Category Archives: Gardens

Only Child on gardens for sanctuary

The past few days I have been spending time in gardens. Not just mine but others and one big public one. I really needed to do so because of all the busyness in my life. Sometimes I feel like a top whirling around non-stop – until I enter a garden for sanctuary and healing.

Gardens and gardening to heal are not new. Way back in the times of the Egyptian, court physicians, instead of prescribing drugs, prescribed garden walks for royalty who had mental problems. What a novel idea. Maybe more physicians today should do that.

I am blessed that I belong to the East York Garden Club. While I don’t make it to all their meeting and events I did go to their annual pot luck dinner in a member’s garden – where else – last Thursday evening. I brought a fruit salad that I put together in a record 10 minutes – but most of it got eaten, so… In fact at first it looked like we would be feasting on mainly desserts until more members arrived with main dishes.

I talked gardening with many other gardeners, met a few new gardeners and caught up on news (not just gardening) with an old friend from school days – we had re-connected four years ago at one of the schools we went to.

And I looked at the garden and enjoyed the peace, the shade and just being there.

Saturday I roared over to one of the Pop-up Gardens of an East York Garden Club member a few blocks away. She is also a Master Gardener and very knowledgeable. She is getting shrubs etc. in her garden pruned and this was the before looksee. We talked about her pruning and the fact that both of us have special day lillies from a now deceased member of the garden club.

Sunday it was off to the Toronto Botanical Gardens and Edwards Gardens – both are together and it is hard to find the dividing line as the gardens just blend into together. I checked out the gift shop first as it closes before the gardens and then began walking through the gardens, stopping occasionally to rest on one of the benches and of course, look at and smell the flowers. And wouldn’t you know it – I ran into another member of the East York Garden Club,  a lady I have known for a few years who lives a block away from me.

Then there is my garden – I’m out there  on the back patio or front veranda to eat meals and absorb the garden. I walk through it to see how everything is doing. Lots of lettuce which I pick daily to eat. The black raspberries are finished for this year but the beans are starting up and the tomato plants have blossoms – some have small green tomatoes forming. I pay attention to what needs watering – in the pots or in the ground.

And yes, I also attack the weeds. That is my direct therapy to deal with all the crap shoved my way by individuals, companies and governments. I also sometimes name the weeds as I pull them and throw them in the yard waste bins for city pickup to carry off to the …well not the dump for yard waste.

So when the going gets tough, go to a garden. Pull weeds, absorb, return to normal.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Garden Clubs, Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Gardens, Public Gardens, Uncategorized

Only Child joining in for Canada Day 150th anniversary

Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and this Saturday, July 1 is the big day. Lots of events  happening all over Canada, including Toronto – local community, downtown in City Hall Square, Harbourfront on the waterfront (if all this too much rain hasn’t drowned it). I plan on going to some of them – weather permitting.

But I also want to spend time in my garden. It has been a challenge to get seeds planted and plants transplanted and the weeds. A friend described her yard akin to something for snakes in the grass.

Gardens and gardening are something Canadians do and enjoy. There are so many public gardens throughout Canada including Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC,  Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens in the Niagara Peninsula area in Ontario, The Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario and Halifax Public Gardens. Toronto also has its share of public gardens – The Music Garden at Harbourfront Centre, The Toronto Botanical Gardens and Edwards Gardens, Allen Gardens Conservatory, and the gardens at High Park to name a few. You can get a more extensive list with links to the gardens across Canada, province by province here.

And my garden – weeds and all. I have gradually done weeding and the garden is starting to look presentable in most places. The lawn needs cutting then and it would have been done Sunday but just as I came outside to mow the lawn it started to rain.

But my garden has roses the colours for Canada Day – red and white. See the photos I took later on Sunday. Yes, the sun came out but the lawn was too wet to mow, even with the old fashioned push mower, which I have. And yes, I also hang out some of my laundry.

Happy Canada Day to all Canadians and to my American followers, happy July 4 as that is also coming soon.

