Posted in lorieb.wordpress.com, nature

Early Morning Adventures

One thing I do not miss since I retired from my career as a medical laboratory technologist is the early morning wake-ups. Unless of course an early morning is the prelude to a vacation, something we are all just dreaming about these days. Although I have discovered since retiring that I am not a morning person, especially when it is cold and still dark outside, I have been up (literally) for some morning adventures lately.

As mentioned previously, I have been helping my seven year old granddaughter with her online school lessons. On the mornings her mother goes to work (outside the home) said granddaughter is dropped off around 6:20am. I roll out of bed around 6:05, although hubby is up at 5:50, so my last 15 minutes are quite unsatisfactory. Since the e-learning does not start until 9am, we have some time for some non-school related activities beforehand. After my morning coffee that is.

This morning, even before the sun was fully awake, we baked muffins and played the piano. Home Economics and Music classes: check. We are hoping to impress the family with a “concert” at Christmastime, but still need lots of practice.

When the sun was high enough in the morning sky to warm things up a bit, we ventured out for a skip (think “we’re off to see the wizard” skip/dance) around the block. Gym class: check!

On these walks I am always impressed with and inspired by the beauty Mother Nature has to offer. Sometimes I have to wait until my heart rate slows enough to snap some pictures. This morning it was dew drops and fog remnants that caught my fancy:

Tomorrow I will get back to my Gardens4u business as fall cleanups and lawn care are beckoning. As I reminded you last month, this time of year is the most effective time to improve the quality of your lawns. The heavy dew and fog like this morning’s are perfect for reseeding or fertilizing!

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com

Garden Renovation at Ruddy Shenkman Hospice

Recently Gardens4u expanded the front garden at the Ruddy Shenkman Hospice (RSH) in Kanata. I have been volunteering my (gardening) services at RSH for several years now, shortly after it moved to my neighbourhood.

Only the Good Die Young

This project has been a vision in my brain for a while; I just had to wait until all parties were onboard and permission was granted. As a non-profit organization there are always lots of hoops to jump through.

A few existing shrubs were left in place, in particular the burning bush which is gorgeous this time of year. Two large spreading junipers were trimmed and shaped, but will remain in the garden, mainly because they would be much too difficult (for me) to remove. They also provide winter interest as they are evergreen in our climate.

The first step was to mark out the shape of the new garden using a garden hose and black spray paint. My granddaughter was on hand as the inspector for that job…

Next, to save time as well as my back, I enlisted the help of Tim Driscoll of TD Small Loads who scraped the sod and carted it away.

When that chore was complete, we spread the composted manure donated and delivered by Ritchies Feed & Seed on Carp Road in Stittsville.

After the soil amendment came the plants, many of which were donated by other members of the RSH garden team as well as some of my neighbours. The large shrubs were also selected from and donated by Ritchies. I placed the shrubs and perennials strategically in the garden, still in their pots, according to their bloom time and colour, foliage shape as well as their mature size. A few tweaks here and there are always the norm before holes are dug and actual planting takes place.

The final step is to fill any blank spots in with contributions from my own gardens. Then a layer of cedar mulch (also donated and delivered from Ritchies) finishes the garden off…

I can’t wait until this garden matures, it should look beautiful!!

Posted in current events, health and wellness, lorieb.wordpress.com

Keeping Your Immune System Healthy

With a second wave of the Covid-19 virus leasing its germs upon us in this pandemic, it is more important than ever to keep our immune systems as healthy as possible as we head into colder weather.

My gardening business keeps me (very) physically active during the summer months, and I soak up lots of vitamin D, both important requirements for keeping our immune systems functioning at their best.

However, during the (too) long winter months here in Canada I spend my days freelance writing which does absolutely nothing for my physical activity or vitamin D levels. Instead of working in the sunshine and fresh air, digging, lugging plants and soil, I am indoors, sitting in a comfortable chair with my laptop.

Netflix movies are also more tempting on cold winter evenings, accompanied by a glass of wine and snacks of course.

