A Farewell to Summer

Please join me while we take a last peek at summer and enjoy the first signs of fall….no pumpkin spice or mums involved! 

Let’s say goodbye to the flowers first.    The petunias fared well with all that rain.Petunias

The dinner plate hibiscus are always late to the party, but they are like Beyonce, they make such a statement when they finally arrive that nobody minds.

Dinner Plate Hibiscus

The Rose of Sharon was so full of flowers it bowed down to Mother Nature.

Rose of Sharon

But the morning glories were not so glorious, lots of foliage draped over the back fence but no buds in sight.   

morning glories

They were very late last year so I still have hope, but here’s a link to last years (unpublished blog), A Glorious September Morning, plus a bee having his last drink of the summer.  

morning glory and bee

The nectar of the gods

My mother always grew glads and zinnias in the farm garden, but this year my glads were a disaster both in color and form.   My vision of them lining the back fence like little pink soldiers faded into the sporadic appearance of a spike of pale lavender or orange.   Lavender is okay, and peach I could handle, but I dislike orange, and pale orange is even worse.   Is it too much to expect the color on the box is the color you get?  

Next year I’ll just buy some at the farmer’s market. 

pink glads

I have never had any luck growing zinnias but my neighbors were prolific,

and the water lilies in their pond finally bloomed.   

pond lily

The sunflowers are drooping but are decorative enough for a vase.

Sunflowers - AMC

Sunflowers in a Vase

The lavender was late as I replanted it all in the spring, but it still bloomed if not extravagantly.  

monarch

The hot humid rainy summer produced a rain forest jungle of a vegetable garden which desperately needs sorting out.   More on the potager in another blog, after the harvest.

potager before

Where are the monkeys?

The monarchs have all flown south, except this little guy with an injured leg/wing who I rescued from a parking lot.   He was able to crawl a bit so I brought him home to lie among the lavender.   

monarch

This year I have seen more monarchs than I have in years.   After the township sprayed all the ditches, they almost became extinct, but now that gardeners are planting milkweed again, they are slowly making a comeback.  They tend to congregate in Point Pelee Park in southern Ontario on their annual migration route, before crossing Lake Erie to the US and eventually Mexico.   Tens of thousands cluster to rest and wait for the right wind conditions to cross the 40 km stretch of lake – the park posts the daily monarch counts on it’s social media pages.   One picture is of a friends backyard near the lake, and one is a weather-watcher picture of Point Pelee.   I wonder how such a small creature can make such a long journey?    For more information on monarchs, check out garden blogger Invitation to the Garden‘s wonderful post on The King of Butterflies.  She also has posts about the different kinds of milkweed you can plant to attract butterflies.

monarchs

just dropping in to say goodbye

Monarchs

Rendevous at Point Pelee Park

Our last look at the beach, and my favorite photo of this summer.

Beach umbrella

Beach Day

Our first look at fall, the maple leaves they are a changing….

fall leaves

The chestnuts are starting to fall from the trees near the library.   Chestnuts always bring back memories of gathering them on my grandmother’s farm at Thanksgiving.   Last year one of the librarians made the nicest wreath from chestnuts…..nothing I would attempt as I’m sure it involved lots of glue. 

chestnut tree

The crab-apples are ripening and getting ready to drop and annoy all the grass cutters.    

crabapples

The first of the apples are being harvested.   We stopped at an orchard last week and they had Galas and Mac’s just picked that morning, a bumper crop. 

Gala Apples

The scarecrow festival has started with a large party in the town square.

scarecrows

The crunch of dry leaves underfoot and the smell of wood smoke reminds us summer is winding down.    The days are growing shorter, it’s getting dark by 7:30, time to go inside, light the candles and welcome fall.     And if you are in the mood to feather your nest check out last years (unpublished) Autumn Decor blog for some cozy fall ideas. 

Asters - AMc

Fall Flowers

There will be a harvest moon on Sept 24, so here’s some music for a fall night.    This song is about as jazzy as I get but it has great lyrics and it always reminds me of my student days and walking home through a park after pub crawling….not sure anyone would do that now in downtown Toronto, they’d probably be mugged or shot.

Song of the Day:   Moondance by Van Morrison 

“Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling…”

 

 

 

 

Apple Picking Time

Bushel of Apples - AMc - 2015

Bushel of Apples – 2015

It’s apple picking time…. which means apple pie season, my favourite time of the year.  I don’t actually pick apples, (I’m lazy), but instead buy them from the farmer’s market which is supplied by a local orchard.  Although on a nice fall weekend we might drive down river on a leaf tour to a place where you can pick your own but which also sells to customers from a small stand.   They always have spy apples there, which are the best for cooking, despite what people say about all those new varieties.  (I once had a grocery store clerk tell me you could make a pie with Macintosh, and I suppose you could if you wanted applesauce).  Spy apples are always later in the season, but well worth the wait, their tart taste cancels out some of the sweetness of the sugar.

When this farmland was first settled everyone grew apples, and stored them in root cellars for cold storage.  From my genealogy records, according to the 1860 agricultural census, they had to record how many acres of orchards they had, so it was an important crop, and a symbol of prosperity at the time.   It was also their main source of vitamin C over the winter, and I wonder if the expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” came from it’s prevention of scurvy.   Both the homeplace and my grandparent’s farm had the remnants of the original apple orchards from over a hundred years ago.  My dad’s farm had mostly crab apple trees, and a few eating apples, but the trees were so old the fruit was basically inedible, although the blossoms did have a heavenly aroma in the spring.   The orchard was right beside the house and during my teenage years pity the poor sibling who would have to cut the grass in the orchard with a push mower and run over all those hard little things, which made for a very bumpy experience.  (A riding lawn mower was the best thing ever invented).   My grandmother’s orchard had better tasting snow apples, and on Thanksgiving my younger brother and I would climb the fence and brave the field full of large but rather dumb cows to pick some, and also to gather chestnuts, which my brother used as fences for his farm animal set.   My grandmother lived to be 96 and every year she went apple picking with my uncle to the orchards down river.  Her old farmhouse had a little unheated vestibule beside the kitchen where she would store the apples in bushel baskets, so when you entered her house you would always get a lovely whiff of the smell of ripe apples.   Someday soon my house will smell marvelous from the cinnamony scent of warm apple pie, in the meantime I’ll just have to light some apple scented candles.


Artist of the Day:  Helen McNicoll  (from time to time I may feature a new artist I have discovered, unless otherwise specified all the other paintings are by my mother). 

Helen McNicoll - The Apple Gatherer - 1911

The Apple Gatherer – Helen McNicoll – 1911

Last month I went to a talk on the Group of Seven at our regional art gallery.   The speaker showed a slide of a painting by Helen McNicoll, called The Apple Gatherer which was painted in 1911.   She was a contemporary of the Group of Seven, but being female, not considered part of the group.  I think I much prefer Helen’s painting, as it is full of colour and light.   Maybe next spring I will plant an apple tree…

Quote of the Day:  “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony, grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.”     

Song of the Day:    I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing – by the New Seekers – click here for music link

 

Book of the Day:   Apples to Oysters by Margaret Webb has a chapter devoted to apple orchards.  

Apples To Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian FarmsApples To Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms by Margaret Webb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting read about Canadian farmers, starting with apple growers and moving across the provinces…..oysters, cheese, vineyards, wheat etc. I found the stories fascinating and being from a rural background could relate to the appeal of the farming lifestyle, as well as the uncertainty of the farming business as most of the stories involved smaller generations-old family farms. If you ate today, thank a farmer!