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Skulduggery

Every spring for years now, my dear friend Les and I have fiercely competed in The Bloomin’ Bulbs competition.

We two are the only participants.

Whoever has the first blooming spring bulbs is the winner.

But in the weeks ahead, we’ll both be on high alert, because we’ve proven ourselves …uhm… untrustworthy.

One year I brought a blow-dryer outside, trying to warm up the air around my not-quite-blooming daffodils.

And as for Les …. well….

Please follow the trail from here:

From: Cynthia Reyes
Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2014 4:58 PM
To: ‘Leslie Lawrence’
Subject: I have SEVERAL crocuses bloomin’! 

I have SEVERAL crocuses bloomin’ now!

Two yesterday, several today.

And I just remembered: it’s the Bloomin’ Bulbs competition, so Hellebores don’t count, Les!

Have you any real bulbs yet??

Blog Photo - Crocus in Spring

~~

From: Leslie
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 9:05 AM
To: Cynthia Reyes
Subject: Re: I have SEVERAL crocuses bloomin’ now!

Well, you are probably well ahead.

It’s hard to be in competition with the Reyes Estate.

A Few Things have poked their heads up vigorously through the leaf mulch.

However, we don’t have much of a display.

Lawrence el Veraz

Les and his Daffodils

 ~~

On Apr 14, 2014, at 9:19 AM, Cynthia Reyes  wrote:

Les – that is beautiful!

I have no daffodils blooming.

When I read your email, I braced myself for another fake photo – but this is great!

It looks like you won the contest this year, because those daffodils have been up for a while – right?

Darn, drats and heck!  I hate losing. But if I had to lose to someone….. I’m glad it’s you!

~~

From: Leslie
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 9:46 AM
To: Cynthia Reyes
Subject: Re: I have SEVERAL crocuses bloomin’ now!

Hi Cynthia,

Well, I’m glad you liked the photo.

As for fake photos, though we have this keen competition, I assure you I would never spend a lot of time scheming to send you a photograph taken last spring in order to accomplish the nearly impossible task of fooling you one last time.

Not me.

Lawrence el Veraz.

~~

On Apr 14, 2014, at 9:50 AM, Cynthia Reyes  wrote:

Oh my God! 

You did it again, didn’t you?

I don’t know why I get hoodwinked every time.

And this time – completely.

Duz a leppard change his spots?

Duz a photo-faker change his ways?

Obviously not.

Ay, caramba!

~~

All this to say: keep your friends close, but keep your gardener-friends even closer! 

~~

Dedicated to my dear friend Lawrence el Veraz.

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Mother’s Day in the Garden

One garden here at the old farmhouse is extra-special. 

Partly shaded by a large red maple, it has two dogwood trees, two purple lilacs, a Japanese maple and a forsythia shrub. The Japanese maple was stuck there “temporarily” but was somehow forgotten and has outgrown its spot.

Blog Photo - Spring Trees and Flowers

“One of these days, I’ll have to move it,” my husband says. But that tree is so big now that I suspect it’s not going anywhere.

Hydrangea shrubs and tree peonies also flourish here.

Blog Photo - Lilacs and forget Me Nots

In front of them are smaller plants: Solomon’s seal; ferns; the intriguingly shaped “Jack-in the Pulpit”; the occasional trillium (Ontario’s official flower); may apples and another woodland plant whose name I never learned.

Solomon's Seal
Solomon’s Seal

Pink tulips come up every spring, as do daffodils, astilbe, and hosta. It’s the only garden bed that’s home to such a variety of characters: woodland, shade, and sun-loving plants.

Blog Photo - Mama's Garden1

No wonder it’s called “Mama’s Garden”.  The children she mothered are a variety of characters too.

Throughout the spring, pink lamium borders one side of Mama’s Garden, while blue forget-me-nots border the other. Recently, though, they’ve both strayed into the path.

“Your garden would look better if I could weed the path regularly”, I apologize to Mama.

And I can hear her voice saying: “Ah, m’dear. It’ll get done. Right now, there are more important things on your plate.”

Blog Photo - Mama's Garden front arbor

My husband named the garden in tribute to Mama’s great love of gardening.

Blog Photo - Mama's Garden - CR and mug of coffee

My mother died several years ago.

On every Mother’s Day since, I head out to Mama’s Garden, no matter what the weather, no matter what condition I’m in. I bring a sturdy mug of coffee, walk through the entrance arbour and down the short pathway, looking at the growing things around me.

I sit on the stone bench at the back of the garden.

“Thank you, Mama,” I say.

Blog Photo - Clematis on Arbor

There are so many things to thank her for.  

So I thank her and I thank God for her, and sometimes the talk with Mama gets mixed in with the prayer and it feels like the beings I am talking to are one and the same, but I don’t think either Mama or God would mind.

I give thanks.

Blog Photo - Mama's Garden CU of CR

For a mother who loved and tended her family.  For a mother who taught us the importance of growing things.  And for a mother whose love and faith live on in our hearts.

Blog Photo - Tulips Hosta and Forget Me Nots

Garden photos by Hamlin Grange. Photos of Cynthia by Dale Ratcliffe.

