Sunday, August 7, 2011

Garden Tours - A Time to Share

A deck outside the kitchen provides an outdoor kitchen for entertaining.

Our largest pond with a newly created waterfall which still needs a little work.

This seating area is hidden from the main garden and is where my son Jeremy and his friends like to warm themselves on a chilly summer or autumn evening.

This newly appointed seating area is great for enjoying a glass of wine while the chef makes dinner on the BBQ.

The gazebo is where we enjoy our summer evening dinners close to the big pond. The raised box veggie gardens provide us with fresh produce.

Yesterday we were part of a garden tour for some visitors who came from Toronto with Garden Instructor Frank Kershaw. My son was surprised when the coach pulled up next to the house and a whole busload of people disembarked. But the rain held off and the weather was perfect for a garden tour. Everyone enjoyed some juice and goodies and a walk around the garden. I hope they got some good ideas.

We love hosting garden tours. Not only is it a great way to get those niggling garden tasks completed (my husband is a procrastinator and works best under pressure) but it forces you to look at your garden from someone else's perspective. I have started to rehabilitate our gardens this year. A small rock garden had become infested with a big ant nest, so I had to deal with that and then add more soil and replant and at the same time I added another great piece of granite.

You can see above that we also added a waterfall feature to our big pond. (We have three water features in our backyard - we love the sound of running water throughout the garden).The waterfall still has some adjustments to be made but it adds another dimension to the pond.

We also reconfigured our back deck. Previously it has held two Muskoka chairs on one level and a picnic table on the upper level. Well, the past couple of winters a huge icicle came down on the picnic table and finally broke the stone slab that was the table top. After having been at garden Walk Buffalo last year, we came home with an idea from that garden tour. We moved the BBQ up to replace the Muskoka chairs which had reached the end of their life span while at the same time remaking the picnic table into a table/counter for food preparation next to the BBQ. We then purchased a new seating arrangement for the upper deck. Using the frame of the old pergola (for the ice had smashed that too) we rearranged our fabric shade cover to work over this space and with enough of the leftover fabric I was able to recover the cushions so that all matched. Now we have a lovely are to sit, relax and enjoy a glass of wine while being able to converse with the grill master. And the counter area is great for setting up the food for a BBQ. Jeremy loves grilling the burgers while his friends can load their plates.

Garden tours are a great opportunity to share your garden triumphs, disappointments or mistakes. Two days before the tour while digging a hole to put up a bird house for me he cut the TV cable, luckily the cable guy came on Friday to restore order. For us, it is a chance to show the ability to reuse and recycle materials. One of our ponds is an old bathtub. The marble floor of the gazebo came from a building in Toronto via my sister's neighbours backyard. Our greenhouse was made from windows from a restaurant on our main street that was having the windows replaced and sided with leftover siding from the house and the pergola was once the children's play unit. Peter, the resident handyman, builds everything with screw nails so that he can constantly reuse materials when things outlive their current usefulness.

Take the opportunity to visit other peoples gardens and get ideas that you can use in creating your own personal sanctuary and then share what you do with others. Happy Gardening!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer Days, Summer Days!

These are the lovely hollyhocks that appear in our garden each year. But a recent windstorm knocked many of them over.

I just love the beauty of a summer's day. Yesterday I had the chance to visit another gardeners' garden and see the beauty that they have created at their home. The sun was shining, good friends were in attendance all to share in one couple's creation of their personal sanctuary.

We each garden for our own reasons. For some, vegetable gardening is the way they sustain their family during the summer and winter months. Or perhaps they just want to try and reduce their carbon footprint, know where their food comes from and enjoy straight from the vine fresh produce when it is at its absolute best.

Some garden for the flowers. They love the beauty of colourful blooms and they are entranced by the wildlife and biodiversity that those blooms attract. I'm a bit of both those gardeners. I have six raised beds in which I grow a variety of fresh vegetables. There is nothing better than fresh picked beans, lightly steamed and drizzled with a little butter or extra virgin olive oil. The rest of my garden is a mix of perennials, trees and shrubs with a few containers of annuals. I too delight in the wildlife that visits my garden from the groups of starlings, a few robins and mourning doves that like to frolic in the water of our several water features to those crazy squirrels that dig up my bulbs and my beans (had to replant them several times before they actually germinated). But oh those squirrels make me laugh as they chase each other up and down the trees and along the fence tops. And then there are the couple of little chipmunks who scurry about always with their cheeks full of peanuts courtesy of our neighbour next door.

No matter what kind of a gardener you are the important thing is to love what you are doing - getting exercise, fresh air and enjoying all that nature has to offer. And to take time, not just to work in your garden, but to sit down ever once in a while and truly enjoy all that you have created. Summer is fleeting, so enjoy it while it is here!