Help us identify the mystery flower

Stephen’s student teacher gave him seeds in February before she went back to school. He couldn’t remember what they were so we planted them indoors and this spring we transplanted outdoors. The plant was green for the longest time (and snaked out like a vine). The stems and leaves are rubbery. A few weeks ago the green stems and leaves started to turn red. A few days ago it bloomed! It closes at night and then opens again during the day. Nobody we know has been able to identify this flower! Can anybody put us out of our misery????

A garden to live in

Chris mentioned visiting a friend’s garden last week and being very impressed by the coziness of it. That friend is Jennifer Kerslake of Barriere and a few days ago I asked if I could return to take photos with the intention of posting them here. She agreed!

Jennifer was in Band with me at Barriere Secondary School, many years ago. I’m a little older than she (one of her brothers was in my graduating class, though!), so we didn’t spend much time together, but she eventually became a teacher and is teaching our daughter Helen this year at Barriere Elementary School. We’ve gotten to know her a bit better the last few years through piano lessons, 4-H, and of course, the school Katie, Stephen and Helen attend. (Small towns!)

Here’s a view of her garden, taken from her back porch, and tucked against the fence at the back of the picture. I had to include the tree in the foreground because it framed the picture so nicely! You can see her new greenhouse on the right.

I don’t think I could show you Jenn’s garden without mentioning her husband Robbie (who also grew up in Barriere!) I think that Jenn has the gardening “bug” but Robbie is the dirt mover, builder, and garage sale professional. Everytime I asked Jenn where she found something decorative or functional, it seemed that it was one of Robbie’s finds or manufacturing projects! Robbie is something of a handyman; pretty accomplished at many things. He actually operates his own business as, you guessed it, a handyman. What really impressed me is that he built an igloo in their back yard this past winter and spent a night in it with their two children! Very cool (literally, I guess!)

Here is a picture of the greenhouse, which Robbie built this year after their old one collapsed over winter. Jenn is experimenting and has put plants directly into the dirt floor of the greenhouse. I’ll try to get a picture of this when I go back in a month’s time for “progress” pictures of the garden.

Here’s the garden to the left of the greenhouse. Notice that there are no rows!!! Many of the gardens we admire (including our own) are rows, grids and patches. Totally functional. Nothing wrong with that. But Jenn’s garden, which is mostly vegetable and fruit, is a little botanical garden. She and Robbie have been in the house five years and each year they keep adding to the end of the garden strip. Their garden now stretches from one end of the lot to the back fence! And, it’s a reasonably large lot.

Here’s a nice touch!

The hose pipe! Yes, I did a double take, too, but the spray nozzle was either attached by one of their children or was screwed in to keep track of it! Apparently Robbie found a coil hose (like the springy plastic wrist bands that hold keys) that can be attached to this nostalgic hand pump so that Jenn can water plants inside the greenhouse.


Here’s something neat. A series of metal hoops extending perhaps 15-20 feet allow raspberries to twine around, making the raspberry bush an archway.

A creative use for an old wire basket…something for a vine plant to grab on to.

A miniature wishing well.

A view of the back end of the garden. There’s a bench in the back corner that just invites a cup of tea and a good book!

Chris and I are always very curious about other people’s gardens as we are such newbie gardeners. We have spent a few years really thinking about soil, varieties, and in some instances, just wondering how to get things to grow and bear fruit! We have been talking a bit over the last year about how our indoor planters would look in the Earthship and Jenn’s concept of “garden” really appeals to us.

We’ve also been discussing what our front yard would look like once we remove the old office and move into the Earthship. Traditional lawn is high maintenance and requires lots of water. But, we still wanted a front yard that we could sit in, barbecue in and entertain comfortably in. We also want to use every available bit of front yard for the production of our food (and flowers) and for living space. Although I’m sure Jenn’s garden is not the only garden that has moved away from the “row” concept, it is certainly the first one we’ve seen up close.

And we like it!

First Tomatoes Spotted

I got a thrill this afternoon while weeding the garden. A tomato plant has two tiny green tomatoes started on it! I was surprised … the plants have been flowering but I did not expect to see tomatoes yet.

I added the second tire to my potato stacks today. I have started six stacks in total and the claim is fifty pounds of potatoes per stack. We’ll be in potatoes all winter!

The dog continues to dig in the garden. Onions seem to be her favourite choice so I have put a string fence around that planter. I may have to resort to more drastic measures, although I am not sure what those measures would be …

Sandra and I visited a friend’s garden this evening. She has done an amazing job with her garden. It is very inviting and cozy … something to aspire to. We walked away with four plants, and I now have high hopes that we will be feasting on eggplant before the summer is out.

We are planning to go kayak camping tomorrow for four days. Katie is sick (Stephen already had it) but we are hoping she will be feeling well tomorrow. This is our first trip of the season and we are going to Clearwater lake. The kids are excited! Stephen got freeze dried food in his stocking last Christmas and he is looking forward to his apple cobbler.

When we return we should be back to thinking about the house within a couple of days!