Sunday, May 26, 2013

Guelph Pottery Market

     Every year, G-town hosts a weekend-long pottery market down the road amidst the limestone ruins of the historic Goldie Mill, alongside the inaptly-named Speed River.  Over 50 potters from across Ontario gather to display and sell their wares.  As you may recall from previous posts, my mother was a potter, so I have always had an interest in works in clay.  It's incredible how many different colours, textures and uses are on display, so I always feel a little bit confused as to what really grabs me.  CC and I had a quick look around and then we went for lunch so I had time to think about what I really wanted.

     Ironically, both pieces I purchased were from Hamilton potters, and there is a definite Asian influence in their works.  She-Chen Cheng works with Raku and I have admired her work at past Pottery Markets.  The piece I bought looks old and rusted and still smells strongly of the smoke used in the firing.  More information about her and her work can be found here:  Reid Flock studied in Japan and always comes up with some very esoteric, whimsical pieces that I think are fantastic!  If you like simple mugs and bowls, he is not the potter for you, but if you appreciate pottery-as-art form, then check out his web-site:  I bought a simple, monochromatic white bowl that is somewhat misshapen and looks great on the dark wood china cabinet.


Get Lost!

     I rode up to the gym this morning, swam for about 40 minutes (that's 80 lengths, front crawl), and decided to go for a bike ride and find a water tower that I see from the bus in the south part of G-town.  First though, I stopped off at a nearby Tim Horton's for a coffee and toasted sesame seed bagel with cheddar cheese.  Okay, so first off, G-town is not always known for it's service, and, secondly,  I find Tim's can be frustrating at the best of times.  They hire an interesting mix of teenagers and seniors, so you are either dealing with hormone-induced catatonia or dementia.  But before I even got to experience that, I walked through the front door of a wide but not very deep franchise that put me right in front of the counter.  "Perfect", you say, except there's a line-up, so I have to squeeze past the customer being served and wind my way to the right and get to the back of the line, luckily, before all the soccer-parents come in with their hyperactive brats.  The line up is interminable because of above-mentioned problems, but finally I reach the cashier and place my order. She hands me back my change and says not another word, so I go to the left where I see other people patiently waiting.  After other lined up customers are served, someone asks me what I'm waiting for and tells me to go to the right-hand counter because that's where the cashier was.  My coffee is waiting for me and I stand waiting for my food order.  Someone else asks me what I'm waiting for and I tell her, "a toasted sesame seed bagel with cheddar cheese", and she directs me back to the left where food orders are dealt with!  I'm muttering/swearing under my breath like a full on Tourette's syndrome sufferer and finally get my food order!  Sheesh, all that stress-relieving exercise out the window.

     Now I really need the bike ride, so I head off along streets I haven't been on before and end up next to the Hanlon Expressway (probably the only expressway in the world with traffic lights, but that's another story...).  To my surprise and delight there is a small road that leads to a pathway populated with dog walkers and other cyclists and it is the escape I have been looking for.  The gravel makes my ride a bit bumpy, but I soon find a path that leads off into greener pastures.  I see lots of doggies en route, along with their foolish, mind-controlled slaves, so I have to be careful not to get too close lest I trigger their fascistic, canine-centric anger.  After some peaceful, back-to-nature vistas, I approach a suburban enclave that looks like it fell out of the sky (and crushed everything natural underneath) and see the object of my attentions.  It's a simple water tower, but there is something about these structures that feeds my curiosity.

     After snapping some pics, I take a different route back, one that involves riding through the forest and encountering a charming little boardwalk over some marsh and a big pile of stones in a meadow that begs a big WTF?

     Finally, I end up in the middle of yet another suburban enclave, walk my bike up a steep, grassy hill and am back on the road home.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 2-4 Weekend - Sunday

     You would think that yesterday's labour would be enough for us for one weekend, but then we remembered that there was a not-to-be-missed perennial sale from a private home of gardeners extraordinaire.  It's a short distance from downtown and we were the first to arrive.  The house is nondescript but has a marvellous garden and greenhouses.  CC had a good long chat with the owner and I once again coveted the Bonsai Larch Forest.  "Not For Sale" sadly.  We only spent $86, not bad for eight perennials, some of which are unusual.

      Keeping in mind that we have Walnut trees in the backyard, we have to be careful about what we plant, as not everything is walnut-tolerant.  Fortunately, there is still a lot to choose from.  We already have quite a few different Hostas, and were delighted to get two pots of "Golden Oriole" Hostas with their bright, yellow-green leaves.  We first cleared a lot of Asters and grasses from the corner bed with the bird bath (now a succulent garden), being careful to put the Scilla and Crocus bulbs back.  It has been something of a wild area that I have wanted to tame for some time now.  There are some other Hostas already in the bed, along with Grape Hyacinths, Boxwoods, Aliums, Forget-me-nots, Epimediums and a Hellebore.  Behind the new Hostas, we put another new purchase, a true red Bleeding Heart (Dicentra 'Valentine').

