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            The man behind the Masks

 Celtic &Northwest Coast native Carvings
 by Shane Tweten
For more information  contact him at :
Shane Tweten
D23 RR#1
Bowen Island,B.C.
V0N1G0, B.C.
Home: (604) 947-0427
Mobile: (604) 831-8733
E-mail: jphilpot@telus.net
  More pictures
Garden Talk
for articles on:

Container Gardening
Ground Covers
Water Features
Garden Projects


Spring Cleaning Checklist for Exterior of Your Home

Use this handy checklist to help you while starting the cleanup of your outdoor space.

  • Inspect the exterior walls of your entire home. Look for signs of winter damage such as splitting wood, peeling paint, mold, etc.
  • Got brick? It should be cleaned and checked for water damage once a year. Aside from cleaning the surface (simply use your hose with a spray nozzle to wash off dirt), you need to be on the lookout for mold. If there is mold, mildew or moss,  , a solution of one cup of bleach mixed with a gallon of water can be applied with a scrub brush can be used to clean most problem areas. Use a natural or synthetic bristle brush-wire brushes leave traces of steel behind that will rust and discolor the bricks."
  • If you use them, remove the storm windows.
  • Clean the windows.
  • Use screens? Make sure they are dust-free and sparkling clean before putting them up.
  • Check the driveway for cracks or winter damage.
  • Clean the steps and the driveway with a spray nozzle hose. If moss is visible, pour vinegar on it and scrub.
  • Inspect the gutters around the house to check for and remove debris.
  • Inspect the roof, looking for damage and missing or loose shingles. Contact a roofing professional if you need a few replacements.
  • Get your deck ready for use: Clean it with oxalic acid, which will penetrate the wood and kill microorganisms. Once dry (24 hours) treat the deck with a sealant.
  • If boards on your deck are splintered or worn beyond repair, replace them before you seal and stain.
  • Prepare outdoor furniture for use: If you keep the furniture out during the winter months, you need to scrub the surfaces clean. If you store your furniture when not in use, bring it outside, making sure it's clean.
  • Put on those gardening gloves, it's time to weed! The first step to a beautiful, clean garden is to remove weeds. It is important to leave a few, as they do have a purpose (are food for insects and create covered landscape for little critters).
  • If you haven't removed the covers you placed on your shrubs and trees, and are confident you won't have another frost, remove the covers.
  • To help your small, but soon to grow garden look nice, sprinkle mulch around shrubs, trees, and flowerbeds to give it a filled-in appearance.



Kills grass on walks and

Kills weeds.  Spray full strength
 on growth until plants have

Increases soil acidity.  In hard
 water:  one gallon of tap water
 for  watering rhododendrons
 gardenias, or azaleas.

Deters ants.  Spray vinegar
 around doors, appliances and
 along other  areas where ants
 are known.

Put broken egg shells into a
watering can, fill with water
 and leave overnight. 
This will extract the nutrients
 making an excellent and cheap
 plant feed.

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Dappled light across the deck                                                                    Daybreaking.
Her first light on the lily's leaves.



- Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick).

- Cornus canadensis (Canada bunchberry)

- Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry), F. chiloensis (coastal strawberry).

- Sedum sparthulifolium (stonecrop).

- Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Mountain cranberry)

- Linnaea borealis (twinflower)

- Tellima grandiflora (Tall fringecup)

Perennials/ wildflowers

- Aquilegia formosa (red columbine).

- Dicentra formosa (Pacific bleeding heart).

- Dodecatheon pulchellum (shooting star)

- Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal).

- Solidago canadensis (goldenrod)

- Tellima grandiflora (Tall fringecup)


- Fritillaria lanceolata (chocolate lily)

- Lilium columbrianum (tiger lily)

- Camassia quamash (common camas)

- Trillium ovatum (Western trillium)

- Erythronium oregonum (white fawn lily)

Broadleaf evergreens

Here's some great old fashioned tricks:

 How many of these did you know about?

  <>A sealed envelope - Put in the freezer for a few hours, then slide a knife under the flap.. The envelope can then be resealed.

Use Empty toilet paper roll to store appliance cords. It keeps them neat, and you can write on the roll what appliance it belongs to.

  <>For icy door steps in freezing temperatures: get warm water and put Dawn dishwahing liquid in it.
<>Pour it all over the steps, they won't refreeze.

