My interest in gardening grew from a need for rest and reflection. A garden is a place for quiet contemplation, an opportunity to commune with nature, and a refuge from the grind of a career helping people solve problems, so my garden stresses curved borders, informal plantings, and colour. There are no hard surfaces or patterns with edges that might suggest conformity.
This is a place that just accepts you, as you are, without expectations. Pour a cold beer or a single malt with ice. Choose a chair on the deck and put up your feet. Listen to the birds that flit from the trees and bushes to the feeders. Let the sound of the breezes in the trees coax you to close your eyes and dose for a while.
A garden, rather than a yard, is a result of a bond between the gardener and the plants that shape the environment. It is hard work and, since my heart operation, I have been accepting help from Vera during the Spring planting and Fall raking. Living on the edge of a ravine, means that there are lots of leaves every year to rake and bushes to prune. There is always something to do.
I make mistakes too which force me to move plants from one micro climate to another. Sometimes I just don’t like the plant that I had thought I liked but, thankfully, that doesn’t happen often.
Then there are the critters who live in the ravine. Rabbits eat the petals of the impatiens plants. It is difficult to be angry about this. After all, this is breakfast for them and it is so easy to come and go as they like because I have resisted the temptation to enclose my garden with a fence. I once hosted a family of moles who burrowed under the lawn. Tunnels ran every direction under the surface of the lawn. I put the garden hose down one of the holes and flooded their tunnels. There are mice, of course, and chipmunks too, even raccoons. Ravine living requires patience and acceptance; plants live, some die, and some are eaten.
Vera took most of these pictures. She likes the close angles. I prefer the larger views. I suppose I am partial to red and yellow begonias, so don’t be surprised at the frequency of those hues.
I am not a good rose gardener, like my late parents. They were born with green thumbs which have proven to be a physical attribute that is not inherited. On the upper deck, I have grown roses in containers. Last summer, we planted geraniums which proved to be tough enough to live despite my tendency to forget to water them.
Over the years, I have been planting more perennials than annuals to reduce the labour. The garden changes every year, by things that I do, and by the perennial march of nature; plants become old, too big, or their share of available sun is pinched by a canopy of trees in the ravine that keeps growing relentlessly with over-arching branches too high to prune.
This rose was growing nicely outside our bedroom in a large planter. This image was taken 2 years ago. The plants did not survive the winter, which did not come as a surprise to us. This year, 2016, we have selected two new rose bushes, also planted in large planters, outside our bedroom on the upper deck. We walk onto the deck to be greeted by geraniums and roses, red and yellow.
The yellow rose in the image below dates back to 2014. This year’s yellow rose has a much richer colour.
The rose below, also from 2014, had a remarkable fragrance of chocolate. It was a gorgeous flower.
I grow hydrangea easily because they like the rich garden soil and mix of sun and shade.
We love begonias. They are easy to grow. We use them in hanging baskets and ceramic flower pots on the lower deck.
I am partial to vibrant hues, like red and yellow. Set against the cobalt blue planters they grab your attention as soon as you find a chair.
The breeze rustles the trees. Birds sing and you can see them flit from tree branch to feeder and back again, in a timeless ritual. It seems extraordinary that these small birds, some a little as my thumb, can retain enough energy from the food they eat, after flying back and forth for hours.
It is spring 2017. It has been a rather wet season, more so than usual, which may explain the profuse blooms on my flowing trees. The Hawthorn Tree has lush red blossoms that attract birds.
The Crabapple Tree, another slow growing variety, has survived the winter nicely.
The Lilac Tree, a favourite of mine, has the most wonderful fragrance. I positioned it beside the steps leading from the deck to the lawn. It has reached maturity and over-hangs the railing, which brings the scent to you as you relax in a chair.
The Japanese Quince has been moved a couple of times, in an effort to find the right micro climate. Moving a plant can reduce its growth for 2 years but the effort is handsomely rewarded.
The Hydrangea plants have opened nicely. The blooms are large and numerous, likely due to the generous rain that spring has brought this year.
I don’t have a greenhouse, as you might have assumed, so each spring, Vera and I scour the neighbourhood garden centres in search of fine seedlings. There are usually some cold nights in May and early June so we postpone planting until Spring has settled properly with warm temperatures. We cover the plants and provide heat, if necessary, to ensure that they survive; a light bulb placed under the tarpaulin works perfectly. Annuals can suffer if exposed to temperatures below 9 degrees centigrade.