The Eye Beholds the Heart’s Desire

Fairy Lights
Fairy Lights

It’s been way to long.  Way to long to enjoy stillness, feeling the breath move through my body, to look, to see what my heart desires.  The summer is spent.  Spent with many hours figuring out how to manipulate nature, to create vistas that impress.  What hubris, to believe that man can out-create nature.  The comparison goes something like Disney World vs. The Grand Canyon, or The Venetian, Las Vegas to Venice.  It is not to say that man-made delights are not something to behold, but more effort should be spent in conserving the natural resources that we so often overlook or only give a passing glance to.  So much we consider insignificant, is nothing less than miraculous.  There is such abundance to feed upon, that it is incomprehensible to me why so many are less than satisfied every day.

On a gloriously sunny day this week, I was able to meander through River Park in Calgary, Alberta.  I had nothing specific in mind other than capturing some lovely photos of a spectacular fall day.  Camera in hand,  face towards the sun, I headed down the riverbank to the water, a beacon that seems to always be calling me home.

Only a few short weeks ago, this same river, flowing ever so gracefully, wrought havoc, and in some cases utter destruction, upon our city.  I had spent many a day on reclamation sites over the summer that proved irrevocably that nature rules, and when does so, man and his self- made glories do not stand a glimmer of a chance of coming through unscathed.

As I continued down towards the river, I paid particular attention to how the indigenous aspects of the site fared during recent events. Mother Nature Rules! Designers take note…….everything that appears to be random, is a perfectly placed specimen, chosen for survival and living in symbiotic harmony with it’s neighbors. Nothing cute here. Striking, Bold, Strong enough to survive a raging river, and yes, enchanting. This is the REAL deal. Grasses and junipers creating an erosion proof mat, second to none. Although the trees took a bit of a hit, they are still growing, their lower chakras exposed, to any and all who care to view, unashamed of showing their stark beauty and incredible strength.

The man-made foot bridge, did not survive.

If you would like to visit River Park, there are three entrances. Downtown, Britannia, and Marda Loop. If you don’t live in Calgary, and don’t plan a visit, I invite you to walk alongside me, and see what I see……………..

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Why Knot?

 

Image result for images of black knot disease Mature Black Knot

In recent years the spring season in Calgary has been windy and wet, two prime contributors to the outbreak of black knot disease in the city and surrounding areas.  Owners and potential purchasers alike are in a fever pitch about the unattractive fungal overgrowth affecting their landscapes.  First let me give you the good news.  Black knot is not fatal in most cases.  Like the flu, if the individual is weak, and symptoms are left unchecked, death can occur, but rarely is it the case.  What is most distressing about black knot is how easily, and widespread it can occur, and how truly ugly in appearance it is.

You know what I am talking about, that “poop-on-a-stick” you see all over the park and neighborhood trees.  What you are seeing is called a gall, and by the time it is black and highly visible it is 2-3 years old and ready to spread ascospores to susceptible trees within the prunus species.  Caused by Apiosporina morbosa, or Dibotryon morbosa (same fungus, different names), it is an airborne fungus that requires wind to spread, and moisture (rain) to stick to the tender new growth on the tips of branches. This new growth is the only part of the tree that can be infected each year.  This is good news, as it provides a year to year and a half window of opportunity to prune, and therefore control the spread of black knot.  Galls begin to form the first year and become visible in the fall or early spring of the following year.  They are small, and green, to light brown in appearance.  This is the time to prune as the spores are not mature and viable until the gall is 2-3 years old.

Image result for images of black knot disease Immature Black Knot

When pruning the immature gall, cut 8″ below the knot, and disinfect your pruners between EACH CUT with a 1:10 solution of bleach and H2O.  If you are pruning a mature gall, some arborists recommend 12″ below as the fungus may have extended through the branch itself.  Be sure to burn or bury the branches immediately after pruning.  Spores can live in a pruned branch for up to 4 months.

Image result for images of black knot diseaseBlack Knot on trunk

In some cases black knot will appear on the trunk or other critical juncture on the tree.  In this instance, hire a certified arborist to remove the damaged tissue.

