Sunday, October 4, 2009

Oranges in Barcelona at the Palau Robert

Around the Palau Robert is a beautiful garden designed by Barcelona municipal gardener Ramon Oliva. The gardens around this neo-Classical mansion (built in 1903) are filled with palms from the 1888 Universal Exhibition that was held in Parc de la Ciutadella. The Palau Robert is now home to several galleries and hosts many special events. The most impressive thing, besides the exhibit on special effects that was on at the Palau, may have been that the gardens were full of wild tropical birds and oranges.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

London Landscapes

In Southbank, some polkadot trees.

Somewhere near the BFI there were tunnels with nice lighting.
The blue one has small LEDs embedded in the wall between bricks.

The Tate Modern. Maybe the outside doesn't stand up to the inside.
The Millennium Bridge (partially seen here in the foreground) is pretty fun, though.

Hyde Park.

Still Hyde Park. Beautiful fields of long grasses around one of the ponds.

Also in Hyde Park, the Princess Diana Memorial,
designed by American landscape Architect Kathryn Gustafson.

A graft gone crazy near the Princess Diana Memorial.

The 2009 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, designed by Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA. Every year the gallery installs a new pavilion by an architect or designer who has never worked in the UK before. Don't let the public-looking nature of this place fool you, though, it was certainly WAY off-limits when I was there. Perhaps because it had just been unveiled a few days before. See what The Guardian had to say here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gasworks Park in Seattle, Washington

Designed by American landscape architect Richard Haag, Gasworks Park is a beautiful place to be on a sunny late summer day in Seattle. You get a great view of the city across Lake Union and at the very least you can partially retrace Heath Ledger's steps through the park and the nearby neighbourhood of Fremont (check out the movie 10 Things I Hate About You).

All photos from September 20, 2009.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bye-Bye Vancouver!

I am off to London! I will miss Vancouver's beaches, mountains, and gardens, not to mention all the good times to be had here in the summer, but good European times await!

Garden Update: July 10, 2009

I'm leaving for London tomorrow afternoon to hang out with my great friend Sara, so here is the last patio garden update for a while. May the garden be well watered, occasionally fertilized, and often harvested while I'm away for the rest of the summer.

While I'm traveling I'll be using this blog to show off the gardens and landscapes and markets that I visit in London, Barcelona and beyond. Check it.

Yes, that is a tomato plant that's over five feet tall!

No, this photo is not upside down, these sun gold tomatoes are just a little confused because I have them hanging unsupported. I'm so happy a few were ready to eat before my travels!

Royal burgundy bush beans should be showing up soon

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Patty Pan Squash Fritters

I'm leaving on a rather long trip in three days' time, so in an effort to enjoy my patio garden to the utmost I've been harvesting the profusion of little baby vegetables that have already grown. Swiss chard is great in an omelette or frittata, cherry tomatoes are delicious on their own, herbs can and should be thrown in anything and everything. As for the peas and beans, well, they just haven't shown up in time and will have to be enjoyed by house-sitters and my boyfriend, Jeff, when he returns in advance of me.

With all of the easy things figured out, I was left with only a colander of baby patty pan squash to find a delicious use for last night. Luckily, I've just finished reading Laurie Colwin's inspiring, food writing masterpiece (one of two that she published before her death in 1992): Home Cooking. Among the many edibles that Colwin dishes about repeatedly are zucchini. Thankfully, zucchini recipes translate seemlessly if you prefer to use the less-popular (yet, in my opinion, infinitely more interesting) patty pan squash, the vegetable which I found myself having an abundance of three days before my scheduled departure. Should you be lucky enough to have your own garden, you too will undoubtedly find yourself with too many zucchinis, summer, or patty pan squash. Though you wouldn't want to eat this every day (for the sake of your heart, not due to lack of deliciousness), every once in a while I can certainly advocate for squash fritters, a recipe I learned from reading Home Cooking and now pass on to you.

Grate the equivalent of 4 medium zucchini squash (mix different varieties as necessary). Separate 2 eggs (keep both the whites and yolks), and beat the whites until they are quite stiff. Add 1/2 cup of milk to the yolk and beat until mixed. Add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of flour to the yolk and milk mixture (it should be slightly thicker than pancake batter), add grated squash and mix together until well incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste and incorporate green onions (green part only), chives, or other fresh herbs as you see fit. Fold in the egg whites. Fry in butter or olive oil until golden brown on both sides and enjoy hot with sour cream or plain yogurt. Finally, rush out to your nearest independent bookseller and pick up Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking, and it's fabulous sequel, More Home Cooking right away!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Forsake the Lawn: The Dreamy Backyard Gardens of East Vancouver

This afternoon I was looking for both inspiration and some outdoor time so I hopped on my bike and headed east. I took the Seaside bike route to Adanac/Union and followed that until the first north-south bike route after Commercial Drive: Lakewood. I decided to make my route a big circle, so I headed north on Lakewood into the heart of Grandview-Woodland, which (according to the City of Vancouver website) was the first Vancouver suburb. This vibrant neighbourhood is also home to lots of young families and twice as many native Italian speakers as the Vancouver average. Of course, this makes sense considering nearby Commercial Drive is the heart of Vancouver's Little Italy.

