Gardening & Marriage, Twigs in My Hair - A Gardening Memoir

A Garden and A Love Story

Will a marriage survive a partner who asks a flower fanatic: “Can you eat flowers?”

Writer Paula de Ronde reviews Twigs in My Hair – A Gardening Memoir

 

THE PROVIDER AND THE BEAUTIFIER

Photos courtesy of Hamlin Grange

Cynthia Reyes, author of A Good Home, An Honest House and co-author of the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series of children’s books, has now written Twigs in My Hair: A Gardening Memoir.

Anyone familiar with Cynthia’s previous books knows that the underlying theme is her love of home and family.  In Twigs in My Hair, she invites us to enter into her passion for gardens, her own and those of friends with whom she shared that passion.

Blog Photo - Tulip red and yellow CU

In writing that is almost lyrical at times, Cynthia takes us on a tour.  She is the guide that shows you how it is done.  Building a garden takes time and patience.  Cynthia is the artist, the earth is her canvas; Mother Nature is her helper, and sometimes not. 

Mama's Garden Pathway May 2015

The text is beautifully enhanced with the photography of Hamlin Grange, Cynthia’s husband.

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Bee on Blue shrub

Cynthia painstakingly guides us through the creative process of making a beautiful welcome mat into her home.  She is the creative master of all things blooming while Hamlin, ever practical, tends the produce. 

Blog Photo - Late summer garden tomatoes

What a great combination: the provider and the beautifier.

Blog Photo - HG photo of Red Poppy

Twigs in My Hair: A Gardening Memoir,  is an analogy for life itself.  The garden evolves as the seasons do and as we do. 

The garden has late and reluctant bloomers as we humans do.  Will that wisteria ever bloom? 

The most lush and beautiful gardens require hard, sometimes backbreaking, work. But oh, what beauty results and how satisfying to see your efforts rewarded.   That is the same as in life itself.

Blog Photo - Crocus in Spring

The book is laced with Cynthia’s warmth and humour.  How do you get a fox to pee in a bottle?  Will a marriage survive a partner who asks a flower fanatic: “Can you eat flowers?”

I found something extra too.  As an accomplished author, Cynthia is able to say a lot with just a few apt words and phrases.   

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This is a memoir that goes beyond the passion of two gardeners.  It is also shines a light on the love between two people who grow with their gardens into a deeper unity with each other, with their family and home.

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The photos above may be used only with the express written permission of Hamlin Grange.

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Paula de Ronde  loves books. After a career as a librarian, she now writes a blog — stories about her 51 year love with her husband Bert.

A Good Home, Building a Water Feature, Canadian Homes, Canadian Village Life, Carol and Wayne Shaw's Gardens Summer 2018

What’s Wayne Up to Now?

Glad you asked!

We’ve been following him and Carol as they expanded their small house and garden into what our family now calls “The Shaw Estate”. 

Blog Photo - Carol garden at front with plants and house front

And I promised you that I’d revisit them when the Coach House interior is complete. (He plans to do this in cooler weather.)

Blog Photo - Carol Garden coach house beautiful exterior

But our family has known Wayne and Carol for many years and I should have known that Wayne is always up to something. 

Blog Photo - Wayne at work on a new building

“I came up with the idea about 3 months ago,” he says.

A neighbour bought the property next door, and made changes that affected Wayne and Carol’s use of the back of their property.  Wayne decided they needed a water-feature there.

Blog Photo - Wayne's fountain and first pond at night

“I started looking around for the ideal rock fountain and finally found it in nearby Campbellford. I took Carol up to see it, and we decided on it that day. While there, I made an appointment with the gentleman (Jim Spencer) who builds and installs all their water features. We came up with a final layout (in our heads).”  

 Q: Did you make a sketch, Wayne?

A:  “I did not. It was a vision/plan in my head, and when we met, he and I understood each other within minutes. No plans were drawn!”

Blog Photo - Wayne's Fountain Rock Arrives 2

 Jim, whose property is fully landscaped, has been doing this work for 40 years. He and colleague Wayne (yes, another Wayne) arrived weeks later with backhoe and fountain boulder.

“As you can see, the 6,000 pound fountain boulder was a little too much for the small backhoe to manage! They had to bring in a heavy duty boom truck.” 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Heavy Duty Boom Truck

Blog Photo - Wayne's Fountain Men Placing Fountain Boulder

This wasn’t just a fountain, however. They built a patio, a stream and three ponds and planted a cedar hedge as a backdrop.

Blog Photo - Wayne's fountain and stream and two ponds

Q: How did Carol react when she saw the finished product, Wayne?

 A:  “She was elated, as are all of those who have come around to see what we are up to out back!”

Blog Photo - Wayne's Fountain with stream and ponds and garden bed

Blog Photo - wayne's Foutain closer of pond and cedars and rocks

Jim allowed Wayne to operate the backhoe one day, but mostly, Wayne designed and supervised the project.

Blog Photo - Wayne's fountain and Patio at night

Blog Photo - Wayne's Foutain finished Product with patio and steps

Q: So are you and Carol lounging about, having drinks and admiring the new water feature?

A: “No. But we do go out at least once a day and admire the work the boys did!”

That’s because Carol is busy working in the garden and Wayne is now building an office inside the main house.

Blog Photo - Wayne's Fountain shows back of house and coach house and rocks

Meanwhile, Jim Spencer, pleased with the collaboration, asked Wayne to assist with a future project, and he agreed.

Blog Photo - Wayne's Fountian front view of garden and coachhouse with water feature in BG

And double-meanwhile:

“As soon as I’ve finished the office, I hope it will be cool enough to go back and complete the interior of the COACH HOUSE!!!” 

