Tag Archives: Mark Cullen

Only Child’s perspective on gardens this spring

Only Child's front garden -  the way it should be with the beautiful juniper in front

Only Child’s front garden – the way it should be with the beautiful juniper in front

The terrible winter and early too cold spring wreaked havoc on my garden and the gardens of so many others. In my daily garden tours (excluding days of all rain), I keep finding more damage and I am sad and angry.

Saddened for the trees damaged and angry at a God who brought us all this weather mess – the ice storm, extreme cold so that almost everything in spring is a month or more late starting and damaged. The city of Toronto alone lost 20 per cent or more of its tree canopy – up to 2 million trees. And we can’t blame insect invasions for this one.

I can almost feel the pain my large juniper tree on my front lawn is feeling. Many of its branches and needle leaves are beige and a few are rusty. The rusty ones are dead – the beige – only time will tell. There is some green growing through and as long as that continues. I will not have that beautiful tree cut down. I do not like God’s damage here.

My silverlace may not come back. Only a few branches are starting to sprout leaves. If the silverlace by the fence into the backyard has to be cut down, at least there are large (and growing) bushy junipers there (the shrub kind). These junipers have a minute amount of beige and rust so they will grow taller and provide some privacy from people walking by on the street. What also irks me here is I might have to pay an arborist to cut the silverlace down. This would not have happened if not for the weather. And don’t give me the business about Mother Nature. No such person.

I don’t know about the other bushier silverlace that straddles the fence dividing Tanya’s and my property. It is always later to spring to life than the one by the driveway. If it goes there it will be somewhat bare unless the honeysuckle in front of it comes back. So far no signs.
Then there is my precious boxwood in front. The south part of it is all brown but there are signs of green leaves growing in from the back of the branches. This south and west winter burn, gardening expert Mark Cullen wrote in one of his columns, is from the powerful spring sun (from west and south) burning down on snow-covered evergreens. And we all know that snow rested on the branches way too late this year. (See http://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2014/04/17/damage_control_in_your_garden_begins_now.htm. And yes, boxwoods are evergreens.

Mr. Cullen gives us some hope. He says to do nothing about this situation because in late May/early June “for the most part your evergreens will look fresh as daisies come late May/early June when new growth pushes past the dead, brown foliage.” He also adds that if we had applied Wiltpruf last fall the burn would have been avoided – sort of a sunscreen for evergreens. He didn’t apply it either. I didn’t know about Wiltpruf, but I will apply it this fall – if my evergreens all come back. Surprisingly, my two yews have very little damage – other years there has been more.

In my daily garden tours I look for new buds and more green. The grass is growing and is a bright green. Tulips and other bulb-flowers are blooming, albeit a month late. The raspberry branches are on time getting their leaves – probably my clearing out the dead branches and weeds a few weeks ago helped. The walnut tree hanging over from Tanya’s onto my patio finally started showing leaves yesterday morning. I can see it from my bedroom window.

One thing is on time – the rosebushes that flower early and flower only once per season are getting their leaves. And maybe planting vegetables – the ones that can take colder weather – is also on time. Sunday I planted the first batch of peas, radish, lettuce (the seeds) and onion sets. I have brought in some tulips and hyacinths for flower arrangements.

I continue gardening. Gardening will help me heal. In order to heal in my garden, I need the trees, the plants to grow, to be healthy and to be alive.

God owes it to us to make that happen.

More articles at http://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2014/01/16/we_must_rebuild_the_canopy.html

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/12/30/ice_storm_damage_to_trees_may_take_years_to_heal.html

http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/4340352-toronto-tree-canopy-suffers-huge-loss-during-ice-storm-deputy-mayor-calling-on-millions-for-restora/

 

And another photo of the way it should be now in my garden.

Blue sea of Forget-me-Nots which usually pop up in May by my drivesay finished for this season.

