Friday, December 31, 2010

Enjoy the Joys!

Hello! I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas. Life over the holidays has been very sweet here. Too much food, lots of reading, and most especially, wonderful, rich lazy days playing with my little son. This is his first year that he has really been privy to the thrills of it all. Hugs and kisses punctuate the hours. My heart is full of the mystery and joy of love expanding my soul. Schedules have fallen away and we while afternoons away at the local swimming pool with its luxuriant hottub. I look up and notice the year has finally eased softly down to its close. I sit up, ahem, as I did have something to say to mark its close.

I've long held the suspicion that people are finer that they realize. I believe we can rise to our own vision of our best selves. Before we go and worry about all the resolutions we need to make to see that happen in ourselves, I bet if we looked a little more kindly on ourselves, like a good friend, we would see the seeds of beauty have already been planted. Be proud of your accomplisments. You have probably made a greater difference than you know.

I feel very fortunate that in my blogging life I have somehow become surrounded by such lovely people, like you. Salut to each of you!

The new year is a promise of light and renewal and I feel blessed to be sharing it with those I love the best. I wish the same to all of you.

Now off to enjoy my cache of lobster and PEI mussels, by way of the fabulous Billingsgate seafood market.

May a fine new year await your pleasure!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas from Alberta!

[Park around the corner]

I wish you all the best Christmas ever. I hope you enjoy the peace and joy of the season with those you love.

May Santa find you and leave you something particularly perfect for your inner gardener!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Room of One's Own

First, there were the days of garden dreaming. Looking out the window that was really too high to see anything when one was sitting down, as one tends to be in the house. There was a new baby to be nourished, cuddled and hopefully put to bed occasionally, hardwood to be installed, walls to be painted, baseboards to be put in place and upgrades to hideous light fixtures to consider. Of course, there was the unpacking to be tackled, but that could wait. Back to the dreaming. And back to the garden. For that was really where one imagined being with chortling baby.

[window too high that wanted to be a door]

The garden needed a fence, it needed earth - yes, the previous owners has filled the back garden with gravel - and it needed plants - galore. So we started planning. We put in a fence, we took out gravel, we brought in good earth. We ripped dead stuff out. And then we had a place to play and a place to plant. But something was still missing. There was no place to sit and just be in the garden, and we still couldn't see out into the garden when we sat in the house. Back to the drawing board for Phase II.

We decided we wanted a cobblestone patio with a small cedar deck, large enough for the BBQ and a small table and chairs set, to become "one" with the garden. So, the landscapers came, and ripped out earth and sod, reshaped some of the beds we had created

and planted two beautiful trees (of several more to come), a Ulmus americana 'Brandon' (Brandon Elm) and a Prunus maackii 'Jeffree' (Goldrush Amur Cherry). I *love* the bark on this one, it is a real four season beauty.

[bronze satin bark of Goldrush Amur Cherry]

The stone patio went in and we had one day to enjoy it before it snowed. The cedar deck had to wait until the last little warm spell arrived and the carpenters went madly at it to finish it off. And then it snowed again.

But there is now a door. So I can look out to the winter garden and begin the dreaming time again. Sitting in our home these Christmas holidays will be a little brighter this year as we wait for the garden to awaken. And then, Phase III, the planting time will begin. The thrilling time, I should call it. :)

Dreams are illustrations... from the book your soul is writing about you. ~Marsha Norman

I hope you are all enjoying Mother Nature's quiet time to dream new beauty into your own verdant corner of the earth.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When We Were Young

You caught me off guard when I was making us breakfast in my little attic kitchen so small your tall cotton-shirted self filled all the negative space

I could hardly see my blue pottery behind you as you folded yourself into the opening by the dropleaf table pushed up against my lace curtains and asked me to marry you

I said yes and got teary and you swivelled out to the hall and dug through your coat pockets, finding a little green box holding a treasure. You had been carrying it for weeks

We married and invited all the children we loved to be a part of it. The girls still have their flower girl dresses. The boys laugh when I tell them they were so cute.

Nine years and they grew up and we stayed young. I think it must have been the magic on that day when the snowflakes sparkled and swirled.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

For those of you who are so patiently waiting to hear of our landscaping endeavours this fall, a post is forthcoming! :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just when it looked like it was over between us, something happened

What matters isn't being applauded when you arrive - for that is common - but being missed when you leave. ~ Baltasar Gracian

Autumn is closing, only remnants remain of the glory and gold of September. Many of us here in the north are closing our garden gates, stacking our pots in the shed and putting the chairs and tables away. But not here at Latitude. The landscapers have just arrived.