When I was sick last February, we were just coming off a miserably cold and icy winter, meaning my immune system was probably at a low from lack of physical activity and vitamin D. My consumption of junk food was enjoying a winter high too.

I know it is hard to be motivated in our winter months to get outside, but I plan to keep reminding myself to do so this coming winter. Perhaps scheduling a morning walk with like minded neighbours is called for.

I won’t pretend I will completely avoid the high carb comfort foods, but I can limit them. Continuing my healthy practice of a hydrating and nutrient-packed green smoothie every morning into my gardening off-season should help too.

Posted in education, family, grandparents, lorieb.wordpress.com

Photography Lessons, It’s Never Too Early to Learn

As most of you know, I thoroughly enjoy the time I get to spend with my grandchildren, especially the one on one time. Each grandchild has their own unique personality and interests which are becoming quite evident in the oldest three. The two youngest are still babies; their turn will come.

Recently my two and a half year old granddaughter has shown an interest in photography. Since she has been the subject of the oh so many pictures her parents and grandparents have taken on our cell phones since her birth, it is no small wonder she wants to try it herself. She is very independent, and getting more so every day.

I thought I would let her “show me how” to take a picture on my cell phone, and I was amazed at how proficient she is at it. Sometimes. Eventually. When she remembers to keep her fingers off the lens. It is amusing and fascinating (and so cute) to hear her talk herself through the steps.

  • Find the red “camera” button
  • Hold up the phone
  • Look for Grandma (I was her subject)
  • Move my (her) fingers
  • Push the white button

These were her first few attempts at getting the fingers out of the way…

Practice makes perfect; she did get better as she kept trying…

She is definitely a quick learner…as well as very determined and perseverant, all wonderful personality traits.

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com

October blooms in Gardens4me

Who can believe that October is here already? Not me. Not Gardens4me either as they are still producing lots of blooms.

New this month is the silver lace vine I have adorning my garden shelves/work bench. What a mess this shelving unit is, another job for my fall to do list.

Another fall blooming perennial is the aster, a little soggy in this picture, cheerful none the less…

October blooms
aster

Also putting in a (late) appearance is my beautiful white and red hibiscus…

Roses are still blooming beautifully…

…as is tickseed. Did you know if you cut tickseed back immediately after it first blooms in the summer it will rebloom? This picture is my proof..

October blooms
tickseed

Also reblooming for the third (!!!) time this season is my weigela. It requires no maintenance to make it rebloom, just warm weather…

Annuals in containers are still eye catching, including a gorgeous pal blush pink hibiscus, even though we have had a few frosty nights.

One annual I was disappointed in this summer was the cardinal flower vine on my bamboo teepees. Although the foliage is unique, the blooms (other than a sporadic one mentioned earlier) have only just shown up in earnest….

The frosty nights have caused the leaves to start their colour transformation. From green to red with various shades in between. The vine on my back deck (or green room) is no exception…

We can’t complain about the advancing calendar too much though as our summer here in Eastern Ontario has been awesome. A tad too hot and dry for our lawns, but awesome for we humans. With one daughter-in-law on maternity leave, I was able to spend more time than usual at the lake with her and two of my grandchildren. With pandemic restrictions in place we were not allowed to do much else, so cottage life was the perfect answer.

The rain this week has been great for the fall lawn repair my yard so badly needs. The temperature has been warm too, so my Gardens4me blooms should last a while longer.

Posted in lorieb.wordpress.com, music, social media

Meet local talent Daniel Campoli

Check out Daniel Campoli’s portfolio to meet a young, very talented musician. Daniel not only writes and records his own pieces, but sings and plays the piano too. Listen to his latest single entitled “Broadcast From my Bedroom” here or on YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify or Amazon Music.

Daniel Campoli

I was just introduced to Daniel myself, virtually, through Facebook and was blown away by his voice and talent. It turns out he grew up, and his parents still live, around the corner from my brother in Ingleside, just west of Cornwall, Ontario. His mother and my sister in law have been friends for years. It is indeed a small world, especially when you grow up in a small town.

Social media can be wonderful for sharing positive, inspirational stories like this, compared to all the vitriol that seems to have taken over our media sources lately. I am always happy to share such amazing talent.

