Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Blogging and posting (and the Garden Bloggers Fling)

I've been a devoted blogger since 2007 (edging now towards 1800 posts).  The medium suits me.  I like to write long paragraphs, craft sentences every once in awhile, and think about what I'd like to reflect on, and hopefully have a decent photograph, or two.

Reviewing just now a search on front raised beds brought so many great images and reflections that promoted memories, to print out ahead of a gathering at the house next week around four-season vegetable gardening.

My blog is a garden/nature journal, after all.  It's just for me, without any other purpose, I guess.

But it's brought great community with fellow garden bloggers (woo, hoo, and yay,  Garden Blogger Flings!)

Even though most of us (Fling bloggers) communicate now as friends on Facebook (that's my experience), I so value the connections and friendships that I've made through the Fling --

Hooray for blogging as a medium, even if it seems LONG-WINDED in a Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook social media age.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Sunflowers at Biltmore

The sunflower plantings along the French Broad River at Biltmore have become a regular favorite of visitors and passholders alike.

This year, these smaller sunflowers provided a wonderful backdrop for a photo-op (for Woody and me).

We'd walked with our fellow pack member (my gardening companion) through the walled garden and around Bass Lake, but needed to stop and appreciate the sunflowers, too.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Another front meadow view

Our pocket meadow in front remains a joy. 

The woodchuck who has munched on the sunflowers in back and on the sides of the house (not to mention the last of the kale and parsley in the vegetable beds this afternoon!) hasn't made any inroads on the tough native perennials in the pocket meadow up front.

Leaving for a special dinner this evening (32nd anniversary), it was lovely to see our low-maintenance meadow in front.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pocket meadow view

The mix of native perennials in the pocket meadow is particularly nice this year. Abundant rain over the last month suited Joe-Pye, Rudbeckia, and Solidago, as well as the (non-native) annual sunflowers along the street.  The Vernonia is covered with small bees collecting pollen at the moment!

It's a lovely view out the front door.

(With apologies for the blurry iPhone photos!)

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Monday, August 22, 2016

More clean-up and planting

The squash vines, on further examination, were fraught with powdery mildew, so they've been edited, and I've propped up a couple of mid-summer transplant tomatoes (favorite San Marzanos grown from seed) over the trellises, with hopes of some late fruits.  There are a lot of set ones, so I'm hopeful.

I've sown flats of mesclun, spinach, and argula, along with kale, poked in some sugar snap peas, and have beet seeds soaking overnight.  There's just enough space to sow some beets and turnips tomorrow.
seeds for fall plantings
The tomatillos in the lower bed are doing well, so they'll stay, but I pulled a scrawny bean vine, left the Mountain Pride tomato (looks great, but doesn't get enough sun).  Perhaps now in fall, the late afternoon and early morning light will grow some carrots?  I'll sow some tomorrow and see.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Gettting ready for fall

Vegetable garden change-outs are always a bit about promise and hope.  Pulling out spent squash vines, pruning wilt-fraught tomato bits, removing beans past their prime:  all are part of getting ready for fall.

I'll be sowing sugar snap peas on the trellises (I'm always hopeful of a fall crop) and sowing beets, spinach, lettuce, and kale over the coming week.  I'm leaving one of the beans for now, along with the butternut squash, and cherry tomatoes, as all are still producing and seem disease-free.

If I find some of the sprouting broccoli starts (new last spring from Bonnie), I'll put those in too.

My tomatillo plant in the lower bed is producing an abundance of fruits, and maybe the late-grown and transplanted peppers will mature in time for some homegrown salsa.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Thank you, gardening friends!

I have just had the VERY happy experience of returning to our garden this weekend to something quite nice.  I had really fretted and worried about leaving for almost three weeks in mid-summer!  
pocket meadow
It was not a good time to leave, although I'd "battened down" the garden by pruning, harvesting all ripening veggies, and adding some water-absorbent crystals to the soil.

I was just hopeful that all of the plants would survive, much less flourish.

