Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca

Nothing Screams Spring Like Pussy Willows and Forsythia

Nothing screams spring quite like pussy willows. Or forsythia sprigs. I love both, together.

I spotted some pussy willows at my local grocery store this week and took them to our local hospice to spruce up the containers at the front door.

A few (artificial) forsythia sprigs were added for their spring-like yellow cheeriness. I am not usually a fan of artificial flowers, but unfortunately forsythias are not quite in bloom yet, at least not here in Ottawa.

The red dogwood stems and birch branches were left over from the winter arrangements, left in for their additional colour and texture.

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 DIY, gardening, gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca, weather

Winter Evergreen Arrangements

As I was removing window boxes filled with perennials and frost damaged annuals at the hospice I volunteer at, it dawned on me that these window boxes would look awesome with winter evergreen arrangements in them. Evergreen boughs with pops of red for a splash of color against the white walls of the building and snow on the ground.

Thanks to the early arrival of winter weather in our area, the plants and soil in the window boxes were frozen solid. I brought them home and put them in my basement to warm up to enable the change of décor.

Once thawed, the first thing I did was remove the dead annuals. Next I trimmed the dormant perennials hard, back to a few inches from the soil level. This step was to allow space for the evergreen boughs and decorative trimmings.

Most grocery stores sell evergreen boughs in bundles this time of year for such DIY projects, as do home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot. I just take a walk through the woodland trails in my neighbourhood with a pair of clippers and a bag. Cedar, pine, and spruce boughs as well as pine cones are plentiful. Sometimes I can even find some vibrant red dogwood and/or contrasting white birch branches and twigs. If not, the stores sell those as well.

Your local dollar store will provide the finishing touches like artificial poinsettia, bows, red berries etc. Battery powered twinkling lights were also added for night time pizzazz.

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, nature

Mulched leaves, great for your garden

Mulched leaves are great for your garden.  They are an inexpensive way to amend your soil and protect tender perennials and shrubs from the wrath of Mother Nature over the winter months.  If your soil is really poor, add a layer of composted manure over top the mulched leaves.  The soil in my Kanata (Ottawa suburb) gardens was predominantly clay, so this fall treatment has really helped over the years.  Your reward will be visible next spring and summer when your gardens look gorgeous.

A previous post described my Toro leaf mulcher and blower. I have since become disenchanted with it as my (old) arthritic wrists cannot handle prying one attachment off to replace with the other to switch from a leaf blower to a leaf mulcher.  This season I purchased a Worx 3-in-1 model of blower, vacuum and mulcher that switches from one action to the other with a simple flick of a dial.  Very easy on the wrists!  No more carrying around a bag of accessories, another awesome feature of this new and improved model.

mulched leaves
3-in-1 action

As with any brand of leaf mulchers, you must wait until the leaves are dry before you attempt to vacuum and mulch them.  Wet leaves will just clog up the motor, resulting in a loud whining noise.  Wet or damp leaves also make for larger pieces of mulched leaves instead of the incredibly fine mulch that is yet another great feature of the Worx model.  Another thing to avoid while vacuuming and mulching is twigs or sticks.  They too will clog the motor, not to mention damage it.

With low overnight temperatures and lots of rain keeping the leaves wet, perfectly mulched leaves was no easy feat these past few weeks.  I found the easiest way around this dilemma was to blow leaves into a single layer in a sunny spot to dry before mulching them.

After discovering how much easier my new Worx model is to use, I donated my old model to the hospice that I volunteer at.  They need it for the blowing function to keep dried leaves from gathering at their main entrance.  If they do decide to switch to mulcher mode, it should not be a problem as the groundskeepers there have stronger wrists than I do.

Buy your new Worx 3-in-1 leaf blower, vacuum and mulcher today, you won’t be disappointed.

Please take a moment to check out my other blog for random thoughts on everything except gardening.

Posted in gardening, health and wellness, lorieb.com

What is a hospice?

Unfortunately, most people are not aware of what a hospice is until they have the need for one.  If you looked it up in a dictionary, a hospice would be described as a home for the terminally ill.  While hospitals are known for their goals of restoring health,  hospices are geared toward supporting (both psychologically and spiritually) a dying patient and their family.

Years ago I first learned about hospices when my friend was losing her fight with cancer.  A few times per week she attended a day hospice where she met with others in similar situations.  These outings offered her great comfort.  At that time there were no live in hospices in our community.  Today we are fortunate to have the newly expanded Ruddy Shenkman Hospice that currently has the capacity for ten live in patients as well as day services.

I volunteer at this hospice on the gardening team.  It gives me great satisfaction to help provide a beautiful setting for patients and their families living and visiting there. The gardens that were planted immediately after the construction were pretty boring, not to mention depressing, with rows of shrubs of which many were dead...

I spent a few days removing the dead sticks and replacing them with recycled perennials, then added mulch.  Much better…

hospice

These beds will look even  better in a few weeks when the recycled plants have a chance to get established.

