Friday, July 29, 2022

Postcard from the road


We have been travelling for a week now, taking our time as we travel northwards through BC. We stopped to visit friends along the way, and spent three days in the Northern Rockies with zero cell coverage. It was a good break. 

Today we crossed into the Yukon and are stopped in the town of Watson Lake. We ate huge and delicious cheeseburgers at a local restaurant, then attended a show at the Northern Lights centre that featured the wonders of the aurora borealis. Stunning photography.  

I’m posting from my phone so I hope it all goes to plan. We’re seeing gorgeous country and meeting interesting people. And I’ve gained an appreciation for how vast our province is, and by extension, how vast Canada is. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Sweet Peas and a Road Trip


I planted a row of sweet peas along the back fence, where we took out the cedar hedge. Tendrils cling to the mesh fence and reach for the sky. Blooms of dark purple and red mix with pale pink and white. They are old-fashioned flowers, and have such a lovely scent. This is my first real bouquet of them this year. 

Petunias, sweet potato vine, and pansies from last autumn grow in profusion beside the front door. I love the contrast of cobalt blue and lime green. 

The garden is filling out and looking lovely these days. But alas, we're going to miss a lot of it, because by the time you read this we'll be off on an adventure. 

We're headed for the Arctic Ocean! It's a long, long road trip and we're taking five weeks. We'll be taking ferries and traveling the length of British Columbia, the Yukon, and part of the Northwest Territories. We've been planning this for months and finally, the time is here!

We have house sitters coming to stay, and there is nothing like having someone else live in your home to motivate a deep clean. That's what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks. 

We're taking our little Escape trailer, and that bouquet of sweet peas is coming along, as well. Its fragrance fills the space. 

Connectivity is going to be hit and miss along our travels, but I'll post when I can. What's the longest road trip you've taken?

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

July Delights


"Rebecca's World"

Living on an island has the advantage of ocean breezes moderating the temperature. This morning a little wind ruffles the trees I see from my window. A frisky-tailed squirrel just ran across the lawn. An airplane drones far above and closer to home I hear the beep-beep-beep of a construction vehicle in reverse. In between all of that, birds chirp from every corner of the garden, and a hummingbird visits the jasmine, now in flower. 

The roses are past their first flush of blooms, but tight buds promise more flowers in a week or two. Dahlias are beginning to bloom. Rebecca's World is new to our garden, and what a beauty she is with bits of white against the deep red. She's dahlia to watch because the balance of white and red can vary greatly. I'll be interested to see if all the flowers will be similar.

Last night I stayed in the garden until 9:30, weeding and cutting back. As the light began to fade I heard the birds sing their sleepy night songs and settle quietly. Blueberries are beginning to ripen and I've picked several bowlfuls to eat fresh and to freeze for winter. 

Tart-sweet raspberries are a summertime favourite. My grandfather used to own a raspberry farm and one of my first jobs in the summer was picking berries. On hot days, we alternated between the shady side of the row and the sunny side. I learned to pick them quickly, but not as quickly as my mother did, for she spent many summers picking berries. Nowadays, my picking is quite leisurely and the bowls fill much more slowly than the flats on stands that we used to use. 

Kim, from Happy at Home, recently held a giveaway for a lovely cookbook featuring recipes by the season and occasion. I love reading cookbooks and was happy to receive this one in the mail. Thank you, Kim. There are a number of recipes I'm looking forward to trying. 

This dish, not from the cookbook, was eaten here last night. A grilled pork tenderloin, marinated in a fig balsamic dressing, along with grilled zucchini and apricots, and served with couscous, went down well. Tim took leftovers for his lunch today. 

Although many of his co-workers go out for lunch, Tim has always preferred eating something from home - for time as well as expense. He often takes leftovers, so I cook enough for dinner to make sure he has some. 

A friend gave us a platycodon "sentimental blue" plant several years ago (thanks, Sandi), and I always enjoy seeing the tightly folded buds swell and pop open. They remind me of origami. 