  <>To remove old wax from a glass candleholder, put it in the freezer for a few hours.
<>Then take the candleholder out and turn it upside down. The wax will fall out.
<>Crayon marks on walls? This worked wonderfully! A damp rag, dipped in baking soda. Comes off with little effort (elbow grease that is!).

<> Permanent marker on appliances/counter tops (like store receipt BLUE!) rubbing alcohol on paper towel.

 <> Whenever I purchase a box of S.O.S Pads, I immediately take a pair of scissors and cut each pad into halves. After years of having to throw away  <>rusted and unused and smelly pads, I finally decided that this would be much more economical. Now a box of S.O.S  pads last me indefinitely! In fact, I have noticed that the scissors get sharpened this way!

  <>Blood stains on clothes? Not to worry! Just pour a little hydrogen peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off every drop of blood. Works every time! Now, where to put the body?

<> Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal for inside windows. This way you can tell which side has the streaks. .Straight vinegar will get outside windows really clean. Don't wash windows on a sunny day.  They will dry too quickly and will probably streak.

<> Spray a bit of perfume on the light bulb in any room to create a lovely light scent in each room when the light is turned on.

  <>Place fabric softener sheets in dresser drawers and your clothes will smell freshly washed for weeks to come. You can also do this with towels
and linen.

 Candles will last a lot longer if placed in the freezer for at least 3 hours prior to burning.

<> To clean artificial flowers, pour some salt into a paper bag and add the flowers.  Shake vigorously as the salt will absorb all the dust and dirt and leave your artificial flowers looking like new! Works like a charm!

  <> To easily remove burnt on food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap  and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on stove top.  <>Spray your TUPPERWARE with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato based sauces and there won't be
any stains.

 Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it  will keep for weeks.

<> When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural
ure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half, and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing
will go away.

   <>Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future <>use in casseroles and sauces. Left over wine? What's that?

<> To get rid of itch from mosquito bites, try applying soap on the area and you will experience instant relief.

  <>Ants, ants, ants everywhere .... Well, they are said to never cross a chalk line. So, get your chalk out and draw a line on the floor or
whereever ants tend to march. See for yourself.
 Use air-freshener to clean mirrors. It does a good job and better still
<>leaves a lovely smell to the shine.   <>

When you get a splinter, reach for the scotch tape before resorting to tweezers or a needle. Simply put the scotch tape over the splinter, and  then pull it off. Scotch tape removes most splinters painlessly and easily.

 Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer........ Clean a toilet. Drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous China

clean a vase. To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets.

Polish jewelry. Drop two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the jewelry for two minutes.

Clean a thermos bottle. Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary).

Unclog a drain. Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka Seltzer tablets down the drain followed by a cup of Heinz White Vinegar. Wait a few minutes, then run hot water.


How to make homemade garden rocks   
                                             Organics 101
Searching for a less toxic solution to your bug and weed problems? Here are a few:
For pests
Use biological pesticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis, a micro-organism that is toxic to certain insects, or tiny parasitic worms called nematodes.
Insecticidal soaps contain fatty acids, which are mostly used to kill soft-bodied insects such as aphids and spider mites.
Ferric phosphate is a common mineral salt used to eliminate slugs and snails.
For weeds
Acetic acid, or vinegar, is a key ingredient in some organic herbicides.
Perennial ryegrass sprinkled on patchy lawns can fill in holes before weeds move in.
Corn gluten meal, a natural herbicide, works by inhibiting the root formation of germinating weeds.

    Put 'good bugs' to work in your home's garden




                    Attracting Bees

        What’s the Buzz on....Planting a Bee Garden

So you want to plant a bee garden and attract many of the native bees        that  occur in North America. The first thing you should know is that by planting bee-attracting plants, you can attract a diverse array of other wildlife as well. Butterflies, wasps, flies, hummingbirds and other pollinators will give you a bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables, and seeds and provide you with many hours of outdoor entertainment. You will be providing pesticide-free safe havens for all pollinators.

Bees as watchable wildlife, you might ask? Don’t worry, nearly all species of bees are gentle and will not sting you. They are simply searching for food, pollen and nectar, to feed themselves and their young. All bees need the same few basic requirements in order to thrive. It may surprise you to learn that of the nearly 5,000 species of bees in the U.S., almost all lead solitary lives and construct their homes (nests) underground or in pithy twigs or abandoned beetle burrows in dead tree branches.

