Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter is for the Birds

It was another cold, snowy day but the birds didn't seem to mind. I snapped these near Flamborough, Ontario.

This little fellow appreciated the bird house stuffed to overflowing with seeds.

It's always such a thrill to see a cardinal.

It's equally thrilling to capture those moments on camera. I think this might be my best bird photo yet. If the birds can stand this weather, surely us gardeners can endure these last few weeks before spring. Happy bird-watching everyone.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Home & Garden Confession

Is anyone tired of winter yet? I know I am. Last year there was way too much snow. There's a little less of the white stuff this year but it seems extra cold. To complicate matters, one week ago the family was shivering through a 24-hour blackout triggered by a broken sprinkler system that flooded a local hydro station. It was so cold toward the end of the blackout that we could see our breath in the house! I tried really hard to make it all seem like an adventure but it simply put my longing for spring into overdrive. I'll take the stormiest, rainiest, soaked-to-the-bone spring day over this cold.

I found the rainy day picture above during my daily, therapeutic review of garden photos and it reminded me that I owe you all a confession. A while back I promised to share an embarrassing garden secret. There are so many how I killed a hydrangea one time. Oh, and that poor butterfly bush met with an unpleasant end too. I didn't do my mugo pine any favours by moving it. And my treatment of poinsettias post-Christmas season should really be considered a crime against the plant world. There is a lot of awful stuff...that my remaining plants haven't risen up in protest by refusing to bloom astonishes me (but then gardens are very forgiving aren't they?)

I could go on, but instead I direct your attention to the garden bench in the photo above. Six years ago, it was a wedding gift from close friends and ever since it has been the main bench in the backyard garden. It's very attractive, sturdy, and comfortable (most impressive for garden seating). But come October, I find myself in a bit of a pickle. The seating is too nice to leave outside over the winter. I have no garage to store it in. My garden shed is too small to accommodate it. And getting it into the basement would require taking out a wall.

(I'm leaving lots of space here to build some drama as you scroll down toward my storage solution...)

My solution would make Martha Stewart shudder.

My solution would require an Emergency Task Force response from the Style Police.

My solution would make me a priority candidate for any one of those home decorating shows like "How Not to Decorate Your Home."

My solution would have college students every where asking "I don't see what the problem is."

So here it is: my garden bench winter time storage solution.

Ladies and Gentleman...

....I present to you...

The Book Nook.

That's right. I confess. I use my garden bench as indoor furniture. It's in the bedroom right by a bay window so it gets great light. On the coldest, dreariest winter days, my daughter and I pull out a big, cozy comforter and read books here. Sometimes, we turn the bench around and just watch the traffic go by or play "I Spy."

Well, I won't be winning any home decorating awards for sure but this is a solution that works for me just fine. Another three months and the bench will be back in the garden where it belongs. The day I drag it out there is one of the happiest of the year. I'm feeling so much better now. Confession really is good for the soul. What's your home and garden secret?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Great Christmas Tree Prop Up

Trees by the side of the street are a familiar scene in the post-Christmas season (that's mine, above). Once lavishly adorned and cherished during the holidays, these trees ultimately find themselves unceremoniously dumped outside to be collected by the city and chucked into wood chippers.

Some find themselves sharing roadside space with a neighbour.

Others languish next to their living cousins (an especially cruel way to get rid of a tree, don't you think?) I'm glad these Christmas trees brought holiday cheer to many. I'm glad they will be put to good use as mulch. But really, the sight of all these once-loved trees is a bit sad.

So, when I woke up one morning to find someone had propped up every discarded tree in the neighbourhood, I had to smile. With their trunks deep in the snow and their needles still green, there was no reason to believe these trees were done for.

For whatever reason, the tree pick up was delayed by a whole week. So, for a whole week all these trees stood tall, creating the impression that my street was the most coniferous-friendly street in the whole city. I hope someone else noticed how lovely it looked. I hope it inspires a few people to plant some evergreens (I know I will). At the very least, I won't dump my tree streetside again. Instead, I'll prop it up so that it can be enjoyed and appreciated for just a little while longer.