Blue sea of Forget-me-Nots which usually pop up in May by my driveway.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Garden Destruction, Gardening, Ice storm Toronto, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto, Uncategorized, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child on gardens back then and now

Only Child's new garden tool area on the patio

Only Child’s new garden tool area on the patio

In April, when the first tulip showed its face in the flowerbed under the living room window, Mom had to get out in her garden and do her vegetable, fruit and flower business. In the beginning, Mom and I moved in tandem with the garden and religion like we found parallels in them – both had beauty, filled us with awe, seemed to bring some order and ritual to our lives: plant seeds in spring and be rewarded with beautiful flowers and bountiful vegetables and fruit in summer; go to Mass and communion on Sunday and be rewarded in life with only good. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2014 Sharon A. Crawford)

So starts that chapter of my memoir. That was in the early to mid-1950s. Compared that to this April, 2014.

Mark Cullen about sums up the havoc of the worst winter in memory in his weekly Toronto Star gardening column. The gardening expert and lecturer takes readers out to his large garden. Except for the crocuses popping up, the sights do not show a happy spring. He writes about winter burn on evergreens such as cedars, yews and boxwoods, snow and salt damage on soil. See http://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2014/04/17/damage_control_in_your_garden_begins_now.html for the full article.

My garden echoes his on a smaller scale size-wise. I don’t have any cedars and my yews have only a few brown branches. But my precious boxwood’s south-facing side is brown while the rest of the boxwood is turning green.

To top it off, Sunday when I finally opened the tool shed I found some water had seeped in- despite having put plastic around the bottom where walls meet the floor. The carpet was damp and the floor underneath wet. Fortunately in the fall I had enough sense to place the push lawn mower on top of something and wrap it in plastic. My experience has taught me not to trust that all will be okay.

This spring is not our usual spring, thanks to God and his weather. And for those scratching their heads at that comment, I am well aware of global warming. I also know that God gave us humans free will. Might it be that he doesn’t like what humans are doing with that free will so he is either letting the weather take its course and/or not looking after us and listening to our prayers? How many besides me prayed to have the ice storm not descend on us in Ontario last December 22 and afterwards?

And you can forget that Mother Nature stuff. No such person. Even if there were, the name “Mother” and destroying the earth just don’t go together…in my mind at least.

So after giving God a good scolding about the tool shed and telling him he owes me extra funds to pay someone to help me remove the heavy stuff (so I can dry it all out) and seal around the bottom, I got to work.

I removed what I could from the tool shed including patio and lawn furniture which (hopefully) can stay out until late fall. I turned the carpet back as far as I could, then dried its underside and the wooden shed floor with my hair dryer. It worked – what I could get at. Now, on warm days when it isn’t raining, I open the tool shed door and spread the carpet back out so some of the top can dry.

Of course someone with more muscle and know-how will have to remove the heavy stuff and do the sealing. Meantime, I tried to bring some beauty and joy to all the deadwood and brown still outside. I arranged the lawn/patio furniture, placed some pansies in pots around, and removed more of the dead branches from plants and shrubs in the backyard so the new could grow in – if it will. Some has and now, almost a month late, the tulips, irises and day lilies, some left over onions, and the rhubarb stems and leaves are surfacing. The small backyard grass area is beginning to turn green. No hyacinths, peonies yet though. Just a few crocus flowers but I’ll take those and try to breathe in some joy. My umbrella is up and on sunny warm days I can sit at my patio table to eat my meals. I also created a new area setup for my rakes, watering cans and other gardening “tools” on the patio. It shows good colour contrast and cohesion and exemplifies my purpose.

No matter what God shovels at us, I’m going to garden and get some joy out of it. It (along with my writing) is what saves any sanity I have left. The robins have finally returned as well as some of the other birds and I am enjoying their singing. Squirrels are back too and as long as they aren’t too rascally, this year I will try to live with them. The racoons are another matter.

Inside on my bedroom window sill I have tomato, peppers, basil, marigolds and other plants started and on their way to readiness to go out in my garden…whenever that will be this year.

May your garden grow well and bring you joy. And if you don’t have a garden, then adopt a park with flowers and spend some time there.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Sharon A. Crawford teaches memoir writing workshops and courses in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her next workshop, Getting Your Memoir off the Ground is Saturday, May 10, 2014 at Hugh’s Books and the Studio @ Hughs in east end Toronto. If you are in the Toronto area and want to learn more about writing memoir, this might be the workshop for you. More details on at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/SpeakersBureau.html

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Filed under 1950s, Garden Destruction, Gardening, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, Spring, Toronto, Weather