                                                 The Right Flowers

You probably have already taken the first important step in providing what the bees ordered for dinner - you have planted flowers. The bees won’t chew up your prize specimens. Instead, they will take away pollen and nectar, leaving a pollination path of luscious fruits, vegetables, and seeds in their wake. Remember, they aren’t intentionally trying to be helpful to flowering plants by moving the pollen from flower to flower. In search of a quick sip of nectar, some tasty pollen, and maybe some building materials to transport back to their nests the bees pollinate blossoms leading to fertilization and the formation of fruits. By selecting the best bee-rewarding plants, you can attract beneficial pollinating bees and other creatures to your flower and vegetable gardens or backyard fruit orchard.

The most important consideration is how to use a maximum of native annual and perennial wildflowers which naturally grow in your region. These plants evolved there and are adapted to the growing season and local climate and soils. They often require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides than showy exotics and fancy hybrids splashed across colorful ads in the most recent seed or bulb catalogs. Native wildflowers will also provide your bee visitors with more nutritious pollen and nectar. Plant breeders do not think about providing floral rewards for pollinators and their magnificent creations are often all show and no nectar for the bees. You can also make selections from old heirloom varieties such as cosmos, black-eyed Susan's, lupines, mints, and others which are now enjoying a Renaissance of popularity.

Once you have provided your garden landscape with attractive and rewarding bee plants, there are a few other things to keep your bees healthy and around to pollinate another day. Apart from bountiful flowers, all bees require places to hide from predators, to locate and court a mate, and establish their nests. Thus, they need you to help provide safe havens from predators, parasites and chemical insecticides.

                                       Bee-Friendly Pest Control

The number of organic farms and gardens has been increasing over the past several years due to the increasing concern of consumers for buying safe produce at the supermarket. At home, you too can practice integrated pest management by purchasing beneficial insects such as ladybird beetles (lady bugs), green lacewings, or praying mantises. You can also encourage insect control by allowing spiders to build webs in your yard or ants to build nests in your garden. They are worth their weight in gold for controlling insects such as caterpillars which may be pests.

If you can’t avoid not using some insecticides, try to use less persistent ones which have been proven safer for bees and other pollinators. Also, remember to follow the application instructions on the label and apply these materials after dark or when pollinators like bees are safe within their nests. If you poison your bees, you will have fewer prize-winning fruits on your table to brag about with your gardening neighbors. The biggest and tastiest fruits are the direct result of flowers pollinated by bees. Over a third of all the fruits and vegetables we eat are the result of bee visits to blossoms in our farms and gardens.

                                             Water Sources

Bees also need sources of water which can be provided from a dripping faucet or pond or bird bath. Some require mud as a building material for their nests. If you are lucky enough to have Blue Orchard Bees in your neighborhood, or other so-called Mason bees, encourage them by providing some mud. Create a one foot tall conical mound of soil near your garden. Allow some water to seep up from a pan at the base. The eager Mason bees will collect balls of mud from the wet soil at the proper height and reward you by sticking around and increasing in numbers.

                                          A Place to Raise Young

Bees in the large family of leafcutter bees (Megachilidae) nest in the ground or more typically in abandoned beetle burrows in dead wood. Most of them require small leaf pieces which they cut then fashion into the natal cells for their young. They may also collect downy plant fibers or small pebbles and plant resins to complete the job. Please allow these fascinating leafcutters to cut a few elliptical holes from leaves of some of your garden plants. They will pollinate your fruits and vegetables as they go about their house building and grocery shopping to provision their hidden pantries and bee nurseries.

In creating a bee garden, it is important to remember that you should leave a small patch of bare ground somewhere in or around your garden in which bees can establish their underground nests. Very few bees can nest in manicured grass lawns. Similarly, if you, or your neighbors, can tolerate a dead tree, or at least some dead branches, these will prove invaluable as nesting sites for many leafcutter and mason bees. Tie some dead branches up against your garden shed or other building to create some enticing holey bee real estate. The more beetle burrows the better for the bees.

