Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

In the Night

April27

The hunter investigates

The hunter investigates

seeking the secret society
evidenced by the rustling leaves
the gentle whispers of feet
that scamper and roam

Finley wonders what Persephone has found

who goes there

who rustles and darts
as the hunters

Finley & Persephone contemplating the garden

survey their domain

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Knitting in the Garden

April25

I’m not one who makes many resolutions at New Year’s but I knew that for 2015 I wanted to spend more time doing activities in my garden – my oasis – this year rather than just plant things in it.

View of my garden

View of my garden

I want to spend time simply being in it and enjoying the serenity with my cats, a cup of coffee and my knitting. While it may not be super warm yet in the most of the city (today’s high is 11C/56F), the sun lays in my garden all afternoon raising the temperatures significantly and making it an amazing place to knit in cooler weather.

Finley checking the garden for interlopers

Finley checking the garden for interlopers

In the height of summer I can’t knit here in the afternoon without shade or I risk heat stroke, but today, as I sit and enjoy the warm sun and singing birds, I’m reminded of what a treasure my garden really is. The tulips and daffodils are blooming, the cats are enjoying a nap in the sun and the neighbour’s wind chimes are playing in the breeze. For now I’m ignoring the weeding and clean-up and just enjoying my second Saturday afternoon in a row spent knitting in the garden.

Dwarf tulips

Dwarf tulips

It’s difficult to believe it’s been two months since I posted anything here or released a pattern. I have several that are almost ready to be released, they just need formatting and to be uploaded to Ravelry. So stay tuned for pattern releases coming soon. Most of my attention has been focused on this year’s large project, a collection of my designs being released in three stages. The first part of the collection will be released in August and a lot of the pieces are ready for photography. I’m very excited and will post in the next week to share more details. For now, I’ll leave you with this teaser photo, a pattern slated for release in July as a teaser for the collection – and today’s garden knitting project.

Any guesses what it might be when it's done?

Any guesses what it might be when it’s done?

The History of the Irises and the Trillium

May28

Irises from my family

When my parents announced their plans to sell their house and move into a condo, I knew there were a few plants I wanted from their gardens – the family irises and the red trillium. Last July, after the irises finished blooming, my parents dug them up and brought them to my house where they were installed in pride of place. These are very special irises – when my parents got married and moved to Ontario, my grandmother dug up some of her irises to send along.

A young Puff in the garden sniffing irises

Growing up, these were planted along one end of the garden where they spread every year. When we moved to Waterloo in the late 70s, the iris made the trip as well. There they stayed until last year when they got a new home.

Yellow iris
Originally, when the tubers were moved from Pennsylvania, there were five varieties of irises. Over the intervening years, some of these varieties have disappeared until we’re left with yellow and purple. The photos here just show the first blooms, the show gets better every day.

The other flower I really wanted was the red trillium that bloomed in my parent’s back year for many years. I never remember more than a single red one among all the whites but every year it just made me smile. I was so happy when my Dad was able to dig out the red one and several white ones for transplanting and I was so eager this spring to see the result. So imagine my surprise when I was rewarded with this:

Beautiful red and white trilliums

The trilliums obviously appreciated the transplanting. There were more than 20 red trillium blossoms in that clump. This plant came originally moved from my aunt’s house to my parent’s and, over the years, only ever produced single blossoms. I’m eager to see how the plants spread and fill in under the trees.

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Signs of Spring

March31

Today is beautiful and if the behaviour of my cats is any indication, spring is on the way (despite the piles of snow still all around).
Aconite, the first signs of spring
These popped up seemingly overnight. To me, aconite is always the earliest sign of spring. Their cheerful yellow flowers seem designed to provide a spot of hope during the lingering days and portents of winter. These flowers used to appear under my childhood bedroom winter until my dad dug them up and transported them to my house last fall.

Snowdrops
While most of my back yard is still under mounds of snow, the sun lays in during the afternoon hours and warms a small patch of earth next to my back porch. In this warm spot I planted snow drops, crocuses and the early spring greens (sorrel, lovage, bloody dock, salad burnet). This year the snow drops have made their appearance almost a week earlier than last year.

Bloody Dock
I’m most excited about seeing the bloody dock make an appearance. The sorrel, lovage and salad burnet can’t be much behind which means fresh salads from my garden in the next few weeks. The greens have strong, sometimes bitter flavours which act as a palate cleanser for the heavier foods of winter.

Now I’m itching to sow the lettuces, spinach and peas but need to wait at least another month before they can go into the ground.

In the meantime I’ll enjoy the promise offered by the spring heralds.

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Grow Subversive!