Yes, more to come. :)

If you want to see some truly beautiful autumn leaves, check out the stunning jewels at Voyages Around My Camera and the header photo over at Blue Algae Creative. They're gifted, these folks are.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Something about September

In these brilliant golden days with the light leaning sideways as it lists away, our inner selves seem to rise up to respond to the shifting of the earth. The natural world is very busy this time of year; birds are rising and flocking, squirrels are gathering and storing, and trees are changing colour. Profound changes; all necessary for survival.

September seems to urge us toward awareness of the changes we need to make in our own lives, whether it’s cleaning closets or calling that estranged family member, or picking up that camera, paint brush or pen. It’s a time to put our house in order and acknowledge and honour our own place in the world.

A blogger whose writing I so admire, Rilla, recently posted about September feeling very "poemy". I couldn't agree more. Her post got me to thinking about September and music.

What would be the perfect instrument to capture the spirit of September? For me, I realized, it is probably the flute. Played in the late afternoon and heard from a distance. Strange choice perhaps, but I find it carries a certain melancholy wistfulness apropos of saying good-bye to the festive nature of summer.

There is something about September and the creative spirit. I begin planning my concert and theatre-going season.

I get art framed that we have purchased over the last few months. I look for beautiful things, especially pottery, this time of year.

I crave big, fat books. I dig out my old Norton Anthologies and re-read poetry. I take my son to music lessons and bang the drums and dance with him.

I savour every last golden moment in the garden and plan for next year's. I fall in love with the scent of gingerbread again. And I walk in the woods and dream.

I found this video of a jazz flutist who captures that something about September perfectly with his rendition of Autumn in New York.

Here’s to a “poemy” September for you all. I hope September helps you find your muse. :-)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nido de Amor

I think I first fell in love with the love. It wasn’t the house we eventually purchased that made me fall in love with our neighbourhood. It was the modest bungalow down the street.

When my son was about two months old I began attending a postnatal physiotherapy class for moms whose backs were still sore from childbirth. It was about then I was realizing my son came with loads of “stuff” and our cosy – and finally renovated to our taste! – house was too small for the three of us. After class, my son would fall asleep in the car and I began to take that opportunity to cruise neighbourhoods looking for a new home for my little family.

The bungalow was pale yellow, with a little tyndall stone around the front door. It was nestled in amongst mature shrubs and perennials. Not a house you would probably take notice of; there were plenty that style and this one had no added features, good or bad, to attract looks from the sidewalk. Except for that sign out front. Tucked in a rugosa rose that had long overtaken it, there was a hand carved sign that read “Nido de Amor”.

[This is Gryffindor, our front door lion who keeps us strong and brave]

That evening at home I asked my husband what that meant. He said it was probably something to do with “Love Nest”. Oh. How lovely. As a new mom, that went straight to my heart. I imagined the husband, thirty or forty years ago, carving that sign for his little family. I imagined the day he pounded the post in the ground, hung the sign and, together with his wife, planted the rose. So I went back the next week after physio and drove by it again. Then I began exploring the neighbourhood and was smitten.

My requirements were pretty specific. I wanted a two storey home, the master bedroom facing the back garden, a family room on the main floor, a powder room on the main floor, interior walls (I like actual rooms), and a good-sized back garden with mature trees. I also wanted to be near a large natural wooded area with trails I could wander and dream. A river or creek would be nice, too.

I found my house. It came up for sale about six doors down from the yellow bungalow. It was in dire need of renovations, the gardens were a wreck, the fence was fallen, but the bones were good and the inspection proved the house was sound. Best of all, the back garden was a tabula rasa with a stand of large trees at the back casting dappled light over the garden in the evening.

We have been here three years now and are gradually working on the house and garden while raising our little son. I have never been happier.

The little yellow bungalow is for sale now. A few days after the For Sale sign went up the Nido de Amor sign came down. I hope they are taking it with them to wherever their next stop is. It some ways, I feel the sign is still here and that they have passed it on to us. Thank you, little bungalow, for sharing the love.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

White After Labour Day?

It's enough to make a proper flower blush!

My Morden Snowbeauty is in week two of its second flush. I couldn't be more pleased with this lovely beauty.

The pale pink buds are opening this time a little pinker than the first pure white flush and it is really rather enchanting.

My annual pelargoniums will bloom right into the fall if last year is any indication.

And are a welcome counterpoint to all the rosy complexions out there.

My delightful little fairy bells are in full bloom again. This is my first year with them and I hope they make it through the winter as I am rather charmed with their tiny dancing when a breeze blows over them.

My Little Lamb hydrangea has put out it biggest blooms ever, after a harsh winter that took it down to its base.