Often, it is not floral abundance but rather nesting sites that is limiting for our native bees. If you have access to elderberry stems, cut and dry some into 1-2 foot lengths. With a drill, different sized starter holes can be drilled into one end and into the sides of the woody stems. Sharpen one end like a tent stake and push them into the ground around your yard. If your dog doesn’t use them as toys, the bees will soon find them and reward you for your bee stewardship efforts.

                                              Give a Bee a Home

Bee Houses are easy and fun to make or can be purchased commercially from several vendors. Making your own can provide you and your children with hours of fun and even more entertainment once they are hung up in your yard to entice new bee pollinating tenants. With a drill bit of various sizes (5/16th of an inch works best for Mason bees including the Blue Orchard Bee) simply take some scrap lumber and drill holes 3 to 5 inches deep but not all the way through the wood block. Nail these up securely in protected places under building eaves in the early spring. Using paper or plastic soda straws, you can bundle these materials and glue them into the bottom of paper milk cartons or coffee cans. Place them in protected shady and dry places in the early spring and the bees will come.

Nectar, pollen, water, nesting materials and open ground - combine these ingredients and your collaboration with nature should result in some larger and tastier fruits and vegetables in just a season or two from now. By creating small patches of pesticide-free safe havens for all pollinators, you can play a small but vital role in reversing the dramatic pollinator declines which have occurred during the past few years. It may not seem like much, but magnified across your state and across the country, these gardens (a patchwork quilt of floral islands) can serve a vital role by feeding and protecting many threatened animals that pollinate wildflowers and our crop plants. This is especially true for migratory pollinators (animals like nectar-feeding bats or Monarch butterflies) which travel long distances across state and international boundaries. Along these nectar corridors the migratory pollinators can take a much needed nectar break within your newly constructed pollinator garden.


  Purple and fuschia bougainvillia, dancing over and between
 leaves of sun  soaked   green.

Clematis  ' Jack manii '
Photo by Steve Taylor from the Taylor's garden

Swinging, I listen to the chirping of sparrows, while one cloud hovers in a cerulean sky.

    "There was a time when meadow, grove and stream,
The earth and every common sight,
To me did seem
     Apparelled in celestial light,
          The glory and the freshness of a dream."
                                                                              William Wordsworth

Edible Flowers

Sherry Almond Cake

Sherry-Almond Cake

Flowers make a colorful garnish for desserts and salads. They're safe to use as long as they have been grown without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

You can find packaged edible flowers near the fresh herbs in most major grocery stores. Or you can pick some posies from your own backyard if they haven't been sprayed with chemicals. Do not use flowers from florist's shops -- they're usually treated with chemicals.

Pansies, nasturtiums, and roses are described below, but you can also choose from geraniums, calendula, dianthus, lavender, lilacs, and violets. Before using the flowers, rinse and pat them dry.

Click here for Sherry-Almond Cake recipe


Pansies span every color of the rainbow, so you can have fun decorating food. Plan a party months ahead and grow pansies to match your decor, best outfit, or favorite color. Their flavor is slightly minty.


Nasturtiums may be vivid yellow, orange, or red as well as muted tones and bicolors. Both the leaves and the flowers have a peppery flavor and are best eaten uncooked. Toss petals into salads.


Roses may be tasteless, sweet, perfumed, or slightly spicy. Chop the petals and mix with sugar. Let the mixture infuse for a week and use for baking and desserts.


                                                Growing Lavender

Click here to view a larger image.

Full sun and well-drained soil that's near neutral are essentials for raising truly great lavender.

Click here to view a larger image.



 Pale 'Munstead' and intense purple 'Hidcote' are both popular for their beauty, scent and flavor. These small evergreen shrubs like full sun, well-drained soil (with lots of lime if the soil is too acid), and they grow best in Zone 6 through 9. You'll usually want to plant them in the spring or fall.

Plant in a hole as deep as the container, backfill with the same soil, then add enough lime to get a pH of 6 to 7. Soon, spikes of fragrant lavender blooms will be ready to pick.

Harvesting your lavender gives you beautiful ready-made bouquets, and it helps your plants avoid the No. 1 problem of lavender growers--becoming woody. Gardeners often ask how to prevent their plants from becoming woody, and the best solution is to prune your plants. The best time is after they flower--in the summer time and in the fall. Cut the plant back into a dome shape.

Pick your lavender on a dry day. Then you can sit back and enjoy the bunches as simple arrangements, or try some fresh buds for flavoring your favorite foods.