Sunday, December 12, 2010

This calls for one more

Dec.. 12, 2010

Grandma tree 1300 years old in Capilano, BC
We found a VIP lounge here that makes sitting in a airport lounge very comfortable.  We paid our $15.00 each and were enjoying the buffet and comfy chairs when the announcement system came on and said they were investigating a fire alarm in the domestic terminal and we were to stay alert.  So instead of a relaxing buffet breakfast we had to gobble our food and make sure our various assorted 'bag lady' items were ready to load at a moments' notice.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tree top walks

Dec. 11, 2010
Capilano bridge suspended 457 metres above the river.
We took the free shuttle to the Capilano Suspension Bridge.  The guide driving the bus, asked us without prompting if we needed seniors tickets and then said, “Nice Tilley hat sir!  My wife said I could get one as soon as I get a little older.”

Other countries have a hard time trying to top us on forest walks.  The oldest tree at the Capilano canyon was 1300 years old and over 250 feet tall!  They just soared up, up. Up.  And the waterfalls were bigger than any we saw in Hawaii.  From the bridge we saw bald eagles perching in the trees, but the bridge was swaying too much to get a photo.
Real mountains, Grouse, in fact! They don't have these everywhere!

On the return trip we toured Granville Island and checked out the shops.  Afterwards we went  to Mass at  Holy Rosary Cathedral built in 1836.  Then a short walk in the rain back to the hotel finished up our adventure in beautiful British Columbia. Home again, home again, jiggity jog! And of course there might be one more blog if something happens on the way home.

Clothing Optional

Dec. 10, 2010

To Anonymous and all of our faithful readers, it's been great to read your comments and know you are out there.  Thanks for the smile every day and making us feel like we are in touch with home.  Tomorrow will be our last post about our trip, but we are going to Bahamas in March so more tales will ensue.  And there's always the garden blog to read about!

We went to the clothing optional beach today on our way to the Museum of Anthropology but protocol was followed and no one gawked or stared (must have been averting their eyes and following protocol.)   
Museum of anthropology at UBC
On the way back we stopped at the Van Dusen Garden and saw their Christmas Lights display. 
This evening we saw The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.  It was the Swedish version with English subtitles. Excellent!  You can’t beat Nooni Rapace who plays Lisbeth Salander. She conveys the reticence and vulnerability that the character demands.  Hard to image that the English version with different actors will be better than this.
Lights reflected in the still water
A fairy land

We’re been doing a lot of walking and I have the blisters to prove it! But at least it didn’t rain today.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh Canada

Lights covering St. Paul's hospital - right next door.

We arrived in Vancouver last night during a rainstorm and 7 C temperature.  Four days of rain are forecast while we are here.  What a relief from all that sunshine.  But Vancouver certainly is decked out for Christmas, with beautiful lights decorating downtown.
Pacific anemonies Vancouver Island
the Handyman with his head in an aquarium bubble.
front view
Giant Pacific Octopus
We went to the Aquarium today – what a beautiful ocean floor they have here.  I would like to go diving, and I told the Handyman we would wear dry suits, but just thinking about changing outside is enough to end that idea.  I bought gloves for my cold hands today.
artistic arrangements of 50 years of stuff
bottles, buttons, bows, bowls, boots, bags, bolts,  - you get the picture

We went to the Art Gallery, it always brings a smile to my face.  The artistic interpretations of life are so entertaining/thought provoking/amusing/startling/engaging?
There was an exhibit entitled “Waste not” It was a very intriguing look at stuff. It was like an artistic display of that television show Hoarders. (Okay, I confess to watching) The artist described how his mother began saving items because of deprivation.  She lived in China during the Cultural Revolution and started out saving useful items out of necessity, but eventually the stuff she had saved became redundant because of progress in technology or design.  The items meant to help improve their lives cluttered the family’s life so much it interfered with their life.  You can see in the photos how artistically the items were displayed in the exhibit.  It made me smile to remember collecting bits of string as a child. Or how they taught us in school to tear and fold the corner of two pieces of paper together because they didn’t supply paper clips. There were no Dollar stores to make reusing items unnecessary.
We’re easing back into the Canadian climate.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Christmas Urns

Penta urns
Well, take 5 women from the gardening club add pruners and this is what you get!  I must admit that I was a little worried about a committee creating urns, but they turned out well!  I like this one so much it was hard to take it away from my front to bring it to the raffle.