Posted in current events, gardening

Ruddy Shenkman Hospice welcome in Kanata

Kanata is the new home of the Ruddy Shenkman Hospice.  The unfortunate fact about hospices is that no one knows much about them until they have the use for one.  I must admit to supporting this fact myself.  In 1991 a good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 37.  My introduction to hospices and palliative care occurred soon after, and as a direct result of her tragic diagnosis.

My friend Suzanne and I had many things in common; we worked together as laboratory technologists in a local hospital, we both lived in Kanata just a few blocks apart from each other,  both had three children very similar in ages and both grew up in the small town of Cornwall, Ontario.  Although her first “tumor”, discovered in her abdomen shortly after her return to work from her third maternity leave, was diagnosed as benign, a malignant tumor was found in her spine a few years later.  At this point she was given a mere six months to live, but through sheer determination, strength and courage, she lived six more years.

Throughout those six years we became very close.  More of what I would call an acquaintance or co-worker before her diagnosis, she came to be one of my closest friends after.  Within those six years our families celebrated many occasions together: the birth of my youngest son, the first communion of her youngest son, her 25th wedding anniversary, a few milestone birthdays, the new millennium, and more.

Throughout those last six years of her life, Suzanne often visited a hospice to meet with others in circumstances similar to her own.  I know the support, friendship, guidance and care she received there was invaluable to her.  In fact, she would schedule her other appointments around her visits to the hospice.

The recent arrival of the Ruddy Shenkman Hospice in Kanata, located just a few blocks from my home (and Suzanne’s) has stirred up my thoughts about hospices and what they offer.  Since I have recently retired from my hospital job and started a landscaping company GARDENS4U I felt it appropriate and fitting to contact the Hospice to offer my services as a volunteer gardener for their new location in Kanata.

My offer was met with great enthusiasm by Jennifer Lockyer, Volunteer Coordinator and Site Maintenance Manager at the new Ruddy-Shenkman Hospice location.  Although the grounds and potential gardens are currently covered in snow and a lot of construction necessary to complete the Hospice, my meeting with Jennifer and a tour of the portion of the facility currently operational left me with that warm feeling you get when a good relationship is forged.  If you wish to join the gardening team or have plants to share, please contact myself or Jennifer at:

                                                      Jennifer.Lockyer@hospicecareottawa.ca

I am looking forward to this new adventure and will be sure to plant lots of “Brown Eyed Suzannes” my affectionate rename of Suzanne’s favourite perennial Black Eyed Susans…

Posted in current events, gardening, health

Kanata Welcomes the Ruddy-Shenkman Hospice

The unfortunate fact about hospices is that no one knows much about them until they have the use for one.  I must admit to supporting this fact myself.  In 1991 a good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 37.  My introduction to hospices and palliative care occurred soon after, and as a direct result of her tragic diagnosis.

My friend Suzanne and I had many things in common; we worked together as laboratory technologists in a local hospital, we both lived in Kanata just a few blocks apart from each other,  both had three children very similar in ages and both grew up in the small town of Cornwall, Ontario.  Although her first “tumor”, discovered in her abdomen shortly after her return to work from her third maternity leave, was diagnosed as benign, a malignant tumor was found in her spine a few years later.  At this point she was given a mere six months to live, but through sheer determination, strength and courage, she lived six more years.

Throughout those six years we became very close.  More of what I would call an acquaintance or co-worker before her diagnosis, she came to be one of my closest friends after.  Within those six years our families celebrated many occasions together: the birth of my youngest son, the first communion of her youngest son, her 25th wedding anniversary, a few milestone birthdays, the new millennium, and more.

Throughout those last six years of her life, Suzanne often visited a hospice to meet with others in circumstances similar to her own.  I know the support, friendship, guidance and care she received there was invaluable to her.  In fact, she would schedule her other appointments around her visits to the hospice.

The recent arrival of the Ruddy Shenkman Hospice in Kanata, located just a few blocks from my home (and Suzanne’s) has stirred up my thoughts about hospices and what they offer.  Since I have recently retired from my hospital job and started a landscaping company GARDENS4U I felt it appropriate and fitting to contact the Hospice to offer my services as a volunteer gardener for their new location in Kanata.

My offer was met with great enthusiasm by Jennifer Lockyer, Volunteer Coordinator and Site Maintenance Manager at the new Ruddy-Shenkman Hospice location.  Although the grounds and potential gardens are currently covered in snow and a lot of construction necessary to complete the Hospice, my meeting with Jennifer and a tour of the portion of the facility currently operational left me with that warm feeling you get when a good relationship is forged.  If you wish to join the gardening team or have plants to share, please contact myself or Jennifer at:

                loriebulmer@gmail.com or Jennifer.Lockyer@hospicecareottawa.ca

I am looking forward to this new adventure and will be sure to plant lots of “Brown Eyed Suzannes” my affectionate rename of Suzanne’s favourite perennial Black Eyed Susans…