Friday, June 29, 2012

Blue Friday

Today is 'blue' day in the Poppytalk Summer Colours week.  This is the final day in the coloured-theme week. I have pulled together a collection of photos taken by me, Emma and Chloé. The top photo was taken by Emma with a timer at my parents' Muskoka home last summer.

  1. Muskoka silhouette (photo by Emma)
  2. Forget-me-nots
  3. Swim goggles
  4. Top of fire hydrant (photo by Chloé)
  5. Emma's feet in Muskoka (photo by Emma)
  6. Lobelia
  7. Chicory (photo by Chloé)
If you garden, you know how hard it is to find true blue flowers. When I started my garden here, I planned different colour schemes for different flower beds. I intended to plant only blue and white flowers in the pool area. So many blue flowers actually are more like purple. I love purple but was disappointed that my blue and white vision never quite came to be.

I am feeling a little blue today about my painting time lately or, more to the point, the lack of it.  It's challenging once the girls are off school, especially because my studio is in the house. Other parents manage to work through the summer but I think when work is outside of the home, it is understood better and respected by everyone both inside and outside of the family.  Despite my frustration, there's lots to celebrate right now.  Emma's high school graduation and prom is tomorrow and Chloé's birthday celebration with her friends is in progress right now.  My birthday is on Sunday, Chloé's actual birthday is next Saturday and we are leaving for a family trip to New York in a matter of days.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Red Alert

Today's colour for the Poppytalk Summer Colours photo collection is...red! We had a discussion here yesterday as to whether these fruits were pink or red. There's a bit of both in them but we decided they veer more to the red side than pink. I can't eat watermelon. I wish I could as it seems to be such a perfect summer fruit, but I always have an upset stomach afterwards.  Emma and Chloé love it though.

The sun was out this morning. Hello sunshine! The evidence of the rain from the past few days is still apparent on the geranium blossoms.  I love the photo of the geranium below. The blossom was laden with moisture that was backlit by the morning sunshine. There is a surreal quality to it.

I don't always have a lot of red in the garden, but this year I included more red in my flower pots. The centre photo is salvia and at the bottom is diascia.  Diascia is one of my favourite annuals. It comes in pink, coral and red and is remarkably resilient.  It handles the summer heat and will continue to bloom long after many annuals have succumbed to autumn frost.

I mentioned yesterday that Chloé was quite enthused by this whole colour week theme. My budding photographer took the following two photos (along with many others I don't have space to show).

I was actually giving her a hard time when she was taking photos of pretty much everything we passed, as Meeko really needs a brisk walk.  In the end, I'm glad she ignored her mother and took the photos. I particularly love her arty photo of the fire hydrant.

There are lots of lovely red photos gathering in the Poppytalk Summer Colour pool. I'm sure there will be lots more added throughout the day.  It has been fun to do, although it has taken up quite a bit of time this week. I am getting quicker though. This post was pulled together quicker than the ones earlier this week.

Busy day here. Emma has her rehearsal for her high school graduation ceremony which happens on Saturday. Chloé is having her 13th birthday party at the end of the day. She doesn't turn 13 until July 7th but it was a challenge getting her friends together on the same date. They are going out for dinner (with us) and then will have a sleepover. That is such a misnomer as there never really is that much sleep involved, is there?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pretty in Pink

Photos taken this week come with raindrops, no extra charge.  Today's colour for the Poppytalk Summer Colours collection is pink. I am very fond of pink in the garden, although you won't find very much of it in my house.

The photo above is of the efflorescence of my Cotinus 'Grace' bush. It looks like a soft pink cloud lately. I've included the photo of this Oriental poppy below in a previous blog post but I'm publishing it horizontal this time. I no longer have any idea of which way is the right way up for it. :)

The false mallow (sidalcea) looked beautiful this morning. This particular one is called 'Party Girl' and I'm thinking she put on her best ruffles when she got up today because she knew it was Poppytalk's pink day. 

Chloé has been quite enthusiastic about Summer Colours week and I had trouble getting the camera out of her hands yesterday.  She took the photo below as well as the one of Meeko. (She took some others that I will include in Red day on Thursday and Blue day on Friday.)

The photo below is of a sweet little strawberry blossom in the square-foot garden. This is an all-season plant that produces strawberries (a small handful at a time) for the entire summer.

And my final photo is one I took a few months ago, but I thought its beautiful soft pink tones would fit perfectly in today's coloured theme: pink-toned rocks with a beautiful hand-dyed scarf that I bought from Margie.

Because I am downloading my photos from Flickr this week rather than from my computer, the vertical shots are less wide than the horizontal ones.  In the past I've made both the horizontal and vertical shots the same width as my column.  I'm curious if anyone noticed, first of all, or has a preference one way over the other.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

They Call Me Mellow Yellow

I am continuing to colour code my blog posts this week in sync with Poppytalk's Summer Colours week. Yellow is a lovely choice for today because there is no sunshine here at all.  All of these cheerful subjects will take its place.

My daylilies must have known about 'Yellow' day.  The first summer bloom opened this morning. What lovely timing.

1. One of the books in Emma's summer book stack.
2. Daylily - yellow is not my favourite colour in the garden but this soft, lemony yellow is perfection.
3. Buttercups
4. Shasta Daisy
5. Grape tomato blossoms
6. 'Pineapple' tomato blossoms - I cannot wait to see the fruit!
7. Yellow clematis tangutica - Gorgeous but highly invasive.
8. Gaillardia - Gallo Peach Blanket
9. Dandelion - so maligned yet really quite beautiful close up.
10. Heron and Canada Geese with reflection from the street light taken last night when Emma, Meeko and I went for a walk with the mosquitoes.  The photo is not super sharp because I took it at dusk but I couldn't resist including it.