A Christmas urn that will take you through the season.  Just replace the ornaments with more pine cones or fruit.
The inspiration urn from Sheridan Nurseries
Our gardening group decided to create 2 urns for the Penta Luncheon.  We thought that someone might actually want two, one for each side of the door.  The Nurseries report that silver, red or green are the inspiration colours this year.  The urn on the right was the inspiration for our colours. The design is very stunning and modern.  Though we put silver in ours urn to be au courant, we did want a traditional looking urn because we had no idea whose house it would grace. Birch logs are still popular, so if you have one add it to the urn.
It was a lot of fun creating the urns.
The secret is to layer the colours of greenery that you add.  The B.C. cedars and pines are fuller boughs than our Ontario ones, so they are worth the price in my opinion.
Get out and create before the ground freezes and it is too hard to get the branches in the containers!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


hosta putting on a Fall show
Every shade garden needs hosta.  This hosta, called Krossa Regal, with its large blue grey leaves and prominent veins,  is a standout in the garden at any season.  But the spotlight yellow colour of the leaves make you appreciate it all over again in the Fall.  I am always torn between getting an early start on cleanup, in case the bitter winds come early, or waiting for the Fall display of colours from my garden plants. 
If you clean up too soon you miss the leaves of evening primrose blushing bright red. You haven't paid attention to it since it bloomed yellow in the spring, but suddenly it reminds you why its in your garden. Lamium is another plant that just keeps on going. In a shade garden the white leaves draw your eye and the flowers are a bonus!  But it stays pretty and fresh looking through the Fall.
As the leaves lose their chlorophyll the resulting colour is still prized.
lamium still making a display

Fall Colours

mature Japanese Maple in Port Credit
The Fall colours are stunning.  Some days I just want to stand still and stare.  Japanese Maples display beautiful yellows, reds and oranges at this time of year.
The grasses, swaying gently in the breezes and making rustling sounds outdoors also make the season special.
Hydrangea and burning bush can be relied upon for colour, now.  And while burning bush appear bland and insignificant the rest of the year, their eye-catching colour now makes you want to plant hedges of them in your yard.
Karl Foester grass with large burning bush in the background

Hydrangea and burning bush add colour and structure in Fall

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rattray Marsh, Mississauga

Meadows of goldenrod

purple asters
The Handyman and I took a walk in Rattray marsh to look for birds and fall colour.  As yet, the leaves have not  changed, but the Fall wild flowers are in full bloom, making meadows of goldenrod and jewelweed.  Goldenrod has achieved some status in recent years and has moved into urban gardens where it is appreciated for its height and Fall colour. The jewelweed clumps up in vast areas and attracts humming birds to sip nectar from their deep throats.  It clustered close to the paths, so was easy to spot. The purple and white asters contrast with the yellow goldenrod to paint the meadows with lovely contrasts.  The yellow warbler is supposed to live in those woods, and while we heard bird calls we did not recognize, we did not catch sight of any of them. Have they fled south already?
berries on dogwood

Do you know what this is


Cloverleaf Garden Tour, Sept. 25

charming garden shed


"Neon" Stonecrop
relaxing by the pond

hydrangeas add Fall colour and structure
Actea "White Pearl"
What a good idea to have a garden tour in the Fall!  While most of the tours are in the early summer, I have a deep curiousity to know what people's gardens will look like throughout the seasons.  In the Fall you have to rely on certain standbys for colour.  Of course you want a burning bush in your garden. The new dwarf varieties have magnificent colour. The provide the structure that is essential when planning a garden for 4 seasons.  Then another standby is stonecrop.  The new varietals have much more vibrant colour than the perennial favourite "Autumn Joy".  "Brilliant" and "Neon" are also wonderful to lead your eye into the garden.  A new dark purple leaf variety has sturdy stems and huge flower heads that contrast beautifully this time of year. Look for a stonecrop called "Chocolate Drop" in your nursery.
Hydrangeas of all sorts graced the garden tour and added colour and structure in the garden.  There are many varieties to choose from, large and small and some with cone shaped flowers that emerge white and fade to pink.
A formal setting
Everyone's favourite garden seemed to be the one on Oakwood.  Every spot in the garden was designed and accounted for. Boxwood and evergreens formed the planting backdrop of the garden, while a beautifully integrated formal design with slight Oriental accent provided a restful oasis for the homeowner.
Dark leaf bugbane with lime green lamium in the foreground
bugbane "white Pearl'
There was a wonderful variety of plant material and design styles on the tour.  And I think everyone found some aspect they would like to incorporate into their own garden. I'm noticing Actea (bugbane) this year.  For a plant with such a horrible name it s a truly majestic plant in the garden this time of year.  A central stem with many branches carries the flowers on individual stalks that hold a single flower.
"White Pearl" is 3 - 4 feet tall with white flowers against the purply stems.  I am going to find a spot for this one in my garden.
 The plant sale allowed people to pick up Rose of Sharon, stonecrop, rudbeckia and very many other plants for their own gardens. Thanks to the organizers.  The tour was very well done!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Riverwood Conservancy, Mississauga

