This year, I celebrate my 28th year as a florist.
February 13th, 1986 found me standing bedazzled, up to my elbows in flowers, in the beautiful old Eliza Doolittle Flower Shop on Queen Street East.
I had wandered, shell shocked, into floristry, when my marriage crashed and burned, and the irony that my very first day on the job was all about celebrating love was not lost on me.
24 hours later, amidst the petals that were all that remained of hundreds of fragrant and colourful blooms, I realized I had found love again.
No, it was not just the flowers, beautiful though they were, what had truly captured my heart was the joy of being of service, creating something exquisite to express love and caring.
That’s what we florists do, you see, we translate feelings into flowers. Whether it’s joy or sadness, love or loss, regret or celebration, welcome or farewell – our job is to bear witness to lives unfolding.
This year, Valentine’s Day comes just before Family Day – a much needed long weekend in the middle of a winter that really has had teeth.
We all are a little battle-scarred and struggling to be the best versions of ourselves, therefore I think that a day to celebrate love to launch a weekend to celebrate family, is a heck of a good way to kick misery to the curb.
So celebrate in earnest the love you have in your life and the family that surrounds you – whether that love is a hot romance, steady burning flame or just the love of dear, dear friends.
Whether you go home to a spouse and kids, a devoted roommate or, like me, a dog and a cat – be grateful for whatever love and family you have.
Shout it out
Sing a song
Do a dance
Write a poem
and… if you do want to say it with flowers, I would be delighted to be of service!
You may have thought that the bloggers of East of Eliza world had packed their trunks and left for the outer reaches of this wonderful planet, never to tickle keyboard again. Fear not, we are all here, admittedly somewhat distracted by all manner of jobs requiring our attention. We have been scurrying about unpacking, stocking, building, fixing, organizing, and as always, creating in order to make this festive season at the shop as lovely as ever.
As is the tendency at this time of year, Chaos has been making frequent visits, arriving unannounced with a far larger suitcase than we had hoped for, and staying a little longer than we had intended. But, faint hearted we are not. We have negotiated the storm in with outlandish and ardent hope that all will be well. With the help of a few bungee cords, some very strange outfits, an unfailing spirit of adventure, and just a bit of duck tape, all is as it should be. Indeed, in a parallel universe, they will sing songs of our inventive ways and audacious attitudes. Well, perhaps not, but we think they should. At the center of it all, our Fearless Leader reed, has turned herself inside out, sideways and back again to make sure everything is as beautiful as our customers have come to expect. Here are some examples of what we have been up to:
For all our customers who have us wrestle their urns into seasonal loveliness, we are running a week behind. Do not dismay, for we are feverishly working all hours available to us to catch up.
We could give you a list of reasons for our tardiness, which might include such things as;
a broken down van
not enough staff
China’s off her food
falling into a wormhole in which the compass only ever pointed East whilst gathering Juniper
why bore you with such trivia when we think the most important, the most delicious and the most unequivocally beautiful reason is this..
Meet Arlo Jack Russell Zaidlin, Reed’s grandson, four days old and just perfect.
We will be having our usual OPEN HOUSE this weekend, Saturday,30th November and Sunday, 1st December. There is all manner of winter greens, berries, sparkly treats, wreaths etc in the back yard, as well as mixed arrangements, Amaryllis, Ilex berries, to name just a few of the goodies in the store. Warm cider will be served, along with some nibbles for sustenance. We are especially pleased to announce that Nicola will be making guest appearance and helping us in the store on Saturday. It will be very lovely to have her back with us for the day.
And so, brimming with happy thoughts of Arlo Jack, seasonal jollies and only slightly barmy.
til the next time which knowing us, faithful readers, might be valentines day,
per all of the E of E gang
E of E
I’m here to talk about loving care in The Secret Garden.
The other night…your May 24th into May 25th…there was a frost-warning. Which meant that many of the more sensitive growing things were at risk. We were worried, because of course, each and every one of them are our friends. We would not be who we are were it not for them. We are always saddened when one of our guests expires. So the idea of so many of our green friends being at risk was causing duress amongst it. You see, we’re not able to do anything about the circumstances and conditions of The Secret Garden. We live here, it’s our home…but we’re not the caregivers. Lovely humans are. Led by, of course, by Reed and her band of noble helpers.
That snapshot above? That was taken of her the following morning after most of The Secret Garden had been carefully ‘wrapped’ in tarpaulins, with fiery heaters then ignited under them. Enclosing everything was a monumental task, even for them. But they did it. Thanks to some help from friends and a lot of meticulous work, The Secret Garden was protected.
The roaring furnaces that made possible the protection of our green friends could not be left alone. It was necessary for someone to remain in The Secret Garden overnight. Fortunately, The Guardian remained at his post all through the night. As he protected the growing things, so we protected him and his gregarious companion Brogan. (Some insistent raccoons discovered how strong the bonds are between Faeries and Those Who Tend The Secret Garden; they’re rambunctious critters, but we have our ways with them.) Above you can see where he slumbered while all around him, heat moved in its own dance, according to its own music.