 

The best way to control black knot is to prune diseased branch tips as soon as evidence of the disease it noticeable.  Do not prune unaffected branches, or you will lose all your fruit bearing capacity for the year!  Be sure to check your Nanking Cherry,  Sandcherry, and flowering plum shrubs along with Mayday, Schubert Chokecherry, Amur Cherry and Sour Cherry and Plum trees for immature, green galls.

The winter here has been so mild and warm, creating a perfect window to eradicate black knot before the spring season.  I encourage you to prune on the next double digit day.  The spores that carry black knot fungus are spread throughout the blooming period and up to two weeks after. Best to rid your trees of black knot before it can spread.  Good luck!

What Happens When………..you start seeds indoors too early.

Scarlett, the runner bean, hurries to catch up with her cousin Audrey………..  I woke up one morning to find my runner beans gearing up for a marathon.  I got a little too excited to sow indoors last year……

Don't be tempted to start your indoor seeding too early......
Don’t be tempted to start your indoor seeding too early……

Goldstream Park – Vancouver Island, BC

Hangin Around
Hangin Around
Scale
Scale

 

Wet Rock
Wet Rock

Anyone who reads this blog knows that there are two places I consider holy, Mexico, and Vancouver Island, BC.  I never tire of visiting and seeing something new and extraordinary every time I visit.  I also love that both places afford me sanctuary from the endless monotony of the prairie winter.  I am writing this post tonight so you also, can have a break from the dirty, icy vistas of winter.

This fall my friend Jill and I spent a pleasant day visiting Goldstream Park, just outside Victoria, BC.  Twenty minutes and you are in a land before time.  There is a lot of information about the park on the internet and I will post links, I promise!  From the park you can hike a mountain (Mt. Finlayson), see a waterfall, and observe a salmon run every fall.  What a verdant, ancient and sacred space this park is.  I found my imagination heightened and felt the interconnection  between sea, soil, and sky.  Come and walk the path to the waterfall and back with me and Jill.

Jill
Jill

View to the Top
View to the Top
Mirror, Mirror
Mirror, Mirror

Jill was paying proper homage to the beauty and serenity of the place by engaging in an impromptu yoga practice and meditation.  In the midst of all this quiet, a small rockslide did come, scaring both of into moving on- quickly.  I was amazed at how interesting a tree trunk could be, given a little creative license.

Dinosaur Foot
Dinosaur Foot
Rockin' Wood
Rockin’ Wood
Ursula
Ursula
Moray
Moray
Still Dancing
Still Dancing
Fuzzy Wuzzy
Fuzzy Wuzzy
Elf House
Elf House
The original Camo print
The original Camo print
Oh Canada!
Oh Canada!
Moth Man
Moth Man

There was so much more to see and do than our brief visit allowed. For more information about Goldstream Park visit; env.gov.bc.ca, http://www.goldstreampark.com/.

Snow Damaged Trees and Shrubs

Snapped
Snapped
What a week of crazy weather we have had here in Calgary! This morning minus 4, next week, 22 above. Welcome to gardening beneath the arch, or as it is most commonly referred to as The Chinook Zone. One thing we can always predict, is the unpredictability of the weather here in Cowtown and surrounding regions. This freak snowstorm has wrought havoc with electrical lines and caused considerable damage to many trees and shrubs. I just wanted to take a minute and talk about what you can and should do regarding any damage to your landscape. I have learned on the job just how attached owners become to their trees. I can relate as I have lost a 20 year old tree in this mess myself.

So, what to do? First take a careful inventory of damages. If you live in an area where the power lines are above ground, please make sure that the area is safe and no lines are down. Elms, poplars, and evergreens typically experience the worst damage. If there are loose and dangling branches, exercise caution walking below. Resist temptation to just tear down any dangling branches to avoid further injury to the tree. If the tree is young and you have the tools, prune judiciously, bearing in mind what the tree will look like in a couple of years. Plan your cuts as much a possible to help the tree grow back into a pleasing shape. This could take a couple of years, depending upon the damage. If your damages are extensive; broken leaders, branches that very long and heavy, requiring more than one cut, please call an arborist to assess the viability of the tree and to execute the pruning. You are more likely to save the tree with the help of a professional who can brace and cable branches if necessary.