Peace and good weather – no rain please. People are being flooded out of their homes and farmers are bailing water from their crops.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Only Child remembers friend who died from cancer

Black raspberries - which I shared with Tanya

Black raspberries – which I shared with Tanya

It is coming on to the first anniversary of my close friend, Tanya’s death from lung cancer February 3, 2016. The first indication that she and her husband Alex had moved in next door was when I heard than talk just outside my office window. Yes, our houses, our properties are that close.

Perhaps this was a sign of how close Tanya and I would become. I went over and introduced myself to them and later their orange cat, Marmalade when they brought him home.

Alex came from Russia and Tanya from the Ukraine. They had lived in England for nine years and one year rented a house down by Lake Ontario in Toronto before buying the house next door. The house next door required a lot of updates – Alex and his friends gutted and renovated the basement and the main floor. It was a small house, smaller than mine, so in 2010 they added a upper part – which after getting the proper city permits, Alex and his friends did most of the work for – except for a few things like electrical and the like.

Because  theirs family had increased when their son Anton was born 13 years ago.  You would see her and Alex pushing Anton in his baby carriage along the street. When Anton was walking, he would be out in their backyard and later when he started at the school at the end of the street, Tanya would take him to school. After school he would be out in the backyard playing with his friends. Some times Alex would be mowing the lawn or fixing something with the house.

But it was Tanya who was the heart of her family. Although she had asthma and had to stay in on very hot summer days or extremely cold winter days, still in spring to fall she would be out in her backyard, hanging out laundry, sometimes doing a bit of gardening, sometimes just sitting and enjoying the view. We always had long chats over the fence and helped each other out – if someone needed an extra egg and Tanya often offered to pick up for me heavy groceries such as apple juice. She also helped me get my garden soils bag back from Home Depot. She used to say she loved looking at my garden, even from their back window. Sometimes I gave her plants from the garden. But the big annual ritual was to give them containers of the black raspberries and tomatoes that grew in my garden. One summer, when Anton was getting really fussy about his food, he would eat the raspberries. I remember when they were headed up to a rented cottage with some friends, Tanya said that Anton sat in the back seat and ate some of the raspberries.

We looked after each others’ houses, properties, and in their case their cat, when either they or I went away on holidays. Whomever was away would bring back a little treat for the one(s) looking after the property. Usually I visited my cousins in southwestern Ontario and brought back a small box of chocolates from Chocolate Barrs (yes, that’s the name of the owners) in downtown Stratford, Ontario. We also exchanged Christmas presents, some of which I would buy on my holidays. And visited each other for lunch and for my annual Christmas party (which I stopped doing after 2013 – too much work).

One of the things they did that was beyond the call of duty was to help me when my basement flooded the first time in November 2005 – this was around six to eight inches of water in the recreation room, hallway, laundry room and up part of the stairs. Tanya let me borrow her cell to call a friend and my ex and later the insurance company because at first my phone line was all static because of the water downstairs. The phone service came back the next day.

But Alex came over right away when I banged on their door for help. For some reason he had brought home the heavy-duty Shopping Vac from work (he works in construction and has a small company which subcontracts out). Alex cleaned up all the water downstairs. So when the city works department people came to check it out they only saw the ravages and figured it was a drain problem. So did the insurance people and the drain company that replaced and upgraded the main drain outlet on the floor in the laundry room.

Fast forward to late fall 2015 when I got a call from Tanya who told me she was sick. I mentioned something about the asthma. I remember her words: “It is much worse than asthma. I have cancer of the lungs.” She was on a special macro-biotic diet and wanted me to get her some special foods from the health food store on the Danforth. So I did, with pleasure and sadness when I brought the food and saw her at home. She was up and about but attached to a portable respirator with a very long cord. She explained her dietary regime and was always cheerful. Alex and another of their friends, Linda, also got her food for her.

