A Good Home, Twigs in My Hair - A Gardening Memoir

The Story Behind the Story

I remember the day when CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers and her colleagues Jacqueline and Erin came to interview me at our old farmhouse on the northern edge of Toronto.

It was summer 2014 and a day like the one pictured on the cover of Twigs in My Hair

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My first book, A Good Home, had been recently published, and I, who had interviewed hundreds of people on television, was terrified. Of forgetting, of stuttering, of other painful things resulting from a car accident.

Wise woman that she is, Shelagh asked me to stroll with her around the gardens before the interview.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Shelagh and Cynthia in Garden

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Garden

My friend Marilyn Mirabelli prepared tea for everyone. “Everything goes better with a cup of tea,” she said, trying to calm my anxiety.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Ladies

The interview complete, we sat outside and enjoyed ourselves. Marilyn regaled us with stories about the history of the afternoon tea tradition in Britain. We heard names like Queen Victoria and Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea pink cup and saucer

I remember the tea party, but almost nothing of the interview.

Much later, I remembered this:  Shelagh asked if I was writing a sequel.  I said I was terrified of writing a sequel because I’d have to revisit my journals — and that was too painful.

No way. I’d come too far to go back.

Blog Photo - Cynthia Reyes on The Next Chapter

Instead, I said, I was working on something fun — a gardening book! It was, in fact, almost complete.

But life went and did what life does.

Something unexpected happened. It led to the writing of An Honest House, the sequel I had dreaded.

Book cover - An-Honest-House

It went on to win an award and much critical acclaim for its raw honesty. But writing it traumatized me. The gardening book was shelved and forgotten.

Now, five years after I first wrote that gardening memoir, I look at the cover and feel a bunch of differing emotions.

  • Surprise. That we (Hamlin and I) and Mother Nature created such a beautiful garden.
  • Gratitude. That God graced us — my husband in particular – with ideas and  stamina to care for it. Hamlin built those garden beds and created the garden structures by himself.
  • Delight. That the book is finally published.
  • Satisfaction. That Hamlin’s photos and my story reflect a real life. Many images are gorgeous, but because the book is a memoir, we chose photos of real gardens and a real family. No staged or airbrushed photos here!

TWIGS -3D Cover Black BG

I see memories everywhere in this book cover. Most are good, a few are painful, and all in their own way, are precious. 

Almost every object you see has meaning for us.

Look closely at the boxwood semi-circle behind the round garden bed.

Twigs in My Hair - Photo of Arbour and boxwood circle and veggie garden to right

Now look at the biggest of the boxwoods, given to us in the 1980’s by a revered gardening teacher, Donald Moore. You’ll meet him – and the boxwood — when you read Twigs in My Hair.

Of course, I should apologize to Shelagh Rogers for misleading her, and for the book being years late. But hey! We finally got it done!

 

 

 

A Good Home, Acts of Friendship, Canadian Gardens, Flowers, Gardens, Keeping the Faith

The Glory of Late Summer

So much beauty.

Late summer, but the garden is still resplendent with colour. 

Blog Photo - September 2018 Lovely Backyard tree to woods

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Ligularia Yellow Blooms in border

The bees are plentiful and hard at work, drawn to fragrant hosta and almost everything else, it seems.

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Bee on Hosta Bloom 2

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Hosta White ECU

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Bee ECU

Blog Photo - Garden Sept 2018 Very wide shot with bee in one lily

Blog Photo - Garden Sept 2018 Bee in Lily Med Wide

Blog Photo - Garden Sept 2018 Bee CU in Lily

The trees are still green.

Blog Photo - Garden August 2018 - Under the Dogwood tree

And there are blooms everywhere.

Blog Photo - Garden August 2018 - late blooms1

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Single Blue clem

Blog Photo - Garden August 2018 - Zucchini and Flower

I give thanks for this season and the ability to enjoy it. Last summer, I had a bad concussion and broken bones from a sudden fall.  Luckily, my husband and an old friend both took photos so I could see bits of the garden.

