Monday, March 28, 2011

Mason Bee Season

I had a dream about mason bee cocoons coming to life. Their imminent awakening is buried in my subconscious mind. These ladies from Mission were at the winter market selling their mason bee houses. These look like good systems. Apparently the toasting helps the bees use the pattern in the wood to find their way into hole sweet hole.

Once the spring mason bees are finished with the holes, you can put in these smaller holes for the summer mason bees.

These houses are cute and surreal, like little fairy homes.

Almost time to wake up, little bees!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gifts for the Birds

Here are some images from a workshop I did this morning on presenting nesting materials for the birds. You've probably noticed that the chickadees and crows are plucking up pieces of straw and twigs for building their nests. We made cornucopia free-form weaving sculptures to present the birds with wool.

I've been storing up natural materials in my porch for this project--some soft woolly lamb's ears leaves, lavender, amaranth twigs, fennel and hops. In fact I saw a sparrow in my hops plant today trying to free some of the dried vines.

Amaranth seeds will also provide a nice snack for some lucky birds.

All the yarn is 100 per cent wool. I also bought some raw sheep's wool to show the students how soft it is and perfect for cuddling those fragile eggs.

Some of the weaving was very delicate. The next step is to drape loose threads less than 8 inches long through the weaving so the birds can pull those out.

Here's one stuffed with raw wool.

We also deconstructed some old wool sweaters with large holes in them. (These weren't the kind you can felt.) What better way to give them a new life than to help them continue the life cycle of our song birds.

I also showed the students photos of the incredible bower birds who have an elaborate mating ritual that involves the male making a beautiful installation to attract a mate.

The male bower birds sort berries and flowers into piles to tempt the females. So we had fun creating little mini bower bird installations.

Eh voila! You can tie these into a tree for the birds to discover and pull out the stuffing. Try to hang them out of reach of the neighborhood cats!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Garden Journal Workshop this Thursday

I would love to see you at my garden journal workshop at Ruby Dog's this Thursday Evening! If you do come you can also bring print-outs or copies of family photos to incorporate into your journal.

Using envelopes and collage techniques you'll create a journal to hold garden plans, secrets, dreams, recipes and memories. Each person will receive local flower seeds saved by Lori Weidenhammer as well as herbal tea recipes and tips on gardening for bees, butterflies and song birds. Make a garden journal as a lovely gift for yourself or your favorite gardener. Gardening is only one of hundreds of themes you can use to create more journals at home.

Sample in the store
Thursday, March 24
7:00 to 9:30

RubyDog's Art House
623 Kingsway

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Planting Snow Peas

Let's talk about snow peas, but first, say hello to Mr. Rhubarb!

My neighbor gave me the gift of a few snow pea seedlings and they are the first thing to go in our brand new garden bed! She has planted them in cardboard egg cartons and the roots are already poking through the bottom.

Catherine told me to cover all the cardboard with soil so it rots. I removed as much of the cardboard as I could without disturbing the roots. She told me peas don't like to get their leaves wet and you must not walk among peas in the rain because their are viruses in the air they might catch. Sounds like the title of a Canadian novel: Walking Among Peas.

Some of the peas have natty copper collars to keep out slugs, but I ran out of copper so the rest of the plants are surrounded by eggshells.

These peas can climb up to six feet, so I've got to put some netting up to give them some support. Thanks for the snow peas, Catherine!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mid March Blooms

As the bees are emerging, the pussy willows are starting to produce pollen and the dandelions are just starting to bloom.

This is a good time to get out in the garden and dig the dandelion roots out of the soil. You're going to need a big shovel! I was digging out my strawberry bed to amend the soil and found some plants with nice thick roots. No need fussing about with the spindly ones, it's not worth the effort.

Put the whole plants in a bowl or sink of cold water, rubbing off the soil. Keep changing the water until it is clear. I just air dry the roots. Some people dry them in the oven to create a dandelion coffee. I'm a tea drinker myself.

Note: These roots are medicinal and there are contraindications for certain medications and medical conditions.

Time for a salad of dandelion greens, kohlrabi and radishes with lashings of my favorite salad dressing from Little Creek. This morning I had dandelion greens with my scrambled eggs and I just noticed David Lebowitz has a recipe on his blog for dandelion pesto. Sounds like a brilliant idea!

Rosemary for Remembrance

Rosemary for remembrance, for the people of Japan.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What Blooms on your Birthday?

This is what is blooming on my birthday. What is in bloom on yours? These last two days have been warm enough for the honey bees to come out and forage in the hazel and willow catkins and the lawns strewn with crocuses. On Saturday I bought a lovely Viola odorata roseata at the Winter Farmer's market. I'd never seen a pink violet before. It's got three lovely pink blooms and they are on my windowsill looking out at a brilliant sunny day.

(This is a gall a wasp has made on a rose bush.)