A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Flowers

A Bloomin’ Miracle

 

European explorers didn’t call Canada the “land of ice and snow” for nothing!

It’s usually cold now. So why are the plants outside blooming and reblooming in late September?

Take this miniature rose. A gift from my husband in late June (after the ankle-break), it’s flourishing outside. Again.

Blog Photo - Rose late summer 2017

And this cyclamen, also a gift — from our neighbour.

Blog Photo - Begonia late summer 2017

Now, you may recall that I consider myself an expert on getting amaryllis to rebloom.

People ask: “Cynthia, how do I store my amaryllis bulbs during the fall so they’ll rebloom at Christmas?”

I immediately get puffed up with self-importance!  You see, I’m famously bad at the domestic arts, but I’m good at this. I know about reblooming amaryllis.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms 4 - July 2017

“Stop all watering in mid-August,” I say with great authority.  “Come September, pluck off the dried-up leaves, shake off the dried-up soil, and store the bulb in the cold cellar.  It’s had months outside, feeding on water, soil and sun, and now it’s time for beddy-bye, aka hibernation, until late November. It will be ready to rebloom at Christmas.”

So I took my own advice. Stopped watering this amaryllis on schedule, the leaves turned a dying yellow and….

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Wideshot late 2917

The darned thing bloomed!

It’s a delightful but humbling moment.  Seems I don’t know amaryllis. 

Blog Photo - Amaryllis CU late 2017

It’s like the goddess of amaryllis punctured my pride with her hatpin.

More worrisome things are happening in the world, I know.  But I’ve now decided to see the reblooming as a miracle. If there’s a botanical explanation, don’t tell me.

It’s a bloomin’ miracle, and that’s that.

A Good Home, Country Homes, Country Living, Couples, Doors Open, Doors Open Clarington, Family, Family Moments, Farmhouse Kitchen, Farms, Flowering shrubs, Following your dreams, Great Places, Home Decor, Homes

Home at The Grange – Part 1

Would you leave a very comfortable house in the city – a mansion, even by Toronto standards – to live in a dilapidated 1800’s farmhouse in the middle of nowhere?

I, as you know, have lived in interesting places. But when former model and media manager Wendy Boothman told me what she did 31 years ago, even I was surprised. 

~~~

In 1986, the Boothman family decided to move to the country. They found a large log house in perfect move-in condition. Wendy’s husband and children loved it.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Wendy and Nick2 by Hamlin

But Wendy wasn’t sold. Without telling her family, she kept looking. She asked the realtor to show her a place in Kendal, a hamlet northeast of Toronto. They toured the property.

It was a hot August day and the poor realtor was in his suit and tie. I had no idea what 140 acres meant, so we ended up walking and walking.”

They also toured the house. Wendy said she loved the place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The shocked realtor replied: “Wendy, it’s so dilapidated! Look at the holes in the floors! You have 5 children and a housekeeper. You can’t live here!”

Husband Nick saw it next. An international fashion photographer and audio-visual director with a Toronto studio,  he was stunned.

“Woman!” he said. “You’ve finally flipped. I refuse to set foot in that house!”

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Barn Inside and Hay Hamlin

Wendy showed him the huge wooden barn with cathedral ceilings. Then she drove him up to the highest point of the property and showed him the view.  He was impressed… somewhat.

“We’ll renovate the house to what we want,” she reassured him. “We’ll design the garden to what we want. But most importantly, the children will be part of the designing. They’ll decide on the pool, their rooms, and so on.”

Sounded nice. In theory.

“If you think the children are going to want to leave a Toronto mansion to camp out  here while we do all the work required, you have another think coming,” Nick protested.

This was a daunting challenge.

~~~

Then Nick relented. “If you can sell the kids on this move,” he told her, “we’ll do it.”

One Sunday in August, Wendy and Nick took the kids on a long drive, turned off a country road and drove up to a hill with an impressive view of the area.

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The children asked:

“What are we doing here?”

“We’re having a picnic in the country!” Wendy replied, smiling. “We’re moving to the country, so we may as well get used to it.”

After the picnic, the seven of them trooped through the fields and peered into the forest, excited.

Walking down the other side of the hill, the children spied a house and asked if they could look inside — not knowing their mother had a key.

They saw the tiny rooms, the old kitchen, the holes in the floors… the whole catastrophe. 

But when Wendy took them into the barn, they were awestruck.  

Blog Photo - doors Open The Grange Barn Ceiling Hamlin

Wendy seized the moment.

“We can move into the log house… or we can get this place and design it together. Your friends can come on weekends. We’ll have horses – you can ride. Can you imagine if we had a pool on the side of a hill and gardens?”

They returned home to Toronto, and started drawing up plans together.

~~~

They moved into the house on Halloween that October.  Wendy, who knew nothing about school buses, sent the 2 younger kids to the wrong school the first day.

That winter was full of challenges. For one thing, the house was freezing cold. 

Both parents still worked nearly 2 hours away in downtown Toronto — Nick at his studio, Wendy at her media management and design office.  Every morning, he drove the 3 older children to school in Toronto. Wendy picked them up every afternoon.

A year later, she decided to move her business to her home, creating one of the first “virtual teams” in Canada.

That eased a few challenges on the home-front. But renovating the house and landscaping the grounds would become a huge, 4-year project.

Photos by Hamlin Grange

Canadian Gardens, Gardening

Pinkie Swear

I swear: it seemed to happen all of a sudden.

Pink.

Everywhere. Pink phlox, pink anemones, pink sweet pea — pink, pink, pink.

Morning glories in a deep pink, almost red, are now more numerous than the blues….

Blog Photo - Pink Morning Glory

A late pink clematis

Blog Photo - Late pink clematis solo

Blog Photo - Late pink clematis

An early spring clematis that sends out a few tiny blooms in late summer…

Blog Photo - Pink Reblooming Clematis

And a pink surprise —  self seeded in the concrete step

Blog Photo - Snapdragon Reborn in Concrete

… an unexpected reminder of last summer’s pink snapdragons…

Blog Photo - Snapdragon reborn CU

… that grew in a container nearby.

Blog Photo - Potted plants - one pot

Whatever your colours, I hope your garden is doing well.

A Good Home, Container Gardening, Flowers, Gardening

The Indomitable Pansy

The only pansies we’ve had past the month of June were the dead kind.

If not dead, then seriously bedraggled.

That’s why I stopped planting them each spring, and always planted other stuff instead.

Blog Photo - Potted plants and front door

Annual plants that last longer. Like blue salvia, pink snapdragons and ivy.

Blog Photo - Potted plants - one pot

But our landscaper friend Blaine brought us some bulbs and pansies to put in pots in early May.

Container planting is the only gardening I do these days, so I was happier than a pig in mud.

Blog Photo - pansies - blue CU

The hyacinth and daffodils bloomed heartily and died back. But the pansies kept blooming.

Blog Photo - Pansies Galore

And blooming.

Blog Photo - Pansy yellow

Blog Photo - Pansies on verandah - two pots

The rain beat the flowers down, but they’d spring back soon after.

Blog Photo - Pansies on ledge

Mid-July and they’re still blooming.

So here’s to the indomitable Pansy.

Blog Photo - Pansies Blue

Blog Photo - Pansy white CU

Long may you live!

For fascinating facts about the pansy, or viola:

http://www.gardenherbs.org/simples/violet_pansy.htm