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The most expensive raspberries in the world: Cane planting primer

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To produce these…
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…you need some great detergent

With every shovel of dirt came rocks and my future pints of raspberries went up another 10 cents. “That will be $50 please…” My revelation for the week was a reminder of just how hard farming is and how much it should really be worth.

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It’s not that big a box right. How hard will this be? All planted in an hour right? It turned out to be 10 hours with two more days to add additional compost and mulch. The box contains 100 Prelude raspberry  canes from an Ontario grower. In behind, in the early morning rays, are some of our blueberry bushes in raised beds.

In a backwards fashion we are adding to our symphony with a second 100 raspberry canes for our Carpe Diem berry farm. Last year we planted Encore raspberries, this year Prelude. Our Encores are doing great and establishing well. We will get a medium-sized harvest this year and a much bigger one next year as they mature.

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The berries on the Encore raspberries planted last year are forming up nicely.
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Taken from the tree fort balcony, here is a look at part of last year’s planting.

We chose Prelude and Encore raspberries to offer our customers early and late season berries while our competitors have the more commonly harvested supply. Prelude and Encore were developed by Cornell University at the New York State Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. Prelude matures a high percentage of its fruit in late June and early July while Encore is harvested from late July to early August. Like picking paint colours, I have to admit I was also swayed by the musical names.

Raspberry cane planting primer

  • Site selection is key. Pick a sunny and sheltered location with well-drained soil with no chance of waterlogging or flooding, as on a slope or in raised rows. Our location is on gentle slope. Raspberries don’t like wet feet but they also have a shallow root system so must not be allowed to dry out either.
  • Prepare your planting holes about two feet apart in rows about six feet apart.
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75 of our 100 will be planted here. Each of those 75 holes were dug by The Handyman with a pick-axe and shovel. Because we are a small operation we aren’t too mechanized.
  •  Plant certified disease-free stock in early spring. Ours came from Strawberry Thyme Farm in Ontario and was sent to us by refrigerated courier. I tried to find a British Columbia source that could beat their price but was unable to. Prelude came early. Last year Strawberry Thyme had let us know that they were shipping the Encores but being Prelude I guess they had to come before we were ready. We had hoped to have the posts, cross bracing, wires and drip irrigation installed but…they will have to follow as the plants must go in the ground as soon as possible after they arrive as their dormancy will break and the roots could dry out.
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I popped the canes into a bucket of water while I worked.

 

 

  • Add a shovel-full of compost to the planting hole and water in well.
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Compost is king in our nutrient-poor sandy soil. I will top-dress the planting every spring as well.

 

  • Plant the crowns at the same depth as in the nursery.
  • Add more compost mixed in with the soil you have dug out of the hole and water in very well.

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The Handyman supplies me with lots of mulch from his chipper.

  • Add a layer of mulch to keep the weeds at bay and to help conserve moisture. I watered again once the mulch was in place.
  • In a week or so I will add some Alaska Fish Fertilizer and will continue hand-watering until the canes are well established and showing signs of life or The Handyman has had time to install all the posts, wires and drip irrigation. This should wait until he runs his marathon next week as post pounding does not equal taper.
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Rocks and more rocks…how much can we charge for a pint?
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View of the tree fort with the last year’s Encore planting and this year’s Prelude
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I will plant a drought-tolerant grass seed in between the rows to help keep the canes in their rows. The lawnmower will trim off the suckers in the grassy strips.

Prelude produces attractive, high quality, firm fruit that will taste amazing. I can’t wait although now that all the canes are in I’m starting to think about the hours of picking ahead and price of those pints.

IMG_0473.JPGNext up is the addition of 50 more blueberry bushes and a netting structure to protect the blueberries from the birds.

Money for nothin’ and plants for free: Propagating lavender

 

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“We had a lavender kind of love, so soothing and smooth, and if I could bottle up what we had, you’d want it all over your body.” Jarod Kintz

Lavender is one of my favourite garden perennials and it suits our hot dry Okanagan summers perfectly. I have a bank behind the house I want to plant up all in lavender which could cost several hundred dollars if were to buy them as plants from a nursery. I gave growing lavender from seed a go last year in the greenhouse with marginal success. It’s hard to germinate although I did get a few nice white lavenders to grow. I’ve since learned that it’s easier and much more successful to propagate lavender from soft-wood cuttings in the spring. This method clones the lavender so what you see (parent plant) is what you will get.

