02 May 2016

Flowers of Vancouver

Our son S, who lives in Vancouver, sends me photos from the city and surrounding areas on a regular basis.  Since my yard is just greening up, neighbours' trees are just beginning to bloom and the odd tulip has opened up, I really enjoy seeing the flowers.  Here's a collage of some of the most recent floral specimens he shared.  Cheers!

01 May 2016

Will Apple Maggot be the End of Apple Trees?

City of Edmonton
Native to North America, apple maggot Rhagoletis pomonella was first identified as a pest in the Edmonton Alberta region in 2005.  They affect mainly apple trees but have been known to be a problem with hawthorne, cherry, plum, peach, pear, wild rose hips, and cotoneaster.  

Missouri Botanical Garden

The apple maggot has a 500 metre range.  You can tell you may have apple maggot if you see black spots on your fruit, pitting or dimpling.  If you suspect apple maggot, you can verify their existence by cutting open an apple. Tunnelling through the white flesh indicates their presence.  If the fruit is picked early enough and sliced open, placing it immediately in an airtight jar for a day or so will draw the 6.5 to 8 mm maggot out and you will see a small white grub/maggot.  There is no discernible head nor legs.

There is a danger that apple maggot population is on the upwards trend.  So what can you do to prevent or treat the problem?  Apple maggot traps are a non-toxic method of prevention.  It's not 100% effective but it works very well.  The apple maggot trap is essentially a red ball coated with a sticky substance (pheromones) that you hang on your tree.  Some say it works best on the south side of your tree but if in doubt, hang a few, one or more on each side.  It works by drawing the fly to the fruit which they then stick to.  The traps may be cleaned in water and reused by applying tanglefoot as a coating.

At the puncture site on the fruit, the female fly lays her egg.  The maggot then hatches and eats its way through the fruit, creating a tunnel.  When the apples fall from the tree in late summer, early autumn, it is necessary to clean every last one up and dispose of them because at this time the maggot will emerge from the apple to overwinter in the soil around the tree.  Use a tarp or something similar under the apple tree to catch falling apples to interrupt the maggots burrowing in the ground to overwinter.   

The maggots then emerge again from the pupae stage in late June to early July as adult flies, easily distinguished from the house fly as their wings are striped in black and white.  Then after mating, the cycle begins again. 

Last year, at the end of May, apple maggot traps could not be found anywhere in the city.  Some greenhouses were able to get a second shipment in but in case not, substitute a fake apple coated with tanglefoot and hang in your apple tree.

I wish we could make a public service announcement so every homeowner with an apple tree would be made aware of the necessity of prevention and treatment. In the meantime, it is up to you, the apple growers, to spread the word with your neighbours.  The best way to control or even eliminate the problem is by interrupting the life cycle.  Remember, the fly has a 500 metre range, so if one neighbour doesn't take appropriate measures, the problem will continue.  

Not to be a bearer of doom and gloom but here it is:  the city of Edmonton pest control department predicts within five years, there will be no apple trees unaffected in our region.  We must all do our part.



26 April 2016

The Best All-Time Work of American Architecture: Fallingwater (Frank Lloyd Wright's Masterpiece)

Perhaps you'll add this to your bucket list?

Ever since I came upon a photo of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house, I have been mesmerized.  The overall design of the house is done in such a  way as to make it feel like the house is part of the setting, meant to be there.  Built in 1935, Fallingwater is located at Bear Run in the Laurel Highlands in the Allegheny Mountains of rural Pennsylvania.  Having vacationed there for years, Pittsburgh retail mogul Edgar J. Kaufmann and his wife wanted a house where they could look upon the falls. They commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design it.  Wright went one better, having it constructed so part of the structure is over the waterfall.  It was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1966 and is open to the public for viewing during a portion of the year.

Fallingwater has been called "the best all-time work of American architecture" by the American Institute of Architects. (1991)  

"You've never seen a building that fits with nature so tightly," Franklin Toker, author of Fallingwater Rising:  Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann , and America's Most Extraordinary House says. "It's not merely nature, it's animated. You've seen Vegas and Times Square, but you've never seen a building that's in constant motion."

Should I Add a Water Feature?

There are times when I really miss our old house, especially the back garden that we put so much into.  I've been thinking of our pond and waterfall that our son M installed and since I don't know how long we'll be staying in our current house, I am considering options to create the effect without digging up the yard. Perhaps a temporary feature on the deck by the back door or a tabletop fountain?

Recently I watched a video by Laura of Garden Answer (Proven Winners) wherein she made a small waterfall in a pot.  It was really cute and it would be very easy to do.  It wouldn't require a big investment of time nor money either.

