The Garden in Black and White

Flowers in black and white. A different way to view our natural world. Seeing form over color. An artistic way to interpret our gardens. Seeing things differently, that is what photography should be about. Photography by Debra Hunter Red Deer, Alberta and Pender Island, BC, Canada . . . . Ads belong to WordPress

via The Garden in Black and White — Debra Hunter – Canadian photography, art and handmade

The Start of Gardening Season

Last night was the start of gardening season. It may be -22C with windchill outside, and snow deep on the ground, but it is time to get ready for the spring and summer growing season.

This year we are starting quite a range inside, even vegetables you traditionally directly seed into the garden, in an attempt to get some vegetables early.

The list of what we planted is as follows: tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, cabbage, lettuce, cilantro, basil, spinach, chard and kale. We also planted seeds for marigolds and calendula. Little bits of a large range of vegetables to hopefully get a head start on our 2017 garden.


“Winter” Gardening

Today, shortly after noon, flakes of snow started falling from the sky. At first it was intermittent, but within a half hour it was pretty clear that the snow was increasing and beginning to lay. 

I had held off as long as possible with harvesting the garden. The weather had been fairly nice, and I like the convenience of just popping out to the yard to get the vegetables for supper. By 12:30 pm it was clear that I needed to go out and dig up the garden.

Sometimes “not” getting around to doing something works in your favour. This is exactly what had happened in the potato patch. At some point during our very wet summer I had laid down boards to be able to walk in the garden, and for some reason I had never removed them. Luckily under the boards the ground was still soft and completely unfrozen making for easy digging of the potatoes.

The next bed was a little frostier, frozen about an inch or two deep. With snow laying it was a guessing game as to what was left in the bed.

The garlic had been harvested weeks ago from this bed, and the sunflowers at the end were “volunteers”, however I still managed to dig up several onions and carrots from this spot.

As I dug up this bed and the potato patch I realized that it might be a good idea to change the vegetable garden location next year. The question is whether to garden in the ground or garden in raised troughs. Our raised troughs have been amazing this year for growing, so it may be the way to go. 

The troughs also had to be harvested. Beets and carrots were still waiting to be picked. The chard and cabbage have been left, with hopes that the chard may survive a few days of cold. The cabbage has been feasted upon by cabbage worms in the last couple of days so it wasn’t in the best shape.

The final task was to plant the garlic for next year. This time trying a new spot at the front of the house. Again this bed was frozen a few inches deep. After working the soil I managed to plant a small area of garlic. If the weather warms up next week ( as the forecast says it will), I will plant more garlic, but at least I have a bit in the ground just in case winter is here to stay.

Two and a half hours later, soaking wet, frozen, and covered with mud, the veggies were all safe inside. Where the veggies were grown is now completely covered in snow. Gardening season has come to an abrupt end. Hard to believe this is the beginning of October.




Ads belong to WordPress.

Garden to Table

Vegetable growing in watering troughs.

Vegetable growing in watering troughs.

Eating local is a hot topic nowadays. Buying organic, buying from Farmer’s Markets, and buying from local producers. However one of the easiest ways is to grow your own food. You know exactly how it has been grown, it couldn’t be fresher and it is conveniently located right out your door.

carrots and beets

carrots and beets

This is our first year growing in watering troughs and it has been a huge success. We have been able to turn an underused sidewalk into a garden. The three troughs are home to beets, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, onions, chard, and kale.

We have netted off the troughs as we have a healthy deer and squirrel population that have become quite brave.

blog veg beds 2

kale and chard

Last night we again incorporated the food we have grown into dinner. We were able to use chard, beet greens, onions and garlic (from another bed) all grown at home.



I have been  wanting to try filo wraps so last night we picked some ingredients from the garden, added in some mushrooms, and gave it a try.

blog filo 1The filling was sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic, chard and beet greens seasoned with Worcestershire Sauce. My youngest was a trooper and cleaned a whole pack of mushrooms as I chopped. Our kids love helping in the kitchen.

blog filo 2We rolled up the filo parcels,

blog filo 3used an egg wash on top and sprinkled the filo rolls with sesame seeds.

blog filo 4Into the oven they went for about 20 minutes,

blog filo 5and out they came.

blog filo mushroom roll_5359The rolls were a great success. Everyone loved them and ate them up. Another vegetarian meal to add to our list of family meals, and another great way we can use the veggies we grow.




