My Green Patch - Gardening In The Maltese Islands

Friday, May 2, 2014

Butchart Gardens Part 2 - The Rose Garden

1 comment
Welcome back to my tour of The Butchart Gardens.  The post is titled the Rose Garden, which is where we will eventually end up, but first we need to go through some truly magnificent pathways as we traverse the concert lawn and the fireworks lawn.  These lawns are used for all sort of festivities that are held periodically in the gardens.  

The Concert and Fireworks Lawns

As we head straight from the Sunken Garden we first arrive at the concert lawn.  Numerous concerts are held here in Summer from 1st July till the Canadian Labour Day.  In Winter, Christmas festivities are also prominent here. 

Totem Poles split the lawns in two separating the distinct areas.  These two creations were added to the gardens to mark the 100th anniversary.

Butchart Gardens Totem Poles
Butchart Gardens Totem Poles

Butchart Gardens Totem Poles
Butchart Gardens Totem Poles

As we walk past the totem poles we come to the fireworks lawn.  As the name suggests, this is a place for fireworks.  Firework shows have started here in 1977, and have been a Summer staple ever since. Nowadays shows are even more spectacular with light shows choreographed to music.

Butchart Gardens Fireworks Lawn
The Fireworks Lawn
In Between

As we walk around the concert and fireworks lawns there are some truly beautiful passages that lead on to the Rose Garden.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Butchart Gardens Wind Chimes

Butchart Gardens Wind Chime

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens Sequoia Tree
Plaque Reads: Coast Redwood Sequoia Sempervirens - Planted 1934

The Rose Garden

Here we are at the rose garden.  The scent can be smelled before you get to the actual spot.  The rose garden is simply a circular lawn surrounded by rose bushes of all species and colors.  It is a small garden but it is a sight not to be missed, or smelled!

Butchart Gardens Rose Garden
The circular rose garden

Butchart Garden Roses
Some Beautiful Blooms

Butchart Gardens Rose Garden
Love the color of this rose

Butchart Gardens Rose Garden
Butchart Gardens Rose Garden Well
As we come round full circle, another passage takes us along a path that veers to the right.  A glorious fountain appears.  The Sturgeon Fountain.  (Guess what's in the middle!).  

Butchart Gardens Sturgeon Fountain
The Sturgeon Fountain

This fountain takes us to the gateway of another magnificent garden, the Japanese Garden.  That is another post however.  I hope you enjoyed this part of the trip, and will join me next time as we visit some more beautiful scenery at Butchart Gardens.



Read More...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Butchart Gardens Part 1 - The Sunken Gardens

Leave a Comment
Last Summer we had the pleasure of visiting Canada, crossing from Toronto to Vancouver by train.  When we got to Vancouver, we could not leave without crossing over to Vancouver Island.  I had the privilege of visiting the most beautiful garden I've seen to date, Butchart Gardens.  


Butchart Gardens Sign
Welcome - Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens started to take shape over a century ago when Jennie Butchart decided to turn the old cement quarry that used to belong to her husband into a garden. Over the course of time, one garden turned into two and three, and now the gardens are composed of six main areas.  The Sunken Garden, the Rose Garden, the Concert Lawn, the Fireworks Lawn, the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden with the Star Pond.  

The gardens employ over fifty gardeners who do all the work at night, so that the visitors can enjoy the gardens during the day time.  It is meticulously kept with not a dead leaf in sight.  When you see the enormity of this place it's quite a feat.  

I will split this feature into four posts, one for each garden, starting with the Sunken Garden. It is perhaps the most breathtaking garden of all, and the entrance to it is certainly intended to leave visitors in awe.


Butchart Gardens Sunken Garden
Butchart Gardens Sunken Gardens Entrance

Butchart Gardens Sunken Gardens
Towards the Sunken Gardens

As we made our way through the darkened paths we were completely unaware what was waiting for us beyond the final bend.  We were quite happy feeling belittled by the enormous trees that surrounded us. Then we came to a clearing ....

Butchart Gardens Sunken Garden
The Sunken Gardens

Butchart Garden Sunken Garden
The Sunken Gardens

Butchart Garden Sunken Garden
The Sunken Gardens - steps to another view point

It was hard not to gasp, and as we stood there is was quite entertaining watching people who were walking behind us have the same reaction we did a few seconds before them.  The pictures cannot begin to describe the work involved in this garden.  

It took Mrs Butchart twelve years to transform this cement quarry into a garden.  She started in 1909 and finished in 1921.  To date this garden still blooms, and it just as magnificent as it was over one hundred years ago.

Butchart Gardens Sunken Gardens
Sunken Garden - The Original Cement Quarry

Butchart Gardens Sunken Garden
Animals in the Sunken Gardens

Butchart Gardens Sunken Garden
Sunken Gardens Quarry Walls

Towards the back of the quarry a small lily pond appears, and Ross Fountain dances in the distance.  The fountain was installed in 1964 to mark the 60th Anniversary of the gardens. 

Butchart Gardens Sunken Garden
Sunken Garden Lily Pond

Butchart Gardens Sunken Garden
Sunken Garden Lily Pond

Butchart Gardens Sunken Garden
Ross Fountain

We have come to the end of the first part.  I hope that you have enjoyed our tour of the Sunken Gardens, stay tuned for part two, the glorious Rose Garden.



