Lavender is native to the Mediterranean and loves dry, hot temperatures and sandy soils.As a result, it’s a good plant for BC’s Okanagan Valley, and is a highly recommended garden shrub for this drought-prone, desert-like climate.They are hardy, pretty, and the scent is lovely. In fact, science has proven that the scent of lavender is calming and relaxing.Here in the Okanagan, they grow everywhere, in boulevards and around parking lots and in garden plots. Just going for a walk exposes you to a gentle whiff or two.
Greetings from the lovely lavenders of the Okanagan Valley. 🙂
The Okanagan Valley of British Columbia has the perfect environment for growing many types of wine grapes.
It’s very mild and damp in the winter and very hot and dry in the summer. Those conditions produce the right combinations of sugars and flavour profiles for many types of wines, especially “Bordeaux- style blends” (named after the region of France from where they originate), for which the Okanagan is also famous. In England, these blends used to be referred to as “claret.” Here they are often referred to as “meritage.”
One thing many people don’t realise about these grapes is that sometimes, a red grape produces a white wine.
In fact, sparkling wines (in France, it’s known as champagne) usually result from red grapes.
The Okanagan also produces fantastic ice wine. This is a dessert wine that results when grapes are touched by a slight frost. Ice wine is terrific with cheese – a perfect combination of sweet and salty.
Often, I enjoy a good Bordeaux-style blend or meritage.
With a steak or other hearty meal it’s heavenly.
Many people can be intimidated by wine and wine jargon. Try not to let that stop you, because finding a wine you like is one of life’s wonderful little things – and in moderation, it’s also good for you.
Here’s a little tour of my home in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. When I am not working in the Northwest Territories, I am usually here.
Okanagan Lake is a very deep, very long north to south (135 km) body of fresh water with very different climates from one end to the other.
Even within short distances, there are extremes. Enormous sage bushes crouch in the dry soil in one spot, and a few meters away …
… there’s a vibrantly green apricot tree.
And then there are the grape vines. Many, many varietals. Some of these grapes will become very expensive bottles of wine while others are much more lowly, but pleasant and worthwhile all the same.
Part of this valley is classified as desert while other parts further to the north are made up of deciduous and coniferous forest.
Right now it is very hot (about 36°C) and dry and while the wine grapes might really like that, there have been some significant lightening-triggered fires as well. A few rain showers would be very helpful.
What are the defining characteristics of your part of the world?
The weather was glorious (especially after our chilly northern snowscape) and we enjoyed it immensely.
There was a little snow at the higher elevations, but mostly there was just some lovely melting.
There will soon be lots of grapes and a new wine season …
… time to enjoy some some summer sippers. 🙂
And an update: we have now returned to the Northwest Territories and have brought some favourite bottles with us. Wonderful to have the warmth of that valley with us as we continue to face up and down temperatures and more snow.
It’s still January but about two weeks ago, the weather turned. The temperature crept up, the bit of snow we had started to melt, and the ducks started squawking and flapping. Every day now it’s a little warmer and a little sunnier.
This morning I was out walking and took this photo of Skaha Lake. I’m lucky enough to live across from it and have been watching its moody winter changes this year.
It’s still got some ice over the shallows near the shore, but I don’t think that will last long.
As the Okanagan descends gently into winter, here are a few more views.
On a recent sunny day, M. and I went up to Chute Lake. It almost felt like spring except for that sharp autumn-air quality.
While hiking along a back trail, M. and I found this sign.
If you’re metrically challenged, 4.5 metres is 14.76 feet.
Here’s another view. I had to strain my neck to get this tree in the frame.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “We are all poets when we are in the pine woods.” There are lots of pine forests in this area.
A couple of days ago, M. and I went to the small mountain town of Rossland, BC. It has produced four Olympian skiers including Nancy Green; two NHL hockey players and a prime minister, John Turner. Pretty good for a town of 4000.
Yesterday, M and I went for a hike in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park. It had rained earlier in the day, but when we got started at about one pm, it was bright and sunny with that sharp clarity of fall light.
We hadn’t hiked here before and found ourselves in the midst of a spectacularly yellow aspen forest.
This forest is recovering from a large, ravaging fire that occurred in 2003. It’s amazing to see some surviving giants, seriously scorched at their bases, but still growing.
We climbed through the forest and up to a lookout over Lake Okanagan.
We finished out the day with a drive along an old railway track. This afforded us some impressive views; we were stopping every 10 metres!
The old railway tracks have been removed and the remaining trail is used for hiking, biking, or creeping along in a truck, as we did.
M and I have experienced some additional life stuff lately and so a day like yesterday was truly fabulous!