Tuesday, July 8, 2014

25 Things You Can Do With Lavender

I love lavender. Beautiful hues of purple. Drought resistant. Heavenly scent. Edible. Organic. What is not to love?  Here are 25 Things You Can Do With Lavender (if you have other suggestions, please add below!)

1. Scent your Linens:  Put sprays of dry lavender in with your sheets for a pleasant, relaxing effect.
2. Protect your Wardrobe: Hang Sachets filled with lavender buds to repel moths and bugs.
3. Make Lavender Chocolate Truffles for that everything-chocolate Auntie with a birthday.
4. Create a beautiful Lavender Bouquet for your wedding.
5. Bake a Lavender Cake for that Summer Tea Party.
6. Stop a Heat Stroke in its tracks with a couple of drops of Lavender Essential Oil
7. Braid an enchanting Lavender Wand.
8. Chill out with Lavender Ices (ever so elegant!)
9. Spritz home-made Lavender Water to disinfect and before storing linen and clothing.
10. Wash doggie down with home-made Lavender Doggie Shampoo and repel fleas.
11. Relieve a headache with a hot or cold Lavender Tea Compress.
12. Drink a cup of Lavender Tea to bring down your social anxiety.
13. Fill a jar with dry lavender buds and sink a beeswax or soy candle in the centre for ..um..simple bliss.
14. Homemade Lavender Jam or Jelly is just plain exquisite.
15. Sew up a Lavender Sleep Pillow.
16.  Encourage pollinators by growing lavender... it blooms over a long period from Spring to Fall.
17. Clean up your house with lavender-infused vinegar.
18. Design an impressive Lavender Labyrinth or Maze formal garden
19. Home-made Lavender Bath Salts make a welcome hostess gift!
20. Create a summer Lavender Wreathe
21. Rub Lavender Salt into your meat as you cook it for a wonderful flavour
22.Grow Lavender as a small business if you have as little as a 300' X 300' growing space.
23. Enlist dried Lavender as part of a natural Flea Control program with your doggie.
24. For itchy insect bites, massage in a drop of Lavender Essential Oil and coconut oil.
25. Vacation with Lavendervisit a circuit of fabulous Lavender Farms in your area or elsewhere.

I grow a few drifts of lavender in my own yard and hope someday to have a formal lavender garden in the back (when the septic field has been replaced by a sewer system -- they keep promising and rescinding.)

What are YOUR Lavender Dreams?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Neighbourhood Garden Party

Bocce Ball- Image courtesy of dekok
Granny is off to a Garden Party with her Sweetie this afternoon. In our very neighbourhood. Every year in June, Dennis and Mary open their charming garden to people from the neighborhood. They spend countless hours (I'm guessing)manicuring their 1/2 acre property for the show.

 Mary is an artist as well as a garden designer, so there are always surprise sculptures or such. And they have the kind of healthy, gorgeous plants and blooming bushes that inspire one to go home and take another look at the back pitch.

 We each bring a salad or other picnicky-type dish. I'm taking a quinoa salad with a middle portion of guacamole-- this is a gluten-free creation that will be tasty but also allow those of us who don't eat wheat to chow down with something substantial.

 The only problem is that I don't have the sort of salad bowl that I think I need-- something between a platter and a shallow basin... My dear husband went off to do a number of unrelated tasks in town and I asked him to purchase the said bowl. Thanks to the smartphone (or android or whatever it is), he can take photos in Target and then email them to me (he isn't yet comfortable with using Dropbox). Here is what he sent:

 Which one do you think I should choose? (I know that you won't get me your answer here in time, but it will be fun anyhow).

This year the party begins at 4pm with games of Bocce and other rather athletic endeavours.   I'll be there for the food and conversation and, of course, the beautiful gardens!  ( I will aim to provide some actual photos of the beautiful event on here).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Grannies Just Wanna Have Fun-- On Facebook!

One day this week my husband and I were bewailing some friends' entries on Facebook and I decided to take a break from Facebook for the rest of the day, so worked up was I by the post and commentary.  Within five minutes after making this decision I received a call from a stranger, someone connected with the Comox Valley ElderCollege.  I think.  In any case, rather than being someone who wanted me to invest money in some crackpot internet scam, this person wants to pay me to show her how to use Facebook.  How about that for irony?

