Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Vacation Starts Now!

My vacation has finally arrived and not a moment too soon. The last few weeks at work were very trying and frustrating, made worse when my request for a couple of extra days of unpaid leave was turned down. I’m hoping that the next 10 days restores my mindset to a better place.

Anyway, things got off to great start on Friday. Hubby met me in the driveway with a nice bottle of wine and I took it out to the back deck. It was a beautiful evening and we had some tasty BBQ chicken and corn-on-the-cob for dinner and just relaxed. It was a very peaceful way to start my holiday.

Who needs to pay for a resort vacation when you have this view in your own backyard?
Saturday morning started off just brilliant. It was hot even at 8 o’clock although not as hot as our thermometer was showing. Take some advice; never put an outdoor thermometer where the sun can shine directly on it. You just can’t believe it until it gets back into the shade. I took my coffee down to the garden and planted some companion plants down the tomato rows. They really seem to appreciate having some marigolds mixed in amongst them. I’m not sure why, but it seems to be beneficial and it makes the garden look nicer, too.

Don’t believe what you see. It is never 105 degrees on the Witch’s Island!
I’m planting some marigolds amongst the tomatoes because they really seem to love each other.

Hubby has spent the first week of his vacation working on the gazebo. He was finishing up the base Friday afternoon by adding diagonal bracing to the posts and blocking between the joists. The whole thing is now very rigid and heavy. He may have over-engineered it a little (okay, maybe a lot!) but better to be safe than sorry. The roof is going to be heavy, too and we don’t want a strong wind to be able to flip the whole thing over.

Hubby is finished with the base unit. It’s all braced now and is as solid as a rock.

The posts are all cross-braced.
He’s now ready to start adding the floor on top of the base unit and that meant that we had to decide what we were going to use. Last week we were at Home Depot down in the Big City buying more lumber when we spotted a pallet of cedar deck boards. The prices seemed pretty good but we were thinking that we were going to use pressure-treated spruce and that it would be the cheapest option. This week we went back to the Big City and checked around at all the local lumber yards for prices only to return to the Home Depot and those cedar boards. It turned out that the cedar was only a couple of cents more per board at the listed price but it was also on sale, reduced by 10%! The cedar was actually cheaper than the spruce! I was really happy because I would much rather walk on wood that hasn’t been treated with all those chemicals and the cedar smells so nice. Scratch the picture below and inhale; you’ll love the aroma, too.

We hope we bought enough of this beautiful cedar decking because it was going so fast we probably won’t be able to get any more.

It took us quite a while to select the nicest boards but nobody bothered us as we went through three big stacks of wood. It was stored outside their store in the bright sunshine and afterwards I realized that I had gotten a good sunburn. Not smart. In the end we bought 60 eight foot long boards and 8 twelve footers for a total of $275. After we got home we laid the boards out on top of the platform to see if we bought enough and we had plenty. In fact, we may have as many as 15 of the eight foot boards too many. We’re going to return any we don’t use… or maybe we’ll build a sauna!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Mid Week Gazebo Update

Work on the gazebo has taken some good steps forward so far this week. Hubby has been taking advantage of time off from work and good weather to get the foundation work done. Despite having to go to town almost daily for materials he has placed all the footing stones and covered the ground with landscape cloth and river rocks to prevent grass and weeds from growing, installed and leveled the posts and attached the main floor joists. The rest of the perimeter boards got screwed in place last night. You can see the octagon shape clearly now and it’s going to be bigger than I thought. Maybe even huge!

Anyway, here are some pictures from this week for you to peruse. Mouseover the images for a brief description of what is happening. Enjoy!

Hubby is starting to cover the grass with landscape cloth. The bricks are there just to hold the cloth in place.
A close-up of the cloth under one of the base stones.
This block is almost ready to be glued down to its base stone.
The blocks have all been glued down. He ran out of landscape cloth before getting all the grass covered.
The joists have been temporarily set in the blocks to make sure they stay aligned.
The first of two loads of river stones to cover up the landscape cloth.
The first load of river stones went only this far so it was back to the store to get some more.
The ground cover is all down and washed. Looking good!
The first of the actual posts have been installed and the main joists attached.
This box will form the backbone for the gazebo. I hope he made it strong enough!
The base unit is almost done. Just a few more joists and then we’re onto the decking.
The base unit is almost complete.
The test ring was very helpful in setting up the foundation but it can disassembled now and its parts used elsewhere.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gardens and Gazebos

So where has the Witch been lately? I’ve been out in the ‘back 40’ planting out the gardens, fighting huge swarms of black flies and wild wind storms. I’m now a super hero Witch of some sort.

