Friday, September 23, 2016

Beautiful Boathouses of Muskoka

As much as I love the summer in Muskoka, the fall can be just as fabulous but in a totally different way.  Less heat, less people, less activity on the lakes and a great chance to sneak out and check out people's boathouses and cottages from the water without worrying about people being on their docks.
Boathouses in Muskoka come in all different sizes and colours.  We have been talking about rebuilding our cottage and the hardest part (other than the money :) will be picking a colour.

I love the way this one is positioned in between 2 large pieces of the amazing Canadian Shield which covers most of Muskoka.

The cottage to go with this boathouse looks like a lodge.  A friend of ours on the lake with a huge boathouse and cottage, was out tidying up the dock one day when a boat pulled up and threw him their line.  He very politely said "can I help you" and they said they were just going to pop up to the bar for a drink.  LOL I don't think so, this is a private residence.  

This little red one is my favourite :).  Have enjoyed many a glass of wine and beautiful sunset from this deck and looking to many more.  

This is one of the older boathouses on the lake, there are a number of boathouses we use for navigation, this one is on the way to the Lake Joesph Golf Course.

Millionaire's row is one of the tours you can take on the Segwun.  Most of the boathouses here are originals, this one has been painted white since the last time I saw it.  New visitors to our cottage always get a quick trip over to gawk at these amazing places.  You can picture the ladies in their long skirts and the nannies taking care of the children when the families of Toronto came up to Muskoka for the summer.  Gardeners, waiters in black and white roamed up and down the stairs and rocks taking mint juleps to the guests.  

It feels like there are more antique boats on Millionaire's row then there are at the boat show.  When Jim and I bought our first little boat, a used Edson, we were so excited.  The salesman told us that it was a great little buy, the man who sold it had 10 boathouse slips and had just bought an 11th boat so needed to get rid of one.  It was our lucky day.  

A 100 years ago, people came to Muskoka by train and then the steamships like the Segwun dropped them off at their cottages.  Driving soon took over, but now after sitting on the 400 for 2 hours people are starting to take their planes.  I'm not seeing a plane in my future so the cats and I will just have to make sure to not drive up on Fridays or Sundays.  Lucky us.

I hope you enjoy my little tour and very small sampling of beautiful Muskoka Boathouses.  :)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Welcome to my Cottage Garden - so full of memories

Lynnie Lynnie how does your garden grow, with a little help from my friends.  :)  Actually lots of help from my friends and family.  My mom introduced me to gardening when I was 20, that is when we moved into our first house with a small garden in the back.  My mom was brought up outside of Newcastle, England and enjoyed not only the beautiful perennial garden her mom had but also quite a large vegetable garden in the back.  In her little house in Brampton she was happy as could be with her marigolds (to keep the cats away), petunias and alyssum.  

Still living at home at the time I enjoyed helping my dad with the digging and setting up and my mom with the planting.  Right up until she passed away one of my favourite memories was taking her to the garden centre in May to pick her favourite flowers and help her plant them.  

She adopted some morning doves that she loved feeding on her deck.  Needless to say she was buying marigolds in bulk.and was quite verbal whenever a cat snuck into her yard.  Luckily she never met our Cleo the huntress.  

Growing up my dad did all the physical work and my mom the finishing touches.  Somehow I much prefer the physical work.  The dirtier I get the better especially at the cottage as you can just keep jumping into the lake.  
When we first moved into the cottage, I had 3 little helpers.  They were named Andrew, David and Rachel and whenever I got the wheelbarrow out to go rock hunting in the back, they were more than happy to accompany me.  That lasted for a couple of years and now every time they see me with a wheelbarrow or a shovel, they go running.  I have had to resort to bribing them with beer and food.  If I ever decide to do a "crest" for me it will surely have a "shovel, wheelbarrow and a wine goblet" on it.     

These pathways were all under dirt when we moved in.  The prickly bushes came right up the side of the cottage.  Slowly but surely we started removing them.  Jim would look at me like I was crazy, but usually after a few swings of the ax, he couldn't take it any more and took over for me.  Lots of moaning, lots of sweating but we are all taking lots of pats on the back for how great they look.  All the rocks that you see in the pathways are rocks we found in the back forest.  Many a weekend when the guys would go golfing, Lindsey, Sharon, MJ and I would walk through the woods looking for pathway rocks or wall rocks or just pretty rocks.  A few of them even made it down to our Aurora house and Sharon's.  It was always easy to talk Sharon into helping uncover some amazing rocks, one for me, one for her.  I remember one time putting a few by Bob's car and Sharon telling him she just had a couple of little rocks to take home.  lol, luckily he had already finished his golf game before he had to lift them.  