Photography by Debra Hunter


Ads belong to WordPress.

June Garden

I thought it was time for a lighthearted post, and with the garden growing beautifully, I thought it was the perfect subject matter.

blog bee and chives_9740 a - photography by debra hunter

Much of our flower garden consists of perennials. Each year, in our back garden, we are treated to the returning blooms of columbine, lupine,chives, poppies, peonies, daisies and lily of the valley.

blog columbine_9769 a

blog columbine_9760 a

blog daisies_9708 a

blog lupine_9787 a

blog poppy_9721 a - photography by debra hunter

blog peony_9792 a

blog garden_9780 a

We have expanded our growing of vegetables this year with four wooden raised beds, three galvanized troughs and multiple pots for growing strawberries, tomatoes and potatoes ( we also have potatoes in the ground).

blog raised bed_9778

blog vegetable garden_9704

Vegetables being grown include kale, chard, lettuce, cabbage, beets, carrots, radishes, onions, garlic, peas, beans, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini.

blog troughs raised beds_9797

blog beans and peas_9776

The front garden and beds grow naturally and only need the odd weeding and very little water. Here we have hardy roses, fern, peonies, lily of the valley, and delphinium.

blog rose_9700

blog rose_9702

blog fern_9833 a

And last but not least we have a few planters filled with flowers for a splash of color.

blog pansies_9691

So far everything is looking great. It will be interesting to do a similar post in July to see what is blooming then. Perhaps by then we will have some vegetables to eat.






Ads belong to WordPress.

Red Deer Westerner Days Parade – Realm of Thieving White Trash

Three of our children pointing to dirt left behind from the theft of our planter that was stolen by an attendee of the Red Deer Westerner Parade.

Three of our children pointing to dirt left behind from the theft of our planter that was stolen by an attendee of the Red Deer Westerner Parade.

The Red Deer Westerner Parade is the dreaded event of the year in our neighbourhood. Our neighbourhood, yes the area where people actually live, is infested each year by disrespectful parade goers. People park in our driveways, across our driveways, and on our lawns. They box us in so we cannot get out of our parking spots. They leave their garbage behind and walk all over our yards. The traffic jam leaving our neighbourhood this year took 30-45 minutes to clear. Our neighbourhood is used as a parking lot, yet has very few exit routes; if there had been an emergency it would be an absolute disaster. This is a yearly occurrence that I have witnessed for over two decades. It is truly awful.

What is even worse is that our whole neighbourhood is subjected to this horror all in the name of commercialism. The Red Deer Westerner Parade is nothing but a walking billboard and a way to push the people of Red Deer to attend the Westerner so that the Westerner can of course make a lot of money . Three years ago was the last time we went. We lasted 15 minutes. All the parade consisted of were ads. Junk mail on wheels…..mixed with an atmosphere of gagging smoke and f-bombs in the crowd. Classy. Well actually pretty reflective of present day Red Deer if we are to be honest.

This is the crowd that is dropped on our Woodlea neighbourhood , a place where people actually LIVE, each year. But our neighbourhood doesn’t count, it never counts, the City, or the Westerner organization would never dream of running a parade adjacent to the heavenly blessed areas known as suburbia, but destroying our neighbourhood is fine.They simply don’t care about how this parade impacts our properties and our lives.

Our children standing in front of the mate to the planter that was stolen during the Red Deer Westerner Parade by a parade goer.

Our children standing in front of the mate to the planter that was stolen during the Red Deer Westerner Parade by a parade goer.

For years the  Red Deer Westerner Parade has made no sense. The Westerner grounds moved from the center of downtown in 1982, 33 years ago, but they did not move the Westerner parade. Prior to the 1980’s the parade used to form at the old fair grounds located in Parkvale (an area in the downtown area), snake through downtown, then return to the fairgrounds. At that time it somewhat made sense. 33 years later the Westerner is miles and miles away, there is NO connection to the downtown area, and they are still forming the parade in the same spot….well kind of… is now in front of the arena, skateboard park and tennis bubble, and behind a seniors housing complex that was built on the old fairgrounds (three decades ago). The parade route, we noticed, has shrunk over the years, probably to accommodate traffic and downtown businesses. Clearly the concept of the parade no longer fits current day downtown Red Deer. Traffic and businesses count, they can’t be inconvenienced. They are special. Neighbourhoods where people live DON’T count. The parade route has been altered for these reasons, yet they continue to leave the route impacting our neighbourhood and our home.

