Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My trip Home to Nova Scotia

Mom's dwarf irises

My Mom's rockgarden

When my Mom tells a story it never moves in a straight line from start to finish; instead is zigzags off in all crazy directions and sometimes doubles back on the same path for a second or third telling.

There seems to be a certain urgency to her stories these days. On her birthday in October, she'll be ninety. 

Usually at this time of year, Mom likes nothing better than to be out working in her garden, but a clogged artery, which hinders the flow of blood to her heart, has left her weak and without energy. She is so thin and frail that it seems as though a strong gust of wind might blow her away.

Last week, I spent as much of my time at home in Nova Scotia as I could listening to her stories.

Rhododendrons and gorgeous azaleas, like this pale pink one, were one of the many 
beautiful sights in Truro, N.S.

One afternoon, we two gardeners conspired to drag my poor old Dad up to Truro to see the famous rock garden (seen above). On another morning, Mom and I drove out along the south shore to the Chester Basin to visit with Brenda, who turned out to be just as lovely in person as she is in her blog.

Though Mom was as excited as I was to visit some of these local gardens, being active quickly took a toll on her. Half was through our visit to my friend Donna's garden, Mom got winded and had to take a seat while I finished taking photographs. 

I fear poor Donna, who kept her company that afternoon while I worked, heard as many of my Mom's stories as I did!

I arrived back home in Toronto last Thursday night. 

On Friday morning a small fleet of trucks and heavy equipment arrived to take down the two trees that were damaged in last winter's ice storm. This task took a team of eight burly fellows a full day to complete. Hubby took these pictures of the big event:

One of the finer moments from this year's Through the Garden Gate tour

Then on Saturday I was off to Through the Garden Gate, which turned out to be hugely disappointing for the first time ever. Those multi-million dollar homes and their gardens simply didn't hold a candle to some of the gardens I had just seen in Nova Scotia. 

It just goes to show you that money really can't buy everything! A little creativity and a genuine love of gardening go a long, long way.

False Indigo, Baptisia in my garden

In my absence, my garden seems to have grown by leaps and bounds. Among other things, I missed taking pictures of all the purple alliums and lilacs in flower.

Gas plant, Dictamnus albus in the front garden.

So far this spring, I have barely touched the front garden, but it seems to have soldiered on without me.

All my peonies are starting to open, including this fragrant white one. 

As well as weeding, I have an absolute ton of photos to sort though from my trip to Nova Scotia.  Here is a preview of Donna's wonderful garden:

Donna's garden


Donna has an amazing collection of rhododendrons and magnolias.

Primula in Donna's woodland garden.

And then there is Jacquie's garden. Here's another preview:

The upper terrace in Jacquie's garden.

Columbine shining in the light of early evening.

Jacquie's "Flower" fairy who presides over the lower part of the garden from 
top of a stump of an old crabapple tree.

Geum in Jacquie's garden

I also have a whole slew of pictures from the rock garden in Truro, as well as pictures from the Halifax YMCA's annual garden tour to work through.

And in the coming week, I hope to catch up with all my blogging friends. 


  1. So glad you were able to go back home to see your mum and dad. It must have been wonderful for them to have you there - and being able to join you on your garden adventures, tho tiring, must have been a real tonic. Re Toronto - I liked the size of the tour - 19 quite manageable - but, at the end of the day the two that Peggy and I liked the best were the done-by-owner gardens - at least you had an idea of what they liked and not what some designer decided was what must be there. I couldn't get over all the construction - remember in the old days when the City might hold off closing roads and digging when the "granddaddy of all garden tours" was on in Toronto. Looks like you saw lots of beautiful gardens down east - those gals have created exceptional gardens. B.

  2. Well here's to mum and daughter sharing gardens for many a year to come! I think your mum's azaleas and your peonies echo each other, beautiful, delicate and inspiring.
    Glad the tree fell went well, and Donna has a garden to be proud of. What a lovely post, and here's to you being able to listen to your mum's rambling tales for eons to come, must say, I'm EXACTLY the same!xxx

  3. Hello Jennifer. All of the gardens you have visited are stunning. So sorry to read of your mom's declining health. The time the two of you spent together will be treasured for a long time to come. It looks like the tree chopping was eventful. The lot to the northeast of us was just cleared and the whole house shook when the big for trees fell. I thought I was a tree girl but I really love the open sky now.

  4. So glad that you got to spend time with your mother and day. The gardens are stunning - so many beautiful flowers to see. Your friends gardens are very pretty.
    WOW what big trees you had to have taken down. Hope you have a fireplace so you can use up the logs.
    Have a great week.

  5. Glad you had a nice trip out east, I've only been out once - to PEI and loved the scenery. That was a huge tree brought down and I enjoyed the shared gardens.

