Monday, 21 November 2011

Last gasp in the Garden

It has always been my aim to have a garden where interesting things are happening all year. Still, I didn't really expect to have so much colour when the garden is little more than just one year old.
Early in November, the shapely Corylopsis that came from the garden of old friends, Audrey and Robert, turned golden.

In front of it the flowers of Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Fire Dance' floated like tufts of bright pink chenille.

Across the way, the dying leaves of Hosta 'Krossa Regal' glowed a deeper gold beside 'Stormy Seas', my all-time favourite of the plum-coloured heucheras.

In the same area Cyclamen hederifolium has sprouted delicate little pink blooms on slender stems above its beautifully marbled leaves.

My two Scotch Briar roses are still in pots as we haven't yet prepared the ground for them, but their fall colour is stunning against the green of a clump of thyme.

Equally bright in the front garden is Enkianthus perulatus. It has grown considerably since I photographed it, newly planted, last year.

A close-up view shows the subtle variation in the leaves.

As a contrast we now have a Japanese maple in a large pot. The white string temporarily attached to a couple of branches is to persuade it to a more interesting shape.

Hydrangea 'Beni-gaku' continues to impress me with its deepening leaf colour.

And there are still a few flowers determined to keep opening, such as these rain-soaked, fragile blooms of rose 'Darlow's Enigma'

Note: By the middle of the month, all the leaves had fallen; only the cyclamen were undaunted by several days of cold, sleet and light snow.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Our neighbourhood

Last year the weather through October was alternately windy and rainy. As a result, leaves didn't remain long on the trees. This year it has been relatively dry and calm, and the fall colour in our neighbourhood and elsewhere has been stunning. Regrettably the maples on our block merely turn brown, but elms on the next street over formed a golden canopy over the cars and a matching carpet under them.

 Also last year, I posted lots of Halloween pictures. This year I'm putting up just one because it is so ambitious: a pirate ship that occupies most of the front yard on a nearby street.

We made a point of walking by on the night itself. In the dimly-lit bow of the ship, a large mechanical spider dropped from the deck level and reeled itself back up. There were various appropriate sound effects. A dry ice machine enveloped the steps to the front door in swirling mist. Children brave enough to reach the front door were greeted by residents dressed in pirate gear brandishing cutlasses...and candy bars. It was all very impressive.

On another theme altogether, I've been noticing a renewed interest in topiary in the Vancouver area. Here's a great example of a living fence not far from my home.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Canyon Trip

In mid-October the weather was so nice that we decided to take an overnight trip up the Fraser Canyon to Cache Creek and back through Logan Lake and the Nicola Valley. Here's a link to a map of our route  

We travelled along the north side of the river to Hope, continued north on Hwy 97 (yellow) to Cache Creek, and returned through Logan Lake (grey) to Merritt, then Hwy 5 (green) back to Hope.
Since the road hugs the Fraser River, the scenery is spectacular, both along the river ...

and through the rocky crags of the canyon. This is just one of several tunnels that the road runs through.

Trains run constantly along each side of the river. It used to be that the Canadian Pacific had its track on one side and Canadian Northern on the other. Nowadays they share the tracks and all eastbound trains run on one, all westbound on the other. No doubt it's both safer and more efficient.

I love how the blue of the containers in this last shot echoes the blue of the water.

Looking up at the mountains is as impressive as looking down at the river.

Fall colours had started to infuse the landscape,

some requiring a close inspection.

Surprise, surprise... it's a rose!

By sunset we were almost at our destination.

We had hoped to stay in Ashcroft, which is a pretty little place, but has suffered the fate of many small interior towns as people leave for lack of work. Cache Creek has more industry, including a dump for much of Vancouver's garbage, but is ugly. However, it does have motels.

The following day we began our way back through the Nicola Valley. This is a more settled, less rugged landscape than the Fraser Canyon. There are signs of abandonment here too, picturesque and a little sad.

Halfway home we took a turn-off from the highway to visit the Quintette Tunnels. This little-known miracle of engineering provided a route for the Kettle Valley Railway from the Interior to the Coast. The architect of this feat had himself lowered in a basket into the chasm cut by the Coquihalla River in order to plot how the track could negotiate the river, which at this point winds back and forth through massive rocks. He achieved his goal by linking three tunnels and two bridges. The site is now a provincial park and the former railbed is a walking trail. It is one of my favourite places to take overseas visitors to absorb some of the wild beauty of this part of the world. The tunnels are quite dark and it's advisable to have a flashlight to negotiate through them, but the views from the bridges in between are awe-inspiring.