A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Couples, Family Moments, Ferns, Flowers, Gardening, Homes, Hostas, Jamaican Gardening in Canada, July Garden, Life in canada, Lifestyle, Outdoor Living, Shade Gardens, Summer Garden, Tropical Gardening in Canada, Tropical Plants

In the Garden with Gail and Sam

Right away, you can tell that two avid gardeners live here.

Blog Photo - Gail's garden - implements on tray

These gloves don’t stay idle for long.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden - Covered Porch

Gail and Sam have lived in their home in a city east of Toronto for 25 years.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden - Covered Porch 2

Theirs is a mature, complex garden that is tended conscientiously every day. It has trees, vines, ponds, statuary, gazebos, and plants that grow in the ground and in a multitude of containers.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden Buddha

Of course, a gardener’s work is never done. If you’re a gardener, you’ll relate to this moment:

The camera comes out and Gail spies a weed — way, way at the back of the garden.

“Wait!” she says. “Let me remove that weed!” As she pulls one, she finds one more. And one more.

Blog Photo - Gail pulling weeds

A Canadian who was born and raised in Jamaica, Gail has fond memories of the island.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden  Pond closer shot

This garden helps her to keep connected to it.

“We come out here and we’re in Jamaica!” says Gail.

Blog Photo - Gails Garden Gail talks

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden Pond - Tree reflected

The garden is also a tribute to her mother, who died several years ago.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden - Ferns over pond CU

Gail is a passionate gardener. Luckily, her husband Sam, of Italian-Canadian background, also loves gardening — and Jamaica.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden water Lily

To see them in the garden is to see a team that works well together.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden - Sam

He does the building and hardscaping (paths, gazebos, trellises, stone walls, ponds, decking, etc.) while she chooses and takes care of the plants.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden Wide shot from back

To no-one’s surprise, there’s a banana tree, rescued when the friend who had it was having trouble caring for it.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden Rescued Banana Tree

It’s among umpteen tropical plants growing in containers spread throughout the garden.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden Taro

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden Tropical Plants

Most of them would be quite at home in a Jamaican garden.

Blog Photo - Gail's foliage plants 1

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden table and chairs

There’s even an old copper gallon-jug which was originally used to measure rum at the Appleton estate in Jamaica.  It belonged to her father, and, thrilled with the historical significance of the jug, Gail was very pleased when her dad gave it to her for her garden in Canada.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden Jug - Appleton

Gail’s an active volunteer in Canada’s Jamaican-Canadian community. She was a member of the Toronto committee celebrating Jamaica’s 50th anniversary in 2012 with a variety of cultural events, including concerts, author readings, an art show and other activities. That project is over, but when Gail wants to feel a connection to Jamaica, all she has to do is to step into her garden.

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden - wide shot different angle

Blog Photo - Gail's Garden back porch view 2

Thanks, Gail and Sam, for allowing me to visit with you in your beautiful garden.

A Good Home, Canada, Canadians, Clematis, Daisy buds, Flowers, Gardening, Gardens, Hosta, Lady's Matnle, Life in canada, Lifestyle, Rain, Red currants, Spruce tree, Sun

Rain, Shine and the Spaces Between

The skies turn dark, more grey than black.

The air becomes perfectly still.

And then comes the rain, in sheets and showers.

Pouring down on dry grass, garden beds…

Blog Photo - Garden rain lady's mantle drenched

… and our verandah roof.

The water streams down in front of and beside the verandah.

Blog Photo - Garden rain lavender blue clematis

I sit on a chair, enjoying this moment from a safe perch of my own.

Blog Photo - Garden rain blue-lavender clems

“I should grab my camera”, I tell myself. But I sit still, unwilling to interrupt the moment.

Blog Photo - Garden rain cu of lavender blue clematis

Overhead, small branches of pale-green maple leaves sway in the air.

Red weigela flowers move amid green leaves, showered by water, ruffled by wind.

Blog Photo - Garden rain - red weigela branch

Below them both, large hosta leaves are weighed down with raindrops.

