Working on a narrative about Quebec

I have two years of posts about our house in Quebec, many about our gardening adventures. 

Editing the first segment this evening which was an independent non-blog narrative (this is after I’ve finished laborious cutting and pasting from blog posts, along with other saved narrative pieces into new Word documents) reminds me of how our gardens ground us in the world.

I’m not sure how I’ll form all of the posts into a coherent story, but it’s a story that’s worth sharing, I hope.

I. know I’ll enjoy revisiting our story of somehow acquiring a cottage in Quebec. 
I find it serendipitous and remarkable, reflecting back to our two summers and two winters in our magical place that we steward and the landscape that my gardening companion has transformed.

Nor our cottage, but inspired by it:  painted in an acrylic class last winter

A small painting that I did last winter, thanks to a painting class sponsored by the Heritage St. Lawrence folks.   Our cottage is this color.

A neighbor’s passion vine

With warmer temperatures this summer, Passiflora incarnata seems to be thriving here in the Asheville basin.  Two of our neighbors have robust vines, with lots of flowers, as do others in the neighborhood.
It’s a host plant for gulf frittilaries, a semi-migratory butterfly that often didn’t make it to the Piedmont in colder years, in the two plus decades we lived there.
But the plant itself seems to be fine in the last couple of mild winters here in the mountains of Western North Carolina — it won’t survive a return of the polar vortex, but who knows what our weather may bring in the coming years.

A hummingbird appears

Stymied by our urban bears, we can’t have bird feeders or hummingbird feeders at ground level this summer in Asheville.

Note this fellow’s activities in this post in Places of the Spirit:
He enjoyed the bird seeds followed up by a downing of sugar water from the hummingbird feeder.
So, we’ve regrouped and added supports for feeders up on our covered deck, both for hummingbirds and for seed feeders.
Happily, a hummingbird appeared today, visiting, shortly after the feeder was up.

Revamping Blogger templates

Farewell, my old Blogger template, which I quite liked.  

Perhaps it wasn’t mobile friendly, but I liked it and had used it happily since 2007, with modifications to gadgets (posting presentations and info, as it evolved).

So being nudged/forced/encouraged into something new, well it was a bit unsettling.   

I’ve been resisting the upgrade for some time, as the revert to legacy switch made all of my sidebars disappear.  But finally, this afternoon, I tried to see what might work, among the “new” templates.

Happily, a sister format to my Places of the Spirit blog template found me able to recover my side bars, even though the archive posts require some scrolling.  Whatever.  

I’ll keep reviewing the site, but at least it’s not the mess that some of the new Blogger templates create.

I’ve made over 2200 posts so far on this site and accumulated followers along the way (all of whom were disconnected, I think, with the “upgrade.”)  Whatever, too.  It looks like it’s easy to subscribe in the new format.

Two examples from the past, included in presentations.  Farewell, friend.


Trombocino squash

My trombocino squash plant is spreading everywhere in my front raised bed, swamping the baby butternut vines, the herbs, and the Sweet Million tomato that share that bed.  Yikes, I think, as I’m trying to figure out how to subdue it.

I have to step carefully around it as I harvest the Sweet Millions and look for young developing squash.

Somehow I missed this large squash – hidden in the middle of the bed. (Normally, I like to harvest them much smaller, but fortunately it’s still quite nice.)



I need to get out and prune off the yellowing leaves, but haven’t had the time. 

Thank goodness that this year is a low insect and disease year so far, so the rambunctious garden still looks attractive in front of the house.


This was a week or so ago.  The squash are on the left.  Beans and tomatoes are trying to keep up.

The blessings of a late summer garden.


Fern offspring

I already posted this on Places of the Spirit.  Surely it really belongs in Natural Gardening, but the margins between the two blur.

Young ferns appeared at the base of the sedum bed this spring, a charming and welcome addition to the shadiest part of the bed.  They’re now a lot bigger!

I’d initially thought that the spores had floated in from our neighbor’s garden, but now — well, it’s clear the source is the robust wood fern at the corner of the house.


Dryopteris intermedia (intermediate wood fern) does well here in the North Carolina mountains.  And in this year of plenty of rain (and afternoon thunderstorms), well, it’s flourishing.



I had a conversation yesterday with a fellow Flinger (a local first-timer) where she asked, why would I come to an gardening area so different than mine?

Well, it’s basically to see plants and gardens in different venues, I said, and certainly today’s gardens were like that.  The rock garden aesthetic as shown in some of these gardens was SO different than anything I’d seen before, it had me thinking that maybe there’s a sub-culture of rock garden design.  But combining roses, irises, and peonies, with rock garden plants in other beds.  Hmm.  That’s definitely different, and the small-scale enjoyment of the rock garden — I’m not sure I’ve experienced anything quite like that in North America.  Alpine gardens in Northern European botanical gardens focus on alpines, and have a similar feel, but these rock garden plants are coming from Mediterranean climates.  A very hairy-stemmed Stachys was quite extraordinary, although I’ve appeared not to have taken a photo of it.
Here’s a sampling of vignettes from the gardens today.