Birdbath bed
     At the back of the garden, we had planted some Brunnera, which have Forget-me-not-like flowers, a couple of years ago, but they have been lost amongst the foliage.  So, we dug them, moved them into the birdbath bed and beside the patio, and replaced them with 'Lady in Red" Lady Ferns (Athyrium filix-femina var. angustum).

Lady Fern
     I put three new plants out front, two in the boulevard, to take advantage of the full sun, and one amongst the shadier part of the front garden, near the Heucheras.  I put a Clary Sage (Salvia sclerica) and a Stonecrop (Sedum 'Xenox') right next to the driveway in full sun so that we can enjoy them and keep our eyes on them.  We have quite a wooly boulevard and are in the process of cleaning it up.  Amongst the Heucheras, I planted the Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense 'Midnight Reiter'), which has reddish foliage and contrasts nicely with the surrounding greenery.

Clary Sage

May 2-4 Weekend - Saturday

     At last, the long weekend.  I took Friday off to have an extra long weekend, and CC and I drove to Belgian Nurseries to buy all the bedding plants for the patio containers, garden beds and a hanging basket for the front porch.  It was busy, but the not the zoo we expected, and even though we came away $230 poorer, we were very pleased with our purchases.

     We dropped $70 on the hanging basket for the front porch, but it was massive and full of many different colours and textures and we decided we didn't want to have to buy all of the plants separately and make up our own.  It has Coleus, Ivy, Begonias, and a couple of other plants and it is already close to touching the ground.  It provides some privacy now that summer drinks on the porch season has begun.

     The first three pots I made up were ones for the bright sun. The top pot contains a favourite combination of mine, Donkey-Tail Spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites) and Portulaca. The Spurge gives architectural interest while the Portulaca provides colour.  In addition, the Spurge is a perennial, so once the summer is over, I can pop it into the garden.  The middle pot contains more Portulaca and some other sun-loving perennials which we haven't used before: Lewisia "Sunset" strain, Ice Plant (Delosperma Fire Spinner) and Lavender Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi Lavender Ice). These two are positioned on the patio, while the bottom, rectangular pot is on the back deck and contains yet more Portulaca and Browallia, which have deep blue flowers amidst dark green foliage.

     On the front lip of the porch there is just enough room for three rectangular pots, which I filled with different combinations of Coleus (Wizard Pastel), Browallia, "Lemon" Helichrysum, and Tradescantia. They all look a bit sparse right now, but will soon fill out and provide lots of colourful contrast.

     In the two antique urns on the patio, CC put Jasmine, a plant we keep inside for the winter, Browallia and Tradescantia cuttings that we had rooted over the winter.  The deep purple leaves of the Tradescantia provide good contrast with the shiny, dark green leaves of the Jasmine.  It will soon be in flower and the scent is heavenly.

     CC got a whole bunch of English Lavender from a site he was working on as his client wanted French Lavender.  There were thirty-plus plants and we put them in the boulevard out front and the west-facing wall of the house, both which provide full sun and much-needed drainage.

     We then put together some pots of annuals: Browallia, Coleus, Helichrysum and potted up some succulents from the greenhouse, Margeurite Daisies, Begonias, miniature roses and brought out pots of Fuschias for the summer.  We also put Impatiens (Accent White), Begonias (Bada Boom White), Coleus and Browallias in the garden beds. It was a lot of work but fortunately, it wasn't too hot and sunny, and now we get to enjoy the fruits of our labour for the rest of the summer.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Okay, so it's Sunday night and it's SNOWING outside!  WTF?!  It has been cloudy then sunny, raining then snowing then sleeting but the one constant is that it has been unseasonably cold.  A week ago I was in shorts and a t-shirt, and now I'm in long pants, long-sleeved shirt and am wearing a jacket.  The heat is back on in the homestead and all the windows are sealed once again to keep the @#$%@^ing cold out.  Now, don't get me wrong, I AM more of a cold weather person than a hot climate kinda guy, but really it's May for god's sake!  Looking on the bright side of things, it's great weather for sleeping but I can't do that ALL the time.  I did manage to get out into the garden yesterday and aerate the back lawn with a pitchfork and dig up all the dandelions I could find and at least I didn't get too warm but I WAS kind of hoping to sit out and quaff a beer and catch some rays.  Instead, I sat inside, drank tea and worked on my very Victorian pasty white, skin-cancer-free complexion.  I just know that look is going to come back in style one of these days.  Anyway, as CC pointed out, another advantage to this cold and wet weather is that it keeps the flowers from coming and going too quickly and keeps the moisture in the ground longer.  Instead of sharing depressing photos of what it looked like outside today, I'm going to post some more lovely, colourful, sunny pictures of the garden from the past week, so sit back and imagine that's what it's like outside right now...

Marsh Marigolds