Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Sometimes it’s just right to stand still and breathe.

And be grateful for home, hearth and country.

Happy Dominion Day!




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Because I know Mary’s champing at the bit!



Here’s the view from the house, looking down to the road.

No stone needed on this near side because the soil is not very deep. The original lawn started here and sloped downward.

A stone pathway down the middle to minimize walking directly on the soil.

To the left a small (spontaneously created by Wynn and Bob when I wasn’t looking) herb garden. The rock will retain the heat in the cool mountain evenings.

A note: So eager was I to get going I picked up a slough of tomatoes and peppers and then remembered the in-progress deer fence still possesses points of access available to the critters.

Hence the fence within the fence.

The herb rockery. A small sage plant tucked in the corner and temporarily protected by tomato cages.

The caged tomatoes and peppers.

To the right of the caged tomatoes, a rounded edge of the garden bed. The plan is to build an simple arbour and try my hand at growing some grapes again.

This is all the same view, all pics taken from the edge of the road.


Next post will be a different view.


It’s quite exciting. I get up in the morning, slide my cold bare feet into my winter bush pack boots (feeling like such a bag lady) and wander out to the yard. The skies are busy at that time — woodpeckers, flickers, chickadees, robins — all out there with their morning chatter.

For me it’s a time of peace (my mice are still abed) and contemplation and appreciation. Whether on the prairies, in eastern Canada or here in the west, the garden is where I like best to be.

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Looking down from the house toward the road

After much scraping and hauling and dumping of rock the ultimate form of the garden begins to take shape.

A word on the piece of land formerly known as a lawn:

Our house is perched up high in the woods, 530 feet above sea level. Nothing compared to my father’s tract of Manitoba farmland — approximately 780 feet above sea level, as he always takes care to remind me — although (Are you listening, Dad?) I can see the sea…

Many houses here are perched, as it were, and in our case, the perchable rock resides at the terminus of a former logging road.

Around the flat spot of rock where sits the house is a fairly sharp drop-off. If one wants to make functional space of the drop off, one builds a retaining wall and hauls in fill — rubble, mostly, which gets topped with a small layer of dirt and in this case, some grass seed. The final effect is always pleasant — giving visual space and more often, a place to park the car!

In this case we needed to haul in soil because under the grass there was only a bit of dirt concealing metres and metres of rock and rubble. No soil. The yard couldn’t simply be ‘dug up.’

There’s a reason folks call Bowen ‘The Rock.’

Subsequently, because of the substantial slope of the lawn, rock was hauled in to provide a wall to keep the soil from running off down the road to the Pacific.

Same view, turned slightly to the left. Beyond that retaining wall is a drop-off, a reminder of how much fill was required to bring the original lawn to its present height


The new soil will be beautiful — weed-free, rich and fragrant — but will always need to be amended with compost to hold the moisture and give it nutrition — remembering there’s nothing below but rock.


Looking up toward the house


You can start to get a sense of the lines of the garden-to-be.

On the right side, a narrow path will travel between the original retaining wall and the new wall of the garden.

Mid-garden, running horizontally in the picture, will be a narrow path walled by rock, creating a bit of a terraced effect.

Three garden areas to be planned in total, all defined by stone borders, the borders holding the earth in place.


Looking east toward the ocean


This side view shows the central path and also that we’ve lopped out a few scrubby and unhealthy bushes and relocated the healthy ones. The intent is to bring more light into the garden. And the surprise, as I mentioned earlier, is a delightful view of a secret little bluff. I’ll get some images of that.

I did learn something about transplanting big and small trees and bushes from Wynn that I think is worth passing on: When first transplanting, give the roots a good soak and then a good watering every three or four days. Meanwhile, give them a light foliar spray three or four times a day. With the foliar spray, take care not to add water to the root ball, just the leaves.

We moved three full-grown and substantial trees, two cedar bushes, one forsythia and several lavender plants which all survived, did not droop, etc. Unusual for me!

Next post: Playing in the mud.

Have a great day and thanks for dropping by!




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They confer, they wander, they ponder, they dig.

Looking down to the road from the house


The lovely and gentle Wynn and Bob.

Both artists in so many ways.

Here, they confer: Keep or go? Whack or reserve? Can you do this?

And Bob always can.

Same view, different angle; looking from house toward road

Bob wanders. He’s going to take off the left arm of that maple tree in the centre. It seems scandalous at the time but unbeknownst to me, the brilliant Wynn has a vision: The removal of that arm along with a couple of poorly placed cotoneasters will reveal a stunning moss-covered bluff — shades of green you didn’t know existed.


The Princess has caught me in an apparent moment of grim concern.

Note to self: Relax.

Same view as the first two pics

Whew! That was fast!

Bob has scraped up the thin topsoil (I am so sorry, Mrs. English; I know you loved your grass), pulled up some errant roots tentacling their way across the flat ground (Not to worry, says Wynn. These trees have roots wandering in every direction) and stacks some rocks that came up the road in an earlier truck load.

The rocks will form terraced walls to contain the soil on the sloped lawn garden.

And a potted fig tree we hauled back from King Township, adorned with a tin of goldfish food.

The truth: Soil is such a rare commodity on this island rock. This lush stuff was hauled in from deeper pastures. Seems counter to the grand scheme of the planet but I guess if you bring in bananas from far off lands you can bring in dirt from nearby fields.

I heard a story when I first arrived on Bowen. Seems the grand prize for some contest was awarded here and the winner, not an island resident, was a tad nonplussed.

“A truckload of dirt? That’s first prize?!”

Might be urban legend but it’s a good one.

Need some two-year-olds around to truly appreciate the Big Twucks!

Love these guys. Always smiling.

Time to play!

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For a rocky outcropping in the middle of the wet Pacific, we have a pretty nice lawn.

Green, flat, smooth — very lawn-like. I do believe it was very much the pride and joy of the previous owner who fed, watered and tended to it with great pleasure.

Alas, while we had swaths of green and a ride-em cowboy lawn tractor in our other country domain, the grass was peppered with untameable dandelions — salad greens and wine, anyone? — and we were not exactly the toast of the sideroad.

So now,  faced with a considerably smaller swatch and a dearth of arable land, it was time for a decision:

Feed the lawn? Or have the lawn feed us?

Easy peasy.

Enter the Mighty Machines!

I will keep you updated on our progress. But first:

Looking from the road back up to the house.

Looking east toward the mainland.

Looking from the house down to the road — the reverse of picture 1.


The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees

The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,

The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor

And the highwayman came riding, riding, riding

The highwayman cam riding, up to the old inn-door.



Okay, apologies to Alfred Noyes and my dear mother who taught me this poem when I was little, but that’s the image I had when wonderful Bob brought his baby up the drive.

Stay tuned. The suspense is getting to me too!

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