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Aldona at Large: Sing a Song of Summer

Talk about triumph over adversity: planted only this spring, the coneflowers in our new parking lot are blooming their fool heads off, despite the severe drought we’ve been experiencing and the increased heat in those islands. Even better, they’re attracting clouds of pollinators, including red admiral butterflies like this one. One morning, after parking our cars, Director of Education Liz Hood and I counted 17 various butterflies on just this one small patch!

And some pretty great songbirds have been coming to the TBG as well, such as Emma-Lee, who was featured a couple of weeks ago in our Edwards Summer Music Series: Gardens of Song, which is generously sponsored by the Edwards Charitable Foundation.

She and her band had everyone’s toes tapping in the Westview Terrace. At 6:30, before their performance, Chef Domenic Collaci of the Toronto Curling and Skating Club treated us to a terrific little pre-show cooking demo.

Blam! Emeril has nothing on this guy, who was hugely entertaining as he showed us how to prepare some simple meals using ingredients that can be purchased at our Organic Farmers’ Market, which also runs Thursdays from 3 to 7.

Needless to say, the audience ate it up (though not literally). The next Chef appearance is this Thursday, July 26 at 6:30, when Kyle Deming of Sausage Partners will strut his stuff.

I love summer at the TBG, and Terrific Thursdays are a big part of that. Last week, three astonishing musicians, who call themselves Belle Starr, took the stage. As the weather was iffy and their set-up quite complicated, we moved the concert indoors to the Floral Hall. These gals sang, they played the fiddle, and one of them was a champion tap-dancer as well. Wowza.

This week, it’s double Juno-award winning banjoist Jayme Stone. And, starting this week, the concerts at the Edwards Summer Music Series: Gardens of Song will be absolutely free for everyone. Yes, you read that right: the F word, f-f-f-f-free!

Not content to stay at home, last weekend we took our own show on the road to the Big on Bloor Festival held between Dufferin and Landsdowne. There, we talked up the TBG to folks who live in the west end of the city and invited them to draw their favourite flowers, some of which will be chosen by artist Dyan Marie to be reproduced in steel and embedded in the sidewalk. To give folks inspiration, we displayed several bouquets of flowers in bloom in our gardens right now:

Such as this one, which is now on my kitchen table. There’s something so evocative to me about the sweet, powdery scent of phlox, which brings back memories of my Baba’s garden and my childhood.

We held a honey tasting in our booth, pitting our own first-ever harvest of honey, which last fall placed sixth in a field of 22 in its class at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, against a good-quality commercial brand. We were delighted that the TBG honey was the overwhelming favourite, and look forward to a bigger and better harvest this year, thanks to a lushly planted pollinator garden and a third hive donated to us by Oliver Couto.

Spotted while taking in the sights at Big on Bloor: an immaculate old Chevy Bel-Air, obviously not made to take speed bumps. But what also caught my eye is the sign on the storefront behind it: What the heck is the Ontario Giant Runt Club?!!

Rocky Redux

The folks from a humane wildlife removal service came by to assess the raccoons living in the roof of my ancient metal garage. Did I mention that it also has a gravel floor? Here’s how it went:

Them: “Are you going to tear this down?”

Me: “Nope.”

Them: “Well, you should install a concrete floor in there.”

Me: “Nope, I like it the way it is.”

Them: “There are an awful lot of places for a raccoon to get in here, and your doors don’t shut too well. You need to get all this stuff fixed up before we take out the raccoons, or they’ll just come right back in. You should also have the perimeter of the garage trenched and bury L-shaped wire mesh around it so they don’t burrow in, and that’s expensive.

Me: “How much do you think?”

Them: “It will run you $1400.” (My garage is around 16 x 18 feet.) Once you have all the repairs done, call us and we’ll come back and remove the raccoons.”

Hmm. Maybe the mesh could be installed inside the garage, so I don’t have to disturb my plants. Next I’m girding up my loins for the call to a handyman, where I’ll have to explain that I want him to work on fixing up my ancient garage with who-knows-how-many raccoons in residence right over his head. Wish me luck.

Things that make me happy

This beautiful produce was planted, tended and harvested by children who participate in programs offered in our Teaching Garden. It is waiting for pick-up by the North York Harvest Food Bank (I must admit, I was covetously eyeing this beautiful organic garlic and potatoes.)

Last year we donated more than 900 pounds of produce. There are still a few places left in our summer camps, so if your child or grandchild is growing not veggies but restless, you can check out the camps here.

The lovely blue colour of these ‘Astra Double Blue’ balloon flowers, seen just off our Westview Terrace, fills my heart with gladness.

And while lots of people pooh-pooh coneflowers, I think they’re terrific and give you lots of bang for your buck for many weeks. These can be seen, along with bee balm, Knautia macedonica and so much more, along the path that runs through our Piet Oudolf-designed Garden Entry Walk.

My friend Catherine calls these shastas in my garden “democratic daisies.” And now I’m going to exercise my democratic right and vote to end this blog entry right here. Have a great couple of weeks, and we’ll catch up next time.

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2 comments

  1. Sarah Barrett

    Good luck with the racoons! I had a ‘coon problem years ago, where a colony lived under my back porch, between my house and my neighbours. The animal removal (humane) folks that I used told me to get in there after the beasts had left for their evening tour of destruction in the neighbourhood, and destroy their nests. Well, I did that, and it worked. Apparently when the ‘coons come home and find their condo gone, they go away. Where they were living reminded me of an ant farm, there were little tunnels, and cosy beds lined with pink insulation – – sort of like a stacked motel!! Anyway, it was not a fun job for me, crawling around under the porch, but it solved the problem. Other people I had called were all about me tearing down the porch, or enclosing it in wire mesh etc. etc. etc. So – – as I said at the beginning – – good luck!!

  2. Aldona

    Thanks, Sarah. Each evening, two young raccoons come out to patrol the property. The follow each other around my garden, nose to tail, pawing at grubs or who-knows-what in the soil. They use my birdbath to give their paws a good wash, too. Funny, the neighbourhood cats, which used to hang out in the sunny spots of my yard, are not much in evidence these days. And miracle of miracles, I do have a handyman stopping by this week to assess the situation, and I’m hopeful I can convince him to “do the deed” and fix up my garage…

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