Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!


1 Comment

And that’s July done.

This morning I remembered today would have been my mom’s 84th birthday. She’s been gone just over seven years and I think about her every day. I’m the age she was when we moved to Northern Alberta in 2000… hard to get my mind around how fast time has flown by.

The garden is doing great! The calendula are done and dead, and I’ve pulled them all now – this morning yanked out the last couple of plant that were still providing support for other things. They were so dead they needed to go. Can’t have the garden looking that neglected. Lettuces are almost done now, just a few plants of each left. I spent this morning transplanting all the small pots or pansies into the beds to fill in empty spots.

Surprisingly the primroses and bleeding hearts are STILL blooming! That’s really impressive. Unfortunately all the plums are being eaten by something – every one of them that I’ve picked has something imbedded in it and is grossly sticky. Oh well. Apparently other years they’ve wrapped the tree but no one mentioned doing it this year to stop the pests.

The zucchini (aka courgettes) are doing pretty well, we’ve eaten 4 so far. Apparently I was underwatering them, so we had a bit of a hiccup but they are now starting to set again. Same with the cucumbers – have had 12 nice ones, and they are starting to set again now.

The herbs are hit and miss. I got a lot of cilantro (coriander) off and they are now going to seed. The dill barely got 3 inches high before bolting – it is now in full bloom. I’ve planted more as I need it to make pickles. All the other herbs – parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are great and still going. The chives aren’t really doing well so I will be moving them into a pot and hope for a better result. The garlic is growing but not sure what I’m going to get. I may leave it for next year to harvest.

The fennel is looking good BUT is nor putting on any size – they’ve been the same small size for over a month. I really hope they’ll start to bulk up soon. The hot pepper is blooming and bushing up, but the sweet pepper shed almost all the leaves – it is now starting to sprout new ones at the top so I hope it will actually flower before Autumn gets here.

The rose was stunning! It is done now though. Long stemmed red roses, just gorgeous. It is now the support for the sun flowers. The largest sunflower (there are three of them) is the height of the brick wall now and is setting the flower. According to the seed package they are 10 feet tall but I really hope they don’t get much more that 6 feet or the wind will break them.

I managed to get some photos of the fish in the pond! They were blowing bubbles that morning – quite loudly! And took a photo from my bedroom window looking down on the garden so you can see the layout.

At the studio I’ve started making Christmas ornaments as we were running low… yes, already! We put up a display a couple of months back of all our leftover stock. All the wreaths were sold, and lots of the small trees. The less expensive ones are very popular with the kids – £2 ornaments are perfect for them. Simple and quick to make little trees. The wreaths are £12 as they are more material and time to create and people love them.

The Christmas display at Serendipity Glass Design.

I really like the dot tree and will be making more ornaments using them. I just have to make thousands more green dots! The bottom two photos of the red/green frit ornaments and the big red tree with white dots are in the kiln now, so the photos are before firing. The red/green frit ornaments will be £3-4 and are small hanging ornaments. The red tree will be a tealight stand.

Hope the summer is going well for you too!


Leave a comment

Der spring haz sprung

We’ve had an exceptionally warm, and early, Spring this year.

Usually I can’t get near my apple tree to spray it before it buds because of the snow, but this year the snow was all gone before it leafed up.

I had to mow the front yard in early April which is unheard of.  Usually I don’t mow until near the end of May, which is when the last of the snow has melted.  I’ve now mowed the front lawn four times and the back twice.  The back is three times the size of the front and no one sees it… so I only do it once to every two or three times I do the front.

We haven’t had a lot of rain (or snow for that matter) so far either.  My lawn is the first to green up, but also the first to brown up… I don’t water it so it fends for itself.  Makes for less mowing when it is dry.

I’ve been busy tidying up the yard, staining the deck, doing some heavy work with paving stones, etc.  I had bought the stain last summer but just as I bought it the weather turned cold and damp so I wasn’t able to get the deck done.  A couple weeks ago we had a heat wave of near 30C for a week so I got it done!  Took me just over 8 hours over two days.  I just have a couple small things to finish – the garden benches and part that needs a ladder.

Here is the deck, after the staining – I really like the colour which is a match to the soffits and eavestroughs.

Another project was fixing up the area between the garage, shed and deck.  There were large paving slabs there, but an area had been left open with pea gravel which just became a weed patch every year which was annoying.  I scored some recycled paving bricks on a local auction site, and moved some others from another part of my yard to fill in.  Much better, and more useful a space now.  Here is before and after:

The stone stamped pavers go around the side of the house to the front.  Ignore the rubble under the deck – that was there when we bought the house and it isn’t in the way.

When I was scraping away the pea gravel I uncovered nails, screws, broken glass and masses of asphalt shingles… which we also found tons of in the back “garden” patch (along with black plastic garbage bags full of grass clippings… ?  If you are going to dump your grass clippings in the corner of your yard… why would you not just dump them out to rot???)  Previous owner(s) obviously were of the “bury it and they won’t know I was too lazy/cheap to dispose of it properly” mindset.

DSC02551

I finished putting out my petunias today… even though conventional wisdom up here is “NOT before the May long weekend!”  I bought them a couple weeks ago and kept them in the garage for a few days and on the deck for the rest of the time so they were well hardened off.  It’s been nice and the next few days are supposed to be very warm, then it is supposed to rain on the long weekend… so I planted them out in the front beds and some in pots on the steps.  And the big basket I bought for the big planter is out too.

The small pots have silver and white petunias, and the bed is mostly magenta (same as in the big planter.)  They are all Wave Petunias which are really lush, it will be really pretty later in the Summer.

My perennials are growing like, er, weeds!  The Lilies have multiplied and are starting to bud.

DSC02579

And my Prairie Mallow and Hollyhocks are doing great as well.

DSC02581

And the Clematis on both sides of the stairs!  You can see how dry my grass is in these photos.

DSC02580

We talked about getting an arbour to go around the door, but stabilizing it given the wind here was a worry.  As you can tell, we don’t use that door.  That is obvious, right?  You wouldn’t believe the number of door-to-door types that go up to it and try to knock… mostly male (make of that what you will.)

I’ve got pots of herbs on the deck so I can get them easily when cooking – chives, parsley, spearmint, oregano, thyme and dill.  I’ve already been using them.

The apple tree bloomed very well this year on every branch, which is a first.  It is a five-in-one so each branch is a different variety – up till now only three branches bloomed.  So I am excited!  In 2011 I got 31 apples off of three branches.  Last year… 2.  This year, lots of blossoms and more importantly, BEES.  So I am hoping to have a crop.  Each variety has a different ripening time so it should be staggered.

So all done with the prep and planting; all that is left is mowing, watering and weeding for the rest of the season.  Well, just tiny bit of staining left on the benches and high bit, but that won’t take too long.