31 January 2011

Asparagus Fern - Macro Monday

Asparagus sprengeri
Family: Liliaceae (lil-ee-AY-see-ee)

Genus: Asparagus (a-SPARE-uh-gus)
Species: densiflorus (den-see-FLOR-us)
Cultivar: Sprengeri

Hardiness:  Zones 9-11 (-6.6C  or 20F at the coldest)
Sun-partial shade, likes a moist soil and humid air.  Water regularly but do not allow water to sit at roots nor overwater.

Growing 18-24 in. (45-60 cm), asparagus sprengeri is often grown as a filler with annuals potted for summer display or as a houseplant.  Very nice when planted in a hanging basket.  Note:  some portions of this plant are toxic if ingested. Blooms mid-summer to summer with white or pale white blossoms, though mine has never bloomed.

Propogate from the rootball or from seed.  If propogating from the rootball, be aware and careful not to cause damage as roots become entangled.  Plant develops nodules resembling small potatoes on the roots.  To keep plant in check for maintenance of size, remove from pot, remove nodules and lightly trim roots.

Macro Monday is hosted by Lisa's Chaos.  To view or participate click here.

Edmonton Home Renovation Show 2011 featuring Sarah Richardson

It's that time of year again here in Edmonton.  The Renovation Show comes to Edmonton Expo February 4-6.  If you are looking to renovate in the near future or just looking for ideas, this is the place to be.  It is the first home show of the season, followed by the Home and Garden Show March 24 -27, 2011.

Featured guests include Sarah Richardson of Design Inc., Room Service, Sarah's House and upcoming Sarah's Cottage; and John Sillaot's of HGTV's In the Workshop and owner of Barnside Custom Furniture and Cabinetry in Ontario.

Sarah Richardson Presentation Times:

Friday, February 4 at 7:00pm
Saturday, February 5 at 1:30pm
Main Presentation Stage HALL C

Show hours:
Friday, Feb. 4 – 2pm to 9pm
Saturday, Feb. 5 –10am to 8pm
Sunday, Feb. 6 – 10am to 5pm


Phone 780.424-0515
Fax 780.413-6224
Toll free 1.800.316-7366

Click here for a PDF brochure:

29 January 2011

Shadowy Corners in the Garden - Shadow Shot Sunday

One of the rare sunny days here this winter in Edmonton produced lovely deep shadows in the corner of the garden.  Blanketed in snow, it is pristine and almost monochromatic and definitely beautiful.  This weekend, however, we are getting a dusting of snow after a brief period of warmth which created small ponds, read large puddles, on the roads.  We now have "skating rinks" deceptively concealed beneath white powder.  Treacherous for sure. I am hoping the sand I applied yesterday will provide a more secure footing for those who must venture out in the cold this weekend.  Enjoy the weekend!

Sharing shadows from my little corner of the world at Shadow Shot Sunday.

Atrium Oasis at the Citadel Theatre - Weekend Reflections

 Back in December, we attended A Christmas Carol at the Citadel Theatre.  The theatrical production was presented in a theatre on the lower level of the Citadel.  The reflection above is that of us mirrored in the glass windows of the elevator.
 On the lower level of the theatre, just outside the venue for A Christmas Carol, is a large waterfall flanking a wall of two stories. 
 On the main level and the lower level is an atrium oasis which is a lovely respite from the cold and snowy conditions outdoors.  The photos didn't turn out great but they give you an idea of the tropical beauty that theatre attendees get to enjoy.
While there, waiting for the show to begin, I saw a young girl, perhaps 12-13 years old, admiring the plants as she sat on the rock surround waiting for the show to begin.  She too had out her camera to photograph the lush beauty all around.  It is refreshing to see this mecca of green indoors.  It revives the mind and calms the soul.  How wonderful it truly is!
Weekend Reflections is a weekly meme hosted by James at Newtown Area Photo.  Folks from around the world share here their captured reflections.  Won't you stop on by?

28 January 2011

Sky Watch Friday

How joyous a sunrise this colourful and glorious is in the depths of winter!  We enjoyed a few warm (read +5 Celsius) days this week.  Had I taken the photos today, however, it would look gloomy.

We woke this morning to -2 Celsius but with a windchill making it feel like -7.  Not a bad start to the day.  However, as the hours progess, the day is to cool down to -11 Celsius not including the windchill.

It's a gray day here with more snow forecasted for the next three days.  Whatever will we do with all the snow? 

I'm joining fellow sky watchers at Sky Watch Friday.  Won't you stop by for a viewing of the skies as seen throughout the world?

27 January 2011

We're in Deep - Snow That Is

The latest topic here in Edmonton that results in heated, animated conversation is the weather!  I know, the weather is a common ice-breaker, pun intended, for many, but it seems to be the topic of choice throughout the city.  From my sister with her email, "how about this snow?" to the neighbours cussing as they shovel their vehicle out, yet again; to the snowplow operators, to the city counsel; it's at the top of everyone's list.  

