Sunday, July 28, 2019

A Little Taste of our Most Recent Adventures

In the past, we have always vacationed in late May or June, but in the last two years, we have taken a mid-summer holiday. It's nice to escape the 30-degree heat and humidity of Toronto and lie low somewhere cooler in the middle of July.

The challenge is to leave the garden to fend for itself in the heat of summer. The weeks proceeding our trip this July were, therefore, busy ones. I tried my darndest to have everything planted in the ground and the weeds somewhat under control. I gathered most of my container plantings into a group huddle and hubby set up a timer to water them once a day.

Bags packed and we hit the road!

The ambitious plan was to make the sixteen plus hour drive home from Toronto to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I very much wanted to visit with family and my Dad in particular. He's been really missing my Mom who passed away last fall.

The long drive was bound to be a bit gruelling as a vacation, so we divided it into smaller, more manageable chunks. The first day we dove to Cornwall, Ontario just outside of Montreal (a 5 hr. drive). We ended the day with a lovely dinner on the patio of the hotel where we stayed.

The next day it was on to Edmunston in northern New Brunswich (a very long 6-8 hrs). My favourite part of the drive was watching the sun dip behind the hills that flank the St Lawrence River. The view was absolutely breathtaking!

Unfortunately, we dawdled in a few antique shops along the way and that put us into northern New Brunswick after dark. At night, the densely forested hills seemed to press in on the highway. There were very few cars on the road–just big transports and logging trucks in a rush to get wherever it was that they needed to go.

What really unnerved me however was the constant warnings about the dangers of moose crossing the highway. The last thing I need to see was a big, lumbering moose staring quizzically into my headlights! That our GPS system got us lost trying to find the hotel at the end of the evening didn't help. It was about midnight by the time we dropped into bed exhausted.

The journey across northern New Brunswick on day 3 of our trip.

In the early evening of day three, we stopped at a roadside restaurant and had fish & chips overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

The next day I had the bright idea to cross to the Atlantic side of New Brunswick and head down the coast. The drive to Moncton, N.B. seemed short in comparison to the previous day (just 4-5 hrs) and it seemed like a nice idea to get in a bit of pretty scenery. What a mistake this turned out to be! The rough road I set us on was through an uninhabited section of densely forested highway with more moose warnings. We saw very few cars and not a single house, store or gas station for several hours! Again another late-day ensued.

The easiest segment was the last. We arrived home in Halifax by mid-afternoon on the fourth day.

Much of the time spent in Halifax was family time. We took Dad out on his motorized scooter for daily walks. On one of these strolls, we ran into a turtle who posed briefly for a picture. We also visited a nesting osprey eagle (or fish eagle as they are sometimes called).

I included the ugly electric pole just to give you some perspective as to how high the 
osprey nest sat above the ground.

Considering I don't have a telephoto lens, my camera did fairly well to capture this amazing bird. Read more about osprey conservation efforts here.

The indignant turtle.

We took my sister shopping, to the big Framer's Market in Halifax and went hunting for shells out at St. Lawrence beach (the freezing waters of the North Atlantic are only suitable for the most intrepid of swimmers). 

Looking inland from St Lawrence Beach.

 Donna and Duff on their deck.

We did manage to spend an afternoon with our friends Donna and Duff Evers. It is always such a treat to see Donna's garden!

A view of the terrace.

Pink peony with Astilbe and what I believe is a Japanese Iris in the distance.

I was also able to visit with Jacquie Jordan and see how her new garden is coming along (You may remember the post on her previous garden from earlier this year). Jacquie had lost her little dog named Valentine, but happily, we got to meet the newest member of the family.

Jacquie's new pup.

Jacob's Ladder or Polemonium

The property is smaller and much more manageable than her previous garden. The front yard generally gets full sun, while the back garden finds a home on the edge of shady woodland. It was impressive to see how much Jacquie had accomplished in just over a year!

A Japanese Maple in Jacquie's garden.

The back of Jacquie's property is a woodland overlooking a lake.

We made a spur-of-the-moment visit to Harbourview Daylilies, a nursery and display garden specializing in daylilies and Japanese Irises. Set into the rocky hillside, the nursery offers fantastic views of the Musquodoboit Harbour.

 A more formal part of the garden.

 These Lupins had gone to seed, but I thought the fuzzy seedpods were beautiful.

I am sure lots of topsoil was brought in to create the gardens on this rocky hillside garden. Beyond the trees, you can see the Musquodoboit Harbour.

Ferns love the abundant rainfall.

We varied our return trip to work in a visit to Les Jardin de Métis or Reford Gardens as it is known in English. To get there, we went up through New Brunswick and crossed through a mountain pass to reach the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. North of Quebec city, highway 132 follows a winding river through the rocky cliffs. Again the views were amazing!

We stopped for the night in nearby Mont-Joli and had dinner at a restaurant overlooking the St. Lawrence. One of the town's more unusual landmarks was an artwork called "Le Grand Rassemblement" (The Great Gathering in English) by a painter and sculptor Marcel Gagnon. This piece features one hundred life-sized figures emerging from the inky-blue waters of the river.

The house ay Reford Gardens was once a summer hunting and fishing lodge.

The porch with plenty of casual seating for relaxing vacationers.

Seeing Reford Gardens, a traditional English-style garden famous for its blue poppies, has been on my wishlist for years. The garden was created at the summer home of Elsie Reford, the wife of a wealthy Montreal shipping magnate. This private garden was first opened to the public in 1962.

I promise to do a more detailed post in the future, but here is a little preview of this magnificent garden.

 Feathery Dianthus

The garden called "The Long Walk".

As well as more traditional flowerbeds, there is a large wooded area and shade gardens.

Our trip was not the most relaxing of vacations, but we still had a wonderful time. To mix things up, next summer I think we will plunk ourselves in one place and stay there the whole time!

P.S. There is still a couple of days to enter the latest book draw.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Book Giveaway: Peony: The Best Varieties for your Garden

Sometimes a fondness for a particular flower can be the inspiration that creates a gardener, but more often than not, you're thrilled just to get anything to grow at all when you are a novice. 

With knowledge and experience, a preference for certain flowers develops over time. Before long there are a few plants you love so much that you start collecting them.

Peony: The Best Varieties for your Garden could well make a great guide for the novice gardener, but I think this book is even better suited to the slightly more experienced gardener who wants to collect peonies. 

The book's contents in a nutshell: 
• Introduction 
• How to use this Book
• History and Origins 
• Kinds of Peonies
• The Joy of Gardening
• Planting and Care
• Cut Flowers
• Bush Peonies
• Intersectional Peonies
• Tree Peonies
• Resources
• Further Reading 
• Photo Credits
• Index

For those who want to learn more about peonies, this book offers a comprehensive reference to different flower forms, types of peonies and how to grow them. There is also a helpful section on companion planting. 

The plant collector will love thumbing through the glossary of glorious peonies. Temptation can be found on every page in the form of beautiful photographs. 

Peonies at the Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton.

Peonies in a private garden.

A mix of white and pink peonies at the Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton. 

Very frilly pink peony at the Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton.

Red Peony at the  Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton.

Thomas Allen & Sons has kindly given me a copy of Peony: The Best Varieties for your Garden to give away. Because this book will go to a winner through the mail, I will have to limit entry to readers in Canada and the USA. 

Please leave a comment below if you would like to be included in the book draw. The draw will remain open until Wednesday, July 31st. If you are not a blogger, you can enter by leaving a comment on the Three Dogs in a Garden Facebook page (there is an additional link to the Facebook page at the bottom of the blog). As always, you are also welcome to enter by sending me an email (