Wednesday, June 25, 2008

'Dancing Butterflies' Peony

My friend Gisele shares my passion for single peonies. She phoned me yesterday to come to her garden centre (Gisele's Greenhouses in Chelmsford, Ontario, Tel: 705-855-6621) and take some photos of her display gardens. The peonies were in full bloom.

'Dancing Butterflies' Peony

'Dancing Butterflies' Peony blossom

Alas these flowers have no scent. However they survive rain storms and strong winds without blowing over, and never need staking. I'm always a fan of less work!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Introducing Joyce Nicholls-Goudsmid

Joyce bought my Leaf Magic Little Quilt pattern from me at Quilt Canada 2008 three weeks ago, and has already created an awesome variation. She combined all 6 leaf designs into one wall quilt, then embellished it with leaf stamps and a few appliqued leaves, leaf sequins and beads, and a bird button. She noted that she had everything in her stash, including the backing which was perfect of course! Joyce told me that it was very fun to make and just what she needed to do to wind down from QC 2008.

This is how Joyce describes herself:

"I have been quilting for about 10 years, not long after I moved to St. John's, Newfoundland. As an adolescent and young adult I sewed many of my own clothes, but never really found that satisfying. However, I retained a love of fabric and all things fibre! I went to my first quilter's guild meeting in 1998 and was immediately taken with the possibilities. I've hardly missed a meeting since, and my fabric stash cost more than my furniture! I think that quilting is about creative expression; every quilt that you make is your own, regardless of the pattern you use. And for me, the less traditional the pattern and the bolder the colours, the better I like it!"

Thank you Joyce for sharing your beautiful quilt.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Anatomy of a New Garden

I made a new garden at the corner of our street and driveway this past weekend. We had a landscape construction crew in for over a week that (among other things) created a stone retaining wall using huge granite blast rock boulders.

They found an interesting rock that they thought I might like to use at the entrance to our driveway. It turned out to be a perfect "Heaven" rock when installed vertically. I was able to find corresponding "Earth" and "Man" rocks as well, and our back hoe operator Elliott slung them into place. The Heaven, Earth and Man rocks illustrate the principle of the three forces, oshakei, which is a classical aesthetic tool in Japanese garden design.

The rocks were dug in approximately 1/3 of their height. This is a view of the back side of the rocks. I began with a stake in the centre, and dug a 5' radius to make a perfect circle. The Heaven rock was installed in the very centre. The Earth and Man rocks were installed to complete the triad. I removed the sod and added garden soil.

I'm beginning to install the black plastic edging. I've dug a vertical line with a spade. I use a small stone to brace the beginning of the roll, and place the edging so the top rolled edge is level with the top of the soil (not the top of the grass).

You can see the level of the edging.

I've completed the edging and added many wheelbarrow loads of garden soil!

Holes are dug for the plants, and bonemeal scratched into the bottom of the holes.

This ornamental grass is a transplant, so I plop the plant into the hole, add a bit of soil, then fill the hole with water. I wait until the water drains away, then I fill in the rest of the soil.

The garden is planted. I've used: 1 x Miscanthus 'Malepartus', 1 x Blue Rug Juniper, 1 x Filipendula rubra, 3 x 'Frosty Beauty' Daylily and 3 x Heuchera 'Lime Rickey'

Landscape cloth installed around the juniper at the front of the garden. I used the cloth here because the juniper is permanent, and I won't need to dig in this area.

Newspapers! This is my old Master Gardener's trick. I use 5-7 sheets thick around perennials, where I will have to plant bulbs and eventually split the plants. The newspaper is a wonderful weed suppressor, takes about 3 years to break down, and keeps the underlying soil moist.

I am beginning to pile shredded natural colour cedar mulch over the landscape cloth and newspaper. I never never never use coloured mulch. It looks awful. And don't even get me going about white or pink quartz as a mulch, unless you want your garden to scream "tacky". That's my garden designer rant for the day.

