Summer still simmers, out at Colony Farms

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Chrome & Petal Perfection

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Capturing Summer

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Dancing in the Rain, out at Burnaby’s Village Museum

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We’ve spent much of the past week digging out, moving and building our new plots at the Colony Farms Community Gardens. It’s been hard work whipping the garden into shape, but it will pay off in produce this summer making it well worth all that extra effort. The long weekend was no different with Michael & the kids pitching in to replace old rotted beds and build a greenhouse to house the tomatoes. Pictures from the big transformation will come another day.

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By Victoria day we were in need of a break. The gods must have agreed, as the sky opened up that morning washing out our plans for the garden plot. Always willing to turn a negative into a positive we decided to escape the area and head out to Burnaby’s Village Museum for some old timey fun and a ride on the Carousel.

Watremark_DSC_7154Watremark_DSC_7297It was a nice break in our week and fun for the whole family.

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The Treasures of VanDusen Gardens

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As far as spring traditions go in Vancouver, there’s one that can’t be beat. Like clockwork on the Last Sunday of April a steady line of gardeners grow. Dressed in their finest rubber boots and windbreakers, prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them. They are ready for the VanDusen Botanical Gardens Plant Sale!

The wait is long, with the front of the line showing up hours before the gates open. A smart move as the back of the line winds through the parking lot, spilling out onto Oak street. Huddled under hoods & umbrellas to avoid the rain, these plant geeks use their time to pour over the sale’s catalog. Highlight their must have, gotta gets & oh boy did you see?!

The reward for their patience isn’t tickets to a rock concert or the newest and latest phone, but rather an opportunity to get ahead of the pack & get their pick of plants before the thousands of anxious gardeners fill in behind them.

How do I know these truths? Because I am one of them. I top the list of the eager, the prepared and the most enthusiastic plant geeks out there, and I’m proud of it!

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Once the sale has opened I race in with the others to find a breathtaking sight. A sea of unique & rare plants stacked neatly on tables all across the great lawn. Manned by an army of volunteers & Master Gardeners. They wait, ready and prepared to help their customers demystify those Latin names and plant conditions while scoring a killer deal for their gardens this season.

Once my cart is full (and that REALLY doesn’t take long) I make use of their hold section and head back to the sale with my camera to see what everyone else is buying. I love watching gardeners use their creativity and determination to load their carts and bins with more plants then you could imagine.

The best part (Besides the plants of course) are the smiles. Gardeners are a very particular type of people. Always willing to pitch in and help carry your load, grab you a plant or show you where they found theirs. It’s always a pleasure to look around the sale and see all of the happy customers, faces full of grins and quiet pride.

After people watching for a while and with my hold tickets saftley tucked away, I took the garden up on its once a year free admittance and went for a garden walk.

While all of Vancouver’s gardens are beautiful in the spring, no spot is more captivating  to my lens than VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Blending richly planted landscapes, thought provoking art exhibits and endless education opportunities, the garden offers more than just an escape from urban sprawl. It offers a chance to re connect with nature.

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The rain came and went, bringing with it the fresh aroma of spring. It didn’t seem to bother the gardens guest. All across the garden families and friends were wandering the paths, taking in the pleasures of spring. I wasn’t the only one being encouraged around another corner with the warm sprinkle of rain and the allure of vibrant spring blooms.

It was as if we’d stepped into a painting.

Watremark_Vandusen mosaicWith a flush of new foliage emerging in the canopy above Heron lake, the Maples have begun to fill out. It was under those graceful arms that I saw one of VanDusen’s newest families. A pack of goslings and their Mom out for a swim. Looking for bugs while gliding across the lake, they spent most of their time poking their beaks under the lily pads while showing off for the garden visitors. Such fun, I stayed to watch for a while.

As I continued on my garden walk, poking into flower beds and keeping my eyes open for turtles, I found another family of ducks navigating the creek that leads from Livingstone Lake to Cypress Pond. I watched with a group of ecstatic children as the goslings followed their Mom right over a waterfall. What spunky little puddle jumpers!

At the bottom of the waterfall, they made quite a ruckus as they came upon a turtle sunning itself on the rocks. The turtle made no mind of these exuberant young ducks. Although I’m sure he was rolling his eyes and muttering, ‘teenagers’ under his breath.

Goslings….. it seems they’re thrill seekers. ;) Who knew?!

The gardens were a great place to spend the day after a long wait in line at the Plant Sale. When I was finished chasing after fuzzy little ducklings I made my way back to the Great Lawn, picked up my holds and paid for my plants at the cashier.

It was another spectacular day to be in the garden.

