Friday, May 20, 2022

Greek Island Hopping Itinerary


We're leaving for Greece in under a week!

Planning started in February and bookings in April, yet it still feels very unreal.

After debating whether to join a tour, we decided to create our own itinerary. Hopefully it's not too ambitious. We'll be exploring Athens and staying on five different islands over three weeks. Santorini, Amorgos and Naxos in the Cyclades; and Poros and Hydra in the Saronic. 

I think we will have a good amount of time to explore or just hang out and soak up the vibes. A few tours of the ruins, and at least a couple of day sails or evening cruises. It's likely a bit too cold for swimming, but it would be nice to soak in the thermal springs and check out beaches. Greeka is a great source for ideas for daytrips and excursions in each of the spots. 

All our ferries have been booked in advance through Ferry Hopper. Now time to pack our bags!

 

The Athenian Callirhoe in Athens

Kastro Oia

Hotel Pano Gitonia on Amorgos


Villa Kali Theo on Naxos


Euphoria House on Poros


Hydra Port Apartments

Thursday, May 19, 2022

On the wing


We've been able to enjoy lots of backyard birding thanks to our generous feeding program.
In addition to keeping the birdseed fresh in the feeders, the plants and trees are also doing their part to attract visitors.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
American Goldfinch
Bluejays
Cardinals
Hummingbirds
Downy Woodpeckers
Hairy Woodpeckers
Northern Flickers
Grackles
House Sparrows
Song Sparrows
Robins
Coopers Hawk
Purple Finch
Mourning Dove
Nuthatch
Chickadee
Starling

I was so excited to see the hummingbird darting in and out of the Solomon's Seal. From the distance, I couldn't confirm whether it was ruby-throated. A recent house guest said they saw one approach the back sliding door, so hummers are definitely in the area!

We also have the House sparrows nesting in the birdhouse again this year. I wonder if it is the same nesting pair or one of last year's brood?


 note: not my photos. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Lunar Eclipse and the Full Flower Moon in May


Watched the lunar eclipse from the front steps.  A little night magic in the neighbourhood!

Alex, Penny and Amita were here for a Sunday dinner and we glanced at the full moon in anticipation - then the sky clouded over. By 11:00 the view was clear again, but they'd already gone home for the work week ahead.

It was like watching time compressing as the light shone from a full moon to a new moon.

I couldn't help thinking of primitive times, when people may have looked up into the sky without any warning to see the moon eclipsing, and the relief in the reappearance. Maybe an unsettled feeling, that the heavens were changeable and unpredictable. Gods to intervene.


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Green again!


Great to be out working in my garden again!

Did some heavy weeding, transplanting and planting in the pollinator garden and ravine.

On the back ravine, I ripped out enough English ivy to fill a standard garden waste bag (30 gallons!)  

Unfortunately, my neighbour planted the English ivy in his ravine a few years ago and now his entire ravine slope is covered with it, smothering all the lovely green ferns that used to grow there. All his trees are dying, likely due to the concrete he dumped to try and prevent erosion. It instead seems to have compressed the soil, and the ivy doesn't help things either. It is making its way over to my slope and for the past few years I've been digging it out, but it may be a lost cause. It's tough to navigate heavy weeding on the ravine slope, I really do need to be careful not to take a tumble.

I planted some new perennials I picked up at the TBG had annual plant sale.


We'll see if the Black Snakeroot can manage an effective defence against the English Ivy. The nativar is also known as bugbane and I have it elsewhere in my garden. Not sure how it will manage on the ravine as it prefers moist soil, and I have a low maintenance policy in that area. I'm giving it a try as I like the dark colour and fern-like quality of the foliage. Chocoholic has burgundy-purple foliage is topped by fragrant, pink to white, bottlebrush-like blooms in fall.

Northern bush honeysuckle
Diervilla Ionicera
I've also planted native honeysuckle, or diervilla ionicera. It is supposed to be very hardy and adaptable to slopes, which makes it effective in fighting erosion. The pretty flowers are a bonus to pollinators, and the foliage changes to red in the fall.  Transplanted some ferns to make extra space so the bush honeysuckle could easily spread. 

Its suckers should form a good thicket with time. Under normal conditions the bush is supposed to live about 20 years. Relatively easy care, will grow in most soils and is drought resistant. Best to prune in late winter.

From the Wild Seed Project: The constant floral banquet benefits butterflies and moths and any long-tongued insects who can probe for nectar. Aside from native bumblebees, (Bombus affinis, B. terricola, B. vagans) the Sphingidae (called sphinx moths as larvae, and hawk or hummingbird moths as adults sip bush-honeysuckle’s flower nectars from long straw-like mouth parts. Smaller short-tongued insect diners include the Anthophoridae (digger bees) the Megachilidae (leafcutter bees) and the Halictidae (sweat bees, Lasioglossum species). After any of these attendants have visited, and incidentally pollinated the flowers, bush-honeysuckle’s flowers turn deeper yellow, salmon, peach then red, adding other colors to the shrub’s lively palette.

***

Wild bergamot is now nestled in with the lamium in the pollinator garden. A member of the mint family, Wild Bergamot blooms for 1 month in early to mid summer and attracts many of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. It is not the same as bee balm, which has red blooms and attracts different species of pollinators.

The Japanese anemone isn't native, but it does attract butterflies, so I dug 'Curtain Call Pink' into the pollinator garden in the front. This is a shorter stature Japanese Anemone that begins to bloom in late summer, and produces bright rose pink flowers that are positioned right above a small mound of green foliage. Spreads slowly through rhizomes.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

The bees return

Watching the bees buzzing in the garden and happy to see their return


Blood Root blooming April 11
Scilla blooming April 16
Snow on April 18
crocus and daffodils blooming throughout