I wonder if the seven flower heads on it are so big because my toddler cut the others off when they were just getting started? Hmmm...maybe he is a gardener in the making. :)

These creamy little sprays are not a part of the garden.

They are a present from hubby for my birthday. It appears he knows how to make me blush after Labour Day as well. :)
Hope you are enjoying the beauty of your late summer gardens!

One of the most attractive things about the flowers is their beautiful reserve.
~Henry David Thoreau

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Nose is Sleepy and other stories of the late summer garden

“Your eyes are sleepy, beautiful boy. It’s time to close them and go to sleep.”

“No, Mommy, my nose is sleepy. It goes up and my eyes go down.”

~ conversation at bedtime with my little son earlier this week.

Late summer and my nodding Annabelle hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle') adds a dreamy element to the garden. We tucked it in close to the Holmstrup cedar (Thuja occidentalis 'Holmstrup) by the back door and just in front of a new Dart’s Gold ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Dart's Gold').

It seems to have made this spot its own, hanging over some silvery Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy'. My hubby brought this hydrangea home after admiring it in many of our neighbour’s gardens. Normally he leaves the garden purchases to me, but since he offered that we might find some place for it, and he knew I liked hydrangeas, we made it a home. This is only our first season with it so I don’t know how it will overwinter. However, given that so many are thriving in our area, I am hopeful.

As for the nodding off that it tends to do, I have heard that they straighten up a little after a few years of good pruning. But I do understand if it gets a sleepy nose this time of year. I know we all do.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Dreamt of my Garden

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato." - Lewis Grizzard

We are back from holidays and - surprise! - my Tumbler tomato put out a few ripened beauties. They had no chance before because my toddler could not wait for them to turn red. I don't blame him. He did stare patiently at them and they, in return, did nothing. So he had to pick them green as they called to him with their shiny, round faces. To make up for their green cuteness, while we were gone the plant snuck a few red ones onto the vine.

Worth being away for.

Or, as my little son sighed before he bit into one, "Ohhh, beautiful red tomato."

Texture in photo compliments of the very talented Shadowhouse Creations.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bridal Veils and Zombies: The Making of a Blog Post

You know how in the movie Shaun of the Dead they have to run really fast from hiding spot to hiding spot on their way to the pub to escape the zombies? And how along the way they have to keep whacking zombies with shovels and stuff to slow them down? Well, that was me trying to get some pics of my Astilbe.

The mosquitos are crazy for blood here tonight so I could only take a few quick snaps without really aiming. (One zombie mosquito was in my ear going for my braaaainnns). ;-)

This is Astible x arendsii ‘Bridal Veil’. I planted it last summer to test it out before committing to any more. Well, I needn't have worried. It loves it here! It is turning into a giant and I don't mind.

It's probably about 30 inches tall altogether with the white plumes waving hello over the top. The foliage is finely textured and has a bit of a shine.

It is a welcome plume of colour (yes, white is a colour!) this time of the season. I have it in pretty deep shade and it is getting a ton of water this summer as it is positioned near the run-off point of a downspout.

I know that having more than one wedding dress is probably gauche, but how about more than one Bridal Veil? I think that might be okay, don't you? Besides, I can always give any extras to those zombie brides lurking out there.

*Please forgive me as I am not visiting your blogs as quickly as I would like, I just don't seem to have much computer time these lovely days! Couldn't you all just come over for a garden party, hmm? I would make lemon cookies!

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's not you, it's me

You were a soft, gentle blue with a hint a lavender.

I was instantly smitten and decided to build you a home

that showcased your beauty

and complemented your complexion

And then I had to go away for week. While I was gone, you...changed

I hardly recognized you upon my return. You didn't seem like the same flower, you were...Pink!

Now, my dear, one of us is blue, and it's not you.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

You Glow Girl

There's a glow in my garden these days.

You can really notice it in the evenings

It's not the showiest bloom on the block

Her beauty is more sublime

And elegant in her simplicity

Her scent is fresh with a hint of citrus

And she seems to like it here.

My Morden Snowbeauty, purchased last year, is a real asset to the garden. She came through our winter with no extra protection and narry a problem. Her glossy green foliage is delightful. Her long buds are truly elegant and her open-faced blooms are sweet bee magnets. She's a nightime girl, though, and it is the evening when she really becomes the star that she is. I can't take my eyes off her when I am supposed to be sitting out there reading a book and sipping wine. Given that evenings are when we really get to enjoy the garden, plants that add something then, including scent, are an important part of the garden. This charmer politely stays within her space and her blooms are recurring after this first glorious flush. Yay for sweet hardy roses!

Snowbeauty, you glow girl. :-)