Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Swiss chard - Rhubarb

I love these little swiss chard seedlings! They really live up to their name, and look like mini-micro crowns of rhubarb.  Hopefully they'll make it to maturity and escape the slugs and snails!
Rhubarb chard babies
This is what they should grow into, courtesy of Mr. Fothergill's seeds.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Sushi Kaji

Had a most phenomenal meal at Sushi Kaji this evening.  They serve two different tasting menus, and the array of intricate courses that parades out in front of you, over the span of 90 minutes or so, is beautiful to the eyes, and quite tantalizing to the taste buds.  The contrasts of tastes and textures is amazing, and it really is the theatre of food if you sit at the sushi bar and watch the chefs at their work.  Highly recommended if you love sushi!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Mellow yellow

Spring always make me think of yellow, because when I was growing up in Scotland it seemed like almost all of the spring flowers in my parents garden were yellow - aconites, crocuses, primroses and daffodils.  While I wait for some of my own yellow flowers to erupt (not long now given the record breaking temperatures in Ontario), here are some yellow-themed shots from my photo album for inspiration.....along with some yellow inspired music in the form of Vivaldi's flute concerto with the nickname "the goldfinch".

Yellow formality at Pitmedden Gardens, Aberdeenshire 
stately ligularia

Yellow and blue is definitely a winning combination

Bright, sulphur yellow achilleas go well with almost any other flowers

I want to try these spectacular centaurea macrocephala in my garden, but they look like they would need more room than I can spare!

Love this garden in shades of yellow, cream and chartreuse at Crathes Castle

Love the layering of yellow ligularia with hot coloured dahlias

The buttery yellow outlining the windows of this cottage were beautifully picked up by yellow climbing roses, at Culross

Need help from readers to identify this beauty - I think it may be a verbascum growing through some irises

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Yellow mulleins at Cruickshank Botanical Garden, Aberdeen

A perfect single bloom on a very spiny cactus at the Duthie Park

If the sunshine isn't enough to make you smile in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this beautiful bright yellow house should cheer you up!

A punch of yellow broom, in a Cote du Rhone vinyard

And a little Vivaldi to finish things off....courtesy of Emmanuel Pahud and the Australian Chamber Orchestra

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Winter Gardening and Voices of Spring

It was very odd to be gardening today....whilst it is still winter!  Well, maybe not so much gardening as clearing out the decay of last year, but none the less, in a normal winter I would still have been spending the afternoon by the fire, drinking hot tea and eating toasted crumpets.  After a misty, murky start to the day, I spent almost all of it outside, clearing out, cleaning up, and generally starting to get things ready for the new season.  Things are budding out all over, which I still can't quite wrap my head around - last year nothing moved in my garden until May.  The clematis is shooting out, the roses are pruned and sprayed and  the boxwoods are starting to show new buds.  I was delighted to find that after years of bronze fennel envy (mine never made it through the winter and were always quite spindly), my experiment of mulching heavily with spent compost in the fall has taken them through what little winter we've had, and there are some very robust new shoots popping out.  All of my red kale and tomato seeds have germinated, and I'm planning to start some chard and white cosmos tonight.  We look set for a slight cooling trend towards next weekend, but then the long range forecast suggests it will go back to being well above normal, so I'm optimistic that we're out of the woods for this winter. Hurrah!

lovely red shoots are bursting on my tree peony, and the New Dawn roses were pruned, sprayed with dormant oil and sulphur and fed with vermicompost today.

tasty chive shoots - perfect in mashed potatoes!

I re-layed the brick patio a couple of years ago in a herringbone pattern.  I gave it a good hard sweep today, and it looks better, but I need to weed thoroughly and add some more polymeric sand to keep it looking pristine.

Lots of brush to send to the curb!  Luckily yard waste collection starts this week.