But perhaps I want to go bigger?  I'd love more sound and maybe some lights with the option of adding a couple fish.  I'm undecided on the latter though because we'd have to have someone come take care of them should we find the time to get away during the summer.  (I work in a greenhouse so it's not always possible).  Aquascape released this video on YouTube that impressed me.  

What I like about this feature is the plants are water plants, less chance of evaporation to the point of no return, underwater lighting options, possibility of adding fish, a water lily(!). The sound of running water would help me create a peaceful place to relax at the end of the day, a highly desirable thing living in the city!  I'm thinking out loud here.

I'm still looking for options and if I do decide to create a water feature, you'll find out here which option I went with.  Which is your preference?

25 April 2016

Keukenhof, The World's Biggest Flower Garden

Photos free of copyright, provided by Keukenof Gardens
Keukenof Gardens is considered the largest flower garden in the world with over 80 acres of flowers.  There are 2000 varieties of tulips and 7,000,000 bulbs! Keukenof Gardens are open to the public only eight weeks out of the year.  That's a short period of time for the millions of visitors who come by the bus load to see and smell the promise of spring.  

Keukenhof's mission, now and in the future, is to be the international and independent showcase for the Dutch floricultural sector, with a special emphasis on flowering bulbs.

There are eight inspirational gardens comprising Keukenof Gardens.  In addition to these gardens, there are greenhouses and pavillions. The gardens are totally redesigned every year to keep the gardens fresh and innovative. The bulbs are harvested at the end of the season and planting the new design takes place in the fall.  It takes forty gardeners to plant the 7,000,000 bulbs in the newly designed plan.

The above footage was videoed with a drone.  There are some amazing drone shot videos allowing us to see the world as never before. 

And here's one last video of Keukenhof Gardens filmed this spring.

I hope you enjoy these short films and if you like what you see I encourage you to search for more on YouTube.  Perhaps a trip to the Netherlands to see Keukenof Gardens should be added to your bucket list.  I know it's going on mine!  Cheers!

22 April 2016

In the Kitchen: Favourite Broccoli Citrus Salad (my own recipe)

For a change, I will be adding to the recipes on Pinterest rather than trialling a new recipe and sharing here.  Last night I made a broccoli salad recipe (my own recipe) that was so delicious and my husband loved it (he's my guinea pig).  Of course, I thought to take a photo after we'd already started eating ours so it looks a bit lacking in the broccoli but that's because we ate it!  Seriously, the next time I make it I will use two heads of broccoli instead of just one, as amended in this recipe.

Favourite Broccoli Citrus Salad
Serves: 4 - 6

2 heads of broccoli
1 cup julienned carrot (approximately 2 carrots)
3 medium naval oranges
2 Cara oranges (red flesh naval orange)
1 cup raisins
1 cup Craisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 slices cooked bacon

1 cup mayonnaise (I use mayonnaise made with olive oil)
1/3 cup sugar or Stevia
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

In a fry pan, cook and drain on paper towel the 4 slices of bacon.  Crumble or cut into 1/8 inch pieces. Set aside.

Into a large bowl add the following ingredients once prepared: Broccoli, washed (drained well in a salad spinner) and cut into bite size pieces, peeling the stems and cutting into small coins.  Julienne the carrots, leaving the skin on if not too thick.  Using a knife, peel  to remove all pith and cut the naval and Cara oranges into 1/2 inch cubes.  Stir in the raisins, Craisins and slivered almonds.  Add the bacon. Toss ingredients together.

For the dressing:  In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar or Stevia and white wine vinegar.  

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Optional:  add a can of rinsed water chestnuts prior to drizzling with dressing.

Happy Earth Day!

Gardening Website You Should be Acquainted With

In the industry there are a few favourite resources we return to again and again. One of these is the Heritage Perennials site www.perennials.com.  Here you can find top 10 perennials of the year, perennials 101, design tips, gardener resources, videos and more.  

Here's a peak at their home page:

A few minutes now meandering around the site will show you it's value.  Whether you are looking for design ideas or want information about a particular perennial, this site is an excellent resource.

I'm sure you have a favourite go-to site for gardening.  Feel free to share in the comments.  I'm always on the lookout for more resources.  Cheers!

20 April 2016

Zone Maps - because you've always wanted to compare ours with USA

Minimum Winter Temperature
Below -50
Below -46
-50 to -40
-46 to -40
-40 to -30
-40 to -34
-30 to -20
-34 to -29
-20 to -10
-29 to -23
-10 to    0
-23 to -18
0 to   10
-18 to -12
10 to  20
-12 to   -7
20 to 30
-7 to   -1
30 to  40
-1 to    4


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