A decade in the woods.
Unbelievably it is ten years since we started spending our summers in the woods. I've been writing about it here for most of that time. The cottage we inhabit, has been in my husband's family for generations and is one of the few original properties left here on the lake from the early 20th century. Most have been torn down and replaced with larger, more modern homes. This cottage is summer-only and come late Fall we are craving the luxury of proper insulation and fewer vermin so a move back to the city can be less heartbreaking than you would think.
|Lake sunsets. I've collected many over the years.|
|Benefits of having a trailcam - you catch the blighters when no-one is there.|
Some summers have been spectacular, like the long hot summer of 2012. Others rainy like last year when, as a result, our gardens never looked so good. We used to see a lot of hares grazing in the mornings but now we are more likely to see a fox. Already this summer we've seen the porcupine, a raccoon, the mink on the beach, a ruffed grouse and chicks and deer. Some summers bring an unexpected glut of one particular bird - goldfinches one year, woodpeckers the next.
Similarly last year was great for foxgloves. They seemed to grow everywhere. Wildflowers come back every year and our favourites are the trilliums, especially the painted trilliums, and the pink Lady's-slipper orchids.
|We await the return of the pink Lady's-slipper orchard every Spring.|
My love of gardening has grown with every summer here and I've learned a lot from my mistakes. There are huge challenges - not least the rocky land, fierce winters, short summers and bugs. The rhubarb patch we dug with our in-laws on one of our first visits here - is still going strong- but a terrible place to visit because of the mosquitoes. (Worth it for a crumble though.) Safer territory are the raised beds we've built around the house, one for herbs and one for vegetables - rocket, cucumbers and beans this year - all from seed.
|The raised bed of veggies from left beans, cucumbers and rocket.|
I've tried to keep cottage-like plants around the foundations with perennials such as foxgloves, hollyhocks, monardas (bee-balm), hydrangeas (the blue Endless Summer, the cone-flowered Pinky Winky and a Little Lime,) poppies, lavender and cone flowers (echinacea). I've even got a wisteria I bury in a grave every winter.
Some plants have been here longer than us such as hostas, martagon and day lilies, iris, cornflowers, shasta daisies and lupins. Newer ones have been acquired to overcome the challenge of shade such as astilbies and heucherella (my current favourite plant). This year I've moved into shrubs (I think it's an age-thing) with red and gold berberis or barberry as they call it here; Siberian cypress which spreads sideways rather than upwards and a beautiful emerald and gold euonymus. I dream of a cutting garden for summer bouquets and I'm trying out Ammi majus though they are quite slow growing from seed. I'm hoping my friends' Livingstone daisy seeds will enjoy a hot Laurentian summer.
|Feeling smug after a swim.|
|It really did look like this. Our faces were purple with the light.|
|Literally on Golden Pond.|