Posted in cottage life, garden project, gardens, loreeebee.ca

Wildflower Ridge is Blooming

Now that I’ve trained my husband to cut the grass properly around it, my wildflower ridge is blooming….

Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s lace is dominating right now; I may have to selectively remove some of it next season if it takes over the other wildflowers.

I love the white lacey flower heads that ruffle in the breeze. Queen Anne’s lace were my mom’s favourite wildflower, so they are obviously now one of my favourites as well as a sentimental touch in this garden.

Wildflower Ridge is Blooming
Queen Anne’s lace

I also have a patch of Queen Anne’s lace closer to the cottage interspersed with black eyed susans, my mother-in-law’s favourite. I love this random patch as it reminds me that both of these wonderful women are always nearby. In spirit only unfortunately.

Globe Thistles or Echinops

Thriving within wildflower ridge are the vibrant blue globe thistles, AKA echinops that I planted from seeds last fall.

Wildflower Ridge is Blooming
Globe thistle/echinops

Wild Chicory

Slower to thrive in wildflower ridge are the wild chicory plugs I pulled from the roadside on a trek back to the city. It’s a good thing I picked them when I did, this weekend they have all been cropped off.

A member of the daisy family, the pretty cornflower blue blossoms of wild chicory are quite common along the roadsides here in Eastern Ontario.

The chicory roots were only recently transplanted in my wildflower ridge though, so I may have to exercise some patience with them.

Wildflower Ridge is Blooming
photo credit

Not so Wild Cultivars

Mingling nicely with the wildflowers indigenous to this area (those mentioned above as well as daisies, vipers bugloss, milkweed, pink thistles, and achillea) are some not-so-wild, cultivars. These all love full sun conditions and are hardy to zone 3. Coneflowers, malva/mallow, yellow daisies, monarda, and even the recognizable leaves of a holly hock have sprouted from the seeds I collected and sewed over the past few seasons…

Collecting Wildflowers

I’ve used a combination.of seeds collected in the fall and root plugs from the roadside. For obvious reasons the root plugs offer quicker rewards.

To keep our local bees and butterflies content and thriving, it is important to choose native wildflowers (ones that you see growing naturally in your area) for your gardens.

Wildflower ridge is coming alive bloom by bloom; next season should be awesome!!

Posted in cottage life, food, loreeebee.ca

Bacon on the BBQ? Try it, You’ll Love it!

Do you love the taste of bacon (who doesn’t?) but hate the greasy smell that lingers in your house after cooking it?

For that reason, as well as to prevent the (non-air conditioned) cottage from overheating by using the electric range, I decided to try cooking bacon on our (outdoor) gas BBQ at our cottage recently.

The trick was to start cooking the bacon in a fry pan to contain most of the grease. This pan has ridges on the bottom, perfect for crispy bacon.

When the bacon was almost crispy (the way we like it), I removed it from the pan and put it directly on the BBQ grill (perpendicular to the grill rack to prevent pieces from slipping through the cracks).

I’ve tried the black silicone mats at this stage, but they get greasy and gross for the person on cleanup. Not to mention the grease accumulating on the mats is very flammable.

Try cooking bacon on the BBQ, you wont be disappointed!

Posted in cottage life, gardens, loreeebee.ca

Cottage Wildflower Garden Update

A few (cottage) seasons ago I told you about my plans for a wildflower garden at our cottage. This is an update…

The first set of evergreens (pine and spruce) we planted a few seasons ago have grown even though gypsy moths have persistently tried to hamper their survival.

Cottage Wildflower Garden Update
Spruce and pines

The most recent set are coming along well too; they love the full sun and lots of space to grow…

Cottage wildflower garden
Newest evergreen plantings

After a few arguments with hubby over what grass to cut (he likes the manicured city lawn look, I prefer a more natural look up here) we compromised with some of each. To mark my territory, I trampled down the grass to create a “line” he was not to cross with the lawn mower. You can barely see it on the right side of this picture, but he saw it and that’s what counts.

Cottage Wildflower Garden Update
Wildflower ridge…coming soon!