On average the city removes about 800,000 cubic metres of snow from the main roadways.  This winter, crews have already hauled more than 1,000,000 cubic metres of snow from city streets.  Nearly half of that has been in January alone!  And winter isn't even half over yet!

According to Bob Dunford, director of roadway maintenance, between January 8 and 18 city crews removed 400,000 cubic metres of snow from city streets to be stored at one of the city's storage facilities.  Here the meltwater ponds with liners protect against run-off into the water supply and soil.  Important to us because of all the chemicals strewn on roadways to make them safe and navigable will not be allowed to enter our drinking water.  When the snow melts in the spring, the sand is collected and cleaned to allow for reuse the following winter.  I like that.  Recycling the sand.

Bob Dunford estimates that by the end of the winter, the city crews will have removed over 2.4 million cubic metres of snow.  The most since 1984.

Environment Canada cites that Edmonton has received an estimated 60.5 cm of snow during the month of January.

Residential grading has begun.  Our area was tackled yesterday morning, during freezing rain, making the streets excessively slick.  Sirens from emergency vehicles were commonly heard throughout the day as drivers fell mercy to the weather and poor road conditions.  If only the streets could be sanded again as we are having a warm spell, which necessitated the grading in the first place, and the snow melt and freeze overnight is treacherous.
Oh, and snow is forecasted again, beginning tomorrow....

For more information about city snow removal see edmonton.ca/environmental.

20 January 2011

Skywatch Friday

Those of you who've had true wintery weather lately will understand the thrill one feels when sun is visible again.  So Tuesday morning, when the day dawned brilliant and bright, I was right there to take a couple photos.  My sister sent me an email the other day saying something like "how about all this snow?".  She loves it!  I shake my head in wonderment.  Yes, I mean, it is beautiful to look at but not to drive in.  Just ask the guy down the street, or the FedEx gal or a recent visitor who all got stuck on our street.  Not particularly my idea of fun.  Some just endure winter, knowing that spring is just around the corner.  Some favour winter for the cooler temperatures, the pristine beauty of a crisp white blanket of snow, the winter sports.  I guess I am somewhere in between.  It's not all bad, especially now that I photograph it daily.  I have come to a new appreciation of this season.  I remember enjoying it as a child.  Tobogganing, skating, building snowmen and forts, and even the odd snowball fight.  So, now, when mornings dawn as glorious as this, I capture the moment in awe of the beauty, and the crispness of the morning air, mind you, as I do so.

I found a lovely Robert Frost poem that rallies me, reminding me to enjoy those tender moments ere they pass by.  Enjoy.
A Winter Eden

A winter garden in an alder swamp,
Where conies now come out to sun and romp,
As near a paradise as it can be
And not melt snow or start a dormant tree.

It lifts existence on a plane of snow
One level higher than the earth below,
One level nearer heaven overhead,
And last year's berries shining scarlet red.

It lifts a gaunt luxuriating beast
Where he can stretch and hold his highest feat
On some wild apple tree's young tender bark,
What well may prove the year's high girdle mark.

So near to paradise all pairing ends:
Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends,
Content with bud-inspecting. They presume
To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom.

A feather-hammer gives a double knock.
This Eden day is done at two o'clock.
An hour of winter day might seem too short
To make it worth life's while to wake and sport.

-Robert Frost-

 Enjoying those moments when winter suns brighten monochrome gardens and grey skies with the gang at
Sky Watch Friday.  Join us as we embrace the beauty or come participate by linking your photos with the rest.

Hundreds of Waxwings Diverge Upon Rowans

 Every couple of years or so we are lucky to have these beautiful visitors briefly stop by.  Sunday afternoon was one such day.
 These are cedar waxwings.  They come in flocks, as you can see from the following photos, to feast upon the berries of Rowans (mountain ash trees).
 It does seem as if there are some larger birds mixed amongst the members of these flocks, which suggests there are likely Bohemian Waxwings (the larger of the birds) intermingled amongst the Cedar Waxwings.
 Bohemian Waxwings traverse all the continents south of the arctic circle but stay in the northernmost areas such as Britain, Canada, Russia; see Bohemian Waxwings.  Cedar Waxwings tend to stay in North America, often migrating south for the winter.  See Cedar Waxwing.
 They came in flocks, one after another, diverging upon the Rowan (European Mountain Ash).
 It lasted only minutes and then they flew off and another flock visited and then followed in fashion.
 Many berries remain on the mountain ash.  I do hope they will return so I might get a better photo.
It is exciting to see these lovely birds with their tufted heads, yellow tips on their tails and dashes of red upon their wings.  Such a flurry of activity and then there were none.  For a comparison of the two waxwings visit here.

18 January 2011

Sun on the Horizon

After a week of snowfall, with 35 cm the previous weekend and more every day since, adding up to 99 cm (almost a metre) of snow in a week, we are all looking forward to sun with great anticipation!  The forecast calls for highs in the low negative digits, which will make a mess out of our snow congested roadways, but I think not many will complain. 