Looking out my window once again, I see bees busy about the roses, and a damsel fly hovering like a helicopter deciding where to land. A white butterfly circled the fig tree then sailed off across the hedge to visit the neighbour's garden. 

Time for me to make some pesto for the freezer with the basil, bought from the market. Our own basil is miniscule and will perhaps be ready at the end of August. One can hope. It's a dismal year for the vegetables. The Swiss Chard has been nibbled to the ground, so I've netted it in hopes of preventing a repeat. Tomato plants are puny and barely flowering, with just a few fruit forming. It's a very good thing we are not dependent on our potager for winter sustenance, or we would become very lean. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

A Lighthouse Visit


Lighthouses have an air of romance and adventure about them, but the reality of life as a lighthouse keeper soon dispelled any notion of ease. Fisgard Lighthouse, built in 1860, is the oldest lighthouse on the west coast of Canada. There are few staffed lighthouses remaining, and Fisgard was automated in 1928. 

Lighthouses are models of sustainable living where nothing goes to waste. "Even bent nails can be straightened and meals planned a month ahead to that day of delight when a helicopter comes hammering down through the drizzle with fresh food and a fat sack of mail," says the author of Lights of the Inside Passage. 

Fisgard Lighthouse is now part of the Fort Rodd Hill Historic Site of Canada, and is an enjoyable place to visit, with lots of interactive games and activities for children of all ages. Across the Strait of Georgia, the Olympic Mountains in Washington State, USA, float above the clouds.


The lighthouse sits at the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour, where Canada's west coast navy is based. Whereas the lighthouse keepers who once manned the light had to row from shore, a causeway now enables visitors to stroll to the lighthouse.

William H. Bevis came to Canada from England in 1858, and became the second lighthouse keeper at Fisgard. He suffered from a long illness, and his wife Amelia and a niece often performed the duties of the lighthouse keeper. When Bevis died in 1879, the marine agent recommended that Amelia be appointed as the new keeper. Currently, there is a framed letter on the wall of the lighthouse denying her the position because, "it is against the rules of the Department to place Lighthouses in charge of women". However, the two women stayed on until the replacement arrived, and did a fine job of keeping the lighthouse running. 

I visited Fisgard Lighthouse and Fort Rodd Hill with my eldest daughter and Sadie. Here they are in a gunner's lookout. When we went into the lighthouse, Sadie and I played an abbreviated game of checkers just as lighthouse keepers from long ago might have whiled away long hours. 

Back at home, poppies fill the garden with pompoms of pink. The seeds for these came from my neighbour and they come up where they will each year. I transplant some, and others I let grow among the strawberries and lettuce. 

Our hydrangeas have loved the wet cool spring and are filled with beautiful blooms. I have eight hydrangea bushes and all of them were given to me (a few are self-rooted). The bush above was a Mother's Day gift from my children the first year we moved to Victoria, now 20 years ago. 

I am not a fan of orange in the garden, but a clump of day lilies (also given to me) pairs so well with another blue hydrangea that I let them stay. 

Summer is here, and it's very pleasant. Not too hot, but warm enough to take off the light sweater I put on in the chilly mornings. How I love summer!

Friday, July 08, 2022

Friday Favourites - Raspberries, Roses, and a Recipe


Outside my window this morning the sky is mottled with fluffy white clouds, streaky grey clouds, and bits of blue in between. Closer to home the fluffy pink poppies dot my garden beds. They come up wherever they please, and I love them so much that I often let them stay where they like, or I move them to another spot. 

Our strawberries are almost finished their first fruiting and now come the raspberries. All the rain has helped them this year. We're enjoying them with our morning granola and yogurt, and some have made it to the freezer. The grandchildren know where the berry patch is and pick to their hearts' content. Little Cora will gladly eat strawberries, green cap and all, if she picks them herself. 

In the house, bouquets of roses fill vases on the mantel and in the hallway. Such luscious colour and fragrance. On the deck, climbing John Cabot scatters hundreds of pink petals in carpet-like fashion.