 

This post is dedicated to my mother and mother-in-law, who mothered not just their own children, but all our cousins and friends when they needed mothering too.

Happy Mother’s day, and happy belated Mothering Sunday, to all women who tend and care for children.

 

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A Fine Canadian Whine

That funny sound across the land

Is not the geese in flying band

That sound across this country mine

Is just a fine Canadian whine

*

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photos by Hamlin Grange ©

We whine and whine about our weather

Spring and Summer, Fall and Winter,

We whine at snow, heat, fog and rain

We whine, we carp and we complain

*

“Winter is hell”, we cried and said

(Forgetting hell is hot and red)

“Come Spring, come soon, or we shall rot”

So Spring herself is what we got

*

Blog Photo - Arbor and pink clematis

Blog Photo - Pink Clematis

We’d dreamed of Spring’s so-pretty flowers

Forgetting Spring’s cold wind and showers

Spring came with those accompaniments

Arousing such crude sentiments

*

“Can you believe this awful cold?”

“Come on now Spring, break Winter’s hold!”

“Can you believe this awful wet?”

“Good God, this Spring is the worse yet!”

*

Blog Photo - Bloodroot

And on and on Canadians go

As if our lives were full of woe

Day in, day out we moan and groan

As if bad weather were ours alone

*

But grateful gardeners aren’t such grumps

We take the good and take the bumps

We welcome all the days of Spring

And give our thanks for what they bring

*

Blog Photo -  Blooming rhubarb

And so we wait the Winter out

And though at times we feel some doubt

We know that flowers need the rain

Without it, we would toil in vain

*

Without it, what would be the point

Without it, we’d be rolling joints

Oh, wait – out by our West-Coast way

Some people do that night and day

*

Blog Photo - Crocus in Spring

Okay, alright that was a slur

‘Gainst folks whose Springs are oft a blur

Of rain.  Offense, they do deserve it not

(Their “B.C. Bud”  is known as hot)

*

My West Coast friends, I will refrain

From mention of your weed and rain

I will not write about your pot

At least I will not write a lot

*

Blog Photo - Blue clematis2

Back to my garden I will go

Back to a subject that I know

And walk between the growing plants

And tend to what the garden wants

*

At evening, sounds rise o’er the land

(It’s not the geese in flying band)

That pleasant sigh is me and mine

Sipping a fine Canadian wine.

****

All Photos by Hamlin Grange ©

I’m dedicating this poem to my friends on Canada’s west coast, hoping their sense of humour is working well today.

And  especially to Louise, in Niagara-On-The-Lake, who has a lovely garden, and her husband Neil, who loved his work at a winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Despite the uncertain weather of some growing seasons,  the story of Canadian wineries (in both the east and the west) is remarkable, with many award-winning wines. Way to go, Canadian wines!  

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Almost There – John’s House Pt. 5

Ever get the impression that this blog is my way of living vicariously through others?  That I write stories about people who do things I wish I could do — or used to be able to do?

If so, you’d be partly right.

But what John Garside is doing – almost entirely by himself – blows my mind.   And now, as he nears his self-imposed deadline for moving Ann and himself into their house in Prince Edward County, I find myself holding my breath every time a new email comes from John.

Blog Photo - John Yellow Room and Scaffold

Will this be the email where John finally confesses that he needs a break from all this work, and that – promise or no promise –  the idea of moving in this spring is ridiculously un-do-able?

But it never is.  Not when he has to repair major cracks in the coach house foundation (below).  Not when he undertakes the delicate restoration of original ceiling medallions.  Not even when he is clearing out the basement.

Blog Photo - Johns Coach House

Blog Photo - Johns House Medallion

A lot of the work has been onerous.  As for the basement, John says it “was very crowded — 100 years of clutter — and cut up with old wooden partitions etc.  This was totally removed by me. 6,300 lbs. of stuff!!”

Right now, John’s working on finishing up the library.

Blog Photo - Johns House Library in Progress

The more John restores the house, the closer he feels to it, and the more he learns about its past.   He’s made a few intriguing discoveries.  Like the original signatures of the first owner and his young son, written in concrete.

“William W. Bedell,” explains John, “was the father.  Willet V. Bedell was his only son.  The boy would have been only 7 or 8 years old when he did it.”

Blog Photo - Johns House  Signature in concrete

Sadly, Willet died as a young man.  It was during the First World War, “on a Troop Ship in 1917 en route to France”.

The second family to own the house were the Wards, though John doesn’t yet know who exactly “Envers” was.   There’s still a lot to learn about the home’s history.

Blog Photo - Johns House Name on wood

John’s original move-in date was April 30.  But life follows its own course.

Just a few weeks ago, John’s mother’s health declined suddenly.  She died within days.

This spring is a time of change for John, Ann, and family.

It’s also a time of renewal.

After a rough winter, a flock of tiny blue scilla flowers is blooming in the garden.  It’s one of the first flowers of spring.

Blog Photo - Johns House Blue Scilla

And inside the house, John keeps repairing and restoring.

Another room done, one left to go. Then, after all the cleaning up, comes the big move.

The movers are now booked for May 7.

We’re cheering you on, John!

Photos by John Garside.