Seeing Red

Millennium Hybrid Asparagus Roots 10 plants

Day 10: There were a few gaps in my planting plan that needed filling, so I’ve ordered the remaining items, mostly seeds, from William Dam Seeds and will pick them up this week. I’ll refurbish my long abandoned asparagus patch, waiting the requisite three years from root planting before I can harvest. But the thought of not planting glorious flowers, as a rupturus break from the last fifty-one non-floriferous years, was just too much for me. I’ve also never grown many annuals before, which will be a great start for new spots that have been scrub or grass prior. They can hold ground nicely from weed until it can all be turned in again at season’s end, to plant the longer term residents in 2019. One of the most delightful flower beds I saw while in England, was an unusual and striking “Medieval Mix” of annuals. I bought two packages while there to add to the excess I just ordered.

As a child, I remember dog eared seed catalogues lying about our winter home, and a few of those fond familiar names have risen in my life again. They were institutions, because I was a child and they were in print, and we never saw where the catalogues descended from.  When I moved my urban life from Toronto to Hamilton at just under fifty, the psychological transition was seamless. Both international populations, both hip, and aside from the very peculiar Hamilton conservatism in left-leaning voters, and the unpleasant macho attributes of the physicality of the city, I still felt at home. But it was a real shock to me after some months, to realize that I was now surrounded by some of the vast greenhouses and fields full of roses, seed houses, tree and flower farms of my childhood memories, and by many more that were new to me. I drive to them. I meet the hard working people behind the catalogues. And William Dam Seeds is one of those. It still is a marvel to me to be able to pull my trunk up to the bare root twiggy roses at Hortico I’ve just had someone take a shovel to, in the field right in front of me, full of other twiggy stunted cold roses. Or to speak to a head rose buyer, who used to advise the same for the Shaw of Iran, then walk aisle upon aisle at Connon Nurseries, amidst landscapers choosing trolleys full of single species, for a public park, or a client’s new garden.  Humber Nurseries we used to stop at nearly every trip north as a youth to the farm from Toronto. I will still drive the hour each way there to choose just the perfect coloured Iris, where I can touch the bloom, smell its fragrance, or ask some staff brave enough to say “I don’t really know,” if they don’t really know. That RARELY happens elsewhere, I can assure  you.

There are gaps. Toronto’s beloved Cruickshank’s on Mt. Pleasant Avenue, closed in 2001, and they are still missed. I cannot find from anyone else, prepared bulbs to force into Christmas bloom indoors. I cannot find the beautiful forcing vases either, though I’ve managed to persuade a few oddly made Pilsner glasses into the job. And I have my own hate list, for those nurseries that have staff that don’t know their plants, don’t tell the truth over the phone and cause an entire lost day for me, and nursery buyers that won’t buy anything they haven’t always bought on mass. O.K. the prime suspect is Terra. Their jewellery section is larger than their plant knowledge. Even their pots are ugly.  And they are just up the road. And down the road. And across the road. I see red.

On the subject of red, I have ordered. It will be a busy summer. Blues near the barn, reds and yellows in the farm yard, and new fruit trees beyond it.

And the lovely mushin no shin (無心の心) inducing lavender to line the roadway.

Image result for lavender lane

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