The garden has taken a big set back because of this weather. I’m just really pissed because it almost killed my Moon Flower vine which I have been babying for weeks inside. I had just put it out in a ceramic pot on the back deck and given it a nice little cedar trellis to climb its way onto the railing and then the next day we had high winds with gusts up to 100 kph. The poor little vine lost more than half of its leaves and was looking pretty pathetic. Luckily, the nursery had some still in stock and I bought two more. Maybe giving the first one two friends to play with will help it recover. The wind also destroyed a few plants in the veggie gardens, a pumpkin here and a sunflower there, but for the most part the rest were okay.

This is my first Moonflower on the day I planted it. Little did I know what was in store for it.
The plant id tag for my Moonflower.
The gazebo is making slow (painfully slow, but don’t tell him I said that!) progress. All the foundation stones have been placed and installed. He has cut some scrap posts to set the pattern ring on level to check the placement of the post blocks. Good thing too, as they needed some tweaking. We’ve started buying some lumber and boy, is it ever expensive. We’ve spent over $200 so far for wood and another $175 on the stones and other stuff. We might be eating hot dogs instead of steak this year.

The test posts have been cut to level up the test ring. That’s some of the actual building materials he’ll use laying on top.
I’m really wondering what the next 2 months will be like because that’s our window for summer and then afterwards you might as well get the snow blower and driveway marks ready. Hubby is now on vacation for 5 weeks so hopefully the gazebo will start to take shape. I start vacation next week for 2 weeks and I can hardly wait. The countdown is on. I’m also planning on making Canada Day Cupcakes and proudly flying all the flags I’ve got. I just love this country and I’m very proud to have been born and raised here.

I’m sharing some photos of wild lupines growing in the ditches and a bouquet of flower I picked from around the house. The Witch’s Island is a beautiful place at this time of year.

Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley make a colourful bouquet.
I’ve added some Lilac to this vase.
The lupines grow all along the roads here and last for most of June.
Lupines range in colour from white to dark purple and looks their best when the colours are mixed together like this.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gazebo Update 2

The gazebo took a small step forward this week. Hubby started laying out the stones and block that will become the foundation of the building. It’s a slow process, though with lots of pauses to consider the progress. The neighbours must have been wondering what was burning in our yard, but little did they know that it was just the smoke pouring out of Hubby’s ears as he tried to revise his plans in his head!

We have decided that there will be a space of about five feet between the little daylily garden beside the deck and the side of the gazebo. This will allow ample room to drive the John Deere through on grass-cutting day and keep the shadows from completely blacking out the plants.

Getting this gap the right size took some time. We had planned to attach the gazebo directly to the existing deck which would have meant that it would be closer. Now that the gazebo is free-standing we need to be able to drive the lawn tractor through this space.

After that decision was made he started to insert and level the patio stones which will spread out the weight of the gazebo over a larger area. Our backyard has a lot of gradients and the area we picked to put this building is actually one of the steepest parts. Hopefully, we will figure this out correctly so that we don’t wake up some morning to find that the gazebo has slid down to the vegetable garden.

The first two foundation blocks have been planted and aligned.

The footing blocks have been put, more or less in their proper location.

Hubby managed to set the two front blocks and temporarily align most of the others before the rain started again. At least with the first of the materials bought and put in place we are actually going to build this thing this summer. We’ll keep you updated as we go along!

This is as far as we got before the rain started up again.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Garden Centre Inspiration

It’s been a cold wet week here on the Witch’s Island. Not the best weather to be out digging in the ground but our gardens are crying out for their flowers and veggies so hopefully we’ll get some co-operation from the skies today and get them planted out.

In the mean time we have been looking for inspiration at some of the pictures we took last month at a couple of the local garden centres. We just love going to these places, they are always so beautiful especially at this time of year when they are packed to the rafters with all their brightly coloured flowers. The warmth and the humidity and the possibilities all seem endless. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to afford to fill your tulip beds with as many bulbs as they used in the first couple of pictures?

Enjoy the photos, I’m going to finish my coffee and then go out and start getting dirty!

The demonstration garden at one of our local garden centrs.

Each of these tulip beds must have had hundreds of bulbs in them.

More tulips.

I wish that my flower beds looked this beautiful.

Inside another greenhouse it was a riot of colour with flowers on the ceiling, the wals and the floor!

These Pansies were arranged by colour. Which would you pick?

Marigolds are one of my favourite annuals. They are very hardy and last well into the fall.

More Pansies!

Impatiens are also very popular. Just look at all the boxes they have ready!

There were lots of hanging baskets and bags, too.

This grapevine has been growing inside this greenhouse for as long as we’ve been going there. It produces an amazing quantity of fruit every year.

Hubby loves Coleus and puts some in every year.

Calla Lilies as far as the eye can see.

Walmart has it’s greeters and so does this garden centre.

Did you bring any food?