Yes, and we’ll have pictures!

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Photos by Wayne Shaw.

A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Carol and Wayne Shaw's Gardens Summer 2018

Wayne and Carol – The Garden

You may remember Wayne and Carol from my post “What A Project!” 

Blog Photo - Wayne Building

Wayne’s always building something, and my family is always intrigued with his projects. 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Kitchen ws

His latest ones were their new kitchen, and the exterior of  “The Coach House”, below, with plans to finish the interior next.

Blog Photo - Carol Garden coach house beautiful exterior

“Has Wayne completed The Coach House yet?” I asked Carol a few weeks ago.

“He will, but right now I’ve got him mulching the garden beds,” she replied.

Their garden in Warkworth, and others elsewhere in southern Ontario needed mulching this summer.  It’s been hot and dry.

Blog Photo - Carol garden delphiniums over fence - gorgeous

So while we wait for Wayne to return to the splendid Coach House, let’s take a photo tour of Carol’s garden, starting with the beautiful blue delphinium over the front fence.

Blog Photo - Carol garden glorious photo of delphinium over fence

Blog Photo - Carol garden delphinium over street

And lilies and daisies and other blooming stuff.

Blog Photo - Carol garden pink lilies and sign about flowers

Blog Photo - Carol Garden orange lilies - picket fence in bg

Blog Photo - Carol garden beautiful potted arrangement on front patio

Blog Photo - Carol garden at front with plants and house front

Blog Photo - Carol garden daisies etc

Moving along the side towards the back…

Blog Photo - Carol garden wide shot of fence and rocks and flowers from street

By way of the paths…

Blog Photo - Carol garden lovely side path and blooms

Blog Photo - Carol garden path from other view

We see mulched beds and flowers – the results of both Wayne’s and Carol’s hard work…

Blog Photo - Carol Garden from coach house view

Blog Photo - Carol garden with barometer over flower pot

Blog Photo - Carol garden bed well mulched

 beside and between the main house and Coach House.

Blog Photo - Carol garden lovely shot of the coach house and back of house and garden bed

And it’s all lovely, of course.  We expect nothing less.

We’ll check back in with Carol and Wayne when the Coach House is complete.

Blog Photo - Carol garden back garden bed

Meanwhile, I hope your summer goes well, unless you’re in the part of the world where it’s winter — in which case, I hope winter is short and spring is near.

Photos by Wayne and Carol Shaw

A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Gardening, White gardens

Exterior Design – Gardening for Impact

 

I’m an amateur gardener. Many of you know more about gardening than I do.

But I’ve learned a few things over the years and I shared some in my previous post on affordable gardening. 

This post is about creating impact.

Blog Photo - Hosta green around tree

The first thing I’ve learned is that you can create impactful garden scenes with a fairly small range of plants – if that’s your preference. At the farmhouse, we had many kinds of plants. At this new garden, we have far fewer. So we use a lot of hosta, hydrangea, ferns, and boxwood throughout our garden.

Blog Photo - Hosta around tree

I’ve learned that structure matters. Plants of the same variety massed together in a circle or  semi-circle make a strong structural statement.

When we lived at the farmhouse, a neighbour was throwing out clumps of green-and-white hosta. We gladly took some.  We divided and planted them around this tree, below.  They formed a lush circle in just two gardening seasons.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea guest in garden

My husband created two circles, above – one with hosta and one with boxwood. Look closely and you’ll see a taller boxwood semi-circle too.

Boxwood is perfect for creating structure. We buy them small (aka inexpensive) and let them grow. These ones, curving along our present garden path, are now two years old and will be trimmed and shaped soon.

Blog Photo - Boxwood along path

Contrast is another way of creating impact. The hosta and Japanese forest grasses, below — planted along another curve in the path — make a nice contrast.

Blog Photo - Hosta and Forest Grass

 Meanwhile, ligularia’s dark leaves, below, contrast well with almost anything.

Blog Photo - Ligularia

It’s a backdrop for the light-green hosta. But notice the green-and-white grass, below left.  Alone, the shape and colour of its blades would contrast nicely with the leaves of that hosta too. 

Blog Photo - Hosta and contrast

Contrast can also be created using varieties of the same genus of plants. Note the different kinds of hosta used below.

Blog Photo - Hostas of different colours

While contrasts are striking, we also like the harmony that comes from repeating a single colour throughout the garden at certain times of the year.

The red blooms of bee balm, below, echo the red of the chairs.

Blog Photo - Red Bee Balm and Bird Bath

Blog Photo - Red Bee Balm and Red Chairs

And the white blooms of bridal wreath spirea reinforce the white-stained arbour, below.

Blog Photo - White garden Bridal Wreath and Arbour

Sticking with colour, let’s talk about single-colour gardens and borders. 

Blog Photo - White garden Hollyhock single

Blog Photo - White garden Daisies

The white hollyhocks and daisies (above) and Annabelle hydrangea, below, are striking when grown en masse.

Blog Photo - White garden Hydrangea CU

Blog Photo - White garden Hydrangea several

Fast-growing and easy to divide, they are popular in all-white gardens. (Vita Sackville-West’s white garden at Sissinghurst in the UK is most famous, but many gardens, both private and public, have these plants in their white borders.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Courtesy: Parkwood Estate, Oshawa, Ontario

Of course, we’ve also learned that a single plant can make a magnificent statement, as does this giant Sum and Substance hosta.

Blog Photo - Hosta Giant Sum and Substance

And this equally striking goatsbeard.

Size, form, texture, contrast and colour: all can make a strong impact in your garden.