Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mushrooms or Toadstools

How can you tell the difference between a mushroom and a toadstool? Back on the Stoney Swamp Trail for an hour-long hike, we saw lots of mushrooms and toadstools that we hadn't seen last time, thanks to all the rain we've had in July.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Roses Roses Everywhere

The roses in my garden just keep on coming. Must be this summer’s sunny days, punctuated with frequent bursts of rain. My roses think they are in England. As any reader of this blog must have already noted, I can’t stop writing about these beauties. These David Austen roses have to be the most exquisitely lovely blooms I have ever seen.

Gathered together, their warm and delicate shades blend together harmoniously to create a gentle palette that is so pleasing to the eye. They are the colour of ballet slippers, of soft wedding bouquets. Their pastel hues make me feel like I am wrapped in a blanket of the softest cotton imaginable. They are deliciously soothing to the senses. And the fragrance! Have I told you about their fragrance? They have the sweet scent of Old World roses, potent but not in the least cloying.
This particular bunch of roses was taken to friend M's when she invited me for a lovely brunch. See how nice they look on her table? All casual and blowsy just out of the garden. There was a terrific thunderstorm as we sat and ate that morning. Just like this morning!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) is a perennial herbaceous plant. Often found in open fields and meadows, particularly on burnt sites after forest fires or forest clearings. This spiky magenta-flowered plant is another one of those wildflowers that I remember finding in abundance in my childhood.

Fireweed as been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and is used for skin problems such as diaper rash. It is used in after-sun and after shave products, as well as in mouthwash for sore gums.

Fireweed is the official flower of the Yukon.
Note: The colour is actually more magenta than in my photographs which make the fireweed pictured here seem purple.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Common Chicory

Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) is one of my favourite wildflowers, and with its beautiful periwinkle blue flowersit seems anything but common. I once tried to match a paint chit to its colour. With samples in hand, I went off to the fields to try to find which matched the best. I quickly realized this was an exercise in frustration. There was no one shade that could be matched, for not every chicory flower is the same exact shade of blue. Some had more purple in them, others more blue, in some the colours had faded somewhat. Chicory blooms are actually many different shades of periwinkle blue. Different shades but all a gorgeous colour.

Chicory is a perennial herb that grows wild along roadsides and in fields. It is also known as corn flower, blue sailors, succory and coffeeweed — the latter because of the use of its roots as a substitute for coffee. Chicory roots, when roasted and ground can be used to produce a bitter coffee-like beverage.

Chicory has many medicinal uses. Tea and juice from the plants’ flowers and leaves is said to clear the liver and treat gallstones, constipation, jaundice, and skin inflammation.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cow Vetch

Cow vetch was another wildflower we came across on the Stoney Swamp Trail. There are lots of different vetches but the only one to be found on this trail was the Cow Vetch (Vicia cracca). Or at least the only ones we saw walking along. Cow vetch grows in meadows and fields, in woods and along roadsides. It was introduced to North America from Europe. I've always thought it quite graceful with its arching tendrils and the colour is so pretty too.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


On our weekend hike along Stoney Swamp Trail, there were portions of the trail that led through sunny meadows of wildflowers. One of the blooms we spotted was this blue-weed, also known as Echium vulgare, a European medicinal plant naturalized in North America.

Note: Thanks M. for pointing out that this plant is also known as Viper's bugloss, which is a much more interesting name for it, don't you think? After learning this, I did some additional reading and apparently in earlier times they thought that the flower was shaped like a snake's open mouth and therefore would be helpful in snake bites.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Frogs or Toads?

Frogs or toads? I can't tell. At least not these garden ornament variety. All so different.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Sconewitch

It hadn't been the best of mornings and having brought nothing to work to eat for lunch I thought I would let the Sconewitch work her magic. The salad at The Sconewitch is spell-binding and their cranberry scones, my favourite, are mesmerizing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Steps Worn with Time

Steps worn with time. The years go by and only our imprints are left behind to bear witness that we were ever here.

I was sitting here this morning thinking about a dear dear friend I met when I was a teenager. She was our neighbour and quickly became family. She died in 1992 at age 94. I have not been back to the little country cemetery since her burial and over time I have forgotten where she was buried.

Such are the miracles of the Internet that starting with a search for Brome County (the only location I could recall that might be nearby), the links led me to the placename Bolton, that sounded right. I then searched for Bolton cemeteries. And there it was... a link to Bolton Centre Cemetery. Choosing that link I read the page in disbelief, here was a description of the cemetery and even better, someone had transcribed all the headstones. I hardly hoped to dare... my eyes scanned the names... and there she was.

