Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We'll take a cup of kindness yet

Santa’s visit left our little toddler filled with wonder and delight. Always thoughtful, Santa also left this gardener a few pretty things.

These little gems, some new books, some music, and Vicar of Dibley, Series III, are sustaining me during the holidays. Along with maple fudge and red wine – ahem, all in the name of getting rid of my cold, you understand.

I am currently reading a book of Scottish folktales and watching my new Paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) grow. (They have roots already!!). I was going to save this little prezzie for my office but I just couldn’t wait. Santa is a smart one all right – and much handsomer in person! :-)

These are lazy days. Our big adventure has been to sneak away during the day, after handing the wee toddler over for safekeeping, and go to an afternoon matinee. I highly recommend the new Sherlock Holmes movie if you are a Robert Downey Jr. fan, as I am.

It has been so nice to visit with family, sing my wee guy’s new favourite song, “Jingle Bells” at each meal, have guests over, and go for dinner with a dear friend from out of province.

This is surely the season of hugs and promises of a bright new year - one that will offer us all new delights.

Wishing each of you a Very Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Thank you all for visiting my blog this first year of Gardening with Latitude. I've so enjoyed getting to know something of each of you through your comments. You have been very generous in your encouragement and support, and that has made this so much fun.

I have especially enjoyed visiting your blogs and learning about your gardens and their creative, hardworking and witty gardeners. With your shared experiences, I feel a little braver about trying some new things in my garden and I'm inspired by the acheivements of you all.

So, to all the generous, talented and beautiful bloggers whom I have enjoyed so much this past year, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a holiday season that finds you in a place of peace and love.

As my toddler would say, "Yayyyyy!!"

With joy,
The Garden Ms. S

Monday, December 21, 2009

We Shift Towards the Light

It seems this is a powerful time of year for memories. Perhaps because it is the longest night of the year. Perhaps because when we gyre around again and touch the same touchstones, we are closer to the centre of ourselves than we are at other times of the year.

It seems that when we open those boxes of old ornaments, when we dance the steps of the old rituals, we remember everything we tucked away all year. We trace the patterns of our experience and we remember. We remember the last “I love you's”, and the gardens we were so lucky to grow up in.

Perhaps that is why we need the transformation this season holds; the festival, the music, the rekindling of our selves, the opportunity to renew old friendships, heal old wounds and redress old transgressions.

It’s an opportunity to hold those we love closer, to make new friends, and to rediscover our own generosity of spirit. It’s a time to dig deep inside ourselves and find our “funny” – to make ourselves laugh and others laugh.

If you have lost someone, you know that in the heart of your joy this season, there is a light of love burning bright for all those whom you have loved. If you need a hug to acknowledge that love and embrace it into your joy, then I am sending you one, right now.

In case you need a smile and a giggle, enjoy this music, and I hope that it finds you grinning and chuckling as it does me:

Tomorrow, the sun turns our way and as gardeners, we walk out to meet it, seed catalogues in hand, with joy and with laughter.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Bells for the Birds

Well, I confess,

I always thought the little caps of snow that adorn mountain ash berries in winter

make the berries look just like Christmas bells for the birds.

Hey, birds need Christmas bells, too, right? ;-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Words have Frozen to the Windows

This morning I awoke to temperatures of -31 ºC (-23.8 ºF), and it is supposed to get colder. I will be snuggling into my faux fur throw today and making my hot Ovaltine cocoa drink (the secret is the allspice!), eating stinky cheeses and listening to Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas CD.

[photo taken November 22, 2009, when winter was merely frosty]

I wasn't going to leave the house at all, except, a colleague surprised me by announcing he is conducting a Christmas concert this evening at a church very near my home, and I would so love to go. You would think I would be content after hearing Handel's Messiah at the Winspear last weekend, but I just love Christmas music (not of the Dept store variety), and particularly choral music. So, I may slip out and brave the weather and hope my eyelashes don't freeze should the music move me to tears.