The area is not very garden-friendly, sloped with sandy soil enhanced (not) with salt and bits of gravel from the road.

Cottage Wildflower Garden Update
Wildflower ridge coming soon!

Unfortunately many of the seeds I spread the past few seasons migrated to the designated lawn area. The soil is very sandy in this neck of the woods, so removing the errant plants and transplanting them to wildflower ridge was easy.

Wildflower ridge is now chock full of daisies, black eyed susans, malva, white and pink achilea, Queen Anne’s lace, viper’s bugloss, and milkweed.

The milkweed attracts monarch butterflies. They lay eggs on the leaves which hatch into caterpillars (you can see 2 in the picture above) which in turn morph into more monarch butterflies.

Next to come (from my gardens) are monarda (AKA beebalm), phlox and flax, perhaps coneflowers and butterfly weed.

The next spot I plan to transform is the shadier slope at the water’s edge. Stay tuned for more details on that project!

This is a much shadier site, so will require some research to find suitable new occupants.

Please let me know if you can think of any other plants I can add to either site. I prefer natural looking (no city slickers allowed) perennials.

I am hoping the bees and butterflies like my cottage wildflower gardens as much as I do!

Posted in cottage life, loreeebee.ca, nature

What are Gypsy Moths and Caterpillars?

This story was posted last August…please visit the update at the end.

Gypsy Moth & Catepillar Damage

Gypsy moths, at least the caterpillars that morph into the moths, have completely defoliated many deciduous trees and devoured the tops of evergreens in Eastern Ontario.

The trees at our cottage on Palmerston Lake in Ompah, Ontario have not been spared.

What do Gypsy Moths Look Like?

First we noticed lots (more than usual) of these brown moths flying around our property…

what are gypsy moths

Curious, I googled them to see if they could be responsible for the defoliation of our trees.

Sure enough, the brown moths pictured above are the male gypsy moths.

The males fly around looking for the white, non-flying female versions to inpregnate. The females crawl on the ground, attracting the males with a sex hormone, after which the females crawl onto a tree trunk or any other vertical surface (including our garage wall) to lay their eggs.

what are gypsy moths

The eggs are enclosed in a oval-shaped, soft sac. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars crawl further up the trees to continue the destructive cycle.

what are gypsy moths
female gypsy moth with egg sac

Once we discovered what they were, my hubby went around the property scraping (the ones he could reach) the egg sacs off, letting the eggs fall to the ground for the birds and other insects to enjoy.

Perhaps we are tampering with nature, but the damage these caterpillars inflict on.our trees is incredible.

Here’s hoping the trees will recover!

Update

Fast forward to spring 2021…the deciduous trees have leaves and bright green, new growth is visible on the evergreens. Sounds good, except for the webs at the tops of many of the trees housing thousands of tiny caterpillars. Yuk!

Plan of Action

Apparently, simply knocking the egg capsules to the ground last season was ineffective. We should have destroyed them by putting them in a bucket of soapy water…

To try to break the destructive cycle of these gypsy moths, we spent the long weekend spraying the webs with soapy water.

Fortunately I have several of these sprayers for my landscaping business

what are gypsy moths

I purchased this brand at Princess Auto in Ottawa, but you can purchase a similar one on Amazon.

Stay tuned to see how successful we were with the soap treatment!

Posted in cottage life, loreeebee.ca, nature

Cottage Season is Coming

Cottage season is coming, fast. With increased COVID numbers and resulting restrictions, it cannot come too soon. Isolating at the lake is something we were grateful for last summer, although spending time there is always a relaxing, “unplugged” experience, regardless of what is happening around the world.

Ice on the Lake

A few weeks ago we visited Palmerston Lake to check on our cottage. We took our four year old uber-adventurous grandson with us to show him what the place looks like in winter. He was thrilled to walk on the ice and climb on the frozen pile of leaves. He was disappointed however, that the snakes and frogs were still sleeping…

This Easter weekend, less than three weeks later, we visited again to begin the annual spring cleanup. The grandson stayed home to enjoy Easter festivities, but I couldn’t help reflecting on how much he would love to see the ice breaking up.

