Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Apple of My Eye

When I was a kid, one of my most favourite fall activities was getting into the family car and driving out to apple country. We'd load up on about four ten-pound bags and see how many apples we could eat right off the tree before heading home. My parents would always joke that there was a weigh-in on the way out so that we could pay for the apples we consumed. A year without apple picking just never felt complete. To this day I love it. So it was great to get out of the city today and pick apples.

Usually September is prime apple time. But most of September felt a lot like August. So we waited for the cooler temperatures to prevail. Lucky we didn't wait much longer because the orchard we went to, about an hour out of the city, was just about picked clean. There were Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Empire and Mutsu apples to choose from. We picked 12-pounds worth making sure we had some of each. A pumpkin and big jar of honey also made it into the trunk of the car.

With so much fresh fruit and other tasty products to choose from, one has to get creative about transportation. I'm happy to report my four-year-old managed just fine. Just look at that technique. She takes after me. She truly is the apple of my eye. I hope she'll look back on days like today with the same fondness I have for them. Here's to a great Ontario tradition.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall Inspiration

Fall is always such a bag of mixed emotions for me. I love the changing colours and the relief from the heat. But I dread the oncoming winter and its dark, dreary days. Facing the next six months without my garden makes we want to hibernate. I was about to watch the mums fade, call it a season and accept the cold, hard reality of the coming Canadian winter. Then I went on a garden tour.

Sadly, my camera batteries failed me on this day. So the pictures posted here feature the autumn accents around my home. I wish the camera had worked because these gardens were gorgeous. There were very few blooms to speak of at this time of year. But lots of showy shrubs and foliage. More curves, stepping stones, water features and garden rooms than I have ever seen. I was very inspired. I thought I was running out of room in my garden. Now I realize, I've only just begun. It was also great to talk to real gardeners. Everyone was so happy to answer questions and dish about garden successes and failures.

At the end of the day, I walked away with a list of must-have plants for next year: culver's root, boneset, bittersweet, ironweed, turtlehead, japanese anemone, cornus florida, wood poppy and bloodroot. Many of these are indigenous to Ontario. It was very encouraging to see so many native plants growing in backyards. I'd like to take my own backyard in that direction. And now that I've been inspired, the winter ahead doesn't look so bad after all. I've got some serious research and planning to do. The October garden tour: I highly recommend it.