Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is it ever to cold to go out into the garden?

 My chorus of three bark their answer in unison, "Are you kidding? It is never to cold to go out in the garden!"

"All you need is the right coat to wear. Come on already, let's pay ball!" 

Can you tell who likes to hog the ball?

To all my good blogging friends, I hope that Santa remembers you well and that you and your family have a truly wonderful Christmas! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

It is going to be a White Christmas

Santa came early and he brought me some paperwhites!

I usually treat myself to a pot of the narcissus on my birthday (first of December), but this year I have had no luck finding them in the stores. Then Friday evening, my dear husband arrived home with paperwhites in his arms. The tiny white buds are slowly opening and already the house smells so wonderfully sweet and spicy!

 The white amaryllis, that I showed you last week, have now opened fully. 

It is definitely looking like it is going to be a white Christmas here!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Photographic Color Essay Number 2: Orange

Is there any juicer color than orange? Doesn't it looks great paired with other warm colors like hot pink and mauve? I also love bright orange in contrast to cool colors like lime or turquoise. Here is a look at some of my favorite oranges from the past year.

Goldfish swimming in a tank at Humber Nursery, Toronto.

Annual Begonia, Humber Nursery, Toronto Ontario

A Tiger lily in my July garden

In my front garden, a common orange daylily paired with a pink spirea 

Frans Hals Daylily

Bright orange berries on the Euonymus in my garden

Locally grown carrots at the Farmer's Market in Ottawa, Ontario

A closer view of the rainbow of carrots


A gerbera daisy at the Ottawa Farmer's Market

Chinese Lantern (Physalis alkekengi) Invasive, but interesting.

Orange Maple leaves in the fall sunshine

Birdhouse with a snow covered roof

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Amaryllis as a Cut Flower

We tend to think of amaryllis as flowering bulbs, but they also make great, long lasting cut flowers. I purchased three stems at the grocery store and have enjoyed watching the large, trumpet shaped blooms open over the last few days.

In case you are wondering, no, these aren't a new yellow variety of amaryllis. I usually try to photograph flowers in natural sunlight, but with rain, then snow and now grey, bitter cold, sunlight has been in short supply. These were shot on my kitchen counter, where an energy efficient bulb casts a yellow light. The flowers are actually a lovely ivory color.

It is interesting that when the flowers first open, the enlarged anthers thrust forward intent, no doubt, to temp insects to the flower.

Then the anthers shrink in size and pollen is visible, as you see here.

Tall and stately, they look great in my tall, cylindrical glass vase. Now fully open, the sweeping curves of the flowers are simply beautiful.

For an interesting visit to a Prins Grow Inc., an amaryllis grower in the Niagara area, check out this short video segment: House and Home Television. The clip runs a short 4:59 minutes and includes many tips for arranging and enjoying amaryllis over the holidays. When the link takes you to the new window, just click the center arrow and the show will play, after a brief commercial.

For all you bakers, there are also short video segments on Mexican Wedding Ball cookies and Gingerbread cookies.

Mexican Wedding Ball Cookies. Photo by John Cullen. Prop & Food Styling Saha Seymour. Canadian House and Home Magazine November 2010.

Go, take a look when you have a moment.  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Quest: 5 Waterfalls and Counting

For me, a "quest" or journey of discovery is a compelling idea. The object of any quest, wether the best pizza in your home city, or some rare species, is less important than the journey itself. Discovery is the thing!

This particular quest began with a simple brochure that I inadvertently picked up along with a few area road maps and summer event listing from the local tourist bureau. The  fanfold "Cascades and Waterfalls of Hamilton" brochure, with its striking picture of Borer's Falls, informed me that: 

"In a year long scientific study, the Hamilton Conservation Authority identified 65 waterfalls within her boundaries, so Hamilton could well be known as the City of Waterfalls."

Wow! Who knew that we were living in close proximately of so many natural wonders? And I had always thought of Hamilton as an industrial city. Just think of what we had been missing in our brief, cursory explorations of this nearby city!

I turned to my husband and partner in crime, who was driving at the time, and said, "Did you know that there are 32 accessible waterfalls all listed in a chart in this brochure! You know...", I unfolded the brochure to see the chart more fully and continued to outline my quickly hatching plan, "it would make for an interesting project to visit every waterfall on the chart and photograph it. We could do the photo series in, say...", I paused to calculate, "the course of the summer." 

I looked over at him and did my best to sound convincing, "It could be kind of fun!" 

While I did succeed in signing us both up for this waterfall odyssey, we did not manage 32 waterfalls in one summer. In fact, that was 2 summers ago. The quest continues to this day. 

So far we have seen and photographed 6 waterfalls. Here today, are the first 5.

Our first stop in this post, is Albion Falls. A large waterfall with a cascade of 19 meters, Albion Falls tumbles down a series of shale steps to a gorge far below. 

There is no organized walkway or staircase, and I can tell you, we had to call upon all our very best mountain goat skills to make our way down the steep, muddy slope. (A good set of hiking boots and a walking stick for balance and support are definitely recommended for all these sorts of adventures!)

On the left: a view of the valley below. On the right: Pancakes of shale lie stacked on top of one another.

Huge boulders of shale, which have broken off and fallen down the gorge, lie at the bottom of Albion Falls.

2. Borer's  Fall lies at an unassuming bend in a secondary road and we would never have found it without extra assitance from area residents. Above, you see the falls in the spring, and below in the winter.

In winter, the outer surface of the 15 meter curtain freezes into a huge column of ice. Underneath this translucent pillar of ice, you can still see the shadow of water, as it falls from the top of the escarpment

3. With a crest of 30 meters, Webster's Falls is one of the largest, most stunning waterfalls in the Hamilton area. The couple seated on a park bench on the upper left can give you a point of reference as to the magnitude of the scene. In the background, you can see a stone bridge that crosses the Spencer River and surrounding park.

There is a steep staircase that leads to the bottom of the Spencer Gorge. The figures on the upper right can again give you some perspective as to the grandeur of Webster Falls.

In this view, you can see the falls in the depths of winter.

The forest trail leads between Webster Falls and its cousin Tews Falls, provides some amazing vistas. In the picture above, the city of Hamilton is just visible in the distance. 

Below is another view of the steep terrain that lies along the edge of the forest trail that meanders between the two waterfalls.

4. Logi's Creek tumbles 41 meters over the escarpment to form Tews falls. In the winter months, water seeping through the thin layers of rock form long, sharp icicles. 

5. I've left one of the best waterfalls, (so far anyway) for last! Sherman or "Fairy Falls" is not the most spectacular in terms of size or depth, but the setting deep in a secluded, wooded ravine, is unsurpassed.

So, 5 down, 27 waterfalls to go! The quest continues...