It always amazes me how quickly the ice leaves the lake every spring. The property is now snow-free even though we had to park on the road and wade through the snow last visit. By next week the ice will be totally gone!

Cottage Season is Coming

Spring Cottage Chores

Even though we rake up most leaves in the fall at the end of each season, there are always some that are still clinging to the trees as we are closing up. That means there are still lots to rake up in the spring too.

That’s the downside of a heavily treed lot. The advantage of course, is the natural beauty and shade these trees provide in the summer months.

We use plastic bags saved from new mattresses to collect and transport the leaves to the huge leaf pile. These bags make the chore much easier, and fold up for storage between uses. Over the season the leaves break down, providing soil amendment for garden areas.

lots of leaves

Unfortunately, a cold north wind was blowing off the lake during this visit, much to the annoyance of my arthritic hips. I paid for that in pain on return to the city. Once the cold gets in my bones, the ache is hard to dispel.

Gypsy Moth Damage

Last year I told you about the infestation of gypsy moths at the lake. Apparently it was a record year for them in Eastern Ontario, affecting not only deciduous trees but evergreens too.

We have been praying that our trees will survive this onslaught. While the deciduous trees don’t appear to suffer long term, (their leaves return each year) the growth of the evergreens (spruce and pines) is much slower. The needles take much longer to regrow, if they do at all.

I hesitate to cut the damaged tops off these pines and spruce as that would alter the natural shape of the trees, making them bushier and rounder at the bottom. Instead we will wait to see how much regrowth they put out this season.

COVID Affecting Cottage and Campsite Rentals

Last summer Canadians stayed close to home, visiting local cottages and campgrounds more than ever before. We were no exception. With the heat wave we experienced it was a no brainer to isolate at our family cottage. While visitors outside our immediate family were not invited, we managed to get our sons’ families to join us, albeit separately.

Conclusion

This season promises to be even busier for cottage and campsite rentals as we head into a (possible) second summer of isolation restrictions. I’ve heard that campsites are booking up fast as families know to expect availability shortages this summer. If you haven’t already, you might want to get on it soon!

As spring weather warms us up, we relish the fact that cottage season is coming!

Cottage Season is Coming
Posted in cottage life, DIY, lorieb.wordpress.com

Lumber Shortage Slows Summer DIY Project

Anyone trying to complete a DIY project involving wood this summer knows what I mean about a lumber shortage. I’m not sure just how wide spread the shortage was, but we sure felt it here in the Ottawa area. Of course the shortage is COVID related, isn’t everything bad related to the dreaded virus these days?

Last fall, when we dug up most of our cottage property to install a new water pipe, we decided to replace and widen the ancient steps and base to our dock. We figured we could get them replaced before cottage season began in earnest.

Enter the pandemic, throwing everything and everyone into chaos, even the best laid plans.

Luckily hubby had some pressure treated lumber stashed away, remnants from our deck project several summers ago. I won’t be living down this (only) advantage of his “discard nothing” personality anytime soon!

We were able to get started using this leftover lumber, but had to wait (what seemed like) forever for the floor boards. I was finally able to locate some 12 footers we needed to finish the project this past week. Thankfully, our son has a large truck and could transport the boards from Ottawa to the cottage for us.

We finally completed the project, a few months later than planned. This base will look awesome next summer when the cedars are trimmed and a few of my specialties, planters full of colorful flowers, are added.

Next!

Posted in cottage life, food, lorieb.wordpress.com

Giant Puffballs, AKA Calvatia Gigantea

Recently we discovered a few giant puffballs on our cottage property. This is not the first time, but it has been a few years since the last (and first) time.

Over the years we have discovered lots of other mushroom varieties here at our cottage, but have been leery on consuming most of them. My cousin assured us the morels we found were indeed deliciously edible, not to mention well sought after.

I vaguely recall treks as s small child with my father to forage for the unique and tasty puffballs. I’m sure my older siblings have clearer memories, will have to remember to ask them.

The largest puffball this season was the size of a soccer ball, in fact we made sure to clarify the difference to our two-and-a-half year old granddaughter. Otherwise she would give it a good boot!

