berries from the farmer's market

Aldona at Large: Rocky Raccoon Checked Into His Room…

And unfortunately, it is my garage, an ancient metal job constructed from a Sears Roebuck mail-order kit. It must be nearly as old as the house, which was built in 1908. The garage is lined inside with wood, which over time has darkened—much like it does in old boathouses. It has a metal roof (different on each side, so maybe one section was replaced). There is a bump-out at the back, as more than half-a-century ago, the then-owner had it customized to accommodate his outsized roadster.

When people see my garage, they react in one of two ways.  Some say, “Holy Dinah, when are you going to tear down that eyesore?” Others say, “Wow, that is so beautiful.”  I’m a romantic at heart, so I belong to the latter camp.

Of course, being old, the garage certainly has its share of dings and dents and weak spots, but then don’t we all? I love it.

However, I realize that I’ve been living in a fools’ paradise, because it’s a miracle that up to now Rocky and his brethren hadn’t discovered its many charms, too.

The doors have an ingenious locking system inside—a kind of heavy metal bar that slides up into a fastener, but has been known to come adrift and bop me on the head (that part is not so charming). Because the garage is so old, the doors are very stiff and hard to open and I just use it for storage—16 snow tires, for example (mine and the kids’).

I leave one of the doors partly open when I garden, so I can quickly grab my wheelbarrow or anything else I need. Then last weekend I looked up and saw this:

Rocky was reclining in the roof, grinning down at me, with his head hanging out one hole and tail out of another—holes that he had made by pushing out a couple of boards. And that was just the start of the “fun,” because now, a passel of coons has moved in, and the messy evidence is everywhere.

Of course, I went around the perimeter of the garage to see where the raccoons were getting in, and realized I could take my pick of a dozen or more spots. I did my best to block off what I could.

Did this deter Rocky? Nope. He and his posse simply pushed in one of the door panels. Huh. Smart critter.

To retaliate, I turned on talk radio and the lights in there 24/7, while I contemplate the expensive next step–a humane wildlife removal service and some real repairs (and please don’t talk to me about a tear-down).

Image: Stefan Weber

Meanwhile, back at the TBG, Rocky’s cousins have been spotted climbing up the ladder on the side of our building. Perhaps they’re going up there  to get a great view of the next concert in The Edwards Summer Music Series: Gardens of Song—part of Terrific Thursdays at the TBG.

 Suba Sankaran, Trichy Sankaran and his disciple, Desi

Last week, world-renowned musician Trichy Sankaran, his daughter Suba (of the band, Rickshaw Taxi) and Trichy’s disciple, Desi,  wowed the crowd with simply mesmerizing ragas from southern India. It was a virtuouso performance and the audience gave them a well-deserved standing ovation (this doesn’t happen at every concert—it’s a tough crowd).

Before the concert, TBG Board co-chair Allan Kling collected toonies—the price of admission this year, unless you’re a TBG member or a child of 12 or under, in which case you get in for free. Of course, parking is free as well. This week’s concert features songstress and rising star Emma-Lee—to see the complete lineup, go here. Our sincere thanks to the Edwards Charitable Foundation for generously sponsoring these concerts in our gardens—they’re magic!

And the beautiful berries you see at the top of my blog were photographed last week at our Organic Farmers’ Market, which is also open every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. I’m thrilled to be able to buy fresh-picked, locally grown organic produce so easily. (Yes, I know I can use all the preservatives I can get, but I do try to eat organic food as often as possible.)

Other features of Terrific Thursdays include special kids’ play activities from 5 to 7 p.m. in the James Boyd Children’s Centre, a bookmobile with choice used garden books to purchase, and the chance to treat yourself to a modestly priced light supper (until 7 p.m.) in our Garden Café in the historic barn building.  And you can browse in our terrific shop, which is well stocked with all sorts of lovely temptations, and leaf through the very latest gardening periodicals in the Weston Family Library, too. Fun? Wow!

Things That Make Me Happy

Birthday ambush: Right in the midst of our CPR training day, the staff surprised Paul on his birthday with not one cake, but two. I’m glad to report that the cake went down nicely and no emergency Heimlich manoeuvres  were required.

Check out these stunning black petunias, which I received at the Loblaw media bash in May. Wow, talk about velvety and floriferous and really BLACK—they’re planted together with licorice vine (which despite its name is silver, not black) and white geraniums in a President’s Choice silvery planter, and while sometimes I deconstruct and rearrange pre-planted container combos, this one looks so classy that I’ve been enjoying it as is.

And I love the sturdy, neon-pink clumps of old-fashioned rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) that seed themselves around my garden. Their intense colour and silvery leaves look just right in the hot, dry weather that we’ve been experiencing. Speaking of dry, please keep an eye on your trees (and any newly planted orphan saplings in your neighbourhood) and don’t forget to give them a long, slow drink of water. I’ve noticed even the big trees are looking droopy, dusty and parched, so please do what you can to help them.

And finally, mark your calendars for Garden Walk Buffalo, which takes place on the last weekend of July. Check out their website and see why I like it so much. You can visit more than 350 private gardens in a rich diversity of architecturally interesting neighbourhoods, all for free.

Until next time, stay cool and out of trouble, my little raccoons…

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7 comments

  1. Judith

    The garage has character Aldona, I say keep it too. The raccoons need to go though, in a humane way to a nicer place to play in.
    Nice photo of Paul with his surprise birthday cakes.

  2. Sandy

    Good luck in getting rid of your raccoons. We even had one come into the house one night and eat all the dog’s kibble while the dog went into hiding. As well, a whole family was living in my hose box on my third floor balcony. Many hundreds of dollars later they were forced to vacate my hose box (for watering my garden in the sky) but decided to camp out behind a tall clump of grass on the balcony until I squirted them daily. You have a long road ahead before you rid yourself of these cute monsters.

  3. Aldona

    Sandy and Judith–thanks for your comments. A colleague of mine told me she soaked balled-up sports socks with ammonia and threw them into the place where her raccoons were ensconced. They promptly threw them right back at her–hard–I wonder if it was a curve ball or a slider?!

  4. marcy fish

    We have much damage from racoons who ate off half of our roof to house between the two floors over the winter.their feces and urine are a health hazard if you breathe them in.If they are on your roof I suggest you contact an animal control centre before they invade your home.We have extensive damage right now which will be repaired soon at a greatexpense to us.Sorry for the good news! Marcy Fish.mfish0048@rogers.com

  5. Aldona

    Thanks for writing, Marcy. I wish you luck with your repairs. I had squirrels in my dormer last winter (what’s next? Bats in my belfry?!) but I guess that’s what happens when you live close by to a park.

  6. And thank you for the Garden Walk Buffalo shout out! We’d love to have more northern neighbors visit the weekend of July 28 & 29. (I guess in Buffalo’s case though, the nearest bits of Canada are technically to our west!) This year it’s 384 gardens, and five shuttle buses – all free – everything’s free! Self-guided, no tickets required. Maybe you’ll see one of our occasional urban raccoons.

  7. Aldona

    You’re welcome, Jim. Garden Walk Buffalo is always so much fun! Buffalonians are super-friendly and hospitable, and justifiably proud of their beautiful gardens. I’ve also scooped up some terrific bargains at impromptu yard sales as well, and Penzey’s for spices is a MUST.

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