I found a spot for another new rose this year - Litchfield Gate by David Austin. I can always find a spot for another rose bush. Litchfield Gate's creamy colour shows up well against all the green in the garden beds. 

We moved Falstaff this spring, and it has been late to bloom, but is much happier in full sun than in partial shade. Many roses are suffering from black spot this year with all the damp weather. Soon the first flush of roses will be over and I'm planning on cutting them back quite a bit as we will be away for awhile. 

A crustless vegetable tart (if one can call it a tart without a crust) made a satisfying dinner one evening, accompanied by salad. Zucchini, tomatoes, and onions are combined with goat cheese. I'll post the recipe on my other blog. I started that blog when my children were always asking me for recipes, and I've found it handy to keep them all in one spot. 

My plans for the day include going to pick up a new fig tree from our local grower. We have one, but it doesn't do as well in our short summers, so we're planting another. Then I'll pick up lots of tomatoes and jalapenos to make the year's supply of salsa. It's a cool day, so being in the kitchen will not be uncomfortable. 

Whatever your plans, and do share what they might be, I hope your day is filled with contentment. 

Monday, July 04, 2022

A Rose Garden Visit


Tiffany Rose - USA 1954

One afternoon last week I took myself on a spur-of-the-moment jaunt to Butchart Gardens to see the roses. They are later than normal due to our cool spring and early summer, but nearing peak bloom. About 250 varieties of roses fill the garden beds, with over 2500 individual plants. 

The Poet's Wife - England 2014

I wandered back and forth along the paths, stopping to admire and photograph, and to bend down and take a dedicated whiff of fragrance. Ahh, the delight! 

Rose varieties from the late 1800s through the 20th century grace the garden, with a grand selection of colours, shapes, and fragrances. Roses do not all smell alike, and some, like the hybrid teas, have almost no scent. How sad, for what is a rose without a delightful fragrance? 

Savoy Hotel - England 1989

I confess that it's the pink roses that appeal most to my camera. Pinks of all shades - from dark fuschia and wine to delicate pale blush pink. I love reading the names of roses and often wonder who chose the name and why. 

In my own garden I like to research the names of the roses and the history behind the name. For example, Boscobel is named for the house in England near where Charles II hid in an oak tree during the English Civil War (1642-1651). 

Parade Day - USA 2018

The Rose Garden is the only place where plants are labelled. A photo guide provides clues to other plants situated throughout the other garden areas. I take a photo of the label after taking one of the rose so I can refer to it later. 

Some names I find quite unromantic and unsuitable for a rose, in my own opinion, of course. There is one, a pretty pink rose, called Sexy Rexy that seems utterly incongruent to me. Do names of things matter to you? I confess that when I choose a paint colour for the house I fold the paint chips back so I cannot see the names of the colours for fear of being swayed in one direction or the other by the words. 

A small arbor and a now-locked gate once led from the rose garden to the Butchart family home. I find the tangle of vines and roses against the ironwork immensely appealing. 

Here is a view from above the Rose Garden to the house beyond, now a restaurant where they serve a delicious afternoon tea and other meals. The wing to the left of the main building once housed a bowling alley for children, and is now offices. The white roses along the main allee are just beginning to fill out.

Other gardens are filled with flowers, too. In the little wood cabin above the Sunken Garden, a clematis trails down from the roof. 

Colourful stocks fill the middle area of this bed, with bright zinnias beginning to bloom behind. The plantings are so masterful and I learn something every time I visit. 

I'll leave you with a view of the sweet peas that line one of the walkways along the rose garden with tall obelisks of sweetly-scented, multi-hued blooms. 

In my own garden the roses are lovely with blooms, although today they are hanging heavily after yesterday's steady rain. The sweet peas are growing madly, but no blooms there yet. After a few sunny days we're back to clouds and rain, and chilly temperatures. 

Days at Home

  Last night after dinner the sunshine illuminating the bouquet of peonies prompted me to grab my camera. I love the frilly elegance of the ...