Daniel Campoli

Check out, follow and support Daniel on Instagram, Facebook and SoundCloud. I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed!

“Broadcast From my Bedroom” may be one of the most appropriate songs for 2020!

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 grandparents, lorieb.wordpress.com

Button Jars, are they Obsolete?

My grandmothers and mother used to keep a jar full of buttons. I loved their button jars, chock full of miscellaneous sizes and colours of buttons. Of course in those days spare buttons were much more useful, you never knew when you might need one. These days it is more common or acceptable to run out and buy a new piece of clothing from which the buttons are missing. Or at least a new package of buttons. Does the younger generation know how to sew on a button?

This recollection of button jars bubbled to the surface of my memory recently when my two and a half year old granddaughter was “helping” me sort through my sewing drawers.

She loves pulling out each tiny drawer to inspect the contents and is especially fascinated with the buttons. And loved the fact that most of the drawers contained at least one button. An hour later we had all the buttons, from each drawer, scattered on the floor…

Then came the chore of putting all the buttons into two (they would not all fit into just one) drawers and putting them away. That step took a while, she did not want to relinquish those buttons!

A few hours later she asked to go play with the buttons again. I think we’ve discovered her new favourite toy!

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com

Mid September Blooms in Gardens4me

Cooler days and nights in mid September makes for much easier gardening. One of my favourite perennial plants this time of year are the cool season ornamental grasses. There are so many varieties to choose from these days, but my favourite is still what I call “fireworks,” for obvious reasons. Its real name is Maiden Grass Silberfeder or Miscanthus Sinensis. Whatever you call it, it is gorgeous!

 There is not much new in Gardens4me this time, but many perennials are still looking dapper. For example, the roses, coneflowers (I love its seed heads too), geraniums and butterfly bushes just won’t quit, not that I’m complaining, and the Turtlehead I mentioned at the beginning of the month has produced even more unique blossoms…

Oh, and my hibiscus is finally making an appearance, a bit later than usual.  I figure my magnolia tree has shaded the hibiscus too much so I plan to trim a few of the lower branches from the magnolia to restore the full sun conditions in that bed.

I’m feeling left out; everyone elses’s hibiscus have been blooming for weeks now.

The coleus I planted are also still beautiful in containers at my local hospice and in my own garden. I love the way the vivid colours appear to be randomly splattered across the leaves…

 

With frost in the forecast a few nights this week, who knows what next week will bring……..stay tuned!

Posted in gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com

Another Gardens4U project

My latest Gardens4U project transformed a chinch bug infested backyard into a beautiful area.

When we started out, a patio bordered by a strip of daylilies was the only colour in the yard. The lawn had been nice earlier on the season, until the cinch bugs moved in during the drought we experienced in July.

before & after
before

 

The poor condition of the lawn made it much easier to dig out a new garden bed though, after outlining the new design with a garden hose…

 

I do recommend using composted manure to improve the soil in garden beds and lawns, but this last batch was terrible. Composted manure goes through a heating process so it should not contain weed seeds. Or mulch, stones and even a candy bar wrapper as this batch did.

Unfortunately this client was not familiar with the product, so spread all fifteen of the bags she purchased on her lawn. Now we will have to wait until the grass seed she spread sprouts (hopefully) before we can rake the mulch off, otherwise we would just rake up the seed. I did file a complaint with the manufacturers as well as with Canadian Tire where it was purchased. I am not holding my breath for a response, but it’s the principle of the matter, right?

Once the garden bed was shaped and dug out, the perennials and shrubs were introduced to their new homes. I chose flowering shrubs that will grow tall for the back and shorter perennials for the middle and front of the bed. A few recycled plants from my ICU were also added to fill in the blank spots…

 

The final touch is lots of mulch, in this case dark brown cedar mulch, my personal favourite…

 

A lush green lawn will enhance the garden greatly. This lawn is struggling to come back, but it will rebound faster now that we are done trampling it, especially as the cool fall-like weather is here.

Next season, when these plants have settled in, this garden will look awesome!