Wednesday, September 27, 2017


My little book is finally published.  I say "finally" because the concept has be running around in my head for many years.  The book is about a week in the life of Kate Anderson and an itinerant yard worker called Smith. 

Kate has recently retired and at odds with who she is and what she should be doing.   During the week, Smith introduces Kate to some quotes of Lao Tzu.  These quotes help Kate overcome her feelings about retirement. 

At the end of the week, Kate's garden is improved and Kate has a new look on life.  If you'd like to buy the book you can here: Smith

Friday, August 25, 2017

Native and Guests

Gardening with all natives is, to some, a goal.  For me, I like the diversity of having a few natives, a few aliens, some polite plants and some self-centred barbarians, some short and some tall.

My pet invasive is Queen Anne's Lace.  It mixes so well with others.  Look at it with daylilies and coneflowers.  Could anything be better? 
Of course, I weed out what I don't want.

This is my boulevard right now.  The small yellow at the right side is coreopsis.

Isn't the orange of the daylily great? 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

George Baker

mother clump of Corydalis solida
It's truly Spring; George Baker is blooming.  My George Baker (Corydalis solida) has been a sign of spring for over 10 years.  Each spring without fail, the little clump has brightened a side garden, a shady side garden, with its lovely salmon pink blooms, the first bit of colour in April. 

George Baker is a Spring ephemeral, blooming in April and gone by July. Its goal is to bloom before the deciduous trees fully leaf out.  Because most ephemerals completely disappear before summer, their location in your garden needs to be marked to avoid disturbing them during summer or fall maintenance.

Two more ephemerals that deck out my garden in early spring are Trilliums and Dodecatheon meadia, Shooting Stars.  The Trilliums are a "borrowed" clump my son-in-law brought me from Kempenfelt Centre south of Barrie many years ago.  The original clump has now been divided to become three clumps of wild Trilliums. The Dodecatheon I bought at a native plant nursery and is another plant I've had for many years.  I've moved it several times and it still keeps blooming, its little badminton bird flowers sprouting bravely above the plant. Spring ephemerals face the April cold and wind with a message that Spring is indeed here.  (See the May 2015 post for more about ephemerals.)

For a long time, George Baker stayed as a neat little clump.  A couple of years ago, the plant decided to multiply. First there was one little pink clump about two feet away, then one more clump but with mauve flowers.  Now little George Bakers dot the garden in an area of about 4 feet around the mother plant,  one or two a fair distance away and some adorning my neighbour's yard along the fence line.  Some are big enough to bloom; others too tiny just yet. Perhaps George Baker will become as invasive as its relative the perennial Corydalis ochroleuca  that pops up all summer over one area of the garden and reseeds itself with abandon.

I'll not worry -- George Baker delights me and only lasts for a few weeks.  Let it bloom where it will.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Staying In Canada

No southern sojourn for us this winter.  For 10 years we've hidden from winter under a Floridian sun, done our duty at Floridian golf courses, and commiserated with non-travelling relatives and friends about the snowy weather predictions from home.  This year is different.  For whatever reason -- the drive, the drop in the dollar, the political climate or perhaps some other subconscious factor -- we both decided to stay home, to spend the entire winter in Canada.

A year in Canada is not reminiscent of a Year in Tuscany!  In Canada we have the usual seasons: Winter from December 1 to February 28, Spring from March 1 to May 31 and so on, but that's not the whole story.  We also have weather, capricious and fickle weather, disobedient of seasonal rules, pouncing on the countryside with little warning. Weather is shirtsleeves in February and parkas in April.

Our weather most often comes from away, eastward from the prairies, down from the Arctic or up from the Southern USA, bringing rain, or snow or sun to Ontario on its way to the East Coast.  It's the dip in the Gulf Stream, the cyclone in the Pacific, or the hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico pushing temperature changes and precipitation across North America.

Last night we had weather, cold weather, cold enough to freeze fingers and toes, a cold so penetrating that walkers hurried hunched against the freeze to home or work, to warmth.  Along with the cold came a blizzard, an all-night snow blowing horizontally and creating great drifts across the city and down the streets.  This morning the city was laden with new snow, drifted over, reference points disappearing in an all-white landscape, leaving no division for roads or sidewalks. Snowblowers were out in full force as drivers rescued cars from filled-in driveways.  Drivers who had already found their cars and freed them from their snow-cover were on their way to work, slipping and skidding down unplowed side streets like beetles in soap suds.

Our city does a good job of plowing our streets, but the order of plowing is main streets first and side streets later.  It usually happens that our side street is plowed in mid-morning, after the driveways have been cleared and drivers have left for work. The plow races down the street pushing road snow into mounds at the ends of freshly-shovelled driveways. When residents return home from work they need to tackle snow again -- road snow.   Road snow is different from blizzard snow, crusty mounds of road snow deposited by the plow, hard packed and turned to ice by traffic, mounds filling the bottom of driveways, mounds almost unmanageable for a snowblower,  mounds that, if not moved, may last until spring.

Keeping the driveway cleared may be the chore that sends most Canadians south, but when you're retired and possess a snowblower, a snowblower that starts in all weathers, a snowblower that moves itself on treads, a snowblower that blows snow well into the next yard, the snow really isn't such a big problem.  The urgency is missing.  Retirees can wait at least until the plow goes by or even longer.  Snow clearing can wait and be done at leisure and in fits and starts.

Those without snowblowers will find a myriad of people who will "do snow" for a price.  My neighbour hires a person who arrives after each snow with a humongous snowblower attached to a tractor.  He can clear her driveway, even the mounds from the plow, in less than five minutes. We haven't taken that option yet, but it's there.

I must mention that I don't do snow anymore, neither making snow angels nor shovelling it.  In our household we have an agreed-upon division of labour.  Mike valiantly keeps the sidewalk and driveway cleared while I cocoon and dream of seedlings and Spring.  Seems fair to me.