Tag Archives: garden

Loving the land

One of the things that has surprised me about our move is the intensity of my feeling towards our 2.5 acres of land.

I am awed that we have shoreline, Shield rock, woodland, wetland and meadow, all in this small space!

I had not anticipated the strong sense not so much of ownership but of stewardship that I feel. I want to do right by the land and the creatures that share it with us.

As winter approaches, we are working hard to get the external jobs done. Putting away kayaks and garden furniture, blowing and gathering up some but not all the leaves for compost (the layer on the grass would be just too deep otherwise and the compost will be so useful), cutting wood, replenishing paths . . .

Timber . . . !

We had something like seven trees felled last weekend, which sounds more drastic than it was.

A Basswood (Linden) was partly uprooted in our wood and had to come down for safety, taking at least one other tree (cherry) with it. Then there was a dead Elm in the wetland.

Otherwise it was what the locals consider a ‘weed tree’, four Manitoba Maples (Box Elder, Ashleaf Maple). They shoot up everywhere, are very brittle, don’t burn particularly hot and are perceived as a nuisance. We had one threatening our garage, septic system and the neighbours’ power lines and another that would have also grown through the power lines.

We now have a lot of logs to split (the start of our firewood for the winter of 2017/18) and smaller branches to feed through a wood chipper. The resulting chips are awesome for replenishing our path down to the shore and for creating our way through the woods.

On the plus side, the weather has been largely sunny and mild and doing physical work outside appeals to both of us so much more than going to a gym.

It could take a while though!

Maine Roadtrip 2014: 6 – Wild Gardens of Acadia

The Wild Gardens of Acadia provided a contemplative interlude, wandering the paths to the soundtrack of birdsong and a babbling brook.

Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia Wild Gardens of Acadia

This is a delightful idea, a well-labelled garden of species native to this area of Maine.  I was happy to realize how many native plants I can now recognize (many of these plants are familiar in Ontario) and how many I managed to include when planting our own back yard!

Painting with plants . . .

All winter I have been waiting, gathering thoughts, learning about native species, thinking about colour, height, flowering time, scent and more. I have never savoured the process of creating a garden this way before.

At last the sun has made a claim on summer for the Victoria Day weekend; my muscles may be complaining, but my soul feels sated with the pleasure of transformation. A day and a half of planting and a garden has emerged from our back yard.

There is, too, a sense of the garden that exists for now only in my vision of it, of an ongoing process of transformation to be wrought by nature in the months and years to come.

Back garden William Hancox Avenue - back yard, with door into garage (as it was when we bought the house) Back garden, before planting Ready and waiting after our landscaping efforts last Fall (2010)
Back garden Newly planted, May 2011 Back garden Newly planted, May 2011 Back garden Newly planted, May 2011

(Click into any photo for a mini-gallery and to see a larger view)

I still have the planting at the front to do that we were unable to complete in the Fall, hence the remaining plant pots. And Paul wants to give the deck an additional coat of protection, but we are nearly there in time for summer!

Last year’s efforts on our front garden are already repaying the hard work with the pleasure of breakfast on the terrace,  surrounded by tulips and narcissi, punctuated by fritillary.

Front garden in Spring First year bulbs Front garden in Spring A great, sunny spot for breakfast
Front garden in Spring First year bulbs Front garden in Spring First year bulbs

Recent highlights and milestones

What a wonderful roller-coaster ride! New experiences come thick and fast and I often don’t get around to blogging – the living is more important! So hear is a summary of recent  highlights:

  • Nuit Blanche – an amazing Toronto-wide all-night street party based around weird and wonderful happenings (see my other blog, Passage to Joy, for our impressions).
Nuit Blanche - Smile
Nuit Blanche - Smile
  • Our first Thanksgiving – we were very busy working on our garden and deck, but still managed to celebrate with a walk amidst the fall foliage (very much part of the custom here) and the traditional turkey (sweet potatoes with maple syrup, topped with candied pecans will definitely be adopted for future years), followed by pumpkin pie (we prefer butter tarts, another Canadian sweet treat). In Canada, Thanksgiving is earlier than in the US (beginning of October) and relates very closely to harvest festival.

Back garden Landscaping - the framework for a back garden for next year Back garden Landscaping - the framework for a back garden for next year - Paul did a fantastic job with the deck and arbor entrance way!

  • Our ‘Canniversary’ – one whole year in Canada (and only two more before we can apply to become citizens). We celebrated with a party for over 30 of our friends. Even though it was October, we were able to sit outside on our newly completed deck and begin to have a sense of our back yard as the garden it will become.
  • Halloween Canadian style – although we were here last year, we were still in B&B accommodation and didn’t really experience Halloween. Ours is a young neighbourhood, so it swarmed with small and not so small people in strange costumes, not all of them scary (a football field stands out!).  We hung out with our neighbours at the front of our house, enjoying the spectacle and dispensing candy (ours ran out way too soon – we’ll know better next year, though one young friend spent $120 and still didn’t have enough!). Joining in the spirit, Paul fashioned an expert Jack O’Lantern whilst I delved into the traditions of Samhain to create an incarnation of the blue faced crone for our door.

Blue-faced Crone Halloween 2010 - based on Samhain traditions, I created the mask to represent one manifestation of the crone connected to cutting away those things you no longer need. Blue-faced Crone Halloween 2010 - based on Samhain traditions, I created the mask to represent one manifestation of the crone connected to cutting away those things you no longer need. Jack O'Lantern Halloween 2010 - Jack O'Lantern

  • CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) Conference & Zoomer Show – I volunteered for both of these as a way of developing links within the field of re-visioning aging (Paul joined me at the Zoomer Show). I was given the key role of presenter liaison at the Conference and a similar role on the activity stage at the conference (I will be writing these up shortly!). The events are produced by the same organization as IdeaCity and the conference in particular was similarly inspirational.
  • This week, our first frosts of this winter; the grey-green of the grass lit up by the blaze of fall trees in the hazy morning glow took my breath away!

Coming soon . . .

  • Winter – in an El Nino year, rumor has it that we may be in for a particularly cold and snowy winter. The first flurries are expected in Toronto tonight. We are very glad we had arranged for our snow-tires to go onto our car this week and are looking forward to getting our skates on . . . ! I wonder how we will feel by April?