What were the chances. To find the right place is amazing in itself, to be led straight there is incredible. I have missed Margery so, and have always wanted to go back and visit her gravesite. Now I will be able to. What a gift I was given today. I have so much gratitude for the person who made the effort to transcribe all the tombstones and made them available for others.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Where's Summer?

I can't believe we're heading to the halfway mark of July and still no sign of summer. Cool or downright cold days. Rainy days. Overcast days. Where is the heat of summer? I'm starting to feel a little like this guy!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lavender Bundles

Lavender, one of my favourite herbs, in now in bloom. Long prized for its fesh scent and medicinal properties, Queen Elizabeth I used it as a preserve and perfume. It scented linen, was made into pomander balls and was strewn on the floor to keep rooms smelling fresh. Still used today to scent all sorts of beauty products, in aromatherapy it relieves stress, tension and headaches, and aids relaxation. When placed in sachets and stored with clothes, it keeps the moths away. Place dried blooms in little cloth bags to scent your bath water. Lavender can also be used in cooking.

I made these lavender bundles years ago. The lavender has dried out and is crumbling somewhat so the ribbons have worked loose. To make them, gather together a bunch of lavender stalks. Tie the stems with a narrow ribbon then fold back the stems to enclose the lavender blooms. Weave the ribbon through the stalks from top to bottom and then tie in a bow. You can leave the bundles on display, slip them into drawers and closets, or give them away.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Clever Combo

Doesn't this fushia gerbera and blue wine bottle make a great combination? I was invited to my friend M's this morning for brunch, and it was on her table. What a great choice. Two big hits of colour. Sometimes simple is really the most effective. And isn't the dragon-fly label lovely?

Thanks M. for the brunch, the meaningful conversation and the thrift shop outing!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Liquid Jewels

Hot runny jam, as it pours into the waiting jar, is just like liquid jewels, and when the sun shines through, its ruby beauty springs to life.

I have just completed my fifth batch of strawberry jam for the season. Tonight as I was picking a basket for this latest batch, the clouds opened and the rain poured down. I had barely started to fill my basket so there was nothing to do but hunch over against the cold drops and get the job done.

Back home and changed into dry clothes, this latest batch was cooked, jarred, and ready to go. Does jam made with your own handpicked berries taste better than jam made from berries picked by someone else? Possibly. What is certain is that it tastes so very much better than store-bought jam!

And if you can bear to part with any of your delicious homemade jam, take one of the jars and embellish it with a cover cut from decorative paper (I used a snippet of wallpaper) then place it in a gift basket in the midst of freshly baked Devonshire scones.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vintage Aprons

Aprons. Does anybody wear them anymore? When I think of aprons I visualize housewives of the fifties, who used to dress for dinner and so put on an apron to protect their frock while they prepared the evening meal, while awaiting the arrival of their husband who had been at the office all day. Those were half-aprons, often ruffled at the edges or trimmed with rickrack, often handmade.

Vintage aprons can still be picked up fairly easily at flea markets and thrift shops for almost nothing. The one pictures here range in price from $1.99 to 7.99.

Nowadays, I suppose it’s the long versions we see most often, worn by men at their barbecues. Or perhaps your local butcher, if you’re lucky enough to still have a local butcher. Oh yes, and I believe the baristas at you-know-where still wear a green apron to protect them from flying foam and steaming milk.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fragile Beauty

Poppies. Such fragile beauty. Yet so exuberant. These blooms were photographed in my dear friends G. and R.'s country garden. My friends sowed one of their beds with these cheery blooms, the other bed seeded itself. It's all a glorious mystery.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

More Roses

I've said it before and I'll say it again... I love love love these roses. They are David Austin roses (except for the coral ones), a blend of modern hardy roses and the Old World fragrant ones. The result is a gorgeous full bloom with strong rose scent.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Walk in the Rain

It was one of those rain-all-day days today so there was nothing for it but to just get on with it. My youngest son and I drove up to the Gatineau Hills and took a walk around Pink Lake... in the rain. We walked along the trail, peeking out from under the umbrella, pausing to look at the lake and watch the raindrops hit the water.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New Addition

I made a new addition to the garden. Was in Pier 1 Imports and noticed this ceramic sculpture in the clearance area. Marked down from $70 to $17.99, the price was right. I brought it home and placed it in the garden, and it looks like it has always been there.