IMG_8030“Forgiveness is the smell that lavender gives out when you tread on it.” Mark Twain.

Taking cuttings is basically just snipping off a piece of an existing plant and placing in compost to grow its own roots.

Here’s how I went about it:

IMG_76831. Using secateurs, a sharp knife, or scissors, snip off a piece of lavender from the parent plant just below a leaf node (place along the stem where the joints of the leaves grow out of).

IMG_76852. Prepare your pot, or seed tray with free-draining compost.

3. You will need a rooting hormone or Karolina from Forest Green Man Lavender suggestion of honey as a more natural and easily obtainable “green” substitute. It is thought that honey may contain enzymes for promoting root growth. It is also a natural antiseptic and contains anti fungal properties — both of which are believed to be one of the reasons that honey as a root hormone seems to work so well.

I am conducting a very unscientific experiment and planted up half my tray with the cuttings dipped in water and then the traditional nursery-bought rooting hormone and the other half by dipping the cuttings in honey. Stay tuned…

IMG_76924. I stripped the lower leaves off each of my cuttings and nipped some of the top growth off with my fingers. The leaves will use a lot of the water in your potting soil better used for the new root production and will likely die off anyway. I inserted a pen (you could use any appropriate object) to poke a hole in the planting medium. You don’t want to use just insert the cutting without making a hole first as all your honey or rooting hormone powder will come off the tip.

IMG_7688.JPG5. Scrape the bottom of your cutting with your thumb on an angle to expose more of the rooting area.

6. Dip the cutting in water and then rooting hormone powder or into a dish of honey.

IMG_77007. Plant up your tray or pots with the prepared cuttings.

IMG_77028. Add a dome or plastic bag. Make sure to keep moist but not waterlogged and clean the condensation off the dome or bag periodically. Lavender doesn’t like it to be too wet.  I placed mine on a heat mat but a greenhouse or window sill will work. Rooting will take place over the next two weeks to a month after which the plants can be potted up in larger pots or hardened off and planted directly into the garden. Only about half of the cuttings will produce roots. Check for new growth or wiggle the plant around a bit to feel for rooting. Look for mouldy or obviously dead plants and remove from your tray.

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There are some things, after all that Sally Owens knows for certain: Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.” Alice Hoffman

I’ll let you know how my honey vs. rooting hormone experiment worked.

 

 

Naramata Spring Fling

Flora and some fauna photo essay of spring in my hood.

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Columbines…I have them in many colours
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Our magnolia
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Magnolia…selfie
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Sedum taking advantage of the longer days to bloom
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Ruffled tulip
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Cherry blossoms decorating Okanagan Lake vista

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Neighbour’s donkey
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Spring evening walk

Somewhere that’s Green Edible Landscapes or this farmer, your dell

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Located on Corbishley Avenue in Penticton, British Columbia, this new business is teaching homeowners the forgotten art of food gardening

In just a generation or two we have almost lost the accumulated food gardening wisdom of hundreds of years. The convenience of the big box food machine has made vegetable gardening seem like a complicated, involved secret too hard to attempt. Thanks to passionate, energetic young farmers like Michelle Younie, the lost wisdom is being passed on again. Michelle couldn’t have started her new Somewhere that’s Green Edible Landscapes venture at a better time. Fad diets are out for many, sensibly being replaced by simply adding in lots of organically grown fruits and vegetables to what we eat daily. Healthy eating is also coupled with a strong desire to do something about environmental sustainability, right in our own backyards.

Michelle can teach you where and what to plant in your yard with a focus on edibles. Her services range from designing and planning your edible landscape to building, planting and maintaining it for you.

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Michelle Younie greeted me with a warm wide smile and a fittingly dirty-hand handshake at her homebase farm in Penticton

She is a self-taught farmer with enough energy and passion to fuel three enterprises. Michelle grows all the produce used at Penticton’s highly-rated Hooded Merganser Bar and Grill in Penticton from her work as the farmer of Valleyview Farm. She was hired on as the farm manager four years ago after the Penticton Lakeside Hotel’s owner admired her first vegetable patch on her parent’s land.

Younie now also employs her dad, Don at the Valleyview Farm and her brother Ryan at Somewhere that’s Green, which also feeds the Younies from their family plot and a growing list of others on an email list who come twice a week to pick up their bounty.