Blog Photo - Garden rain large hosta

Dip, dip. Fall back.

Blog Photo - Garden rain hosta bloom

Unless you’re laden with red currants… in which case: Dip, dip. Fall forward.

Blog Photo - Garden rain red currants branch

The tall blue spruce tree stands majestic, appearing unmoved by the wind and showers.

Blog Photo - Garden rain blue spruce

But there’s light movement in its outermost branches.  The tree has taken on a soft look, its face gentled by the rain.

All birds have taken cover, tucking themselves into dry spaces between thick branches.

One small bird sees opportunity.  It darts into the rain, tail feathers wet and glistening, and aims straight for its target. It stays there, pecking, content to be alone with what it usually has to compete for: a space at the feeder.

Blog Photo - Garden in Rain wet birdfeeder

From the verandah’s eaves trough, powerful streams torrent into the garden bed below. The Annabelle hydrangea is taking a beating, it seems.  Branches, gracefully upright a few minutes ago, part with the wisdom of growing things faced with the unstoppable power of water.

It’s merely minutes later now.

Blog Photo - Garden rain Rhodo leaves

The water from the eaves trough narrows.  Long thin streams of vertical water form a transparent drape in the space between verandah posts.

Five streams falling steadily on the earth. Then four.  Then, three. Then two, then one.

A trickle, now.

Then a quiet drip.

The rush of water, the soft thud of raindrops, the splash on leaves and flowers — all come to a stop. As if a mighty switch was turned on, then off, the rain has come and gone.

Blog Photo - Garden rain pink and lavender clems

Flowers glisten.

Blog Photo - Garden rain Red Bee Balm about to bloom

Birds chirp and fly towards a single spot: the feeder.

And I think, as I watch them:

How smart that first bird was.

The one that went before, wet tail-feathers and all.

Blog Photo - Garden rain - two birds at feeder

And how remarkable water is.

Liquid, fluid, transparent.  Forceful and life giving.

And as I sit on my verandah, giving thanks for it all – the rain, the trees and shrubs and flowers, and the birds and a place in which to sit, protected — the sun comes out.

Blog Photo - Garden rain Clematis dark blue

As quickly as the rain began, except there was no warning this time. Almost no space between.

Rain and Sun. Doing their part to keep us alive.

We depend on them so much, that ironically we take them for granted.

We give them names that begin with lower case letters.

But Rain and Sun are Capital Gifts. Sacred Gifts.

A Good Home, APTN, Artist, Canada, Canadians, Country Living, Couples, Creative Writing, Docudrama, Flowers, Home, Home Decor, Homecoming, Interior Design, Joyful Moments, Life Challenges, Life in canada, Lifestyle, Maple Woods, Nature, Rex Deverell, Rita Deverell, Rita Shelton Deverell, Trees, Vision TV, Women leaders, Women's Studies, Writers

At Home with Rita Deverell

For many years, Rita Shelton Deverell wanted to produce a docudrama about a remarkable woman. But other careers got in the way. Blog Photo - Rita at PodiumThe actor, playwright and docudrama-maker has also worked as a TV presenter and head of current affairs for Vision TV, the Canadian network she co-founded; news director (mentoring her successor) at APTN, the Aboriginal People’s TV Network; professor of journalism and women’s studies in  two Canadian universities;

Her achievements earned her a place in the Order of Canada – Canada’s highest honour.

At last, Rita is writing the docudrama screenplay about Florence James.  She’s writing it at her country home in the ‘Sugar Bush’, outside Toronto.Blog Photo - Back Deck and Chairs “We bought the country place 22 years ago when our son graduated from high school. Thereafter we started to rent apartments in Toronto.  There have been five Toronto apartments in 22 years (plus two in Winnipeg, and one in Halifax where I worked three-year stints). The ‘Sugar Bush’ house remains home throughout these moves and always welcomes us.” Blog Photo - Rita Living Room closer Like Rita, Florence James found a productive life and award-winning career in Canada.  Rita came to Canada from Texas as a young woman, but Florence came here past age 60, after some terrible events.