I'll leave you to enjoy the warmth of your cosy homes with this quote I found a few years ago that feels very apropo to these crystalline days:

"Antisthenes says that in a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered, and after some time then thaw and become audible, so that words spoken in winter go unheard until the next summer."
~ From Plutarch's Moralia

Hope you are finding ways to keep your spirit warm!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter at the Garden Gate

Off to the garden centre today to pick up greens for an urn. I couldn't resist this giant green bow. And then I found this equally over-sized frosted pewter magnolia blossom. I decided they would go together perfectly in my urn. Um, yeah no. So I popped them in the lattice by the garden gate.

For some reason, this spot just seemed to work for for my frothy little concoction. It felt, at the last light of the day when I took this picture, that it drew me into the quiet of the winter garden.

Do you find yourself stepping out into the garden in winter just to soak up the quiet beauty?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Belles of the Ball

Now, I don't know anything about orchids, but when I was at the Muttart Conservatory with my Dad a couple of weeks ago I spied these beauties shimmering in a little nook.

These exotic blooms are surely princesses visiting from a faraway land

Here for a mysterious floral ball

Where they will dance with a swish of silk to the rise of cellos

and dazzle their suitors

before slipping away at midnight

with a slight curtsy and a blush.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Gala Post!

Arts and Awards! The two go together like wine and cheese so consider this an exclusive invitation to my “Gala” (almost "Giller!") post.

First, have some complimentary champagne and let us look at the art

I recently purchased this little painting from UK artist and illustrator, Karen Davis, who has a most magical blog, Moonlight and Hares. I have always admired her creations so when she posted this little ACEO painting (2.5” x 3.5”) my heart leapt! Fortunately for me, she put the original up for sale and soon it was on its way across the Atlantic Ocean from Wiltshire, England, to Alberta, Canada.

When the package arrived I was off to the framers. Diana, at The Right Angle, understood my vision for the painting and quickly undertook the task of putting the pieces together.

I think she did a fantastic job.

On Sunday, Hubby hung it in the front hall for me as the wee toddler napped.

I love it and stare at it! To see more great art and items of beauty, head over to Karen’s blog and say “hello!”


Now, ahem, on to the award[Z] portion of the evening!! :-)

I have been honoured with the Best Blog Award by both Anna of Green Tapestry and Rebecca of In the Garden.

Rebecca also, very generously, offered me the Honest Scrap Award. As did Deborah of Green Theatre a short while ago. If this was an Oscar moment, this blog would be the sleeper movie that all of sudden got nominations! I am really thrilled to know that people whose blogs I admire are looking my way as well. It is an honour!

I really wasn't sure I would be able to properly acknowledge these awards so I was hesitate to accept. However, I am really quite moved to have these truly great bloggers take notice of my blog, so I want to say "Thank you!!" and accept them here in my own way.

First, let me say something about the award - givers, whom I admire tremendously:

Anna at Green Tapestry – another incredibly talented UK-er! (Coincidence? I think not!)
She has a great talent in her garden and her allotment. She also heads out in her caravan and finds the most beautiful hidden gardens to share with the rest of us. I truly enjoy seeing the gardening world through Anna’s eyes – and her great photography. She can also write an enticing tale and if you check out her letters on Teza’s Garden, I guarantee you will learn something new about gardening.

Rebecca of In the Garden has a terrific creative sense in her garden - and writes beautifully to boot! She also has great taste in plants! Check out her post on the “blues” in her garden. Rebecca shares the same zone as me and inspires me to try new things. I am so glad I found this blog.

Deborah of Green Theatre has an amazingly elegant approach to gardening. Everything looks like it was meant to be. She also has the spookiest Halloween house ever! Deborah's design sensibility and gusto for creative projects always inspires me.

Since I am quite new to blogging I still move in small circles and many of the blogs I enjoy have received these awards once or more already. Therefore, I would like to call your attention to three blogs that I greatly admire that you may not all be aware of. They are:

Northern Shade Gardening
This is a knowledgeable and daring Zone 3 gardener with a wonderful eye to developing a woodland shaded garden. If you want to learn the “good stuff” about gardening – go there – her archives are a treasure trove!