A September walk in the Riverwood is a delight.  The trees are just hinting at the colours they will display in a few weeks.  The birds, squirrels and chipmunks are scurrying around hiding food for winter.  And the gardens are putting on a final show of blossom and colour. At the entrance to Chappell house a sculpture of hawks stands guard in front of a backdrop of sumac.  The tassels of the grasses sway in front of Chappell house and the Russian sage has captured the photographer on the right.  Just behind the grasses is the pond with a lotus blossom in full bloom. You can see the limey coloured pod in the centre of the flower that are harvested and sold in garden centres.
The beauty of walking in a public garden is the scope for large plants that may not fit in your own. This is true of the above beauty which is about 4 feet by 2 feet and towers over the retaining wall around this patio. I believe this is a cimicifuga or Bugbane 'White Pearl" it can grow up to 6 ft tall in southern Ontario.  The stalks are a wonderful lavender colour.  I think I want one!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sept. Garden Tour!

The Cloverleaf Walking Garden tour takes place on Saturday Sept. 25, 2010, rain or shine.  What a wonderful opportunity to see what you would like planted in your own Sept. Garden. There are 18 gardens on the tour, and a walking tour of the village of Port Credit is always enjoyable.  You can buy tickets at any of the gardens, or in advance.  Check out the website at

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


One of the plants of Fall is the stonecrop "Autumn Joy" with reddish bronze flowers. Bees are thankful for it too. In the photo above, it has not revealed it's deep colour yet, but is just showing the first blush. But Autumn Joy seems to have fallen out of favour recently in people's gardens and more people seem to plant " Brilliant" with its pink blooms.  I like both plants. I like the contained structure of the plant itself all summer long, and then the hit of colour when it is most needed in the garden.
Like all succulents its plump green leaves seems to claim the three dimensional space around it, making other leaves look page thin.  It is best to keep this plant at a reasonable size, by dividing it in Spring.  Once it gets too full the stems fall over and you miss its structural beauty.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

More Sept flowers

There are some container plants that just last and geraniums are one of them.  This little beauty sat on the deck all summer and in spite of neglect and sporadic watering is looking strong and healthy.  Geraniums are one container plant that can stand a little dryness and heaven knows that it has been an exceedingly dry summer.  Once client told me that she have given up on watering container plants.  This last heat wave just took too much out of her and she didn't want to go outdoors merely to water wilted impatients.  She is writing down the names of plants that did well in containers this summer and will buy those next year.  Among her favourites were plants in her very large containers, where the soil provided some insulation from the heat, and heat loving gerber daisies which are native to South Africa.  I tried a sedum container this year and I didn't water it even once (mainly because I didn't think about it) and it has done very well.
Roses bloom again in September usually and they certainly are welcome.  This is a bonica shrub rose that is very hearty and disease resistant.  The Japanese beetles tried hard to eat it, but I inspected and crushed (and also used a spray, I must admit) and it has survived the torture.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


If you are the same generation as I am you will remember the song “Poke Sally Annie” The poor girl was so poor that she had to eat pokeweed salad. Pokeweed is a perennial plant that will grow to an amazing height in just 4 years under the right conditions.  Twice in the last two years, I have visited friends and seen this amazing plant.  Once I saw it at Theresa’s (she, of the pruners at the Border crossing)  I had never seen it before, and then to see it, in its huge abundance at another friend's was quite startling.  This large bush/plant comes into its own in the Fall when the racemes' deep purple berries contrast with the red stems.  It’s hard to believe it is a perennial. Birds love it and both owners claimed not to know how it arrived in their garden.  It must have come courtesy of a bird that ate the berries.  It occupied all of one corner in Theresa’s garden and  completely shielded the patio of another friend.   It was about 8 feet high and 7 feet across. I brought home some seedlings.  I think Theresa will be a recipient. 
Check out this web site for picture, because once again I was cameraless :