Not quite Provence, but close

Instead of booking a holiday in Provence, to get my daily dose of  lavender I just need to walk 5 minutes from my door to view, touch & inhale the mounds on City Hall's north lawn...



....and at the community garden's main entrance...

Purple in the evening

Ask me to name my favourite vegetable, tree, or garden writer, and I'll beg you to allow me at least three picks for each & several minutes of deliberation. But when it comes to my favourite herb & scent, I can quickly and easily pick one:


Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'

This morning for a couple of hours I lost myself in Lavandula while I searched for informative & enchanting links to share. Here's a short reading/viewing list to get you started:

Lavender: The Grower's Guide by Virginia McNaughton -- added to my "to read" list this morning

The Genus Lavandula by Tim Upson and Susyn Andrews -- also added to the growing "to read" list

Mountain Valley Growers' Lavender pages: Lavender (descriptions of 24 varieties), Lavender 1.2.3 (care and tips)

And for your viewing pleasure, I recommend searching Google images for "lavender and Provence".

Now I'm off to the community garden for a compost workshop and group work party. Naturally, I'll volunteer to weed the bed with lavender.

I'd love to hear about your thoughts about this aromatic herb. Do you have a favourite cultivar? Do you grow the plant, and if so, from seeds or cuttings or both? Please share your stories and tips in the comments.

Monday morning is so much easier to face...

...after spending at least half of a sunny weekend outdoors & then working on garden tasks (e.g., setting up a grow-light system) while indoors.

Hellebores and Chinook jargon along the False Creek seawall

Snowdrops (Galanthus) at Stanley Park


Lost Lagoon and beyond -- The North Shore mountains


What seasonal flora did you enjoy and what favourite places did you explore this past weekend?

Sundays on the seawall

Though it can be hard (especially last week when plants, pots, & plans exceeded available space), I try to remind myself of the advantages of a  very small  balcony garden. Here's one: it allows time for long, meandering walks because you don't have to rake leaves.

And here are some moments from the the past three Sunday seawall walks when I looked, wondered and enjoyed.


This arrangement made me wonder: did nature create it or some passer-by with a compulsion to tidy the unruly masses of leaves on the path?


Dragon boats at rest. I paused, too, and let my mind drift with autumn reflections.



A view of downtown Vancouver. One hundred and fifty years ago, I would have been looking at forest of tall trees, perhaps as high as 90 metres (300 feet).


 A new-to-me plant & fruit: Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree) berries


The beautiful purple berries of Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' (beautyberry is its common name)


Hesperantha coccinea - fresh coral-pink blossoms above mounds of brown and yellow, drying leaves.


Nature's palette of pigments: chlorophyll, xanthophyll, carotenoids, anthocyanin. This excellent resource explains the science of autumn colour.


Only 5 more days until next Sunday.

What joys do you find in gardens, not necessarily your own, at this time of year?

Orange beautiful*

*Post title inspired by -- well, pretty much copied from but with all credit given to  -- this gorgeous site & blog.

"In like a lion, out like a lamb" (and vice versa) is the well-known saying applied to March's weather. I'm trying to think of an equivalent to describe last month. If you read drafts of this post I published accidentally (oops), you'll know I tried marmalade cats and Bengal tigers. The first of October was sunny and warm and I recall purring contentedly in the kitchen while roasting eggplants; the 30th and 31st included every kind of weather: bold, strong, and untamed, if not quite ferocious at the end. But perhaps colour is the most accurate, and for me, memorable way to describe October in and October out: in with tasty reds & aubergines and out with glowing oranges.




Maple leaves


Urban landscape in autumn

South Cambie's autumn tones

Three hours, more than 40 city blocks east, north, west and south, hundreds of trees and shrubs (more likely thousands as we also walked through Queen Elizabeth Park), countless shades of autumn colours, and only one, brief rain shower at the end of it all -- a blissful October afternoon.



Sumac (Rhus) rainbow


Untitled (for now)

Prickly, green fruit of the American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)


Euonymus alatus

Burning bush (Euonymous alatus)


Euonymus alatus

Another burning bush in a different light



Rich, maroon Viburnum leaves

Favourite summer "stumble-upons"

At the end of this Labour Day weekend, I'm reminiscing about small surprises that delighted me when I turned the corner during daily walks with Piper this summer. Sweeter because unexpected. (And they partly make up for the small harvests from my two gardens.)


Soft, pink-tinged, frilly petals in a corner bulge garden. I adore poppies. Thank you, caring neighbours, who tend Vancouver's Green Street gardens.



Breaking free: a chain link fence can't contain the glorious ruffles, colour and scent of these roses.



Peach on blue: Hollyhocks, part of a mixed perennial oasis in a barren industrial zone.



A deep purple mop-top surveys the traffic circle


Globe Thistle

Enthusiastic Echinops - three tiny flowers seem to be saying "pick me, pick me!"


Five contented bees

Symmetry and synchrony: bees on Echinacea


A meditative dragonfly in the kitchen garden



Good things come in three's: Double wedding ring quilt (#1) on a clothesline (#2) at the Back Porch (#3)



The setting sun's reflection on a window creates a gold shimmer on False Creek's silver

Sunshine, bright colour...

... & other gardening delights from the past week. I'm skipping over the overcast, dull grey features that showed up & stayed far too long nearly every day.



Friday, June 18th: Harvested a few 'Sea of Red' lettuce leaves but left most to capture the sun's rays & make more anthocyanins.


Lavender 'Lady'

Saturday morning: Indulged in a few moments of simply "being" in the lavender, followed by a serious work session in the beet rows....



... thinning the crowded sections & filling the open spaces with a second sowing to ensure plenty of plump, golden roots in a few more weeks.



Sunday afternoon: Contemplated -- but only briefly -- what to make with the 'Lacinato' kale. Decided quickly & easily: An Honest Kitchen recipe with lentils, tomatoes & plenty of spices.



Monday evening, June 21st: Realized the day was nearly done & I hadn't celebrated the summer solstice in a meaningful way nor taken my "365" photo.  So a little after 8 pm, searched for the best light. Found it on the north side of our condo, illuminating my new-favourite hydrangea colouration.



Tuesday evening: Encountered the unexpected while taking a round-about way home from Pilates. This single, pink poppy in a Green Streets garden stopped me in my tracks. But only for a moment. Then I quickly ran home, grabbed my camera, raced back...well, you know how I spent the next 15 minutes ;-).



Wednesday morning, before work: Closely observed the water droplets on the Calibrachoa.



Thursday, mid-day: Soaked up a double dose of sunshine, one from the sky, and one from the pots along the balcony railing. Sent telepathic thanks (again) to my gardening mentor Gayla for inspiring me to appreciate and acquire bold, bright yellow flowers and not feel guilty about adding a few more inedible plants to the garden.


innocent bystander in the garden  

Friday, late afternoon: I never drink while gardening & don't usually plant wine with the flowers but I couldn't resist placing this "innocent bystander" among the Calibrachoa. Its colour blended beautifully with the 'Compact Yellow' and 'Apricot Red Eye'. But now the bottle is back on the shelf, some day to be shared, I hope, with my blogging buddies from far-away places. (You know who you are ;-) XO. )

Happy weekend gardening, everyone.