The Informal Gardener
Miss M is in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, Canada. She has a great sense of the beauty of the natural environment and can also teach you a thing or two about growing vegetables using sustainable methods. Her photographs are lovely and make you want to eat your veggies!

Sweetbay gardens on a large property in North Carolina, US. Now, to say this property is stunning is an understatement. Her garden, dotted with gorgeous pine trees, is a haven for pollinators and other creatures, including her sweet horses and cats. Her photography is amazing and, particularly, her photos of her roses are to die for. She also has an amazing variety of plants that elbow each other to outperform just for her. You could spend hours on this site!

I encourage you to stop by for a visit at any of these blogs for some inspiration. I won’t ask these gardeners to carry on the award as I think they tend to explore the same fabulous blogs I do and have very likely already been awarded in recognition of their great blogs. However, please do check them out and poke around their archives a bit if you are looking for some enchantment on a November evening.

The Honest Scrap award asks that I share ten honest things about myself. Be prepared to be agog (hee hee;))

1. My taste in music is changing. I am falling for opera. Who knew?
2. When I was pregnant I loved anything that tasted of spinach, oranges or salmon. Still like them better now than I did before baby.
3. My hubby can raise one eyebrow, like James Bond. I know this is more about him than me, but I love this “party trick”. We have a picture of him in a tuxedo on our wedding day with his eyebrow raised and his arms crossed. *Sigh* Does this make me a Bond girl??
4. My ancestors on my Mom’s side are Loyalists.
5. One year at university I ended up taking Children’s Lit and Advertising during the same term. I kept finding great parallels in that they both drew from the well of the familiar-to-us-all characters to tell their story.
6. Having lived in port cities, one of my favourite sounds is the sound of church bells muffled through the fog on a Sunday morning as I sip my tea.
7. The very first story I read my son after he was born was “Wind in the Willows” – a little each day as I cuddled him. (The copy I read from belonged to Hubby when he was little)
8. I, ahem, have been known to make sound effects when I drive.
9. I love trees – in nature, in paintings, photographs, sculpture and even silver engraving.
10. I will conclude with a super-secret tip: My Dad tells me that you always look for gold tangled in an upturned tree’s roots. I can’t help myself and always take a second peek when I come across one in the woods. Let me know if you find any!

I would also really like to say “thank you” to all the visitors to this blog. In the eight months I have been blogging, you have all been so encouraging and so inspirational. I’m learning so much from each of you and truly admire all your creative talents. A toast to all of you!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

And it Snowed on the Eighth Year

This is a quick post to declare "There is snow!”

So, of course, I had to rush outside this morning with my camera before it melted away.

Why does the snow today make me happy?

Well, it is rather beautiful.

And it does take me back to a day,

eight years ago, when the snow fell outside an old clinker brick church

like soft, lazy feathers, as we kissed and hugged our friends and family.

Yes, eight years ago on a Saturday like this we were married.

One of my finer decisions in life, I must say.

Honey, ya cleaned up real nice ;-)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pictures Never before seen in the Civilized World...Right Here!

I think you will agree the bombast is completely justified here.

I took photos today of subjects that have never before been taken - with this camera - although, I admit, that may have something to do with the fact that hubby got me the camera just this past September.

No matter. Prepare to be astounded... Ahem.

Yes, as I headed into the ravine this morning for my weekend walk I saw something very strange.

An ancient, almost primordial, maybe even Jungian, memory tugged at me until I was Ice! Purest ice. I felt the urge to gurgle some kind of awe-inspired chant but I forget the words as fast as I remembered them.

According to whispers in certain quarters, some kind of scientific transformation of water occurs to create ice. I prefer to think it comes from space. (kidding! - I know it comes from our atmosphere - which, technically, is a part of space, right?)

All joking aside, there was also a peculiar creature that could both hop and fly. I asked it its name and it replied, "Chickadee dee deeeeee". What do you think that means?