Wishing you a sunshiny day!

Friends participating in the Poppytalk Summer Colours week include:  Sonia, Margie and Geninne.
Have a look!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Colour My Monday Green

It is a holiday weekend here in Quebec. The 24th of June is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. We spent part of the weekend in Trois-Rivières to celebrate the 88th birthday of my husband's mother. I took lots of photos of my brother and sister-in-law's pretty garden that I will post later this week.

Today and for the next four days, I have decided to participate in Poppytalk's Summer Colours week. I've been inspired to take part by friends Margie and Sonia. Today's colour is green and it was a real treat to wander around the garden to take photos this morning after a night of rain. 

I love June as the garden always really starts to thrive at this point in the growing season.  Our family has done a fair bit of growing in June and early July as well. We have so many birthdays packed into a five-week period. Emma's birthday is on June 1st, her cousin Erica on June 2nd, my brother-in-law Jean on June 10th, my grandmother Edie (deceased) on June 16th, my brother Bob on June 17th, my grandfather Eric (deceased) on June 21, my mother-in-law Margeurite on June 25, my sister Karen on June 30th, me on July 1st and Chloé on July 7th. Isn't that crazy?

Here's a simple yet elegant arrangement of herbs, leaves and flowers gathered during my garden walk this morning.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Berry Bandit

We have a number of serviceberry (amelanchiershrubs and trees in our yard. They are lovely plants with four seasons of interest (spring flowers, early summer berries, pretty autumn colour and an elegant winter silhouette). The berries are like a blueberry but even better (according to me). As much as I love them, it is a race against the birds to eat any.  One of my favourite Canadian garden writers, Lois Hole, wrote of the 'bird tax' you need to pay when you grow any berry-laden plant in your yard. So true.

There is a large serviceberry in front of our living room window and it's hosted a bit of a who's who of our backyard birds in the past few days.  I've seen American goldfinches, house finches, cedar waxwings and many robins. I was really lucky to get a number of shots of this young robin.

The above photo kills me. Doesn't he look absolutely amazed by the feast that surrounds him, as if he doesn't quite know where to start? "Wow! Am I ever glad Mom and Dad live here."
I took the photos by removing the living room window screen and sitting on the floor. My constant companion Meeko sat beside me (of course) but was very quiet and didn't scare the robin.  My robin friend certainly provided enough poses for me to try another bird painting one of these days. I like the pose below probably the best.
Despite all of the bird banditry, we did manage to pick a few for ourselves.  I made this wonderful salad with mesclun from our square-foot garden with some serviceberries thrown in for taste and colour.  (If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you will have already seen the photo.)
This week has been broken up with lots of taxi driving of my two daughters who are now both officially on summer vacation, but I managed to finish one painting.  I painted one of the French breakfast radishes from our garden. I wonder if they call them that in France? It's the first time I've used handmade Twinrocker watercolour paper: both Geninne and Diana Sudyka recommended it to me. Just the deckles alone make me swoon. It was lovely to work with and this particular paper has one hot-pressed side and one cold-pressed side. Very nice paper. (Emma picked out the radish-coloured nail polish for my thumbnail.)
French breakfast radish:  Watercolour on Twinrocker paper
And I started another painting of a serviceberry branch.  The past two days, I've been painting slowly with many interruptions--to the point that the berries have been ripening in in my studio.  Note the difference in colour between the painting that I started two days ago and the the branch. The berries start out a mottled yellow-pink, kind of like an apple, and then they become red and then red-purple. I'll try and finish the painting tomorrow and then I can reward myself by eating the berries, while they are still good. :)
Serviceberry painting in progress (on Twinrocker cold-pressed paper)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June Blooms and Harvests


The weather has definitely turned summery.  It almost is summer so that's good! Chloé is officially finished exams and is on a 4-day end-of-year school trip to Tadoussac to see whales among other things. She's never been away for more than one night so it feels quite strange and the house is definitely quiet without her. Emma still has two exams to write.  It's only two weeks now until she graduates from high school.

This week, Chloé and I took Meeko for a walk where we knew there was a patch of wild strawberries growing.  We picked quite a few (Meeko too) and just in time.  The huge municipal lawn mowers appeared on the horizon just as we were getting up to leave.  There was talk of making custard tarts topped with the wild berries but, with exams, there wasn't really time to make elaborate recipes.  We ate them on cereal and mixed into yogurt instead. I particularly love their sweet smell.

Proof of my strawberry picking time (the hole was already there)
My square-foot vegetable garden is doing beautifully.  

The above photo was taken the day the vegetables were planted.  Here it is four weeks later:

Yesterday I picked some lovely French breakfast radishes and ate them. Delicious. The mesclun is beautiful right now and ready for a lovely salad tonight.

Yesterday afternoon, I thinned out the beets, swiss chard and turnips, planting the seedlings I removed in some squares I had left empty.  I also fed the tomatoes some organic fertilizer.

In our front yard, the 'Royal Wedding' Oriental poppies have just bloomed.  I showed them to Emma yesterday and she said 'You show them to me every year.' Imagine how boring I am to live with. :)

And finally, here's a photo I took this morning of some tangled shadows.  I love this.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend. Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there!


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