28 June 2013

In the Spotlight: Red Prince Wiegela

Sun, Part Sun (likely won't get a second flush of blooms in part sun)
Plant Type:
Plant Height:
3-6 feet tall
Plant Width:
3-6 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Feature shrub, beds
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage,Tubular Flowers Attract Hummingbirds and Butterflies, Drought Tolerant Once Established, Easy to Grow, Arching Branch Habit

This shrub is a little beauty in the garden, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.  Hardy in zones 4-9, snow cover is essential in winter.  Even so, mine died right back over the winter and came back from the root.  The good news is the root system is pretty hardy!  

Once established, it is pretty drought tolerant but don't neglect it during the heat of summer. Continue a healthy watering routine, not allowing the soil to  dry to the point of cracking (I like the two knuckle rule) right through to freeze up to build an ice block which will help prevent problems with freeze and thaw in the spring and will slowly melt to provide moisture as the snow disappears.  

Prune after the second flush of blooms (provided it is in full sun) as the wiegela blooms in spring (June here in Edmonton) and will follow with sporadic blossoms thereafter.  The first bloom is the best show.  Do not prune directly afterwards if you can avoid it.

Since mine died right back and came back from the root and from the lowest stems on two plants respectively, I had to cut it back severely early in May which cost the shrub significant height but one is about to burst into blooms, while the other which is shaded a bit from a hydrangea planted directly in front of it, is not blooming.  The photos above are of the one plant which is in direct sunlight on the east side of the house.

We moved in last February so I can only assume the severe dieback likely resulted from insufficient water in the fall.  It is considered hardy to zone 4 though and this last winter was long with a significant amount of snow.  Perhaps it was too harsh for the wiegelas.

Wiegelas will benefit from an application of a good quality all purpose fertilizer in the spring once growth has begun. Never fertilize after August 15 in zones 3/4.

26 June 2013

Giant Hogweed - this monster of a weed is spreading. Do you know how to identify it?

The following site is an excellent tool to identify Giant Hogweed (one of the best sites I've seen).  There are comparison charts of similar looking plants as well.   Giant hogweed identification:

Comparison photos of Queen Anne's Lace and Giant Hogweed:

The following link provides a map of north America, shaded portions indicate where Giant Hogweed has been confirmed:  http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=hema17

This link shows what contact with any portion of the plant can do to a human: http://www.hometalk.com/1706763/hogweed

23 June 2013

Mosaic Monday - Celebrating Summer With Blooms

I was thrilled to find an upright rattan planter to match the balcony planter that my husband installed on the railing this spring.  Falling in love with this brilliant blue salvia, I planted it in the rattan planter where it adorns the landing at the front steps.  I'm debating on bringing it up by the front door but am wondering just how much partial sun a salvia can get by on and still bloom like this.  The front faces east so by 2pm it is in shade by the front door.

Thrilling update!  The Red Prince Wiegela that I had to cut back severely due to dieback, now has flower buds!!!!  Both the hydrangeas are covered in miniature ball-shaped blossoms.  I'm pretty certain  these are Annabelle hydrangeas, a super hardy variety for our area!

I moved the planter with the palm, gerbera daisies and osteospermum to the back.  I took a chance on having adequate light by the front door but once the existing blooms expired, there was an abundance of lush foliage and very few flower buds.  So off it went to the back deck where it faces west and will receive a lot of sun.  Conundrum, it's very windy back there and the palm won't be too happy about that.  The white miniature rose my son gave me for Mother's Day is blooming happily in full sun and the dahlia is bursting with blooms!  I don't usually go for a lot of colour in my gardens but since the yard is all grass in back and planted with hydrangeas and wiegelas in front, I have only planters in which to garden so I am using a lot of colour and enjoying it in the brilliant hot west sun.  (If only the rain would abate and we'd actually get some nice sunny days!)

Mary is hosting Mosaic Monday.  Won't you stop in for a visit to The Little Red House?

Local Skies of Alberta - Edmonton and Region Spring 2013

In the Midst of Days of Rain, a Full Rainbow

21 June 2013

Downtown Calgary Alberta is Flooded!

With all the rain southern Alberta has received over the last few days, downtown Calgary is under water, High River is under water and the town is evacuated.  Word is the same applies to Okotoks and Red Deer and Lethbridge is flooding as well.

Be safe and do not drive to nor in Calgary.  Emergency travel only.

16 June 2013

You Can Find Me on Bloglovin Now Too!!

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Living Bridge and Vision of Hope

Having heard about this project and looked it up via the internet, I was interested to see this plot for myself.  So Saturday, following a trip to Lois Hole's Centennial Provincial Park and the wetlands, I headed for the last remaining CN bridge in the "downtown" core of Edmonton.

Here several volunteers laboured to make what had been a neglected bridge/pathway over 97 Street a living bridge.  

Unseen by passing motorists, the volunteer gardeners have a view of downtown
 and Chinatown from this revitalized plot aboard the bridge.
A combination of edible plants as well as ornamentals like portulaca
 and roses are planted in the raised beds.

Call it urban intervention or tactical urbanism, the volunteers hope to somewhat replicate a similar  project on an empty lot on 96 street, "Dirt City, Dream City." 

Volunteers hope the idea will be embraced by passersby and the homeless.  It is not the nicest neighbourhood, but with this addition, perhaps a sense of pride in the area will become established.    I applaud their efforts. And then, tucked away in a shady corner, beneath tarps erected against the elements, I noted a homeless person or persons have staked claim. 