Down n Out
Down n Out

Stand back from your tree or shrub and gently loosen snow with a broom. You don’t want a branch to fall and knock you out in the process! Check evergreens carefully, as their damage is not as evident, the damaged branch remains green and you would not notice it until spring. Damaged trees and shrubs are more vulnerable to disease and therefore it is wise to take care of pruning as soon as possible. In some cases, arborists are able to save branches and leader trunks if the repair occurs before the wood dries out.
Do not use pruning pastes after cuts- they can actually impede the healing of wound. If you are uncertain whether to paste, check with an arborist.

Beaten
Beaten

Most woody perennial shrubs can bear a severe pruning if necessary, but one third of the current growth is safe for all, and can spur some rejuvenation, which is actually good for older shrubs.

Next week, when the temperatures return to normal, you will find most of your landscape will as well. Don’t be too quick to dispose of trees and shrubs that are damaged. Work with them and you will find most will come back next year none the worse for wear. In the meanwhile, visit YouTube and check out some of the great pruning video tutorials, sharpen and oil your pruners, and start planning next weekend’s BBQ!
Calgary is offering free disposal of branches at its landfills. Thank You City of Calgary.

Call theyardtherapist……….

Hi folks,

Just putting the word out that I am now accepting clients for garden design, tree selection and care, as well as custom planters, in Calgary, AB and surrounding areas.  Perfect for the DIY client that wants to garden, but is unsure of what to plant, or where to plant it.  Also ideal for contractors requiring bed design. 

Please contact Wanda Neal-Yorke, theyardtherapist, at Nature Maiden Design, 403-837-9980 wnealyo@gmail.com.

Live life in Colour!

Wanda

What to Expect, When you are Expecting………Spring!

I am expecting again. It is mid-March and I am expecting… Spring! I am so done with blowing snow, heart-pounding drives across the icy city streets, and even the pleasant cocooning indoors with a bottle of wine, home-made soup, and games nights with family and friends. I want to be OUTSIDE, smelling freshly cut grass, feeling the soft caress of a warm breeze, and the lazy sounds of bees burrowing into the riotous blossoms in my garden. I can smell BBQ, and see the smoke rising from the grill as I invariably burn something…….. A slightly burnt BBQ steak would be like manna from Heaven right about now. I have learned that spring never gently creeps upon us on the prairies. Sometimes, it never drops by at all, and we dive headlong into summer overnight. That being the case, what does a gardener do when the doldrums strike, and spring feels like it will never arrive?
Plan. Dream. Start seeds indoors. Go to Garden Shows. Visit Garden Centers.

Last week I went to Sunnyside Garden Centre in NW Calgary, to check out the trends for 2014. I was not disappointed! I recommend you start to build your basic themes and colour palettes now, because it is the BIG box of Crayola’s this year. With so many colours, hues, textures, and themes to choose from, time will be needed to determine which way you want to go. From natural woods to shiny Kool-Aid, it is all there. Romantic, check. Modern, check. Classic, check. Whimsical, likewise, check. I have lots of pictures to share with you! Two of the most exciting trends are the lighted planters and the fire pit tables.

lighted planter
lighted planter
Fire table
Fire table

When it comes to planters, anything goes……hundreds of colours and sizes available.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Check out these whimsical additions to your garden:Neat things.......Butterfly TableBirdbathPretty Glass Garden Globes
Fun and funky storage:Personalise your storagePersonal Favorite!

If you are a local, plan on attending the Calgary Horticultural Society’s annual Garden Show, held at Spruce Meadows, April 12-13. With over 50 exhibitors, free activities, and the Blue Flame Kitchen demonstrating what to make out of all those lovely, organic vegetables you are going to harvest this fall, this is a can’t miss event. To learn more about the Garden Show or purchase tickets online, visit http://www.calhort.org. Better yet, become a member and enjoy discounts and expert advice regarding all things horticultural. It is amazing what you can grow in the Chinook zone when you know how!

Start your seeds indoors. While at Sunnyside, I checked out all the seed starting products. You can’t fail, whatever level your expertise, as they have everything to ensure success. Take a look:Heat accelerator matsnew beginningsFour Easy StepsOld School