Sunday, November 25, 2012

Its November

I always swore if I started a blog, I would be consistent and write twice a month.  I broke my rule this fall.  To some degree I have an excuse, which I will explain, but I am also a bit of a perfectionist in that I think I have to have my blog perfect every time.  I don't know why, because as I look over on the window sill in my office, there is a very large layer of dust, and during gardening season in the spring, the house can get bombed.

After 14 years, since my daughter was born, I went back to a full time job (2 yr term), outside the home (and nursery).  I had been thinking the last few years of finding a part time job, perhaps back at the AC (yes we can still call it that) where I had worked before.  A job came up late winter, early spring that I applied for and received an interview, but after hearing nothing for, literally months, I figured, I didn't get it, but at the end of July, I received a call (government hiring freeze) and went to work mid August.

What pulls her back to work, what about the Nursery??

I am working at the Christmas Tree Research Centre  as a Research Assistant.  I have been hired to run the Tissue Culture Lab (which I have had previous experience with) and to assist a researcher in Molecular Breeding (which I have no experience in.  Will learn).

I have a back round in Christmas Trees as I grew up on a Christmas Tree Farm in New Germany, NS.  Andrew and I still shear a few trees for ourselves, family and friends on our property  in Clifton, NS. 

In the fall, I make wreaths and centrepieces (see previous blogs), and for the past few years have been making wreaths for our local 4-H club as a fundraiser.  I had to give up the 4-H fundraiser wreath part, as I could not handle making that many, but I kept my regular customers  and we still do centrepieces for  4-H and Christmas Index on the first Saturday of December.

The job is very interesting, and keeps me very busy.  Plant propagation has all ways  been one of my passions and as I put my resume together, I realized that though out the years I have been able to keep my fingers in it one way or another.  Tissue culture is just another way of propagating plants.

Back to the Research Centre.  One of the issues in the Christmas Tree industry is needle loss in the trees after they are cut.  It is not usually a problem in local markets where the trees are cut, in your house within a few days, in a good stand that holds lots of water, and watered regularly.  The concern is more for shipped greater distances.  It is surprising how much it has to do with the individual tree.  Some trees will hold their needles a long time and some will drop them really quick.  One of the things we are looking at is selecting specific trees for good needle retention;  but there is much more than just that, the tree still has to look good.

I noticed recently at a local 'shall not be named' store, wreaths for sale that were dropping their needles so fast. 

local store wreath

This gives the industry a bad name.  It doesn't matter that "you get what you pay for" ($8-12), when people see needle drop like that, it turns them away from purchasing a real wreath to the artificial kind. 

Not mine (taken with daughter's ipod)
And with another 'very large craft store' selling fir sented sticks in a bottle; who needs the real thing.  Now this 'shall not be named' store is not known for selling the best looking nursery plants either.


But there is nothing like a fresh wreath or tree.  As long as I am able, I will have a real tree in my house, get it fresh, put it in a stand with lots of water.  Later on in life, if I can't have a full size one, I will get a small table top tree.

But it will be real.  Not made of feathers.

And my nursery next spring?  I'm not giving it up.  Reshaping, concolidating, focusing, yes, Truro Farmers Market? Yes.

Will post more after Christmas concerning the nursery when I get it settled, and I will try to get back to posting more often.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Primula elator - Oxslip

I need inspiration to write.  I am not the best writer, things just come out when they are ready and sometimes not that clear.  But when I am inspired, then I can write this quickly. 

P. denticulata - Drumstick Primula

We were off to a Primula Workshop at the Agricultural College in Truro, NS. (I am not getting into a naming argument) sponsored by the Nova Scotia Rock Garden Society.  Several of you who read this blog were there, and I think I can say that even I learned a few new things.

P. denticulata - The highly desirable white form
I learned that most primula need moist conditions, throughout the spring, summer and fall.  Some like shade but many do well in sun as long as moisture is provided.  I learned that mid winter is probably the best time to seed primula and that for certain types of primula, you can actually take cuttings (that I didn't know).  You can actually root the leaves of some of them similar to African Violets and Streptocarpus.

P. veris - Cowslip
I know from experience that if you have different species you can have primulas in bloom from early spring (April) right through till July.  There is even a species that blooms in the fall (didn't know, want that one).

P. frondosa - Birds Eye Primula

I did a count when I got home (people were asking just how many I did carry).  I have 12 listed on the web site.  I know I have several colours of Pruhonicensis and have added more doubles since I last updated my list (limited supply). 
Primula japonica - Japanese Primula

We were given 10 different species of seed.  I can't wait to try.  Pam Eveleigh was our speaker and instructor for the day.  She has a great website, Primula World, everything you need to know about primula and amazing photos that put mine to shame.
Primula auricula Francesca 
This Francesca is one of my favourites.  When it starts to bloom in May, the bloom continues to hold throughout the summer months.
Primula Sielboldii  - Pink seed selection

Primula Sielboldii  'Yubisugata

Primula Sielboldii  'Sayogorama' 

I love the Snowflake or Cherry Blossom Japanese (not to be confused with japonica) Primroses.  Instead of forming clumps, they grow by runners (not evasive).  The foliage is an apple green and they bloom later than most (June).  The foliage will die back in the summer if it is too warm or not enough moisture.  I have to get me some more of these.

Primula Pruhonicensis
I think I have raved about seed in the past, this primula (P. Pruhonicensis hybrid) was purchased from Garden's North in 2002. In the catalogue it states that they are polyanthas, but they don't quite look like them and I have not seen the name in any other reference search.
There is P. Pruhoniciana although, but the images don't really match.
 I forgot to quiz Pam about this.
Maybe some one out there has a suggestion.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Terra Nova Part II

Terra Nova II now resides at the Orangedale Train Museum in Orangedale,
Cape Breton, NS.

