Night Blooming Cereus

Two nights ago my friend Marlene’s night blooming cereus was blooming again. It’s quite a spectacular site – the flower begins its display around eight in the evening, slowly opens over a couple of hours, around  midnight it develops a wafting scent (to attracts the bats that pollinate the flower), by three in the morning it has begun to fade, and it’s finished blooming around dawn.

Night Blooming Cereus

I took this photo around 9:30. The flower isn’t fully open; the outer petals will expand further creating a flat disc around the cupping petals. But you can see the glory of the bloom even at this stage.

Here is a photo of the first time this cactus bloomed (I don’t have the exact year mid to late 1980s, likely) – just before it was fully open around midnight.

Orchid Cactus – Original

We spent that evening in the garden, sipping wine, watching the flower open. No bats, sadly, to pollinate it. I had enlargements of the photo printed to commemorate the occasion. I still have the print hanging in my home.

The Truth About Spring in Nova Scotia

I’ve heard nothing but griping about winter for the past week. I’m not among the gripers. That’s because I’ve been keeping records for 30+ years on the first appearance of Forsythia and Coltsfoot in Halifax.

We’re still in the grips of winter – two snow storms in the past ten days. Strong winds, freezing rain. I understand that the time has changed and the calendar has passed March 21 but guess what — we can expect at least another month of “winter” here!

First Coltsfoot – April 27 2016

When I started keeping track more than 30 years ago, the first Forsythia – those bright yellow shrub flowers, the first we see in spring in Halifax didn’t show up until close to the 20 of May – the earliest I recorded Forsythia up to 1992 was May 16. From 1997 to last year that date slowly shifted – from May 12 to around May 2. In 2015 I recorded some Coltsfoot and Forsythia on May 2. Last year I actually saw some Coltsfoot and Forsythia on April 27. That’s still a month to go.

First Dandelions – May 31 2016

We can’t expect to see Dandelions in bloom until around May 24 in Nova Scotia.

So there’s no point in griping – enjoy what sunshine we’re getting. Be sure to put on a warm jacket. The calendar may say “spring” but Spring won’t arrive in Nova Scotia until the very END of April – even with the changing climate.

Amaryllis

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My amaryllis last year was a serious disappointment – one flower stalk which began fading before it was full opened. I look forward to a couple of weeks pleasure from this one (2016) – two sturdy stalks, each with four blooms. A bit of spring in the midst of winter!

Dogwood


My friend’s dogwood is in full bloom. I love the hint of pink in the petals. By the time I took the photo the sky had clouded over. Just imagine the glow with a bit of sunlight hitting the blooms.

“Victoria” Blue Salvia!

It turns out what I planted the other day isn’t Lavender but Victoria Blue Salvia.

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Blue Salvia

Some friends came up with suggestions such as Indigo but the leaves were all wrong for Indigo. I finally searched for “purple flower spikes” and found the plant. That explains the lack of scent. There are auxiliary shoots in the leaf axils which will also produce flowers ending up with lots of purple spikes as the season advances.

The plants are looking happy in their new container homes. So the plant was a good choice.

Spring, Yeah!

A wonderful warm day – 20 C in my part of the city. The first so far. Buds on the trees are fattening, the hosta is beginning to show, and the patch of crocuses that have survived are open!

I will need to plant a whole lot more in the fall in spots that are sunnier than this spot – they make me smile and feel hopeful that the season is really changing.

Winter in Halifax 2016

This is my back deck just after our second snowfall last week. Both snowfalls were wet and heavy but the undisturbed expanse looks lighter. It won’t all melt before our next storm arrives whenever so the snow will continue to accumulate.

Let’s hope I don’t get the accumulation I experienced last winter!

Peru, Nov 3 2014

A last word on Peru.

I got home suppertime on Saturday, Oct 31 – just in time to see parents and small children dressed up for Hallowe’en knocking on doors on my street. I got my stuff in, closed the door, leaving the lights off. Nothing in my house for trick ‘n treaters.

The trip had felt long, the flight from Lima to Newark took nearly eight hours, a five hour stopover, and short flight of two hours to Halifax. With the help of a bit of imodium, I made it home without difficulty. Since getting back, my goal has been to return to a reasonable diet of fruits and vegetables which I sorely missed in Peru.

Did laundry on Sunday, ironed shirts and pants this afternoon. Everything is now back where it usually lives. While I was ironing this afternoon, I also monogrammed two towels – last winter someone stole my plain white towel at the pool, I came home and machine embroidered my name on my towels in large letters so no one else will make the same mistake!

Returned to my regular schedule – up Monday morning for the aquacise class at 9:00 am; followed by a visit to the GP who reassured me I’ll live (but also thought it prudent to take stool samples, “just in case”). I’ll hear from him once he gets the results back from the lab.

The United Air people came today to pick up my damaged suitcase – covered with duct tape – to repair they have said – it’ll be interesting to see how they think they’re going to do that! The split runs completely from top to bottom.

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My back garden is in full fall mode – the flame bush must have been gorgeous a couple of weeks ago just after I left, now most of the leaves have dropped. There’s been some frost – not much left of the hosta. Coming weekend I’ll disassemble the umbrella and store it in the shed.

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And I’ve resumed the pair of socks I had half done when I left – another pair from leftovers – which I expect to finish this evening.

In spite of the TD, I really enjoyed Peru – a completely different way of life, even in the urban settings. I loved visiting the artisans and seeing how their work is one constant improvisation on traditional crafts – either in terms of technique, or subject matter, or both. I know what I saw will affect my own future creations.

I started a quilt before I left; tomorrow, I hope to pick up where I left off – I have five sets of four strips to join and turn into blocks, then blocks into rows… Maybe by weekend I’ll have another quilt top.

It will soon be time to start thinking about next fall’s adventure. It’s like Maggie Muggins (a radio show from my childhood) – “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow!” I have no idea where it will take me – last fall I certainly wasn’t expecting to spend two weeks in Peru!

Fall’s On The Way…

Yesterday I could feel it in the air. “The closing down of summer…” as Alastair MacLeod describes it in his wonderful short story of that name – the first in his collection “As Birds Bring Forth The Sun.” Yesterday there was a hint of the chill to come, although the temperature was in the 20s; a smell unmistakable and yet indescribable. It was there.

Today I look around and see harbingers everywhere:
The hosta flowers have been finished for more than a week – I’ve been meaning to cut the stalks off for a month, the pruners have been sitting on the bench in my front hall waiting for me to get to the task – just haven’t done it yet.

The bees are busy harvesting pollen from the echineacea – more bees than I’ve seen all summer long – they know the season has begun changing.

I haven’t spotted any blue chicory along the roadside but there’s lots of goldenrod around. It all reminds me of a seventh-grade science project – the seed chart – a sheet of bristolboard filled with samples of local wildflower seeds in small bags and carefully labelled – that’s why I recognize our fall wildflowers and remember their names.

For the next six weeks or so Nova Scotia’s weather will be our best of the year – warm, often sunny days with comfortable, cool evenings. Nobody travels far in September/October – we don’t want to miss a moment of it! For soon the cold and snow and short days will be upon us… And we’ll be yearning for our wonderful early fall weather which seems oh so brief.

Mandevilla

The red Mandevilla has finally taken off – it believes our warmer weather means summer. Each bloom lasts a day or two and before one drops off, another has already opened to take its place. 
I will definitely plant these again next summer!