The garden is mulched about 3" thick, including over the side of the plastic edging. Now you can't see the plastic, and I've graded the edge of the garden so the lawn mower wheels can run on the mulch and cut the grass without a trimmer being required.

The front of the garden. The "Man" rock is on the left, "Heaven" is in the centre, and "Earth" is on the right.

I'm working on the front of the house now. In between rain storms, which never seem to end.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wonderful News!

Valerie Hearder's quilts were discovered today by 23 year old Billy Jordan on a path in St. John's, Newfoundland! Billy found 2 garbage bags laying on the path, and when he opened them he saw what looked like "expensive" quilts. So he called the local NTV television station to report his find. The NTV journalist phoned Val and arrangements have been made to return the quilts.

Here is Val's link.

Val has received huge support from the people of Newfoundland, as well as well-wishers from all over the world. The quilting community felt the theft of her work as a personal loss. Valerie is an outstanding artist, author, teacher, mentor and humanitarian.

Billy Jordan, you're a hero.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Golden Retrievers love ear rubs. Sasha is 10 years old, and when she puts her paw in your hand, you know what must be done.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Theft of Quilts

Some terrible news. My friend Valerie Hearder had 2 suitcases containing many of her small art quilts stolen in St. John's. The stolen quilts include all the pieces published in her latest book, Points of View. We are asking people to keep watch on eBay and other sites to see if they turn up for sale.

Valerie's website has photos of her work, which is very distinctive in design. Please help find these irreplaceable treasures, which represent 2 decades of work.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quilt Canada 2008 continued

I was offered a space to demonstrate my patterns in the Country Concessions Quilt Shop booth at the Quilt Canada Merchant's Mall. Country Concessions is possibly the largest quilt shop in Eastern Canada, and the owner Darlene Cooper is a big supporter of Canadian quilt pattern designers.

My quilts were displayed on the wall behind me, and I brought teaching samples for the Leaf Magic Little Quilt, the Floral Celebrations Table Set and the Sugar Maple Dance quilt. It went very well! I had a wonderful time visiting with old friends and demonstrating my techniques to new customers.

The delegates came from coast to coast, as well as the northeastern U.S. Many had never been to Newfoundland and had planned touring trips either before or after the conference to explore the island.

Anita Zobens of The Cotton Mill Threadworks gives thread advice to delegates. Anita is the Canadian Educator for Superior Threads, which I use exclusively in my quilts.

This is my friend Lily Lam and myself. Lily was my hostess years ago when I taught workshops for the Westmount Quilters Guild in Montreal, Quebec.

And this lovely lady is Anne Morrell Robinson! Anne is wearing a beaded grasshopper that I made for her in 2000. Anne was teaching at Quilt Canada.

It was a great experience, and I plan to do it all again for Quilt Canada 2010 in Calgary.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quilt Canada 2008

I'm back from the Rock! Quilt Canada 2008 was held last week in St. John's, Newfoundland. St. John's is the oldest city in Canada, located on the most eastern point of our country. Like many others who attended the conference, I had never been to Newfoundland and was really excited to see this historic and scenic place.

The following photos were taken at dusk in very windy conditions, so the photos are all a little blurry...

The Signal Hill tower, site of the first transatlantic wireless signal by Marconi in 1901.

Me and an iceberg. We attended a lecture at the Johnson Geo Centre given by an iceberg scientist, then trekked up the hill to see one in the bay.

St. John's harbour

Tomorrow I'll post some photos from my little spot in the Country Concessions booth in the Merchant's Mall at Quilt Canada 2008.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gesture Drawing 2

This is my pencil gesture drawing of Apocynum androsaemifolium
(Spreading Dogbane).

I'm off to Quilt Canada 2008 in St. John's, Newfoundland. I'll be demonstrating my quilt patterns in the Country Concessions booth at the Merchant's Mall. I'll post when I return!