Read More...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Wild Fennel and a Trip To The Country

Leave a Comment
Today I want to share with you some country views.  This time it's Mtahleb, Malta.  I think this place has some of the nicest views on the island.  It is not easily accessible and there is no public transport that goes down there I believe, so not many tourists make it there.  It has some lovely trails and great scenery though, especially in Spring.

Maltese countryside
Mtahleb Views

Maltese Countryside
Mtahleb hills

Maltese Countryside
The hills, the trails and the sea
As we were walking along the trail I could not help noticing a plant that was predominant.  I later found out that it is wild fennel.  Once you know what it is, the smell is instantly recognizable.  The plant in not edible apparently but the flowers are really beautiful.

Wild Fennel
Wild Fennel plants

Wild Fennel Flowers
Fennel Flowers
If you are on this part of the island, or know any locals who can take you, please visit this place.  It is quite lovely.  Just make sure you keep out of farmland and away from pesky farm dogs!

Read More...

The Power of Snails, The End, and The Beginning

1 comment
The new season this year brought with it a new pest to my little yard.  Snails!  I never had a problem with snails before, and I do believe I have brought this upon myself.  I remember foolishly throwing a snail or two from my fresh lettuce, out the door into my yard.  I had no idea they would grow this big, and multiply this fast.

After the first rain came what seems like an army of hungry snails wreaked havoc in my enclosed yard.  They had nowhere to go and they had plenty to eat.  Lots of fleshy succulents for the taking.

Kalanchoe snail damage
Snail damage on Kalanchoe

kalanchoe snail damage
Kalanchoe eaten

kalanchoe snail damage
Snail caught red (brown) handed!

It took me about a couple of hours to remove more than 25 snails for my plants.  In total they destroyed all succulents, eaten a good chunk of my passion flower and one leaf of my Hoya.  The only plant that remained untouched was the Schefflera.

snail behind trellis
Snail hiding behind the passion flower trellis
It was with some sadness that I almost emptied the entire yard.  Was this the end?

The only remaining plants that I have now are the Passion Flower, the Schefflera, and a shelf of a few surviving cactii.

snail pellets
Snail pellets

I have started using snail pellets and have since removed another ten snails.  I no longer find any snails now, and I am beginning to feel hopeful again.  If you ever find snails in your fresh greens, DO NOT throw them out in your garden !! Lesson learnt.



Read More...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Two Wrongs Do Make One Right In The Garden

8 comments
I enjoy going out in the yard, have a look around, like a foreman watching a project unfold, and give some satisfied nods.  Lately, however, two spots have been catching my eye, and I look at them in disapproval, as if they will magically disappear or right themselves.  

The first sore spot was a large pot that I had purchased with the idea of filling with herbs.  I did plant rosemary and sage in it once, but that was a disaster.  After I threw the dead plants away, I stuck the container in a corner never to see a pinch of soil again.  It was too big for my yard, and I had no plants to plant in it.

My second sore spot was my succulent on the succulent shelf.  I have had this plant for over four years now, and it just keeps hanging on to dear life.  I have completely neglected this plant, never repotted it, hardly ever water it, and when I do the water goes straight out, the compost has become so hard it fails to absorb any water now.  I know what I should do to rescue it, but I just don't want to!  Still there it is, a monster of a plant staring at me in defiance everyday.

succulent


Yesterday I decided I had to do something about this plant.  I took a closer look at it, and I saw that all its stems and leaves had sprouted roots.  Now I know where it was getting its water from.  The stems' roots that touched the wood collected the water that came out of the pot, ingenious.  I had noticed these roots before, but now it was like a small jungle, a mini ecosystem hidden among the leaves.

succulent roots



I was curious to see what was going on in the pot, so I lifted it as gently as I could.  I was not able to hold all the stems in my arms it was so big.  I spread it out on the floor, and I could see the main stems jutting out of the pot.  I am not sure if this is the way this plant is supposed to grow, but it looked almost deformed.  All the stems took the shape of an 'S' as they hung out of the pot, and rested on the shelf.  The middle of the pot was almost completely void of any leaves, just a few stems looking haggard, and half dead.  

succulent


So what now?  As I stared at it many thoughts came to my mind.  Give it away to someone with a bigger garden?  Cut it up  in smaller plants and give them away? Throw it away?!  (Yes that thought did cross my mind I'm ashamed to say).  I pondered for quite a while, and I even asked my gardener friends on my gardening group on facebook.  Then it hit me, ideally this plant would go into the ground as someone suggested.  I don't have any ground, but I do have a rather big pot!  I was sure it would fit nicely in it, and it could be a contender for my roof garden.

Today, after more than four years, my succulent has a new home.  The soil crumbled in my hand as I gently lifted out of the pot, and carefully placed it in the new soil.  It was no easy task.  The stems were bent in such as way that I could not get them to stay.  


succulent



succulent


I gave the plant a much needed shower, and soaked it through.  I am hoping now that the roots will take to the soil.  If it does and this plant continues to grow it's going to be huge.  I might take cuttings and place them in the soil where there are empty patches. That could wreak havoc, but I am now confident this plant will endure the tightest of living quarters, and the harshest environment.  It could very well be my super plant!! :)

Read More...