloves.  But there are days that I would like to just do pretty things…not much of that at this time of year.  What I look forward to, after the clay is moved, is an attack on the rampant creeping buttercup throughout the garden beds.

Later, after dark:  I did it! Oh, the soreness. An idle midwinter did not increase my stamina! All the clay has been shifted out of the garden.  Thanks to Allan for moving that last wheelbarrow! I have one more daunting task: the removal of two enormous Phormiums.  While they appear to be the only interesting thing in a photo of my midwinter garden, they are blocking the entry to a path which I love…a path of stepping stones right through a seasonal stream that runs underneath rose arbours.  The path is lost to me now, and removing the Phormiums will reveal it.  Perhaps I can find some smaller spiky accent to go in their places.

January 25:  See  before and after photos above for the results of moving clay from the back of the pond…Still a rather bare slate…To the right is the corner of our huge rock, and the spring which feeds the pond.  I might have found another spring to seep out of the back left side of the hill!

Curses! A cold steady drizzle postpones my Phormium moving project.

[Note from 2012:  Do I EVER plant Phormiums now?  Never, never!  This journal has been a continuing story of getting rid of them!]

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