How did it get there? you ask?? Why??

Why a low flat bed of course.
Ok, after all that trouble of getting it here (Clifton), why is it in Cape Breton?

It was time.  It did need some work, a bit more than we were willing to put into it and we found we were not using it as we should.  Many people who had seen it said it would have made a wonderful B&B. The interior is quite lovely and if anyone is interested I could post some pictures of the inside.

We found a buyer for it who wanted to place it on permanent loan to a railway museum back in NFLD.  To make a very long story short, of the 3 museums he contacted, all eventually refused.  I think they will regret that some day. 
One last try, before he took it out of the country (he is from New England), he approached the Orangedale Railway Museum whom accepted the car. They have a wonderful restored station and several railway cars. 

As the Terra Nova II says good by,
out past the grass and daylily bed on the glorious morning of Aug 29th...

Up out of the driveway..

Down the road towards Cape Breton.  It was no problem hauling,
Andrew had a hard time keeping up.

Man, those wheels are so light, they will float away if you don't hold them down.
They only weigh 4 ton.

So after a little maneuvering and planing, up it goes one last time.

To land safely on is feet ( um.. wheels) in its new home.  Since it has landed, it has been attracting a lot of attention. 

And back home?  Just a few ruts to fix.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Terra Nova II Part I

It is amazing what some real estate companies will sell.
      An acquaintance was in Newfoundland back 2004, she saw this train car by the road and she impulsively took a picture for 'her train loving friend'. 
     The Terra Nova II is a former Newfoundland Railway Business Car built in 1955 by the Canadian Car and Foundry for Canadian National. The Newfoundland Railway was closed down in 1988 and their railway equipment sold. The car operated as a self contained home and office for railway officials while out inspecting the railway lines.  At this time it was being used as a cottage in Trinity Newfoundland.

     It seems that some people were interested in the property but not in the Terra Nova itself. Andrew always wanted a private car, but the price of them, not to mention what to do with it, was just out of reach. And the lottery didn't come in. But this was manageable.  We made an offer and it was accepted.  Now what did we get ourselves into.  The car itself was no problem to move.  No special height or width restrictions were required.
     So in 2005, home it came to join the CNR Caboose we also have (I draw the line at an Engine, heaven help us if he does win the lottery).

      He spent the spring laying gravel and building track.  It came in on a low flat bed a crane lifted it, wheels pushed under and lowered it down.
It was quite the attraction that day.

      You will notice the mounds of soil this side of the car.  That used to be my vegetable garden.  Needless to say, I did not have one that year.
     The only good thing about that was, that the previous year, potato bugs started to show up (we are quite isolated here), by skipping a year, I did not see potato bugs until last year (2011).  This year we put the potatoes at Andrew's Uncle's garden.  I can only hope that I can get another 6 years potato bug free.  I wonder if that would work for cucumber beetles?

Anyway, in 2006, I had my garden back.

     Andrew worked hard and by the following year, he had more track laid and the car was pushed down below the garden.  Anyone roaming through the gardens (flowers) were always surprised to see the railcars and would enquire 'How did you get those here?
      What can I say, I garden. Andrew plays trains.  Can I help it if he likes the real thing??

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Projects and Renovations

Two projects on the go.
Neither is finished and one was started last fall. 
Talk about procrastination.

The daylily and grass bed was expanded on either side last fall.

The daylilies have become too crowded and the grasses have not been shown off to their best.  Also in the mean time, I have a few more of each that need a good home.

I did not get them spaced this spring before things became so dry.  I'll have to wait till late summer or early fall to move them when soil moisture and cooler nights pervail.  I'll probably divide some of the grasses as I go, considering I sold out of most of the grasses I had.  Only have a few Var. Miscanthus, Pennisetum Moudry and a Karl Forester Reed Grass left. 

The other project was the Woolly Thyme walk into the Nursery.  The weeds (Dandelions, Plantain, Irish moss) have been persistant, and I did not have that trouble with the Creeping Thyme pathway.  Why would anyone grow and buy Irish Moss??  I am sure it has its place, but not in my Thyme.

As I started to excavate, I realized that there was a good inch or two of soil on the flag stone.  I can only guess that insects and earth worms have brought up the soil.  No wonder the weeds were taking hold.  I thought I would just remove each stone, scrape away the soil and replace the stone as I went up the bed.  That was going to take too long.

OK, out with everything, all the stones where placed in the parking lot and the old soil and weeds removed.

 The Woolly Thyme grew so well that it has gone over the stone to the right and up a large rock into the cactus and semp bed.  At this time, I will leave it and use it to re plant the path.

 I realigned the cobble stones and narrowed up the bed, the two Hosta needed to be spaced out a bit more on the left  (will move them this fall),  the pathway isn't used a lot so shrinking it, didn't hurt it.

I don't know if it is the right way or not but we just laid down a layer of sand and repositioned the stone on top.  Thyme will grow in anything.

And it is good to have help.

We brushed more sand in between the cracks and allowed it to settle a bit.  It slightly washed in the previous rain storm last week and this afternoon it completely washed down.  Sigh,  I guess that means sweeping it back up. It's either drought or deluge.  As of 5:30 pm there was 2" in the rain gauge.


It looked good 2 days ago and it will again..  I'll update pictures when it gets planted and as it grows.

Next Project??  Stay tuned.