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Wordless Wednesday: Dryopteris Marginalis Leather Wood Fern

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The Perfect Hideaway: Harrison Hot Springs

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I took escape earlier this month to the relaxing & beautiful Harrison Hotsprings Resort just an hour & a half outside of Vancouver. Here My Mom & I spent quality time together soaking in the serenity. Child free, even if only for a few days.

Between the coffee & cocktails, the pizza/movie night & the elegant fine dining of the Copper Room, these are a few images captured by my lens.

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What a fabulous time. Let’s do it again soon Mom. <3

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Rain Drops & Petals

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A few rainy day scenes captured around Port Moody last week. The city was saturated in rain drops & flower petals. Spring is here!

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The Chafer Challenge: Got Lawn?

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There’s been an undeniable ugliness creeping through the Tri Cities this spring. Lawns across Coquitlam & Port Coquitlam have been pulled, dug, rolled, and thrown about. It is awful, and a tell tale sign of a European Chafer Beetle infestation.

How did they get here?

Although not Native to the area, the European Chafer Beetle has been in the lower mainland for over a decade. First spotted in New Westminister, then Vancouver & parts of Burnaby. They showed up in our neighborhoods late last summer having hitched a ride in a large movement of soil. Possibly brought in on one of the many large trucks of soil used though out the terraforming projects surrounding the Port Mann bridge/ Trans Canada Highway expansion. Chaffer Beetles love to travel covertly. Once they’re in an area they spread and take over lawns.

The Damage Done

I know what you’re thinking. What kind of beetle causes damage like that? I mean common, it must have radioactive super powers or something, right?  No, something a little more basic is at play. Simple animal instinct. The Chaffer Beetle eats on the roots of your grass, causing the grass to feel spongy from the chafer’s tunneling below. This damage to the turf is increased due to rodents, skunks, raccoons & birds literally diggin in for a feast. Despite the damage, your helpful forrest friends are protecting the lawn by trying to stamp out an invasive species.

Go team crows!

Do not remove your soil. I repeat, DO NOT remove your soil.

You will only aid in the transfer of this pest into other areas. Grubs are inclined to feed on turf with weak short root system. So grow a healthy and vigorous lawn by starting a spring & fall maintenance routine. Along with regular aeration, dethatching & fertilizing you should keep your grass long. Set the lawnmower to one of the highest settings.  This will keep you grass green and lush. It is also recommended that whenever possible you grasscycle, leaving the clippings on the lawn. This will overseed your lawn while maintaining top turf health.

Chafer calendar

Chafer’s complete their life cycle in a year which leads to rapid population explosions. They key to controlling them is maintaining quality soil and turf conditions while understanding their lifecycle. Spring may be the time for lawn care, but summer is the time to stamp out the next generation of Chafers. This is when the pupa turn into a beetle & takes flight. They return in the 2-3 week of July to lay eggs under the turf. In this time further action may be required.

The Fix 

The best solution & prevention against European Chafer Beetles is good lawn health. In extreme cases or near high traffic areas replacement of turf with other ground covers or landscaping materials may be a better solution. Saving you time & grief. If Chafer problems persist in your lawn with more than 5-10 grubs found per square foot, then chafer control may be necessary

  • In late June nematodes (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) can be purchased from your local independent nursery, this way you’ll have them ready for use in July.
  • In the 3rd week of July prep your lawn by watering it well. This is best to do the night before you apply the nematodes.
  • Apply nematodes on your lawn at a rate of 70,000 per square foot, or 750,000 per square metre. (Approximately 100 million nematodes should cover a 33 × 45 foot lawn.)
  • Keep the soil moist for a week after applying the nematodes to ensure the best results.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Good news! Fellow Master Gardeners report that while New Westminister lawns were the first to fall to the Chafer, after years of careful care and maintenance their lawns are now returning to their former glory. So hold hope, your lawns glory days may still be ahead.

More Chafer Tips:

The Canadian Nursery Landscape Association

The Ministry of Agriculture

City of Coquitlam

The City of Vancouver

Steve Whysall’s column in the Vancouver Sun

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Eagle Spotting along the Pitt

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Watremark_DSC_3070I took a walk along the Pitt River the other day with my camera. The skies were dark and brooding, which sounded just about perfect. I could do without the frequent bursts of rain, but nothing beats a moody skyline with gorgeous views like this.Watremark_DSC_3072Watremark_DSC_3017Watremark_DSC_3076Watremark_DSC_3037Watremark_DSC_3158Watremark_DSC_3213Watremark_DSC_3097Just as I decided it was too wet to play, a visitor arrived. When I turned the corner and poked my lens up I realized, indeed there was more than one Bald Eagle just hanging above my head. There was a pair. I followed them as they danced through the trees. Here’s a few captures from my misadventures.

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