This clematis jackmanii is bursting out far earlier than normal.  I gave all of the plants with a love of alkaline soil a handful of ashes from my wood burning fireplace today, including clematis, peonies and lavender.
On another note, my friend, The Diva is singing with the Saskatoon Symphony tonight, in the Brahms German requiem.  Wish we could hear her somewhere a little closer to Toronto soon.....but in her honour, here is a clip of Elizabeth Schwartzkopf in a particularly beautiful section of the requiem, which I know the Diva will perform beautifully.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

First flowers of 2012 at My Mimico Maison

About 3 weeks ahead of the norm, the balmy breezes of the last few days have brought out the first of my crocuses.  More often than not at this time of year, they would still be under a protective covering of snow, and the ground would be quite frozen.  Now I'm itching to block off some time so I can start clearing up any detritus that accumulated over the winter :)

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Out and about

The last couple of days were decidedly chilly, but today a warm spell has started, which is supposed to last for the next 2 weeks.  This afternoon it reached a very pleasant 14 degrees, and on Thursday it is forecast to hit a high of 20 degrees, which is very surprising for this time of year.   Given these milder conditions, I've moved some of the dormant plants out from the basement into the garden, including my slumbering fig and rosemary bushes - it would be nice to think they will get an early start and that perhaps I'll have an early crop of figs this year.  Fingers crossed!  I may be being overly optimistic - we typically don't get these types of temperatures until at least mid April.
Here are a few pics from my neighbourhood stroll in Mimico today.
pussy willows 
scarlet stems of dogwood

Not sure what type of tree this was, but the buds were very fuzzy and cute

brilliant yellow colouring on willow trees

Humber Bay Park

The view back towards my house

The big TO

Beachy view

Monday, 5 March 2012

Mimico in the News

Seems that the secret about life on the Lake Shore is slowly gathering the National Post is taking note of Mimico:

If you haven't already paid a visit, Birds and Beans really is a highlight of the neighbourhood.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Garden decor elements

It's a grey and wild day outside today, and although there are some stirrings of spring outside, the garden remains essentially bare.  This has turned my thoughts to elements of visual interest, which punctuate gardens regardless of season.  Of course, these decorative elements are at their best when they mellow and age into the garden, either as plants grow over and through them, or when algae, lichen and moss, or the passage of time and rough weather, soften and mellow sharp edges and pull the object into the very fabric of the garden.  Here are some examples of this from my photo if only I could find a 400 year old stone obelisk at cut price, with a nice fuzzy coat of lichen!

An elegant urn and pedestal at Threave Castle

Contemporary stone vases created with a dry stone technique at Threave

A touch of the Baroque at Crathes Castle, in the form a cheeky cherub

Also at Crathes, this contemporary slate circle and potted agapanthus reminded me of old millstones and worked well in what is otherwise largely an early 20th century garden, with an Arts and Crafts style

Hope those stone columns are strong enough

Even the practical can provide a decorative element, as in the case of this stone bench at Crathes.......

.....or this Doo-cot (pigeon house)

This is a favourite of mine - a stone font, at the end of a weathered flagstone path, framed by a series of golden hop covered arches

Again at Crathes Castle, I think the interconnection of the colouring between the plants and the stone vessel (and it's silvery patination from lichen), is perfect

This just makes me smile (chicken coop at Culross Palace)

These stone obelisks at Glamis Castle were so wonderfully weathered and mottled with years of accumulation of moss and lichen

The damp climate and fresh air in Scotland allows stonework to gather a thick accumulation of living materials

This would be a little too grand for my modest garden!

This basket of stone fruits almost looked as though it had been put up there to be collected later on, and then forgotten for 200 years

Although a little funereal, I like the elegant simplicity of this draped urn at Glamis

An armillary sphere at Cruickshank Botanical Garden in Aberdeen

A modern twist on the parterre concept, at Cawdor Castle

I wasn't quite sure what to make of this sculpture at Cawdor, but the golden sphere was mesmerizing

This dry stone sphere was the result of a re-roofing project at Cawdor Castle.  The old slates were formed into a visually arresting spherical fountain.....

.....and others formed this semi-circular seating area

This hand pump was in a bamboo garden at the Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire, near Menerbes in Provence

The fountain at Mas de Cabrieres