Nature boy

 We had two glorious days of hot sunny weather this past weekend which we thoroughly enjoyed with the grand kids.  Julie my daughter went away for a softball tournament which meant we got to keep them for an extra day.  I would have been a great time to finish the veranda, but the stones aren’t here as yet.  So it was chilling time.

We spent some time at a park not too far from here along the river bank.  It’s one of the points were the locals launch their floating devices and ‘cruise’ the river.  You only go in one direction with the strong current of the Bow River, so ‘cruise’ may be optimistic. The kids totally enjoyed the outing.

There are lots of tall trees in the park which attracted my attention.  It is interesting how different Calgary vegetation looks in the summer compared to the winter.  In the winter months the place looks rusty.  Calgary is very hilly, and where we live we can see the Olympic hill where lots of the events in the 1988 winter games were held.  We can also see for quite a way westward toward the Rocky Mountains and the vegetation looks depressing in the winter.  By contrast the summer is green, lively and full of flowers everywhere.

I probably described most of Canada to some extent, except that the Calgary differences are more pronounced.  Alberta is part of the Canadian Prairie which is generally described as a region of flat, gently sloping, or hilly land covered chiefly by tall grasses and not many trees. I imagine most of the trees are planted by the locals.

I grew up in the lush greenness of St Kitts and spent a great deal of my life in Toronto where the vegetation stays healthy looking for longer periods of the year.  I love nature, the trees, the birds, even the ants and I can spend an entire day just ‘being in it’, vegetating.  A perfect vacation day is sitting by a nice water source, with lots of trees and lots of wild life, friendly ones.

 I don’t recall any special fondness for trees or plants as I was growing up other than I liked to climb them.  In St Kitts there are a great many beautiful trees and you can’t help but admire them as you go by.

 If you are lucky enough to notice them.

In the back yard of the house I grew up in there were two huge mango trees that were the focus of countless hours of climbing.  We also had a coconut tree, which you did not want to climb because of the Jack Spaniard (wasps) that nested amongst the coconuts.  There was a local guy who seemed immune to the wasp’s sting that we would pay to go get the nuts.

We also had a banana tree at one time and a bunch of pea’s bushes, we would use the pea leaves to whiten our teeth, and the peas were good eating raw, although we had to be careful there were often worms in the shells.

Just a sec, when you are a couch potato random thoughts enter your head, you can’t always control them.

Before I go on I must tell you a little story that just flashed across my mind as I think about our back yard.  My family raised our own chickens for food.  Sometimes we would buy the baby chickens from the nursery in Conaree St Kitts. There were also always a few ducklings and baby turkeys in the box.

Occasionally I would get attached to some of the chicks, yes they had personalities. There was this one baby chicken a few days old that got stepped on by an older chicken and broke her leg.  I did a bit of doctoring (match string and string) on the leg hoping to fix it. We bonded, I even gave her a name, and I called her ‘chicken’.  My surgery did her no good; she always walked with a limp.

We ate chicken on the weekends.  One of my chores was to, hmmm, how do I say this politically correctly, ‘ring the neck’ of the chickens.  Not something I enjoyed, it had to be done; besides this was back in the 60’s and quite acceptable.  Well you guessed it, it was ‘chicken’s’ turn to get, you know…

I bawled like a baby, someone else had to, you know…; I’ll leave it at that. I am not sure why that thought popped into my head, crazy stuff.

Anyway, plants.

One of my favourite summer plants is the ‘jump up and kiss me’ (Pansy?).  Some of our neighbours in St Kitts grew them. That memory must have been planted in my sub conscious because when I stared planting in Toronto, I planted Pansies. I don’t think they grow in Calgary, I have never seen them in the plant nursery. In Toronto I had gotten quite fond of the spring season when it was time to plant.

We moved in Calgary at the end of June, it was too late to plant for that season. There were no plants on the property of the house we moved into. The adjoining neighbours had planted trees along the property lines so we had no place to plant trees except away from the fence which we did not want to do. Our only other choice was to create the rock garden, we have lots of rocks.

We went to the nursery and purchased some plants and shrubs. The smart think would have been to learn about rock gardens first. I have since purchased a book and the first thing I read was:

“It is tempting, when shopping at the nursery, to select a wide variety of plants. Resist this temptation! Succumbing to it will lead to a hodge-podge, rather than a unified look. For the sake of your design, stick to a theme. Also, too many different kinds of plants will make the space look too busy. 

I did not have a plan for the garden in mind except plants that creep along the ground, can grow on rocks, not too tall and local.  So I purchased two of many types. Good strategy eh. So now the garden is growing and I have to balance the growth, remove some plants and move others.

When we bought most of the plants and shrubs they were quite tiny. Bigger plants can be quite costly and I did not want to invest too much money initially. The winter is harsh and some of the plants don’t make it. Besides it takes forever for some plants to grow here.  Trees can take forever, one of the reasons we stayed away from trees.

I am not your typical gardener. I hate plants dying, I take it very personal.  Well that is what Jo says. On a daily basis I select an area of the garden and groom it.  Jo sometimes helps and when she finds a ‘dying’ plant she removes it. I hate that. As for me, I want to give the ‘dead’ plants another season to ‘come back’.  Of course Jo quick draw method always starts a fight and by now you already know who wins.

Not so fast, I always recover the discarded ones when Jo is not looking and replant them. When I have success I gloat, when I don’t no one is the wiser.

The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary.
 

 

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