I also have to give kudos to our cottage neighbour Jack and my cats.  Jack has the most amazing garden here and at his house (I gather he has been in the Home & Garden) magazine.  Whimsical pieces of art and wonderful pathways.  My cats love it over there, little ponds with frogs and snakes which they love bringing back to us.  Can't find the cat, better go check out Jack's garden to see if they are sunning themselves on his new bench :)

This hosta is a great great granma many times over.  Our neighbour of 30 years in Aurora, Ilse introduced me to them shortly after we moved in.  With all the trees it was hard to get anything to grow in our back.  I commented to Ilse one day about the above plant, next thing I knew she had a shovel in her hand. dug into it and said here you go, just keep splitting it and you will have a big family of hostas.  From then on my love of hostas grew.  Luckily for my hostas we don't get deers at the cottage as I gather they are a favourite food for them.  

The newest garden, started about 5 years ago.  I was hoping to clear it out to be just a rock wall.  The left hand side was all dirt and moss.  There is no better feeling than popping your shovel into the dirt and hearing the clink of stone.  Perfect, so I kept going.  Eventually you say ok I'm not going to China and you start filling it back in.  This is the 3rd time we have been digging and all excited and you find you are now in a crevice with no idea how deep it goes.  OK more hostas please :)

Helen Burns who has an amazing perennial garden in Aurora, dropped off some Elephant Hosta for me.  Interspersed in it's leaves was some thin long grassy looking hosta.  Both of them have spread around the property and seem to be quite happy to live in Muskoka.  

After enjoying Lynne Hoevenaars strawberry rhubarb pie and commenting on how much I love rhubarb, she gave me a cutting from her garden.  I moved it to the front this year and I'm hoping to get a bumper crop next year.  

My garden was looking a little green so I've been slowly adding in a wee bit of colour, lilies and black eyed susans are now spreading around the property.  

Maryjo bought me this little rose bush about 4 years ago and we are both so surprised when it continues to blossom every year.  My mom and I never had any luck with roses.  These plants are basically living on a rock with the equivalent of a bag of dirt.  Crazy.

The ferns keep popping up wherever there is a crack.  Over the years I have tried to transplant them with no success.  And then there are the cute little pine trees growing on the side of rocks.  I'm battling with Jim about this one, he wants to rip it out.  I insist on leaving it.  The problem is they keep growing, we know have 4 15 feet tall trees that will have to be chopped down.  They just cling to the rock and live off the dirt that gets blown and tossed around.  Amazing.  

Mushrooms come and go, we aren't brave enough to eat any of them :)

A big part of my garden are my little touches.  The little things you pick up on holiday or when you are out with the girls or that you have made.  A number of years ago, Arlene invited me over to Dorothy George's house (who sadly has passed away) to make stepping stones out of rhubarb and hosta leaves.  I think about that day and Dorothy every time I walk along my path.  She had rented a cement mixer (not a truck) but an electric mixer for all the bags of cement and dirt we had, it was a marvelous day, spent with a bunch of girls getting dirty and creative.  

You can't have a garden without a couple of gnomes.  The first one is the way I picture Jim and I when we retire.  And it's coming faster than I expected.  The beer drinking gnome and golfer gnome reminded me too much of my husband and my kids not to have a special spot in the garden for them.

Janine introduced me to The Artful Garden off Hwy 118 in Bracebridge.  Every year The Patridge family turn their farm/pottery barn into an artists showcase.  Nothing better than having Janine, Arlene and Lynne up for a girls night and ending with a trip to the garden.  It is impossible not to buy something, I do try to limit my purchases every year :)  

Painting slate was a great afternoon with the kids and Rachel's friends.  Into town we popped to the art store to find out what kind of paint we needed.  And everyone got to paint their own rock.  (Andrew might have been too cool by then).  The amazing thing is these were done at least 15 years ago and they have lasted amazingly well, even the ones that are in the patio and stay out all winter.  

I have been trying very hard to get a picture of a moose,
this seems to be as close as I am going to get.
But I'll keep trying.

A lobster buoy from PEI


Stars and bears are everywhere in Muskoka.  Plastic, carved and real when it comes to bears.  And more stars in the sky than you can count.  Even stars to wish on :)

This is a pretend wasps nest, added in this year
and it actually seems to work.  Wasps won't
come near other nests.  Voila, real wasps gone.  
O Canada, does anything say Canada more than
the rocks, trees and water of Muskoka.  This was a little
gift from Dale Thom.  It is starting to show a little wear
and tear may need to try and make one next year.  :)
Jim and Eileen gave me this beautiful welcome flag
with a beautiful stainless steel flag pole that Jim made
and I'm sure that's a nice cabernet.

My garden is like my Christmas Tree when putting up and taking down decorations I remember special holidays, special people, and wonderful times.  In the spring and fall my garden brings back the same memories, planting with my mom, working with the family, gifts from friends, lots of discussions on the dock about the next project.  I wonder what I can talk Jim and the kids into doing next year.  And please when you are cleaning up your garden feel free to pass along any clippings of your plants to join my Muskoka Memory Garden.