Somewhere that’s Green Edible Landscapes germinated because, “I’m obsessed with this. It is really something to help people start their own gardens. When you first start out you make a lot of mistakes. It’s really a lost skill now and many in my generation grew up with houses with yards that never had a vegetable garden. I can help people avoid mistakes at the beginning and get through some of the initial overwhelming learning curve. Our Okanagan climate is so extreme and getting more extreme so learning what works well here is very valuable.”

Michelle also spotted a niche. “There are tons of landscape companies in the Valley but none that I know of that are focused on edible landscapes.”

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This Toulouse goose, a French breed of large domestic goose, was showing off for my camera during my visit to Michelle’s home farm

Michelle’s top three mistakes to avoid:

  1. Don’t buy topsoil. It’s expensive and unnecessary. Build up the soil through the use of compost, manure and green manures instead.
  2. Don’t go nuts buying seeds your first year. Try five different varieties and add more once you’ve mastered those.
  3. Don’t worry so much about weeding. It’s not as big deal as you think and not a daily chore by any means.
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The greenhouse is in full swing already with salad crops that will soon be sold to local customers and eaten by the family.

Michelle’s top three suggestions:

  1. Always plant in the ground versus a container if you have the choice. It’s so dry and hot here that container gardens need constant watering.
  2. Plan out your irrigation and use timers and other methods to water properly and wisely.
  3. Compost is very important in our silty soils.

One more tip we mutually agree upon:

  1. If you want zucchinis…only plant one or you will be giving them away or trying to give them away to other people who planted more than one.
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These happy chickens are fed kitchen scraps from the Hooded Merganser’s vegetables Michelle grows. They also are let loose on the farm to clean up bugs at various times of the year. Oh, and they make lovely eggs for the family and for sale.

Can you get rich farming?

“Ah, no. I want to be successful and am excited about adding Somewhere that’s Green into the mix but it’s not going to make me rich. I’m committed to this lifestyle and am passionate about sharing it with others. We now host three different groups of people a year to come and work on the farm for free and learn. I have an engineer friend who has come to work with me part time just to learn about farming. People are really interested in learning to be more resourceful and it’s such a valuable trait I think.”

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Bees are a valuable addition to the farm as is Missy, the cat, who does her part keeping the mice at bay.

Some of the benefits of turning your yard into an edible landscape include saving energy (no fuel used to ship and refrigerate), food safety (you know what you’ve planted and put on that plant), water savings (home gardeners use about half the amount of water industrialized farmers use), money savings and better nutrition.

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Michelle at work. She wants me to come back when things are greener in a few months. I’m in.

A properly designed edible landscape can look beautiful as well. Lawns are minimized and blueberries can take the place of the fleetingly beautiful azaleas. Hedges can be made up of blackberry and raspberry canes and boarders created with rainbow chard, peppers and herbs. You will attract more birds and wildlife to your garden too.

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Michelle and Ryan weeding in preparation for planting.

If we build it I hope they don’t come or I had a raspberry farm above the Naramata Bench

IMG_0634Undaunted by our farmer’s market plant sale fail, the Handyman and I pulled out the 75 pinot gris grape vine fail and planted 100 raspberry canes in their place last spring. A second 100 will be joining them in a few weeks to add to an existing 25 raspberry bush patch, 50 blueberry bushes and a smattering of blackberry bushes and voila, Carpe Diem Berry Farm is in business with about 300 bushes. Success guaranteed as I’ve got them pretty much pre-sold to a local coffee and lunch spot, a distillery and a baker. Any left over will be sold at the farmer’s market, a u-pick day or two or frozen for winter sales.

IMG_1397What could go wrong?

My confidence was momentarily shaken when a flyer arrived in the mail from the Raspberry Industry Development Council. Actually I was pretty horrified.

IMG_7287The included  2016 raspberry calendar seemed at first glance to be a handy planting, care and maintenance guide. It in fact detailed what pesticide or herbicide to apply when for what. Malathion, Capture 240EC, Black Label Zn, Ignite OR, Dipel WP… were to help me with hard to control weeds, crown borer, bacterial blight, weevils, caterpillars, leaf rollers, two-spotted mites, botrytis, rust, root rot, fruit worm, spur blight and the new scourge of spotted wing Drosophilia. The chart includes this warning (among others): “Some chemicals are toxic to bees.” Nope. My plan is grow my berries organically and herein lies the challenge.

