Sunday, August 31, 2014

Annuals -Still Strong in August

 Nicotiana is not an annual that I usually buy, but I got some when the prices were reduced at the end of June and they have done really well.  Even with the cool rainy conditions, they have resisted slug and mold damage.  And they are blooming well in a part-shade location.  Definitely will buy more next year.
 The red ones are very vibrant.

 The fibrous begonias are so dependable and bloom continuously all summer long.  The phlox just happened to be a pretty good match colour wise.

 I wondered how the ageratum would hold up.  All those fuzzy flowers would surely hold the moisture and the plant would die of rot, but that didn't happen at all.  As you can see, they are happily sprouting new blooms and the leaves are still green and healthy.

 The torenia in this basket has grown many times its initial size over the summer.  It looks a little battered in this photo as it was recently rained on, but overall it has been great.  The bumblebees really like it too.
This is an heirloom zinnia, haageneana "Chippendale" that I planted from seed that I got from Thomson and Morgan.  I find zinnias are quite susceptible to rust and other illnesses but these have been really resilient. Nice bold colour, too.
My petunias were munched on by slugs and the last ones standing are now succumbing to wilt.
The cosmos were great until about two weeks ago and then they also were a right-off.  They were pretty while they lasted though, and I'll probably plant them again next year.  If the summer had been sunnier, I'm sure they would still be blooming well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pepper Says Hi

 "Hay there, Gin!  Hope you're having a good week and thanks for being interested in me.
I'm 17 years old and I live at my "forever" home with my owner who doesn't ride me anymore.
She likes to take me for walks so I can eat grass, and to brush me so my coat stays shiny.  What do I do for her, you ask?  I talk to her in my horsey voice and eat all the carrots and apples she gives me.
Seems like a even bargain to me."

 My curious look.

 My shy look.

My intelligent look.

"I've got to go now.  There's more food that needs eating. Happy trails."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Young Robin

 When I had my horse, Pepper, out for a little walk this morning, I saw a young robin on the side of the road.  He seemed unsure of himself and didn't fly or run away when a car drove by.  When he spied Pepper and me, he started walking towards us and came within about 6' of us.  We were heading the other way so we lost sight of him, but when we got back the bird was on the driveway.

I put Pepper away and went to get my camera.  The robin was still around and allowed me to get quite close to him.

Maybe this was his first day out as he didn't seem very keen to fly.  A few bugs should strengthen him up and he'll likely be in the treetops tonight.  Fun to be able to get so close to him.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featuring Swiss Chard

Decades ago, the plant breeders at the Experimental Farm developed the strains of wheat that are now the mainstay of our Prairie harvest. More recently, they bred the very cold hardy Explorer roses which can withstand the toughest Canadian winters.  In this photo, a bed of mixed flowers and vegetables makes an interesting display.  In the middle is amaranth, and along the sides coloured Swiss chard is planted along with white Profusion zinnias.

 Sun shines through the Swiss chard leaves echoing some of the stems which are yellow.

 I really like the crinkly, wrinkly texture of the Swiss chard and the stems can be so colourful.
Chard is a good substitute for spinach, and it will grow all summer long without bolting or becoming strong tasting.

 Red zinnias and kale.  The kale makes a great frilly filler.

 Ornamental cabbage coordinating with purple alyssum and millet with bronze foliage in the background.  When the millet matures, the wild birds will enjoy it.

Bright green curly parsley fits in well with the geraniums and alyssum.  I really like the idea of interspersing some edibles in amongst the flowers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Experimental Farm Ottawa

 The Experimental Farm in Ottawa was established in 1889 as a research facility.  It covers about 1000 acres and is situated more or less in the middle of the city, although probably at its inception  it was at the west end of the built up area.  A large part of it consists of an arboretum which is a very pleasant place to go for a walk.

 I love white pines and their soft shiny needles.

 This area of the arboretum is at a higher elevation than the trees in the first photo, but the ground still felt moist so I guess the water table follows the contours of the land.  It seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes the water table on the top of a hill is closer to the surface than lower ground.  That's because the top of the hill has experienced erosion lessening the depth of soil above the water table.

A couple of moms are taking their wee ones for a walk.  Earlier an outdoor exercise class for parents and babies was taking place under a big shade tree.  What a great way to spend an afternoon!  At the left of this photo peeking through the trees is the Rideau Canal which in the winter  is transformed into a very long skateway.

Pretty peaceful, isn't it?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Diminuitive Arrangements

 People can enter a variety of flower arranging classes at the fair, but I'm always drawn to the little arrangements.
 Simple and engaging.

So well suited to the pretty pink teacup.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dogs and Other Beasties

 Watching the K-9 Agility Club demonstration is always lots of fun. The Border collies and Australian Shepherds usually ace the course, flying over the jumps, quickly wiggling through the twining poles and scooting through the tunnels.  And they do it with very little input from their trainers.

 Some of the other dogs are, well...  This Lab was having a grand old time sailing around the area, grinning at the spectators.  Focusing on the course was a little more challenging.  "Jump?"

 "Tunnel? Where?  Oh, THAT tunnel."  While the dog wasn't very interested in the tunnel, a toddler on the sidelines was crying because his grandma wouldn't let him scoot through the tunnel himself. That's life.

 An oxen from Upper Canada Village which is a historical recreation of a Victorian town.  One of the interpreters from the Village had a team hitched up and wandered the fair grounds talking to people about Victorian agriculture.

 A goat with very unusual markings at the ever popular petting zoo.

 A pretty Zebu (African) cow also part of the petting zoo.

 This is a Newfoundland pony, a heritage breed that is almost extinct , that was used as an all-purpose pony in Newfoundland in pioneer days. They are a mix of European ponies and were bred to be sturdy and good-natured.  What a beautiful head and expressive eye.

 Here are the back feet of a Clydesdale, who was also in the Heritage tent. I couldn't get a good photo of the whole horse as the lighting was terrible in the shady tent, and the bars of the stall were most distracting.  But the shaggy feet are wonderful on their own.

Finally a giant Berkshire pig weighing about 220 kg.  That's a lot of pig!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Machinery Old and New

The fair always has a display of vintage farm machinery.  I guess this old one is super cool, with aerodynamic fenders to zip you effortlessly over the fields.

Shiny new Kubota tractor with mini version.  A size for everyone.

 An early bulldozer.

Not much of a seat on this grader.  Bring your own cushion, I guess.

 A small pump doing a great job of moving water.

A monster harvester with vicious looking rotating teeth. Effective, I'm sure, but not friendly looking like the old tractors.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fair Time

 We had beautiful weather for our local farm fair at Williamstown this weekend.  I thought I would start with some photos of the cows since they really are the most important part of the fair.  Most of the cows in Ontario are black and white Holsteins but we arrived in time to see some of the Ayershire classes.

 The cows are groomed and clipped and washed so even the white shines.  The tails are combed out so they look like feather dusters.

 Time for some refreshments.

 Waiting for their classes, the cows mix and mingle with the crowd.

 The people in the ring showing the cows are dressed all in white. You not only have to have a squeaky clean cow, but you have to keep your white outfit clean as well.

Lots of shade and bedding is provided for the cows so they are very comfortable, and after their classes they can have a nice snooze.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ships Passing in the Light

 Lots of freighters going along the Seaway this summer.  Many of them are probably shipping grain from last year's bumper crop out on the Prairies.

 The river is quite wide but the ships have to stay in the middle to have enough depth of water.

 The ships pass so close to each other.  Special pilots steer the ships from Quebec City  to Thunder Bay because it is a tricky waterway.

Heading east, possibly on its way to the Atlantic Ocean.