Blog Photo - Garden Sept 2018 benches and blue pot by pool

This summer, life has again challenged me greatly at times — as it does to many of us.  Loved ones get seriously ill or die.  Another fall.  A lengthy medical assessment kicks off horrible nightmares and indescribable pain; I’m shocked to find myself again staring into the abyss.  I shake my head and have a few frank words with God.

But weep ye not!

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Sunface

I’m determined to dwell, not on the bad, but on the good that’s around me. And there is so much good, so much beauty, to be thankful for.

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Yellowish Hosta fersn and wall

My husband and children are healthy. They are caringly present, especially in rough times. 

Most days I am, according to my husband, “strimping along”. (I insist I’m striding or strolling, not limping.) 

My relatives, neighbours and friends are never far away.

Blog Photo - Garden August 2018 - Hosta in front

We support each other.

I surprised one dear friend with a funny birthday gift and kept a promise to another.  (Tiny acts, but I know they matter.)

My sisters and daughters called; we shared words of hope, love and reassurance.

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Bee on Blue shrub

And I’m still keeping the faith.

And the sun still shines in abundance.

Blog Photo - Phillipians 4 Whatever is True

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A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, The Garden in Early June, Tree Peonies

Garden Porn – ish

Well, it would be garden porn but we’re at that in-between stage right now.

Flowering plants are still budding up…

Blog Photo - Garden Peony about to bloom

Vines are twining up…

Blog Photo - Garden Clematis vine in June

And if it weren’t for the Jack In The Pulpits, cuddling up to an overwhelmingly tall hosta…

Blog Photo - Garden Jacks

Blog Photo - Garden Light Green large hosta

And these sweet little wild anemone flowers cozying up against the stone wall ….

Blog Photo - Garden Whtie flowers against wall

And the vegetable garden, with tomato plants and eggplants and peppers and herbs shooting up in the hot sun….

Blog Photo - Garden Tomatoes and eggplant plants

Or the annuals in pots, under the guardian’s unwavering gaze…. 

Blog Photo - Garden Face and flowers

Or the empty coffee mug forgotten on the Muskoka chair….

Blog Photo - Garden Mug on Chair

Blog Photo - Garden and pot and chair

Blog Photo - Garden Blue pots CU

And green stuff on the ground or climbing up the walls….

Blog Photo - Garden Path and Greenery

And this one and only bloom on this most reluctant tree peony…

Blog Photo - garden Peony in bloom

Overseen by a multitude of ferns and other shrubs not yet blooming…

Blog Photo - Garden peony shrubs and walls

I’d have nothing to show you at all!

A Good Home, April Freeze, Birds, Garden, Snow

The Frozen North

Photos by Hamlin Grange

We’ve had all kinds of weather in the last four days: wind, rain, snow, freezin’ rain. Then more snow and freezin’ rain and wind again.

Hamlin froze his tush off to get these photos today!

Blog Photo - Cardinal in Snow

We hear the birds singing loudly — though methinks it sounds more like complaining today. Who can blame them?

Blog Photo - Dove in Freezing weather 3

This wall must be warm, because a dove has taken refuge on the climbing ivy branches just outside our window. We’re so sorry for him/her that we almost opened the window and said “Come on in!”

Blog Photo - Dove in Freezing weather

Our snowdrops are encased in ice.

Blog Photo - Frozen snowdrops1

The frog, we imagine, is playing a requiem for Spring, because it sure feels like Spring has died and Winter is resurrected.

Blog Photo - Frozen Frog

The poor daffodil buds, about to bloom, have frozen too.

Blog Photo - Frozen daffodils

Blog Photo - Frozen garden ornament

Blog Photo - Frozen Bench 2

In our eagerness for Spring, we put out the warm-weather table and chairs days ago.

Blog Photo - Frozen Deck

Blog Photo - Frozen chair2

The laugh’s on us for forgetting it’s April in Canada. They don’t call our country The Frozen North for nothin’.