Another, “If we build it I hope they don’t come,” aspect are the bears that frequent our property. This may require some electrification.

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Here is part of the plot prepared for the new canes. You can see some of the blueberry patch at the top of the photo.

After careful research, we decided on a symphony of berry varieties. The first to go in last spring, ironically, were the 100 Encore raspberry canes. Developed by Cornell University, Encore is the one of the latest summer fruiting varieties available. It produces large, firm, slightly conical berries with very good, sweet flavour. This spring we are adding 100 Prelude, also patented by Cornell. These are the earliest summer fruiting variety available. The fruit is medium-sized, round and firm with good flavour. The plan is to offer local raspberries when no others are available.

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Seems crazy to order canes from Strawberry Thyme in Ontario when we live in prime berry growing country but they had the varieties we were looking for.

IMG_4200After carefully preparing the rows by digging in lots of compost, we planted these “dead sticks”, watered them in well, turned on the irrigation, mulched the rows and waited. In about two weeks we were rewarded with new growth and happily counted the live ones every day until all 100 showed leaves.

We’ve been careful with site maintenance keeping the grass mowed and raked between rows and surrounding the patch and keeping our tools clean in an effort to reduce pest problems. Our well draining sight in the dry Okanagan should help with any root rot issues.

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Taken this morning, this photo shows nice proof of life after the winter
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The blueberries are looking very healthy also

Hope springs eternal. If you don’t succeed…try, try again. Never give up. Never surrender….Here’s proof…

FullSizeRenderIn a ballsy move, I’ve bought a case of berry trays.

I welcome any comments from organic farmers about how to keep all those nasty pests away from my raspberries. There doesn’t seem to be much online about how to avoid the scariest new threat to local raspberries of the spotted wing Drosphila with organic measures other than monitoring for their presence with traps and sticky tape. Stay tuned. I hope not to be writing another “One Broke Girl” post about our latest venture.

One broke girl – the tale of a farmer’s market fail

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Just after set-up at the Penticton Farmer’s Market

 

Carpe Diem Greenhouses, unusual perennials, annuals and herbs grown from seed purchased from French, British and U.S. seed houses, grown to be sold at the Penticton Farmer’s Market was a fail and and yet it wasn’t. Despite a colossal financial flop, it’s one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever embarked on.

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Packed to the rafters

The premise was pretty solid: The Penticton Farmer’s Market is thriving and teaming with locals and visitors and gets bigger every year. Gardening is growing by leaps and bounds. People at the market buy lots of plants. There was no competition for my rare and unusual niche.

The due diligence: Not so diligent.

Here is a partial list of the costs to get up and running as well as ongoing costs:

  • Seeds – $680.71
  • Soil, perlite and grit – $152.84
  • Greenhouse winterizing – $435 (Note, I’m not even including the cost of the greenhouse in this equation. I’m happy to have it for my own garden use luckily as it would skew my figures to the point of  bankruptcy vs. simple fail)
  • Pots, plug trays, domes – $354.28
  • Fancier large pots – $329.58
  • Heat mats – $139.00
  • Extension cord – $159.00
  • Plant markers – $42.00
  • Heating the greenhouse (electric heater) – $400
  • Lumber to retrofit our trailer to bring the plants to market – $200
  • Market tent – $230
  • Farmer’s market table rental – $30/week
  • Banner – $150
  • Misc. ?
  • Labour – love
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Getting ready for seeding

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Starting to load the trailer on market day

The fun?

Seed ordering is near the top of the list. Centaurea black boy, Kitaibelia Vitifolia, Digitalis Camelot Cream F1, Penstemon pinacolada violet blue, aquilegia chocolate soldiers, kniphofia traffic lights, nepeta blue moon, eurodium sweetheart, salpiglossis kew blue, aristolochia littoralis, blue myth, giant flower Edelweiss, Cerinthe kiwi blue…

My ambitious goal was to grow something different and not readily available at local garden centres that the keen gardner would like to try. I ordered from Plants of Distinction, the British branch of Thompson & Morgan, Seedman (U.S.) and a French seed house I’ve lost the receipt from.