Remembering how fast they turn from spongy firmness to soft and punky, we decided to harvest the largest one. By the way, the cut surfaces of edible puffballs are white and smooth with no gills visible.

Hubby chopped a portion up, sauteing it in butter and garlic. I had fancier ideas, adding three slices to the barbecue grill with our dinner steaks.

Brushed with olive oil (to prevent them from sticking to the grill) and garlic, they toasted up nicely. Topped with salsa and cheese, they evolved into delicious appetizers..

Yummy!!

We have a few more to come. Soon. Does anyone have any other recipes or ideas to share?

Posted in cottage life, lorieb.wordpress.com, nature

The Simple Things in Life

Have you noticed that it’s the simple things in this crazy, (hopefully) unique, pandemic- gripped world we are living in that are providing the greatest comfort and pleasure?

I sure hope you’ve noticed! Six months in now, we (most of us) have been forced to slow down and reevaluate our lifestyles. Extra-curricular activities, travel and general running around has been curtailed, if not completely shut down. People are taking up cooking, baking, gardening, and DIY projects like never before.

These are a few of the simple things I have been enjoying. I guess I always have enjoyed them, am just appreciating them more these days…

  • Spending as much time with my family as possible. I am fortunate to have three grown sons, two daughter-in-laws, and five grandchildren that I adore. My husband says I glow when the kids are around, I guess that says it all!

  • Sitting on the shore of, (watching the wildlife), swimming in or flying across the surface of a beautiful, crystal clear lake. Cottage life itself is simple (for us) as our 3 bedroom, 1 bath and small kitchen are rustic, taking just an hour to clean. Add a fire pit and a propane BBQ and what more do you need, really?
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Posted in cottage life, loreeebee.ca, nature

Gypsy Moths Defoliating Eastern Ontario Forests

Gypsy moths, at least the caterpillars that morph into the moths, have defoliated many deciduous trees in Eastern Ontario. The trees at our cottage on Palmerston Lake in Ompah, Ontario have not been spared.

Gypsy Moths Defoliating Eastern Ontario Forests

First we noticed lots (more than usual) of these brown moths flying around our property…

Gypsy Moths Defoliating Eastern Ontario Forests

Curious, I googled them to see if they could be responsible for the defoliation of our trees.

Sure enough, the brown moths pictured above are the male gypsy moths.

The males fly around looking for the white, non-flying female versions to inpregnate. The females crawl on the ground, attracting the males with a sex hormone, after which the females crawl onto a tree trunk or any other vertical surface (including our garage wall) to lay their eggs.

The eggs are enclosed in a oval-shaped, soft sac. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars crawl further up the trees to continue the destructive cycle.

Gypsy moth egg sac (opened)

Once we discovered what they were, my hubby went around the property scraping (the ones he could reach) the egg sacs off, letting the eggs fall to the ground for the birds and other insects to enjoy.

Perhaps we are tampering with nature, but the damage these caterpillars inflict on.our trees is incredible.

Here’s hoping the trees will recover!

Posted in cottage life, lorieb.wordpress.com, nature

Because I’m the Mommy, That’s Why!

Over the summer months we have been watching several families of ducks travel back and forth across our waterfront at the cottage.  We are situated on a small bay, so offer a safe route for their travels.  If all is quiet next door, the ducks will stop for a rest on the neighbour’s floating raft. Their routine never fails to amaze me..

 

As soon as mom senses danger (hears any noise at all) she heads to the corner of the raft furthest from the perceived danger, wakes them up, then jumps into the water with them all following suit.

It reminds me of the phrase I used to tell my young boys…Because I’m the mommy, that’s why!

Watch this video of one such process. The ducks were resting in clusters on the raft when a boat went by, although quite a ways out from shore. Mom jumped in and the others followed, until they were swimming in a row. They swam under our dock, then settled in a tiny sheltered alcove for a longer rest out of my camera range.

I used to have a magnet on my fridge with the same cute saying on it, but don’t know where it disappeared to over the years. Perhaps one of my ducklings didn’t like it as much as I do!

Apparently this saying is quite common, you can order lots of items imprinted with it from Zazzle