In the meantime, how about a tour of my winter garden.

 I went around the side of the house to take these photos which meant trudging through snow that was half-way up my thigh.  All these photos were taken mid-week last week and there's been more flurries since.  Above is a weeping juniper, Tolleson's.  These are quite pretty when encrusted in hoar frost.  Each dangling strand of the evergreen foliage covered in white glistening frost. 
 Above, a close-up of the dangling samaras of the Amur Maple.  They too have a bit of snow and hoar frost on them.
 Above, a look at a white pine, up close and personal.
 Cedars are weighed down with mounds of snow beside our deck.  I am so glad we planted these.  They are going to be great for privacy though they grow only a modest 6 or so inches a year.
 A view from the other side of the house.  Above you can see a dried flower from Hydrangea Pink Diamond.  To the side are three cedars and directly in front, in the photo, is the Amur Maple.  In the background you can see the other Tolleson's Weeping Juniper.  I just love this juniper for its unique growth habit.  It is a great focal point in the winter garden when the leaves from the nearby maples have fallen and it stands alone, in full glory, a contrast to the stark white drifts of snow.
 Above and below are two photos of Dwarf Alberta Spruce.  I have three of these in my yard, two in the back garden and one in front.  Because one of the spruce in the back is not very sheltered it has browned a bit over the years.  I am considering removing it altogether.  That means more planting!!  See what I mean about winter being the time for gardening enthusiasts to analyze and plan their garden?
 The above photo shows the hoar frost that delicately coats the needles of the Dwarf Alberta Spruce.
The above photo was taken through my bedroom window, thus the screen effect in the foreground.  This is the far back corner in the garden where a mountain ash stands as an attraction to birds.  We had a visit on Sunday from hundreds of cedar waxwings who love mountain ash berries.  But that is another post, coming soon.  In the foreground is an Alberta Spruce, behind it a topiaried white pine, and, almost buried beyond recognition, another Alberta Spruce.  Left of it is one of my favourite shrubs ever, a Galahad Mock Orange.  I have featured this shrub as part of my "Spotlight on" series.  Its branches are a reddish-brown and stand out in the landscape as does the bark of the mountain ash.

 Here, under the amur maple, sits another topiaried white pine.  The snow here is close to three feet deep.
Last, but not least, is a close-up of the berries of the mountain ash.   This is a European mountain ash.  I learned this second hand from a professor at Olds College who taught that European mountain ash leaves come out in spring in a bud that is rather hairy, before fully emerging.  Yes, that's this tree alright!  Somewhat messy as it drops some of its berries, I don't regret planting it because it is such a feature in the winter garden.  It makes a nice, somewhat dappled shade in the summer and the bark is a gorgeous red-brown.  The birds love it too.

Hope all is warm and sheltered where you are.  If you see the sun, send it our way, won't you?

16 January 2011

Winter in the Garden

This garden of white makes a pristine backdrop to barren branches, evergreens and dried hydrangea.  It's my contribution to the Mosaic Monday meme over at Dear Little Red House.  Thank you Mary for hosting.

15 January 2011

Counting Shadows on the Wall....

The weather outside is frightful ... it is -20 Celsius, and this has been the high for the last week.  Tuesday, though, is forecast to be -5 Celsius.  I look outside at the drifts as tall as I am and the small flakes that continue to descend and look forward to Tuesday.  I really don't know how someone of a 5'3" stature is supposed to pile all that snow from the walkways onto drifts already as tall as or taller than myself. 

Onto brigther things, the geranium (above) overwintering inside has flowered and has more flower buds. It is looking quite well and I am pleased thus far.  I treat it as a houseplant and will soon be taking cuttings to propogate more.  Some wouldn't allow it to flower during the winter, allowing it rest, but I'll take colour where I can find it right now.  The 4" poinsettia is doing well and really I hope to keep this plant year round.  On the other hand, the 6" poinsettia has fallen victim either to overwatering or drafts from the front door.  I thought I was doing ok with the watering but perhaps not.  It's hidden away in my bedroom where, perhaps, an amount of neglect and no drafts will allow it to resurrect itself.  What do you think its chances are?

The cycad and palm (pictured below) are in winter hibernation, not really growing but green and lush, having halted the fertilizer regimen for the time being.  How I love the green foliage!  It is sure to brighten those snowy days of winter.  I keep a little asparagus fern on the window sill in the kitchen; there for me to see every time I do dishes and cook. 
Houseplants, along with air cleansing properties, cleanse the day of dreariness, brighten a corner and can be a focal point.  For the garden lover, this is almost a necessity.  That and the seed catalogues, gardening books and magazines that sit shelved waiting for those months when we can devote more time to them.  Afterall, if we are not outside in the garden, we are inside dreaming and planning for the next season. 
Hey Harriet hosts the shadow shot meme.  Participants from around the world, camera in hand, capture shadows of amazing variety.  Visit, won't you?


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