Even more fun are the hours spent in the greenhouse. Radio, coffee and seeding. Radio, coffee, misting and watering. Radio, coffee thinning and transplanting. I would wake up earlier and earlier like a hopped up kid on a three-month long string of Christmas mornings. Opening the greenhouse door and then unzipping the plastic inner liner the Handyman added for heat retention, I could feel the humidity and smell the warm soil and eventually the blooms. Methodically working from one end of the greenhouse to the other, removing domes, misting, watering, these hours are some of the most satisfying times of my life. I smile now as I think of them.

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I used every square inch of space and had to do some gymnastics to reach all the plants
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This guy liked it in the greenhouse too and hung around for a month or two
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The wooden inner structure and added layer of poly helped keep the heating bill down in February and early March

Fun part three. The market experience rates highly as well. Waking up early to load and unload the trailer and set up was satisfying. After all the nurturing, moving trays and plants for hardening off, tagging and pricing to see them all displayed was an, “I made fire!” moment. My first customer was cool too. Having a line-up at one point was pretty great too. Talking about plants and growing and saying, “You need full sun for that one,” multiple times never got old.

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The Handyman helped with set up and take down

I sold plants and made money. On my best Saturday I cleared $400 which was the heating bill sorted. I learned that my local clients were very price conscious and many happy to plant run-of-the mill geraniums and petunias at the incredibly cheap prices afforded by big-box operations. On the other hand, tourists were happy to try something new and found my prices very reasonable. Keen to go into a second year, we took a careful look at the cost/revenue picture and despite my enthusiasm and the fun of it all, the numbers just didn’t add up.

The priceless experience:

  • A garden full of “left-overs” which were luckily largely perennials
  • Seed starting and growing healthy plants knowledge
  • Met some nice fellow vendors and locals
  • Life-long memories of my early-morning greenhouse days which I call up in times of stress
  •  A bigger greenhouse than I really need which is an appreciated luxury
  • Keen interest in affordable, renewable energy to heat my greenhouse in the future
  • A better understanding of Farmer’s Market economics

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The next venture…organic berries. We have 125 raspberry canes, about 25 blueberry bushes and a good-sized strawberry patch. Another 100 canes will be planted this spring. No heating bill, no ongoing costs for soil, pots, seeds, berries always sell out first at the market… Stay tuned.

This bud’s for you

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I was going to entitle my post, In an English Country Garden, but I gave that idea the boot. Garden writing can gush. It’s unrestrained, fulsome, lyrical, effusiveness can get pretty barfy. The photos don’t lie though. Visiting this 2.5 acre walled garden at Loseley Park in southern England is like thinking you have created a masterpiece in your yard (my Secret Garden) but realizing it’s only a poorly done paint-by-numbers…in acrylic.

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The stark walls give no hint of what waits inside

The garden is divided into rooms: rose, flower, white, herb and organic vegetable garden. We timed our visit just right, by luck not good planning. Every single rose on every one of its 1,000 rose bushes was open. Stating fact here, not gushing.

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The little shack you glimpse in the background is the Manor of Loseley built in the 16th century. It was bought by the Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex and has been in the More-Molyneux family for 500 years.

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Phlomis Russelania (Turkish sage)

IMG_4846If it looks like the gardens were deserted, it’s because they pretty much were. We were at Loseley for a piano recital by British pianist Emilie Capulet and the garden was ours for an hour in the early evening sun, perfect for photography.

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A bench in the white garden, scene of much wedding photography
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Sense and Sensibility mini-series was filmed at Loseley Manor
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The scent of the roses was heady…not being smarmy, again fact

 

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This is the pub we stopped for a pint at on our way…The Crown Inn in Chiddingfold

IMG_4788…show, don’t gush…

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Here are a few more photos in slideshow format…some are of the grounds and manor house…

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If you go, Loseley Park is south of Guildford, 30 miles southwest of London. The grounds, garden, tearoom and shop are open between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays in the summer. The house opens for guided tours from June to August.

My favourite fellow-blogger, Tara Dillard, used some of my photos from this post to illustrate a key point about garden design. Here is a link to her blog using my photos.

Secret Garden…If I show you is it still secret?

IMG_2826A labour of love. Lots of labour…lots of love. The Handyman built me an English secret garden over the past five years. I can’t wait for spring so I’m jumping ahead a few months.