“‘McCarthy and the Old Woman’ is about a feisty, resilient real-life heroine who lost everything because of the communist witch-hunts in the USA.  Florence James was blacklisted and bankrupted.  She survived the loss of her money, reputation, life’s work, her home and the death of her husband.”

The planning, creative thinking and writing for the docudrama are taking place here. Two writers live here. Rita’s husband Rex is a well-known playwright. Each has an office on the house’s lower level.Blog Photo - Rita Dining Room “Sometimes I write and plan in longhand at the drum table. But I have to get the feeling that I’m ‘going to work’. Rex has never gone to an office, so I have to keep his joke-telling self away from my work space.” Blog Photo - Desk Rita’s homes – country and city – are beautifully designed – by her.  They are bright, comfortable, unpretentious places, where history, art, houseplants and flowers mix. Many objects were passed down from Rex and Rita’s parents. Blog Photo - Rit's Small table “Every place in the large five-area living space is for my favourite leisure time activity, reading detective fiction. Blog Photo - Rita in CountryEntrance “We have lots of family pieces by now: the drum table was my mother’s. Blog Photo - Rita Drum Table in Sun Nook “The small desk and dining room table were Rex’s mother’s. The rocking chair was Rex’s grandfather’s, though not upholstered in leopard print. Blog Photo - Living room side shot “Outside, the yellow Muskoka chair is really the place I love to sit and dream and have nothing to do.” Blog Photo - Front Deck and Chair “I’m a home addict. The trivial side is I love to look at houses, read the real estate ads all the time, adore interior decorating, and can be cheered up by having a design idea.

“The important thing though is I’m an introvert, and actually draw my energy by starting each day from home base. That’s a place where my life is ordered, feels controllable, and beautiful. Then I can go out into the world and deal better with the dis-ordered, un-controllable, and sometimes ugly.”

Recently, another of Rita’s projects was launched to positive reviews.  It’s a multimedia, educational kit called ‘Women, Contemporary Aboriginal Issues and Resistance’. Free and downloadable, it includes a DVD:

http://www.msvu.ca/en/home/research/centresandinstitutes/IWGSJ/Events/ToolKit.aspx

Photos by Rex Deverell.

A Good Home, Birds, Flowering shrubs, Flowers, Garden, Gardening, Joyful Moments, Life in canada, Lifestyle, Nature, Non-fiction writing

In A Dark Garden

Have you ever walked in an early-morning garden after the rain?  

It’s dark, fresh, cool. And quiet. Even the birds are still taking cover.

Blog Photo - Rainy Peonies

Blog Photo - Rainy Day Lily leaves

Everything’s drenched.

Blog Photo - Rainy Rhodo Bloom

You squint at something pink  in the darkness….

Blog Photo - Rainy Columbines in dark

… ah, columbines. And you think how wise this first clematis bloom is, so nicely sheltered against a wall.

Blog Photo - Rainy but sheltered clematis

You’re lost in admiring this flowering shrub.

Blog Photo - Rainy Garden with Flowering shrubs

Its branches are so rain-heavy, they’re almost touching the ground.

Blog Photo - Rainy Branches over Hosta

You’re wearing sensible shoes, so your feet don’t get wet. But next thing you know, you brush against a wet branch.

Blog Photo - Rainy Burning Bush Leaf

And another.

Blog Photo - Rainy Pine needles

Turning away, you almost collide with a horse.

Blog Photo - Rainy Horse Weathervane

Your hair, face, nose and shirt get wet.

But the air is cool on your skin. Fresh and earthy to the breath.

Blog Photo - Rainy Yellow hosta

And one intrepid bird starts to sing.

Blog Photo - Rainy birdbath

You softly walk around in the dark garden, thankful to be alive.

To hear, see, feel,  smell, almost touch this morning.

And to take a few pictures, even though you once failed photography.

Twice.

Dedicated to all early risers, including my beloved husband who takes care of our garden and takes much better photos than these.