How pathetic of a human being do you have to be to steal a planter of vegetables? Scum human being or typical resident of Red Deer, Alberta?

How pathetic of a human being do you have to be to steal a planter of vegetables? Scum human being or typical resident of Red Deer, Alberta?

This year, however, has topped other years. This year we actually had property STOLEN by parade goers. The planter was there before the parade, the planter was gone after the parade. We had a planter stolen. A planter that measured 16 inches across, 14 inches high and full of soaking wet soil. This was a planter at the side of our house. The dirt from moving the planter is still on the sidewalk. This was a planter that would have taken considerable strength to move and take space in a vehicle as well. This is a deliberate theft. The parade goer trespassed and stole.

This was an ordinary planter, but was full of a tomato and lettuce that we started from seed back in February. Our children watched it grow. Watered it. Cared for it. Hoped to eat it. Now it is gone. Stolen.

The Westerner doesn’t care.

The City of Red Deer doesn’t care.

They don’t care what happens to our neighbourhood, our home or our property. As long as the Westerner and the City of Red Deer can financially capitalize on events such as the Westerner Parade they simply don’t care what happens in our neighbourhood.

They are greedy, selfish and don’t care.

Why is is ALWAYS the historic neighbourhoods that are horribly disrespected? Why don’t we count? They would NEVER dream of doing this to suburbia. Inflicting situations like this on our RESIDENTIAL neighbourhood is simply unfair. Inflicting situations on a neighbourhood that encourage thefts is unfair. It is time things change. Our neighbourhood IS a neighbourhood. This is where we LIVE. It is time we get the same respect that other areas of the city receive. It is time to change the parade route and keep the thieving white trash out of our neighbourhood. After all, nowhere else in the city is expected to endure this level of invasion and disrespect.



blog summer 3Strawberries picked from our garden.

blog summer 1Freshly painted buckets decorate the back deck.

blog summer 2Veggies are growing in beds and planters while the fence boards wait for a cooler day.






Ads belong to WordPress.

A Few Thoughts About Short Fences

blog fenceShort fences.

We’ve spent a lot more time in the city this year and I have been watching the role short fences play.

Our corner lot has a short fence around our ground level deck at the front, and along the length of our backyard. We have discovered our short fence plays the role of being an invitation rather than a barrier.

Since the snow has melted we have had many discussions over the fence. We have met new neighbours and visited with ones we have known for years. We’ve talked about dogs and kids, vacations and music, yoga and knitting. We’ve heard of neighbours moving, summer construction projects, and visits to the Saturday Market.

The short fence creates an opportunity to be neighbourly. It lets neighbours talk. It creates community.

The whole experience has left me thinking a lot about neighbourhood design, building styles, and how they affect the general well being of a community. It is a well known fact that when neighbours know neighbours that it builds strong, healthy communities. People watch out for one another and communities are safer.

We live in a neighbourhood from a different era. Houses range in age from 110 years old to brand new infill housing, but it is still the old fashioned layout of big yards, boulevards and mostly detached garages. The layout of the older properties means that neighbours have the opportunity to interact. We see each other clipping hedge, mowing the lawn, building decks, pulling weeds and shoveling snow. High maintainance yards make for lots of opportunity to see your neighbours out and about.

However the few new infill houses, even though they are in the same neighbourhood, function differently, especially the ones that  have attached garages. These are “new suburban houses” houses built in an old neighbourhood; attached garages, swaths of concrete driveway, a “low maintainance” garden (token shrub and mulch), and the compulsory prison like fences. The car disappears into the garage, with the neighbour never to be seen until the car emerges again. I can’t help but think of how damaging this design model is for a community. These styles of homes don’t allow for neighbourly interaction and fragment a community.

My short fence has left me appreciating how neighbourhoods were built in the past. They were built to create community. They were built so that neighbours would know their neighbours. Perhaps it is time for city planners to rethink how they are building current neighbourhoods. We need to bring back the front porch, bring back the low fence and eliminate the attached garage. It is time to take the streets our houses are built on and turn them back into communities.

My thoughts inspired by my short fence.