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Early mornings in the secret garden is the best time for a coffee while watching the hummingbirds.

As the Okanagan is so hot and dry in summer, the best way to re-create England was to do so in a contained area that could have heaps of compost and good soil and be efficiently irrigated. The soil is very sandy here so this step was key.

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Our driveway is steep and curves making this delivery a challenge

My ultimate garden is one where you can shove your hand into rich loamy soil up to your elbow. I’ve been working hard amending the soil every year to keep it that way.

IMG_5415Handyman can do pretty much anything with some rental equipment. The garden is located on what was a hill. We, well…he raised it even more and levelled it before installing cedar fencing around the perimeter.

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He built this round gate in the garage in the winter and installed it the first spring we were here. I’ve toyed with painting it to emphasize the roundness but am still deciding. It’s awaiting a latch of some kind as well.

IMG_4410Stuff grows like Jack’s magic beanstalk with the good soil, proper irrigation and the protection from the wind. I’ve never seen anything like it. After moving from Calgary with its challenging gardening conditions its hard to have any discipline or order. I have a tendency to plant some of everything so it’s an editing work in progress.

Here’s just a few more photos for now. I’ll revisit the garden soon when the bulbs start blooming.

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The back gate is also round. You enter and come out the other side in your superman costume. This is another one of the Handyman’s inventions and used a bicycle wheel.
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A pond is hidden behind the screen usually smothered in sweet peas. It’s a mecca for birds in the dry summer as well as racoons and a skunk family. The fence keeps the deer out.
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The main round gate from the interior of the garden. This photo was taken before the garden was mature.
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Foxglove Alba started from seed in the greenhouse. I have a collection of various foxgloves, all ordered from English seed houses.
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Brick patio. Ladies head planter came from England from the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Wish I had a few more.
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The wind chime made with silverware is from a good friend. I’m in the midst of surrounding the patio with a low boxwood hedge.

“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that ‘she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow’.” Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden.

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Looking in on the garden from one of its “windows”
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The kid-sized blue chair was a garage sale find

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“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?” … “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…” Frances Hodgson, The Secret Garden.

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You catch a glimpse of the tree fort from the central “window”. The top cabin has a good view inside the garden. All the thyme edging was grown in my greenhouse.

IMG_2831“The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place.” Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden.

If you build it they will come

4G2R7399They came in buses, they came in cars, they came on bikes and on foot in numbers so high that they wore a path around the garden. They asked questions and wanted latin names for plants some of which I couldn’t remember common names for. They paid money to see the garden as part of a sold-out garden tour. They even came in the rain. And I loved every minute of it.

Winning the Calgary Horticultural Society’s best garden (medium-sized) just before we moved to Naramata was a perfect way to leave that chapter of gardening in a challenging climate for gardening nirvanaland. Our work here is done…

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Once entered in the annual competition, the preparation was military. Commander Edward Secateur Hands went into action. Weeds were the enemy. Not a single dead blossom was allowed to die in peace and go to seed. Edward’s Garden Centre loved me and I got help loading my car with annuals every time I went. When I started shop vacuuming the walkways my youngest daughter was ready to seek help for me. (She knew the phone numbers to call. After three days of having to wash dishes by hand when the dishwasher broke she called the Kids Help Line to complain about child labour.)

An intimidating team of garden judges came by with their clipboards unannounced and I heeded instructions to have no contact with them as they explored. The solution: Army belly crawl under all the open windows to eavesdrop. Busted by the Handyman. Worth it.

4G2R7381We were pretty chuffed to learn of the win. I often wonder if it had to do with pervasive smell of chocolate coming from the cocoa hull mulch that was applied on many of the beads. Cheating? The Handyman’s hardscaping might have had something to do with it. My stone potting shed, the tall pergolas, two ponds and curved solar bank were pretty cool.

The win meant another military campaign to get ready for the tour weekend and the media. More weird shop vacuuming.

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The two days of visitors was a thing in itself. They asked questions, so many questions. I began to label plants that people were really interested in and many assiduously took notes. On the second day a Calgary Horticulture Society clematis expert quietly crossed out one of my labels and penciled in “durandii”.

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Here are a few more pics. There is something about looking at garden pictures in winter when we are craving colour.

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My garden is in good hands. The couple that bought our house are gardeners. When we drive by on visits to Calgary it still looks pretty darn good.

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