January 2008

The first of the year wouldn't be the same without this Hellebore in bud. The first of them should open up in about a week or so, although we've already seen one, back in November '07!

Although not customary, I just couldn't resist adding a picture of one of our dogs: Neka. She's showing off her dexterity at picking up an 'Indestructaball'. Our old boy 'Keats' had managed to actually puncture this one in 2 places. She goes wherever she wants with her ball to make new friends. She really just wants you to play with her and start by rolling the ball, which she'll chase and bring back, either carrying the ball like this again or by batting and rolling it with her front legs, she's quite good at that. One of her favourite things is to bring it into the house like this but we tend to discourage it because the rolling ball makes quite the racket.

Our early Hellebore is close to being pretty much full bloom. And it would have been, had it not been for some low-life rodent to dine out on the flowers. Again.

These are the remains of the Hellebore flowers our darling resident rodent helped himself to. It's bloody annoying to have this happen once again this year. Guess it'll be catch-a-rodent time very soon.....

At least we don't have to worry about rodents with our Primulas, just slugs. And they do like them, but this early in the season those aren't all that active yet, thank goodness.

It's a little early to expect more than this from our Tulips. They're breaking ground both in the frontyard as well as the back, but it'll be some time yet before we'll be looking for buds on these.

What is showing signs of budding up are the various clumps of Snowdrops we have around the yard, both in the front and in the back. Showing buds is step one, obviously, the flowers themselves are at least another 2-3 weeks away from opening . Unless of course we get a lot of sun to heat up those beds, but who am I kidding, sun, here, in Richmond, in January?

Well, as you'll see below, the first of the Snowdrops opened up exactly a week later!

When you see this much carnage of Helleborus flowers in the yard you are glad when one of your canines drops a dead rat at the back door, the way Neka did last Friday.

The trap Waita had set, with a Helleborus flower as bait, was tripped, but there was no evidence to suggest the rat had been removed from the trap by the dog, seeing as it still was where it had been set. Near as we can figure the rat tripped the trap, probably got a fatal blow to the head and keeled over. Then Neka would have reached through a break in the barrier and grabbed the dead rodent. We had something very similar happen last year actually, where we had a dead rat lying beside a sprung trap. I don't really care whether or not the rat is in the trap, as long as it's dead. The trap has been reloaded and reset, we're not sure of there's another around but odds are there is and we might as well be prepared.

Sunday January 20th was actually quite a nice day, unlike the day before when we had SNOW! It was mostly sunny and a few hours were spent doing some cleaning up in the yard. We also put up our 'greenhouse' again and filled it up mostly with potted perennials we thought might benefit from a bit of extra heat and have those ready sooner and larger for the plant sales in April/May.

We were just about ready to go back in again when Waita spotted the first of the Snowdrops in bloom in the backyard! No, spring's not here yet, but this is such a nice reminder of things to come.

In the frontyard you can see ample evidence of the circle of life again. Bearded Iris, Dutch Iris, Daffodils and Tulips are all popping up and for good measure the roses are sporting new growth as well.

This Hosta 'Maui Buttercups' doesn't appear to know from winter. Can't believe there is that much of a nose showing already. After this shot was taken I put some additional mulch on top again to make sure it is well protected from the frost we'll be getting later this week.

I must admit I'm somewhat taken aback by what I'm seeing here. 'Maui Buttercups' was one of the last ones to go down last year and if it proves to be one of the earliest ones to come back up that would make for a comparatively long season for it.

We've had 3 days of nice sunny weather now since Sunday the 20th, with night time temperatures dropping below freezing every night. Our little 'Froggy' pump on our washing machine water feature runs 24/7/365 -most years that is because it'll run 24/7/366 this year of course, this being a leap year and all- and combine running water with frost and you get some interesting ice formations.

By the time Saturday rolled around things had started to take on some really interesting shapes .This here is now a solid chunk of ice and if you just do a quick glance you might think the froggy is actually puking this large chunk of ice. We'd been wondering for a while how sometimes the frog would appear to have somehow slid out of position and a little later that morning we noticed a crow coming down to the edge of the washing machine and get a drink of water. I suppose he may well have nudged it somewhat to a slightly different angle after he landed on it a few times.

The next day, Sunday the 27th, was a pretty strange day weatherwise around the Lower Mainland. We had sun for a good part of the day, whereas there was plenty of snow in Surrey where my brother Chris lives, as well as some in Abbotsford, but apparently not near as bad as it was out Surrey way. With all that sun and the slightly higher temperatures the ice formations you see here were pretty much gone by the afternoon.