Okay, so I admit that I am someone who spends a disproportionate part of my day on the Internet.  And I have done so since about 1987.  What can I say? I'm old (as in "Granny") and in 1987 we had techy children living at home who were willing to teach me a few things.

The idea of teaching someone to "use Facebook" is akin to teaching someone how to attend large events like concerts and mass assemblies.  As an introvert, I would much rather lurk on Facebook any day than be squeezed in a seat mid-row at a rock concert or political debate.  So, yes, there probably are things that I can teach people about "using Facebook".  If my "student" gloms on and is impressed with my 'teaching' I will definitely put something together for other seniors wanting to navigate the Social Media.

Stay tuned!  If you are a grandparent (or someone in that age and / or stage of life) and would like to learn more yourself about how to have a fun and successful go at Facebook, please let me know so I can include you in my 'tutorials' (or whatever comes from this idea).  Just sign up with your name and email address below and I'll be in touch.  (I hate spam a lot, so please be assured that your contact information will NOT be passed along to anyone else.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Keeping the Deer Out of Your Garden

Traditional Landscape by Sterling Landscape Architects; Designers SURROUNDS Landscape Architecture + Construction
 You may have deer trespassing into your yard, hoping to get a meal around your patio. Or, as in the case of our son, you might have bunnies chomping up your strawberries (leaving the lettuces intact-- there goes that myth)or neighborhood dogs-without-boundaries bouncing through your tomatoes. What to do? What to do?

Well, traditionally, an elegant fence (like the one above) is an adequate barrier to roaming, intrusive critters.

Here are some suggestions to keep other critters out of your garden area:

Cats are usually drawn to a veggie or flower garden because of the loose soil that is easy to dig up and dispose of their feces.  Cat feces are not suitable to compost or dig in as fertilizer because they are carnivores, and as such, may harbour pathogenic bacteria and viruses in their feces that can cause illness for humans.

Cats can climb up over fences, unless you cap the tops of your fences with something like gutter-covers OR rig up something like coyote rollers, PV pipe suspended on wires.  You can see more about that idea here.

Both cats and deer don't like the scent of plants like rosemary or lavender.  Planting small "hedges" of either would be pleasant for humans and deterrent to the deer and felines.  Cats also do not like the scent of rue, and pennyroyal.  In fact, cats steer clear of the coleus canin ("scaredy cat plant") and citrus or citrus-scented plants like lemon thyme and lemon grasses.  Also in the smell-and-deter family is a product called "ShakeAway" that uses a glandular mix of predator urine, including coyote and bobcat, that can be shaken over the garden area.  Not sure if humans can smell this or not.  Because cats tend to return to the same ("comfortable") spot to defecate often, it is useful to leverage their distaste for wet ground by watering plants often in that area, and/or by washing down the area of cat urine as much as possible.

Cats apparently do not like getting stuff between their toes, or materials that they sense they might get their nails snarled up in.  Simply laying down something like chickenwire or birdblock on the ground and fastening with U clips-- or laying it over mulch-- will keep them off that area.  You can cut pouches out to allow your plants to grow.  Similarly, other prickly or ridged "mulch" will generally keep them away-- including rose and holly clippings, pine cones, bamboo skewers planted upwards, and the shards of eggshells.  They generally do not favour larger gravel stones (in flowerbeds for example).  They apparently also do not like human hair (a place to compost after a haircut) and there is some divergence of success with using teabags and coffee grounds to deter.

A step-up from using a water pistol to spray them when you see them readying to make a deposit, is a motion-detecting "scarecrow sprinkler" that throws a blast of water when nearby motion is detected.

I know that a small barking, cat-chasing dog can keep cats out of the garden (as long as she is around).  The same goes for crows, some years.

I have tried to represent the most humane methods of keeping cats and deer out of the yard.  Please don't use cayenne pepper (may be harmful), moth balls (most definitely toxic to cats and small children AND the soil that you are growing your food crops in), electric fencing, or any number of other nasty ways of getting expelling critters from your yard.  The most creative suggestion I came across was to plant a patch of catnip in close proximity to a sandbox.  It is quite likely that the cats will loll in the catnip-- make it their own pleasure haven-- and then do their business in the nearby sandbox.  Yes, you will have to clean up the feces from the sandbox, but you won't have to clean them out of your garden.

To get some ideas on how to humanely rid your garden of moles go HERE.


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