The New Season Begins….

Ah, Victoria Day weekend….. truly the start of summer to me.

This year, the weather was magnificent, with lots of beautiful heat and sunshine. We had a houseful of guests – so the weekend was full of delicious things cooking and baking, corks popping, guests laughing, the hot tub humming.

Spring and summer have always been my favourite seasons, and now even more so.

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The back garden has been so lovely, with wisteria and lilacs blooming. I wish I could bottle the smell of our back yard right now.

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I am so amazed watching the garden bloom to life. I’ve never really been a nature-watcher, so this has been a surprising thing for me. Watching the plants bloom, the trees bud, seeing them change every day. I love watching the clouds and the sky. The sunsets can be so beautiful over the lake too.

The old Jo never really had time or interest to watch these things. Now I find them fascinating.

Not only are the flowers and trees lovely, but I have my relaxing little back oasis. We have changed the back deck a little bit, and our guests seem to love it. So do I.

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This lounge chair. A great book. A glass of Niagara wine. And the hot tub. This could keep me happy for days.

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But the front garden is in the middle of a major transformation. Last week, our landscape designer and her team were hard at work – uprooting the old garden, tilling the soil, getting ready for new plantings. There is still some work to be done, but we are getting there.

Here are some pictures from before the work started.

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The garden was overgrown, and several bushes and plants did not survive from the past winter. There were a few too many white hydrangeas for my liking, too. You can’t see them, but there were also lots of really big rocks in the garden – ones we couldn’t even see under the bushes. Our landscapers had to remove a lot of rocks, one tree, and another huge tree stump.

What we wanted in our new garden was something a little simpler. One that would accentuate the house, a garden with a bit of structure. I adore contemporary gardens, I love their simplicity, elegance, and feeling of space. But they really don’t work with a house like ours. So Tina, our designer, incorporated some contemporary plants and grasses into the garden plan. We also included some lilac trees, which are very special to me.

The result feels more spacious, and I notice my house more now, rather than the overgrown bushes and hydrangeas.

Here is the current stage we are at with the front garden.


There are still some more plants to go in, and mulching still has to be done. Our lawn needs work as well. But these things all take time…..something I am realizing about many things in life, actually. The plants need time to grow, to fill in, and bloom. When the lilacs bloom, and our pink hydrangeas come out, there will be more colour. We also have dogwoods, which have vibrant red sticks in the fall.

Patience has never been one of my virtues, but I am learning. No matter how strong my own will, nature needs time.

There is something about starting over fresh, something very symbolic about it. My move to Niagara, opening the B&B, and starting this blog has been a completely new start for me. We have now been here over eighteen months. The first year, the initial period of adjustment feels complete. Now I feel more settled.

I feel at home.

Last year, we made the inside of Highbrook “ours”. This year, the garden will start to be ours too.