May3

A brilliant TEDTalk

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Garden Journal: The back yard foundations

April30

This is my second summer with the garden and I decided that, in addition to tracking my plantings in using a garden planning tool (I use the amazing vegetable planner from Mother Earth News), I wanted to keep a visual record of what my garden looks like. I’ve definitely been inspired by the great gardening posts of Anne Hanson at Knitspot.

I have two main “gardens” – the front and the back. When I moved in to the house in 2012, they were typical lawn covered affairs. Through the hard graft of my father, all the grass is gone and they are now wonderful spaces for me to fill with plants. So where did the garden start?

The back yard began looking like this:

Photo of yard from sales listing

Back yard as presented on the MLS listing

What that photo doesn’t show is the large divets in the ground from two large dogs running around and digging.

Dad dug up the back yard in May last year, turning over the sod, laying paths (recycled flagstone from my parent’s house and bricks reclaimed from the previous owner’s patio seen in the previous photo) and brought in roughly 25 large tubs of compost from the Region’s waste diversion program (a free source of the “black gold”) to build up seven main beds. He worked so hard and the transformation from grass to garden wouldn’t have happened nearly as quickly without him. I’m lucky to have my own private gardener.

At the beginning of June this is what the garden looked like:

The beginning of a garden

The beginning of a garden

I don’t have a photo from then showing the whole garden but you can see the main vegetable bed in the foreground (along with a squirrel on the bird feeder) and the herb bed in the background. I’m using the square foot gardening method for my vegetable beds. There are a few plants in there already, transplanted in as seedlings but 2012 was so hot that the root vegetables (beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips) never did anything.

However, if you want to grow massive tomatoes then compost and heat are your friends. This photo was taken one month later:

Ideal growing conditions for tomato plants - heat and lots of compost

Ideal growing conditions for tomato plants - heat and lots of compost

Within a few weeks, the tomato plants had to be trimmed off at the top of the tomato spirals.

This year, the garden beds only needs a bit of top dressing with compost, new twine to mark out the grids for the vegetable plantings and a bit of weeding and they’re ready to go. Most of the salad greens are already planted and beginning to sprout and the bulbs I planted last fall are beginning to bloom.

Fritillaria michailovskyi and white grape muscari

Fritillaria michailovskyi and white grape muscari

These little treasures are right by the back porch where I can enjoy them.

Muscari latifolium (two shades of blue) and white muscari

Muscari latifolium (two shades of blue) and white muscari

These are planted in among the herbs and I’m hoping they’ll spread with the years and provide a nice spring carpet under the red maple.

Hyacinths with peony tips peaking up in the background

Hyacinths with peony tips peaking up in the background


I don’t know what type of hyacinths these are, someone gave them to me as a flowering plant in spring 2012 and I planted them out in the fall. They add a nice pop of colour to the garden.

Not only the bulbs are coming up. This beautiful pasque flower has started blooming. I love the fuzzy leaves.

Pasque flower

Pasque flower

The perennial salad plants are making their appearance:

Lovage

Lovage

Young lovage leaves have such depth of colour to the leaves, edged in red and then moving through silver into green.

Bloody Dock

Bloody Dock


I’m really excited that the bloody dock came back. It got planted in the heat of summer last year and it was a lot of work to nurse it through but both plants are making a good showing. A few more days and I think I can harvest a small salad of bloody dock, sorrel and lovage. Yum!

I’ll leave you with the overall garden shots. The front bed in this first photo still needs some work. I need to mark out part of the bed, I’m just waiting for some of the perennial vegetables (right side by the primrose) to make a bit more of an appearance so I don’t plant over them. The front left corner was seeded with the salad greens.

View of the vegetable beds

View of the vegetable beds

Vegetable and perennial beds

Vegetable and perennial beds


This side of the garden has only the one vegetable bed meaning more room for perennials.

That’s the tour of the garden foundations. This year I’m testing a lot of varieties of vegetables to see what I want to grow going forward. Last year I managed to garden organically and that is my plan again this year. Most of the seeds I’m planting are heirloom varieties and I’ve very eager to see how they produce. Stay tuned!

Back garden from the porch

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Spring Flowers

April23

Despite the weather being undecided, I know it’s spring because my bulbs have begun their flowering. It brings me such joy to see these small bursts of colour in the garden.

Crocus

Crocus


This little orange crocus looks like it’s burning in the afternoon sun.

Glory in the Snow

Glory in the Snow

The “Glory in the Snow” didn’t make an appearance until after the snow (although some wet stuff may head our way tomorrow), but I’m enjoying the little blue flowers nestled under the Haskap Berry bushes that have just started showing some leaf bud swelling.

Tulip

Tulip

But this little gem is my favourite, the ring of orange in the centre sets off the cream to perfection.

The garden comes to life – what a fabulous time of year.

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