Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Between the Frozen Raindrops

We've gotten off very easily so far this winter.  While freezing rain is predicted, at the moment the eerie fingernail clatter of frozen pellets against the window has yet to start.  And, who knows, perhaps it won't.  January swished by with warm weather and lots of rain rather than snow.  The driving has been easy - no shovelling, car cleaning, or other winter irritants.  However, I will now exercise my Canadian right of weather-complaining and apologize in advance - it was unbelievably dark.  Very little sunshine and without the snow to reflect the existing light, awfully gloomy.

We got a dusting of snow this w/e - just look at the difference it makes.  What a great walk down to the Lake:

Just so you can see how easy winter has been so far - this photo was taken in November:

Same spot at the beginning of February:

I really had to go on a hunt to find something that looks a little cold and icy.

The second week of January marks one of the biggest trade shows in North America - Landscape Ontario's Congress 2017.  There are acres of trucks, and rocks, and fences, and everything to do with the landscape trade.  In years past, I've travelled hours to get there and home in horrific storms.  This year I travelled for close to an hour, but only because Stephanie Morris and I were happily gabbing away and completely missed several turns.

Got there just in the nick of time to make my GWA meeting and then met up with Stephanie to do the floor of the trade show.  In the New Products section, a little lawn-mowing robot (the little naughty kid in me always wants to pick them up and make a run for it when I see them at work in the neighbourhood):

A resin chair that looks like it already has a wee bit of mildew that I think takes the "make it looks just like real" a bit too far:

Paving products.  I'm always up for more grass.  Hopefully this sort of prefab product will make grassy lawn/drives a little more affordable.

They are getting better and better at wall mounted "containers":

I like the fact that the potted plants fit in so nicely,

and so easy to water - just unplug and fill as shown by this display at Sheridan Nurseries.

What gal wouldn't want a real utility vehicle?!  No doubt Stephanie will have this one on her wish list.

Here's something to look for this spring at your local nursery and Home Depot:

Medallion Plants has teamed with the Canadian Wildlife Federation to grow and sell a pollinator collection.  Each kit contains 4 plants that have alluring qualities for different types of wildlife....
Monarch:  Asclepias tuberosa x2, Salvia sp., Echinacea purpurea
Butterfly Kit:  Asclepias tuberosa x2, Coreopsis verticilata, Liatris spicata
Hummingbird Kit:  Agastache foeniculum, Aquilegia canadensis, Lobelia cardinalis, Penstemon
Bees Kit:  Gaillardia sp., Lavandula angustifolia, Monarda dydima, Perovskia atriplicifolia
Song Bird Kit:  Andropogon gerardii, Echinacea sp., Helianthus, Rudbeckia hirta

Each kit will be about $12-15 (including tax) with $1.00 directed to support the Canadian Wildlife Federation.  I like the fact that most of these plants should be perennial to us and that they've thought about providing plants that set seed for food.  The kits are brightly coloured with good instructions.  And, there's a website for more information.

All the usual suspects were there as well - look at the crush at Kubota:

How much Mary Kay do you have to sell to get one of these?

The following week was the IDS (International Design Show):

I want these for my next garden design.  The poor designer was horrified when I asked if they could be used outside, "They'd get dirty!!!!"  I think they'd be cool.  Disappearing during the day, and glowing in the garden at night.  Perhaps I can coax someone to make an outside model.

You can sort of see the wire that is inside the clear plastic product:

So much more creativity in interior products at the moment.

Even fancy too-cool-for-school designers can't resist crayoning.  Premier Paint's booth.  This is the man with the colouring devices:


With Canada Blooms just a month away, seed catalogues on my coffee table and a bit more light bookending my days, I'm starting to look forward to this upcoming gardening season.  I want to do something to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday - probably a couple of containers with red and white flowers.  What would be your choice for a good Canadian-red flower? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!

As you've most likely guessed, I've taken a blog break.  Every time I sat down with the intention of blogging, I just didn't have the spark.  So this year, I am going to start as I mean to continue - a little more communication with my blogging buddies, and a few more changes to my garden that I hope to show and tell you about in the months ahead.

So without further delay, here are a few of the things I did during my silence:

The Royal Winter Fair.  Now that's a pumpkin!  There was a family holding a dear little baby, and Joan and I were so hoping they'd ignore the "do not touch sign" and gently put him down in the wonderful scoopy depression.  Alas no.  Good parents who read and follow sign instructions.

Aren't these birds darling?  Sadly not for sale.  They are real and pigging out on the delicious dried material at Sheridan Nurseries.

 And from the magical shady section of my garden - a puff ball to end all puff balls.

This hand fits a size 7 glove...

There were escarpment walks.

And discoveries.  I took this photo from my living room window.  I did not know that birds adored Hosta seeds.  This one is H. 'Empress Wu'.

Bart in his favourite costume and my $.99 pumpkin.  The white ones were deeply discounted the day of.

Every other year the Eastern White has a huge crop of cones:

After the warm summer, the colours were a bit subdued.  But those trees that were bright, were stunning:

You really need to plant this in quantity to look really good.

Solidago with my little J. Maple:

The light is excellent for photos at this time of year:

Reminder to all of us to exfoliate during the winter:

Beside the Lake.

A newer garden with some older plants.  These Hamamelis are not the showiest - the early spring blooming varieties are much better.  But what a wonderful thing to find in a garden in late fall.

Then the dark and cold moved in:

So Bart and I decided we'd stay here for the winter.....

Kevin decided to trip over the Blue Line playing hockey and try out our new hospital.  He made a good recovery due in good part to the good care he received.

But as all Christian women know, December is not a time for couch surfing.  There are gigantic ornaments to blow up.  There is the Christian woman's fat and sugar exchange.  There is tree decorating.  This is the tree that Kevin hunted, killed and brought home for me.  It is from Ikea.  It cost $20.  You buy it blind.  You pay your money - you get a giant green furry thing wrapped in heavy twine.  The plastic bag at the base is $2.50 extra and goes to charity.

It's at this point that the man of the house leaves the little woman to do the next part.

And, I wonder why I'm tired.  Anyway done and sparkly.  My godmother's angel on top - care of the man of the house and we're ready for more cooking, baking, wrapping and entertaining.

I'm curious to harvest these to see if there's any flavour.  I know that frost is good....

Looks so pretty when it's all sticky.

 We had visitors:  Ray on his crutches post-new-hip.

A lovely new baby Fiona with her mum Michaela visiting from Switzerland.

 Bart didn't stray too far from the fire.

And the cat as claimed the tree as his own.

So between shortbread and naps I think that brings you up to-date with just about everything.

May you and your family have an excellent 2017!  A very happy new year to you all.