  6. Hey you! I am so glad that you were able to spend time with your mom! I can see where you get your passion for gardening! And what you said about how money can't buy you everything...and that the genuine love for gardening is what pulls through in the end is oh so very true!!! There are large estates in our area who all have the same "landscapes" as I would call them because to me a garden is something that is created by hand. The gardens that you visited made my heart flutter...I am not even joking! Around this time of the year my motivation starts to fade a bit with the heat setting in...just seeing some of that magic up there really rekindles my energy for my own space! Thanks for sharing lady! Talk soon...Nicole xoxo

  7. Hi! What a lovely trip you had! So lucky to still have your mom and I was so touched when you wrote about"listening to her stories". How often I've regretted not listening enough otr remembering things my mom said. Enjoy!
    Thanks for the beautiful garden pictures! Best regards from France, Martine

  8. It sounds like a lovely time - and lucky you to meet Brenda!!!

  9. So glad your trip back home went well - your mom's garden is lovely I can see where you get your green fingers from. Donna's garden is lovely - much more interesting to look at than sterile manicured so called tasteful gardens. Nice to have you back in blogland.

  10. It was truly lovely, to meet you both and sit in the garden on such a beautiful day. Your mom is a Gem. Glad you got to visit Donna's garden as well. It is fantastic especially this time of year.

  11. Que de belles photos. De beaux jardins. Espérant que votre mère se portera mieux. Bonne fin de journée.

  12. What a great many wonderful gardens! I am glad you were able to enjoy some time with your mother. At her age, there can't be that many visits left. I will also go see my mother in late August - not as far as Nova Scotia, but in eastern Québec, near New-Brunswick.
    The gardens you show are beautiful but your art as a photographer has a lot to do with it!

  13. Your mother has a beautiful garden too, you must have been very glad to be able to spend time with her. The other gardens you visited also are very nice and your pictures are just amazing.

  14. Donna's garden is beautiful Jennifer. But I love your Mom's garden and her flowers as irises and azaleas! She is very creative gardener although is ill now, I wish her health!
    Your peony are stunning and I can imagine the fragrance they have.

  15. Hi Jennifer - my sister lives in Timberlea (on the St. Margaret's Bay Road) and I love visiting her. The topography is so different than here in Ontario, the plants seem fresher from the sea air and the cooler temperatures. Her rhodos out-do mine every year despite the fact that she's not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination.
    Looks like you saw some beautiful places. Will have to have my sister take me to the rock garden next time.

  16. I don't know what the million-dollar gardens looked like, but I don't know how they could hold a candle to the gardens of the friends you visited. I'm glad you had a good visit with your mother; I'm sure she was so happy to have you there and enjoyed the visits to other gardens, even if it was a bit tiring. Her irises are beautiful!

  17. Everything here is so beautiful, Jennifer.
    So much wonderful color.

    You are very fortunate to have this time with your mom.

    Happy day to you, my friend. :-)

  18. Jennifer girl,
    I am so happy you have had this time with your mom : ) but also time to record these beautiful, so very much loved gardens in N.S.
    I am from N.S. Cape Breton Island really ... years of childhood there ingrained the salt in my veins and the country side in my heart .. the ocean and rivers will always be within me.
    To see those lovely garden with that LOVE stamped in and on them so well, will always outdo any staged garden in any place of the world ... a genuine act of love through blood sweat and tears is an honest garden with honest love that other gardeners recognize in a flash.
    Well done you for bringing us back such beautiful memories to savor as well .. thank you !
    Joy : )

  19. Your photos never cease to amaze. So, so pretty. And how nice you had a chance for a visit with your mom. Looking forward to more photos.

  20. Hey Jennifer - welcome home. Glad you could visit your mom - bet you wish she wasn't so far away. Her garden is lovely. I look fwd to seeing more of the "preview" gardens.
    My friend and I went to Through the Garden Gate Sunday. Some gardens were stunningly beautiful, some less impressive. I got some good shots and as in any garden tour, we learned a new thing or two. I think it's become more of a social outing for us . It's me and her time - the gardens seem to be secondary these days. Anyway, thanks again for some amazing photographs.

  21. Hi Jennifer, thanks for your lovely post and photos – your post today is a bit like you describe your mum’s stories, a zigzag in many directions! Great to hear you had a good time with your mother, and tell Jackie I loved her fairy!

  22. I rarely find professional gardens that appealing. They just don't have any heart or soul to them. But the gardens you featured from Nova Scotia are so welcoming and beautiful. My parents died at 55 and 58 so to have your mom still there at 90 is such a gift. I'm so glad you got to spend time with them. :o)

  23. What a gift it is to have your dear beloved mother with you. Must have been very difficult to say good bye. Lovely photo's Jennifer. I enjoyed every one of them.
    Have a beautiful weekend.

  24. That sounds like an absolutely fabulous trip. I see where you got your love of flowers. Must be hard on your mom not being able to get out into her garden. Can't wait to see photos of the gardens you visited, the previews are very enticing.

  25. I understand wanting to spend time with your mom....I hope mine will make the trip here in October as it has been 2 years since I have seen her. You visited some gorgeous gardens and I look forward to seeing so much beauty and getting great ideas.

  26. I loved everything about this post. It is so great you were able to spend time with your mother - and so great that she is still able to do things with you. Mine, sadly, isn't. On a happier note, I was also thrilled to see the pictures of Nova Scotia, which is high on my list of places I want to visit.

  27. As a former bluenoser myself, I dream of Nova Scotia gardens. Thanks for the pics--absolutely lovely. :)


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