Have any of you ever seen ICE before or a creature who calls itself a Chickadee dee deeeee? Hmm, I will have to ponder these strange events as I head out to see a most serious movie, Men Who Stare at Goats - a movie that will explain all - and more!

Hope you all have some fun this weekend, too!! ;-)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Quiet Garden

Last Sunday was the putting to bed of the garden. I found myself approaching this ritual with a mix of melancholy and tenderness. I haven’t had this garden very long and it’s barely a garden, really, there is so much still to do, but I have fallen sweetly in love with it.

Of course, there was the thrill of planting my first bulbs – a bright counterpoint to the quiet grey day.

I deep watered in my new trees and shrubs, after having soaked the stand of spruce along the back the weekend before. I sprayed “Wilt-pruf” on my spiral Alberta Spruce to help it through the winter. I could have covered it or put a burlap screen up but I really enjoy looking at it in the winter with snow accenting its curved lines.

We planted the tender rose, Sterling Silver, in the ground with hopes of overwintering it. I couldn’t bear to part with it, after all.

I left the blooms on the hydrangeas (‘Unique’ and ‘Little Lamb’) to enjoy out the window as well.

In a spot facing my kitchen window, I created the little vignette above with a bench and urn to give me something to look at over the winter.

Since it is now pitch black in the backyard in the evenings after I get home, I’ve even been thinking about adding an uplight on a timer to make the scene glow in the evenings and highlight the beautiful spruce trees behind the bench. I’ve never done any garden lighting before but it might help inspire my winter dreaming.

How do you keep your garden dreams simmering over the winter?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The super secret late season bulb patch

November 1 seems awfully late to be doing anything of the planting sort in the garden, but if you are going to try something new just do it, I say.

And these do look rather lovely. I wasn’t planning to plant bulbs this year. I have never planted any before and wanted to wait until I get my tree plan sorted and some hardscaping installed before I planted much else. I was avoiding having to move things in and out of the ground yet again.

But these sweet bulbs found me. I was at the monthly hort society meeting last Monday and I won these bulbs as a door prize. I yelped and ran up to claim my prize. I was thrilled until I realized it was super late in the year and I didn’t even know how or where I would plant them.

I decided to plant them by the back door in a new bed that has nothing in it but a lovely Holmstrup cedar. I wanted them some place I could sit and gaze at them as they poke out of the ground in the spring.

And I know they will. I am very heartened about this because I see that a couple other northern gardeners have recently planted bulbs and they are much more experienced than I.

The only thing I am worried about is the squirrels getting them, hence the sheet over them. I just hope it doesn’t act like a red flag does to a bull. No bulbs here, squirrels, no siree. Just a sheet taking a rest on the ground, so best you keep moving along. I hear there’s lots of pinecones thataway.

Now that I’ve done it I am pretty excited by the idea of flowers in the spring. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Magic Halloween in a Garden over Hill & Vale

Halloween was quite thrilling this year. My little guy, at 2 1/2, is old enough to catch some of the magic of it, so we headed out to the country to the pumpkin festival held annually at Prairie Garden and Greenhouses.

It was a spooky affair, to be sure. There we met this little piglet who sadly declared she lost half her nose when she wiped it. I think the stuffed animal she won made up for it, though. Our little tiger immediately found the pumpkin of his dreams, just big enough to carry and rub his cheek against in affection. :)

He was most mesmerized by the strange animals

The flamboyant chickens
and strutting turkeys were much more fascinating than our kittycats have ever been...

This horned creature seemed to think everybody was there to feed him exclusively

Next, the little tiger found himself walking the plank

Fortunately, he was able to forego a battle with this rather suspicious looking knight

Who seemed to be more interested in creatures of the firebreathing variety

Lurking in a corner was the mysterious Mr. Mossman, and his adoring wife

Maybe they were avoiding this fellow; you don't want disturb him, he might be hungry...

Of course, in other seasons this spooky place transforms into a garden centre so there had to be a beautiful flower

or two, ...blooming their heads off...

The staff were very friendly, however,

And looking back in time at it now...

It really was quite a blast!

Hope you had a great halloween too!