But, Asheville has had plenty of rain, thank goodness, an unexpected change from the hot and dry conditions in July.  So the entire garden is lovely and green, after almost three weeks away. 

vegetable garden in front

And thanks to our neighbors and other gardening friends, somehow they collectively managed to diligently harvest beans, eggplant, tomatoes, and squash while I was gone (a daily routine for me), so I didn't return to a mess of overgrown veggies (aside from a few errant squash and beans). Bliss. Just a beautiful array of beans and a few tomatoes to harvest -- how wonderful is that?

Not sure who were the main harvesters yet (I sent out "please help yourself" notices to at least 7 folks), but I am so glad that they (whomever the mix) were able to enjoy the vegetables! 

And the plants still all look great. I had been steeling myself for something dire!

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Friday, August 19, 2016

A final bonfire at the St. Lawrence River

We headed home today to the green mountains of Western North Carolina, leaving my Dad and Nancy for their last week plus in Quebec.

The winds weren't favorable for a fire on the beach while we were there, but were perfect tonight!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Point de Peres, Quebec

The remarkable geology of these headlands told a story of folding rock, layered sediments, and fucus, sea lettuce, and salicornia. I wish I understood the story of the rock formations.

The wildflowers were nice above the line of the tide.

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Kouchibouguac National Park bog

What an amazing bog! An expanding bog, slowly taking over adjacent forest, it was by far the largest bog community that we've ever seen, comparable to intact pitcher plant bogs in long-leaf pine savannah or the wet savannah in Apalachicola National Forest in northern Florida.

Ours in the Southern Appalachians tend to be small and shrinking, as the bogs fill in with shrubs and trees.

A well-constructed boardwalk  provided excellent access. Parks Canada does a great job of managing visitor impact to fragile areas such as these bog and marsh habitats!

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Near Kouchibouguac National Park

Our B&B (L'Ancrage) is by a beautiful river adjacent to St. Louis de Kent, New Brunswick, on the Acadian coast. Apparently, nesting bald eagles and ospreys are commonly sighted. 

We'll be visiting the national park nearby; its diversity of habitat sounds great: from big to dunes to marsh and beach. Perfect for hiking, biking, swimming, and sea-kayaking, although we'll probably just hike.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Greenwich Dunes, Prince Edward Island National Park

The dune, freshwater pond, and maritime forest ecosystems here were remarkable. The dunes, an unusual sort described as parabolic, shift more dramatically than other dune types; we'd never seen anything quite like these.

A floating boardwalk crossed the freshwater pond, after an walk through an Acadian forest mix of familiar Appalachian natives (yellow birch, spruce, and maple) along with less familiar bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), in full fruit.

Fireweed patches in the open meadows were dramatic against the conifers.

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Prince Edward Island

A first impression of PEI was one of farmland. 

Wheat ready to be harvested, potatoes growing vigorously, and, in the distance, canola fields in flower.

Equally magical were the coastline views.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Two houses in Luneberg

These two houses in the Unesco World Heritage-designated city of Luneberg, Nova Scotia were the typical bright colors of much of the town. 

What captured my notice, however, were the very informal and pleasing plantings surrounding them.

Queen Anne's Lace (which has naturalized everywhere in Nova Scotia) was accompanied by Solidago, Rudbeckia, and various other "wildflowers."

(Click on the photos for a full frame view!)

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sunset moon

Monday, August 8, 2016

St. Martins and Fundy Walk

Sackville waterfowl park at dusk

A restored marsh in the middle of town provided an wonderful evening walk, as well as a morning one.

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

An outing to Montmorency Falls

An excursion to Montmorency Falls brought both views of an impressive falls and a hoard of international tourists.

My dad's wife Nancy took this nice picture of my gardening companion and me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Another lovely sunset over the St. Lawrence

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sunset over the St. Lawrence

Monday, August 1, 2016

Off to Quebec and the Maritime Provinces

Thanks to my Dad and his wife, we're off to Quebec and beyond. They're staying in a small cottage outside of Quebec City for the third time, escaping the summer heat in Texas.

When they were in Quebec before, we visited and had a wonderful excursion around the Gaspe Peninsula. This year, we're going to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, for a relaxed version of what could be way too much driving.

My vegetable garden is battened down, although hard to leave at its peak summer production; neighbors and the house-sitters will hopefully harvest  the beans, squash, tomatoes, and eggplant, not to mention the chard and basil!