What discoveries did I make biking through this interesting little community? Well, a polkadot house for one, but also a plethora of amazing and gigantic backyard gardens! They are everywhere and they are big! Collected below are a few photos of some of the best ones I encountered. If you live in Vancouver perhaps a bike ride up Lakewood is in order? You could even head that way on a Saturday and hit up the farmer's market at Trout Lake. These Vancouverites are on to something: who needs grass when you can have fresh produce, fruits, and herbs all summer long? Of course, it is also like having another part-time job with all the work that comes with a garden: watering, weeding, harvesting and trying to pawn zucchinis off on your neighbours!

Grapevines and fruit trees

Pole beans, fig trees and tomatoes fill the entire backyard;
dill hides the concrete fence

Flowers, herbs, raspberries, pole beans and more

These plants are more than six feet tall and it's only July 2nd!

Even those with more driveway than backyard
are making the most of their garden space

Monday, June 29, 2009


This is a ladybug larva. They look super weird and then they turn into ladybugs. I know this because for a little while I was a nature educator in Calgary and had to spend some time as "Dr. Ladybug" (an expert on the ladybug's life cycle) in various kindergarten classes. Next time you find one of these strange creatures check it out up close. They're pretty awesome.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 28, 2009: Garden Update

Blueberries! Full sun to part-shade and growing on my patio thanks to my friend Jacqui, a local garden designer. This is a very exciting addition for me as there is hardly anything I enjoy as much as fresh blueberries. I'm hoping this particular variety, Patriot Blueberries (USDA Zone 3) will bring me back to days of picking wild blueberries in Nova Scotia.

AND another fabulous addition to the garden: a little pot of succulents that love full sun. Thanks to Sara for contributing these lovelies.

Here's how everything else is shaping up:

Peas are climbing.

Tomatoes are flowering and fruiting.

So are the patty pan squash!

The patio is lush and productive these days.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Show off your green space!

The David Suzuki Foundation is having a little contest for those of us who garden pesticide-free. All you have to do is send a photo and the story of your pesticide-free garden (200 words or less) and you could win "a great prize package". Seems easy enough. The deadline is August 15, 2009.

If you are looking to eliminate pesticide use in your garden, consider the benefits of using aromatic pest confusers. This is just a fancy phrase used to describe the method of interplanting your garden with things that smell bad to bugs: marigolds, chives, and peppermint are good examples of readily available, easy to grow pest confusers.

Want a little more visual recognition of your garden innovations? Check out Apartment Therapy's contest: My Great Outdoors. Send five photos of your outdoor space by June 30, 2009 to enter. And check out the other entries for some totally excellent garden inspiration.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Garden

The Garden BEFORE

Imagine a community farm growing all manner of tropical fruits, greens, heritage corn varieties, even cacti. In a climate like Los Angeles' it's completely feasible. In fact, it existed. At East 41st Street and South Almeda Street, a 14 acre community-run farm grew just such edible treasures. The Academy Award Nominated documentary The Garden reveals this lush and productive landscape to be essential to community building and local food security. There's just one problem, and as you can likely guess, it comes down to money. Land is worth money, development makes money, whereas gardens are perceived as worthless, as are the social benefits enjoyed by a community endowed with meaningful, communal public space.

The Garden NOW

The man who claims ownership over the 14 acres cultivated by the South Central Farmers has other plans for the land. Namely, a warehouse for purveyors of cheap clothing: Forever 21. Google Earth enables us to visit the site, no longer an oasis in a parched and shelterless residential neighbourhood that verges on a warehouse district, but rather just a scrubby dirt lot. Regardless of the damage that's already been done, the resilient South Central Farmers continue to fight for their right to grow food in their own neighbourhood.

If you have a chance to attend a screening of The Garden you must go. If you don't, order a DVD and organize a screening of your own.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 24, 2009: Garden Update

Rain! It's finally raining! It's great to have a day off from the old water butt (see my earlier post on gardening books if you don't know what a water butt is). The four squash plants that I've got on my patio are totally taking over the large area that used to house peas, mint, and bush beans, too. They are greedy for space and a little tough to move around and prone to being blown over or knocked down by visiting skunks, raccoons, and a local cat I call "Sneaky Bandana".

I also added a couple of habanero chillies to my garden. This one is growing in an old coffee can, inspired by my sister Jennifer and her boyfriend, Peter. Living in Vancouver, we do a bunch of grocery shopping in the United States at Trader Joe's. Coffee is cheap there and comes in these great cans. This one has a bunch of gravel in the bottom for drainage and sits in one of the hottest, sunniest spots on our patio.