Friday, September 28, 2007

A Peace Lily for Burma

This week I watched with amazement and awe the courage of the people of Burma. Their struggle for freedom, justice and democracy in the face of a brutal military regime has moved me in ways I never expected. This peace lily is for them. May the Saffron Revolution march on.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fall Garden Clean-Up Underway

There is something inherently satisfying about cleaning up the garden. My ragged clump of iris caught my attention this weekend and the clean-up bug hit me. This is what it looked like before I started. My iris are interplanted with some run-of-the-mill daylilies. Once the iris are done blooming, the daylilies poke through and tower above the iris foliage. It's a great way to use one space in two different ways with no effort at at all. But at this time of year it adds up to double the clean-up. Not only are the sword-like leaves of the iris all brown, but the entire area is littered with the dry, crunchy daylily leftovers.

Luckily, clean-up is literally a snap. The brown iris leaves snap right off and I only need grab hold of the dead daylilies and pull. Here's the post clean-up picture. Ahhhh, I feel better already. Seeing the immediate results leaves me with such a feeling of accomplishment. I think that's why I really get a thrill out shovelling snow too. Now if only I could get this feeling to translate to housework!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Summer's Last Hurrah

Autumn is officially here and I'm glad for the change. I love this time of year and everything it has to offer: fall fairs, apple picking, roadside stands with fresh corn by the bag, colourful leaves, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and cozy sweaters. But there's one plant in my garden that's reluctant to concede that summer has been shown the door: the Jerusalem artichoke.

Every spring I pull out buckets and buckets of its tubers. The plant is more than happy to multiply. In late summer, I look at its towering coarse stems and rough leaves and wonder why I bother to keep any around. Come fall, I'm so happy to see their sunny faces. The Jerusalem artichoke towers above the rest, reaching seven to eight feet tall. And nothing beats its yellow blooms. Even on a chilly morning, just looking at the flowers warms me right up.

The Jerusalem Artichoke isn't exactly a great fit for my garden. And the plant has some problems. Its leaves are always dusted with something white (mildew perhaps?) making it somewhat less than attractive. Even so, I'm sure that when I'm weeding out all the extras next spring and cursing their prolific multiplication, the Jerusalem Artichoke is one plant I'll probably always have a few of. It says so long to summer unlike any other flower I know.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Tree Karma Is Gonna Get Me

Just last week I was feeling very bitter about suggestions that a local wading pool renovation be put on hold in order to save some trees. This week, I'm trying to save a tree of my own. I've got my fingers crossed that a massive construction project next door doesn't destroy the tall balsam fir in my backyard. The tree is planted about a foot away from the property line. Last summer, in preparation for their project, the neighbours mercilessly hacked back several branches extending over the fence and into their air space. Savages, I tell you. Today, with the construction of a one-storey addition and basement going full steam ahead, a backhoe shredded all the roots growing into their yard. Every cut, slice and dice has been painful to witness. I'm convinced it's payback.

It's almost as if the park trees I am willing to sacrifice for the sake of a new wading pool planned this whole thing. They want me to witness the fir's suffering and perhaps even its slow, agonizing death by construction. Nice try trees! I almost...ALMOST... felt guilty for a half-second. I would hate to lose this tree. I really, really would. The loss of any healthy, mature tree is a minor tragedy. So, I am doing what I can to help the tree de-stress during what is undoubtedly a stressful time in its life. Mainly this involves giving the tree lots of water. If I'm able to ease some of the drought stress on the tree (we've just been through the driest summer in 50 years here in the T-dot), I'm hopeful it will focus its energies on surviving the root damage.

This tree suffered root damage once before thanks to another construction project by the same neighbours. It produced yellow needles on its lower branches for a few years and dropped needles like crazy for a while. But this summer it was back to its usual robust self. I see that as a good sign. The tree fought back once. I hope it will fight back again. In fact, I'm counting on it. But this construction project is big. Massive. Monsterous. I don't know if the tree stands a chance this time around. I'm rooting for it and will be out there nightly with my hose. Maybe, just maybe, with a little human help, this tree and the resilience it has shown in the past, will stand the test of time. Or maybe tree karma really is out to get me.