Then we had Christmas – her last. I was glad I could go over for a short visit with Christmas presents Christmas Eve and that she called on Christmas Day and talked to me and my son. Tanya, Alex and Anton were going to that rented cottage (winter heated, naturally) for a week after Christmas Day. But Tanya was rushed to the local hospital because of breathing problems, Alex told me the next day as he was loading the car to take Anton up to the cottage as his friends were there too. Alex was coming back to be with Tanya.

The day Tanya was to come home her doctor took one look at her and had her transferred to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. She never came home. I was able to talk to her once on the phone but when I called the next time I wasn’t allowed to speak to her but they would give her my message. She started chemo but it made her so sick the doctors had to take her off it. It was too late anyway; she was diagnosed too late – if it acts like asthma doesn’t necessarily mean it is only asthma.

Whenever I saw Anton or Alex I asked how Tanya was doing but was careful what to say to young Anton. Both were optimistic, but the last time before… when I spoke to Alex alone, he wasn’t so optimistic, making that gesture that means so-so. He said she couldn’t swallow and couldn’t talk.

February 4, Alex phoned me and said “Tanya passed away yesterday.”

The memorial service was held a month later in a big room at a legion hall. Friends brought food and non-alcoholic beverages. There were words from friends. I went with one of my other friends, Al from across the street. Carol, his wife, a close friend, couldn’t make it because she was sick with the flu. But all of Anton’s friends were there sitting with him at a table. And the neighbours came out in droves. There were pictures – print – displayed of the three of them. It was very moving. The following May we all helped plant a tree in Tanya’s memory on the grounds of the grade school Anton had attended.

Tanya, I will never forget you. You died too young – 51. I hope in summer you can look down and see and enjoy my garden.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Chives in my front garden - here for now

Part my front garden which Tanya enjoyed seeing

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Filed under cancer, Friends, Gardens, Only child

Only Child loves the B bugs

Butterfly on Only Child's cap

Butterfly on Only Child’s cap

I love bugs, insects and the like whose first letter is a “b.” So that includes bees and butterflies. As Wikipedia states about the latter:

“Butterflies are insects in the clade Rhopalocera from the order Lepidoptera, which also includes moths. Adult butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight.”

Last week I saw thousands of butterflies up close when on holidays in southwestern Ontario. My cousin Anne took me to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge, Ontario. The actual conservatory itself runs from April to October and is an amazing and beautiful butterfly and moth sanctuary. There are also birds such as dove and quail peaking out from the many plants and shrubs. You can see butterflies in their pre-stages of larvae; ugly beetles which are not butterflies, and get the grand tour from knowledgeable staff.

But the best part is walking around in the conservatory and just letting whatever will happen do so. Butterflies land on your hands and for some reason my beige cap was a big attraction. Anne took the photo above. I also took some photos – obviously not of butterflies landing on me – I am not ambedexterious.

There are also two rooms outside of the conservatory which have photos of butterflies with information posted near them, a gift shop and a cafe.

I think I got interested in butterflies 30 or so years ago when I lived in Aurora and went to an  art and craft shop which held monthly openings for its current exhibiting artists. Then I would write a story about it for the local newspaper. One artist had captured butterflies in an artistic arrangement. While I prefer to let butterflies be free or be set free, the arrangements were beautiful.

Then in 2003 I interviewed a fellow Ken McGrath who raised butterflies in his apartment and then in a rented room. It was his own business and he would mail them out to clients who wanted the butterflies to set them free at weddings, memorial services and the like. My very short story on Ken was published in Toronto Life magazine. Four years later when I interviewed Ken again for another magazine story, he had acquired a business partner and expanded his business – so I interviewed  her as well. That story, a longer one, was published in the now defunct Centre of the City magazine. After that Ken moved his butterfly business to rural Ontario. Today he is an artist who has traded butterflies for spider webs, which he uses in his pendants. He is now nicknamed Spider Web Wrangler. More info on Ken at the Pazan Gallery site where his creations have appeared.

Meantime, when out in my garden I look for butterflies landing on my ecinaccea, fennel and black-eyed susans. And check out my blog’s garden page here.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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