Saturday, 30 March 2013

Oh, What a Beautiful Day!

Easter weekend at the parents'. You know, I can't think of a better way to spend a day than this. It's been warm and sunny all day - I did laundry and hung everything out on the clothesline for the first time this year, and it all dried beautifully, and smells of fresh air.

The chickens are strolling around the yard, clucking contentedly, picking at the leavings under the bird feeders, and taking dustbaths in the sun.

Mom had a few things she wanted dyed, so I fired up the first dye bath of the season. Black walnut hulls dried last fall, adding a lovely brown to some yarn she found at the 2nd-hand store, and some towels that had faded.

Now there's a chicken in the oven, and sausages defrosting in the fridge - there will be barbecue for supper! Hot cross bun dough is rising, getting ready for tomorrow's breakfast buns. And an Easter dinner to look forward to with ham from my cousin's pigs, and pie from berries we picked last summer. Life is definitely good!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Spring Inside

You wouldn't know it to look outside, but it's officially spring.

Admittedly, the snow is better for the plants and things than the 25 C temperatures we had last year...but I've about reached the point where the snow can leave anytime it wants to.

Glad there's a contrast between indoors and out, though. Plenty of colour to be seen. Even a bit of fibre in pretty colours, since I've started spinning the silk/merino roving I bought at Rhinebeck.

And as for's been busy! On top of three quizzes and a couple assignments due, we had two guest speakers this week. Nick from The Pond Clinic today, teaching us about designing and building water features, and with some crazy footage of his swimming pond at home. Can you beat that? Imagine a pool in your backyard with a waterfall, and a whole ecosystem - plants and frogs and fish -and potable water! Yesterday's speaker was hardly less interesting, either. We had Dr. Alan Darlington of Nedlaw, who designs and builds living walls. I think at least three of theirs are in Ottawa, including the multi-storey ones at UOttawa and Algonquin.

We're thinking of spring in the woodshop, building a vegetable cart/rickshaw kind of thing. It will be for a little market stand for our surplus produce this summer at school. And of course the Spring Show opens tonight, so the displays have been blooming into a finished state. A watering can fountain and a seriously cool chair in the front entry:

A hobbit hole in the show house:

And even a patio surrounded by flowers and a vegetable garden complete with rabbits (mossy green ones) tucked in the back:

I'm almost sorry to miss the opening night, but with a quiz tomorrow morning, this is the last of my fun time for the evening. Supper and then studying for me.

Friday, 15 March 2013

In the Field

Despite the fact that the warm weather last week started my rhubarb poking up, it's still too cold and snowy to do anything garden-related outdoors. Definitely had my fix of green this week, though. We've had two field trips, Wednesday and today, to indoor green spaces.

Wednesday morning saw my class assembling at the corner of Baseline and Merivale, at what used to be the Nortel complex. After standing empty for a few years, it's now occupied by Agriculture Canada - very convenient, since it's on the edge of the Experimental Farm. Our tropicals/interiorscapes/green roof and wall teacher, Trish, has been involved with the indoor plantings there since several years before Nortel left, so she and her colleague Alex took us around and showed us the place.

They've got some pretty cool spaces. There's a semicircular garden which boasts a huge Peace Lily relative, among other things.

And a warm nook with a climbing fig up the walls, and towering palm trees.

And a water feature with fish in one of the ponds. The rock wall at the back has water trickling down continuously, and behind it is a biofilter - using plants and bacteria to process the fish poop, basically, and keep the water clean.

This afternoon we headed off to Richmond Nursery to learn about seeding and nursery production.

The first thing you notice coming in is the plants in the first greenhouse.

The second thing you notice is the cat - Taz is the official greeter. I don't know if this is a trend in horticulture, but I approve.

We prowled around the front greenhouses waiting for everyone to arrive, admiring plants.

Then we had a tour behind the scenes, learning about the planning and equipment involved in getting all the pots and flats ready that people will be buying in a couple months.

Automatic seeders plant 288 plugs per tray

Mechanical transplanter moves seedlings to larger pots

Monday, 11 March 2013

New Toy

Back in January, Kari (one of the local knitters/spinners, and co-host of the Two Tangled Skeins podcast) borrowed my drum carder.
Like most spinners, her reaction was, "Ooh, I want one!"

So she put out the word, hoping she could find someone destashing one. And lo and behold, she did. Someone she knows was getting rid of a few fibre-related things, and Kari, lucky girl, is now the proud owner of a Pat Green carder.

I saw her at knit night, and practically the first thing she said was, "Hey, I've got a medieval torture device you might be interested in." I though maybe she wanted to show off the carder, but no! Turns out that her friend threw in(!) a picker along with the drum carder, and she figured I might have more use for it than she would.

So, yeah. I have a picker now! It needs a bit of cleaning up (doesn't look like it's seen much use), but it's solid, and I'm looking forward to trying it out.  

Friday, 8 March 2013

Going Out With A Bloom

That's the title of this year's spring Show and Sale in the Horticulture Department. Coming up soon - the show runs from the 21-31 March. The second-year students are the organizers, and have been growing all sorts of things in the greenhouse in preparation. They've also been deciding what they want for wood and stone accessories, which our year gets to build.

Construction class this week, part of the class was in the wood-shop making Adirondack chairs. The rest of us were playing with stone - my group being on pillar-building again. Last time the concept was 'think outside the box'. This time, we were told, 'something formal, modern, modular'. We ended up with 4 variations on a theme:

(If you can't tell scale, each of those is about 32" high and the caps are 28" across and bloody heavy.)

So now we have to draw up scale plans of the pillars, and the ones that the second-years like best (from all the construction classes) will get rebuilt at the entrance to the building, to welcome visitors to the show.

In other hort news, I've got a co-op placement! Come April at some point, you will be able to find me out at the Canadian Tire in Orleans, in their Garden Centre. I'll be taking care of the plants, advising customers with questions, dealing with orders and deliveries of plants, putting together planters, and planning seminars on various gardening topics that might be of interest to people. Lots to learn and teach, and I think it'll be pretty exciting! The woman who came to do the interview was really great to talk to - fibre interests as well, and very enthusiastic. We talked so much that I was almost late getting back to class; neither of us thought to check the time until we'd been there an hour. I figure that's a pretty good sign!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Lots of New Stuff

Nice to have survived last week. Everything got done that needed doing - hopefully in a creditable manner! Seeing that some of my classmates had tales of staying up until the wee hours Wednesday to finish the project and study for the midterm we had Thursday morning - after fighting to get home in the  snow Wednesday - I feel I did pretty good there, since I went to bed at midnight.

After finishing class and job interview Friday, I headed for the country to recharge over the weekend. Mom and I stopped in to Value Village on the way home, and I found some books on gardening to add to my collection, and some definitely vintage fingering wool.

One of the books we found that I don't have a picture of is a fascinating one, titled "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady". It's a facsimile edition of someone's actual journal from 1906, in Warwickshire, England. Filled with a whole year's worth of lovely notes on which flowers are blooming, and what she sees in her travels, quotes from favorite poets - and the most amazing watercolour illustrations of the flowers and birds and insects.

Saturday was errands - drop off the last month's knitting at Johanne's (she and Chantal were very happy with everything), and start another pair of mitts for them.

Then a quick visit to a friend's mother, who had a gift from her daughter in New Zealand to give to me. (Lovely bale of local alpaca roving - thank you, Sara!) Topped off the afternoon with a stop at the organic bakery to pick up a couple loaves of bread and the news - a lovely finish.