This area of town has a feeling of neglect and poverty, one just has to look around to see them...the homeless souls who spend their days and sometimes their nights out on the street.  Seeing them leaves me with a feeling of unease and deep sadness for their distress.  

Throughout this city, and I'm sure many others, schools are being closed down due to low attendance and the children within the area are then bussed to other schools, sometimes new schools built in a newer neighbourhood.  The old school buildings sit there neglected, dilapidated, tired and worn.  Much like the homeless who wander the streets.  

What if the city had a plan?  What if these two, the schools and the homeless, were put together in an initiative to provide a use for the buildings and a home for the homeless?  What if tradespeople either donated (volunteered) their time and skills or were paid an honorarium to renovate the retired schools into apartments?  What if the homeless were taught these skills by these same tradespeople, at no cost to the tradespeople, and they learned them within the confines of the old schools?  What if an initiative were put in place to supply the tools and supplies necessary to accomplish this?

Imagine, if you will, skills and trades being taught to the willing individuals in exchange for supplying a roof over their heads?  Imagine them working together, learning, and building for themselves a home.  Again imagine they have now learned skills with which to employ themselves, to build their confidence and to give their lives purpose.  Imagine the pride and confidence in achieving, by their very own efforts, a home where they didn't before have one.  Imagine the desire they would have to maintain it because they made it.  

Imagine the funding coming from our government for something so vitally important and desirable instead of spending xxx amount of dollars on an art installation outside of Commonwealth Rec Centre, an installation that arguably speaks to no one, nor has a significance or desired beauty to the sports complex and surrounding area.  Or how about the Talus Dome, an expensive mound of silver.... balls?  Whose idea was it to spend tax dollars on that?


Why not fund initiatives that will in turn help our city, aid the homeless in regaining their lives, and clean up physical and reputed less desirable areas within our area?  Why not assist others to help themselves and give back to society?

photo taken by K Schaeble
Vision of 
Hope" - is there a better name for this statue which sits just outside the garden area?

Through the chain link fence, above left, is the garden. The trees in the foreground were planted in memorium of individuals who served in the community.

*I wonder if any of you out there have joined a similar initiative, become a guerilla gardener or brainstormed over the homeless issues?  Do you think my idea has merit?  Is it viable?  Can it be done and would you be supportive of such an initiative in your town/city?

To learn more about this garden project see 97 Street Overpass Reborn Living Bridge.

15 June 2013

Staying Dry in the Wetlands

Here are the promised photos of the wetlands at the Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park.  The John E. Poole Wetlands offers boardwalks through the area with viewing points and informative signage posted here and there. Did you know this area was once covered in a glacial field which, when the glaciers receded, became the perfect basin for the river, lake, and marsh area to occupy.

A cute little yellow finch turned his back to the camera.  Camera shy?

The algae bloom was abundant through the marsh.  This is a portion, above and below, of the boardwalk for pedestrians.  Bicycling is discouraged with signage but that didn't stop a couple people.  At least they were courteous.

Lois Hole said "If we hope to preserve our way of life, the first thing we must do is rediscover our respect for the land, the water, and the entire natural world.  And if we do manage to regain that respect, then we must make sure that human beings never lose it again." 

The water is shallow and very clear.  Above a muskrat paddled through the water, under the bridge where we stood, and then disappeared from view.

Red-winged blackbirds were not so afraid of the camera.  I think the above is a female as the males have a brighter red splash on their wings.

Above, a coot noisily greeted us.  This bird is mostly black with a distinguishing white beak.

A closer view of the coot.  Is this the guy responsible for the saying, "you old coot?"

Oh for the want of a good zoom lens!  My iPhone takes pretty decent landscape shots but to zoom in on these ducks who were performing a mating dance for a single female was just impossible.

Another coot.

A Canada Goose.  It's so common to see these flying overhead or strolling in parks, that I was rather like a child, thrilled to see one actually gliding along with the current, his legs stretched out behind, languishing on the water.

Above and below, the cutest little swallows!  They sat below the boardwalk and groomed themselves for some time.  I really need to find the cord to charge my real camera!

A Canada goose sits on her nest.  All the ducklings and goslings are late this year.  Down in southern Alberta, the ducklings are already losing their downy coat to a few feathers!

Another shot of the pretty bachelors!

If you look close, you can see his legs stretched out behind him.

Two coots visited briefly while we watched.  To learn more about the Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park, visit Alberta Parks.  

Next, a visit to the Farmer's Market (downtown Edmonton)......

Look at the heads on these hydrangeas!!!  GORGEOUS!!

It was noisy, crowded, and filled with amazing delights!  
What a contrast from a morning out at the wetlands!

14 June 2013

Holes' Branch Out

Last Saturday a friend and I were in the mood for a nice stroll on a sunny day so off we went towards St. Albert, Alberta to the Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park.  The park is on the western edge of St. Albert and Edmonton, the Sturgeon River flows into Big Lake, while a nearby area is a wonderful marsh replete with birds, ducks and, if you're lucky, you'll see the swans!  (We didn't)

The Sturgeon River flows into Big Lake.  This bridge is one of the two planned to cross the river.)

 Big Lake is large and the water is incredibly blue.  A slight breeze that day made a jacket a welcome addition to the wardrobe but it was perfect weather for birdwatching, which is what we intended to do in addition to getting a little exercise.

As we entered the park we saw a kayaker who eluded the camera but the two in the canoe above seemed to be enjoying a leisurely row on the lake.

The above sign is near a wild life viewing area that overlooks the lake.  We saw Canada Geese, red-winged black bird, the coot, swallows, amongst others.  More photos to follow in the next post.

 Can anyone identify this wild flower?


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