Just as our human friends love The Secret Garden (clearly as much as we do), we love our human friends. Please take a look at the snapshot album below to see all the devoted effort they went to to protect all our growing things:
|Garden Centre Frost Sleepover, May 24/25, 2013|
Yours in Secret Garden warmth,
So. Our ‘Secret Garden’ adventure this spring began with China’s take on things. Hmm…
Look; I actually like China. She’s a fine specimen of a cat. We have the odd adventure together. (Outside; we Faeries don’t venture indoors. Not good environments for us.) She’s all right in my book.
But she knows diddly about plants. And flowers. And shrubs and trees- I guess you get the picture. You see, when the Secret Garden at East of Eliza’s comes alive in the spring, it’s really for our benefit. The Faeries. Even if the humans don’t understand this, and think it’s all about commerce
So while China’s greeting was a nice enough place-filler, on this post (yes, the two-legged big ‘uns are still rather ‘indisposed’ with all the work required to maintain the wonders of the place), we’re going to be expanding things a little;if we can work out an arrangement with the store’s version of Queen Mab, we might be coming back occasionally to infuse you all with more literary Faerie dust. Give you some insight, explain, maybe even introduce you to some elements of our little world that you may not have been aware of.
Today’s topic is thyme. Thyme has so many little joys to bring to anyone who has a relationship with their garden, or container, or even just their kitchen, for that matter. Not only is it reliably lovely, but can be very hardy once established and very practical in its uses. There are plenty of varieties to chose from, according to both your needs and fancy.
The ground-covering varieties are frequently used between the stones of path way or patios. These grow in a low, creeping manner with a height somewhere between one to four inches, a delicious, aromatic carpet for your toes as it doesn’t mind being trod on. ‘Woolly Thyme’ is pleasing to use for such purposes. It has a dense, mat-forming quality, it is grey/green in colour with tiny soft hairs on the leaves. There are also the more mound forming Thymes such as ‘Golden Lemon’ with its yellow and green variegated leaf and blissful aroma, or ‘Wedgewood’ Thyme, prized for its beautiful foliage. These are wonderful as both borders for beds or as a bit of delicate spill for your containers.Most varieties bloom, tiny flowers on mass in white, or a wide range of pinks and purples. ‘English Thyme’ (thymus vulgaris) is the most common of the family, as well as the most often used in culinary adventures. It has a neat mound like shape and can grow to the height of about 12″-18″. The care of this little gem in you garden applies to most of the Thyme varieties available to us here in Toronto. It enjoys the sun and lots of it, and happily for those of us who live in this neighbourhood, poor soil with good drainage.
Although it may survive part shade for the garden season, it won’t establish itself as a permanent addition to your plant community. You can throw an extra layer of mulch over the plant for protection over the winter, but do make sure before doing this that the ground is not wet or soggy in any way. Thyme likes things dry and the roots will rot very quickly in this scenario. Once it is happy, it is hardy and will return each year and take over the space you give it. Thyme will ultimately grow in any old nook and cranny, so long as the conditions are right, because for all its domestic uses, it has its wild side. It is, after all, what you plant to invite Faeries into your garden. If you choose to ignore this little bit of lore, so be it, but be warned; you may just find yourself on warm summer’s evening, slipping off those tiresome shoes to walk barefoot on Thyme and find yourself dancing in the light of the moon. This is when you’ll feel very close to us Faeries.
Yours in The Secret Garden,
Happy Mother’s Day from all the resident faeries in East of Eliza’s Secret Garden! (And thank you to the kindred artist Julie Fain for capturing the spirit of our mostly-hidden world on this special day.)
May your mom have all manner of Love showered on her; motherhood is the manifestation of Nature and all that is good in the world and faeries most especially revere it.
A visit to The Secret Garden will provide you with an abundance of alive and bountifully-growing items to do that showering. Better yet, bring your mom in for a visit; fairie whispers will be bestowed upon her.
In the spirit of sharing, here is a photo of one of my favourite residents of The Secret Garden:
Blessings to all,
Nerida (Secret Garden Faerie)
P.S Soon –very, very soon– we faeries will be sharing our world with you on a more practical level, offering up information and insight into what you can find here in The Secret Garden. We love our growing-things, and want you to be the best caregiver to whatever you decide to take home with you. After all, that’s what faeries do: help bring beauty into the world.
See that mobile display of feline gorgeousness below? That’s me. China. The resident cat at East of Eliza’s Secret Garden. (Sometimes, when there’s been a particularly large amount of l’amour flowing through the store, I prefer the moniker La Chine, but then I always was a romantic sort of gal.)
As all the two-leggeds have been so-
Well, I’ll be blunt: they’ve been so busy getting the place ready for garden season (Mom getting up at 2 or 3 in the morning to make the trip to Market with her glorified grunt-boy several times a week, shopping like a maniac, filling her van with an endless assortment of goodies, all of her dedicated helpers working their buns off to display and tend for all this wonderful stuff she brings back) that there’s simply not been any time to post here on the EofE blog since the ‘bikini’ one earlier this year. You remember: written at a time on the calendar when gardening was something dreamt of in the far, distant future, whenever the snow finally vanished?
So here I am, filling in for Those Who Feed Me to present to you a smattering of photographs giving you a hint of what our Secret Garden looks like as of today. (The aforementioned ‘grunt boy’ took the snaps. Between you and me? I’ve got teeny, tiny crush on him.) If you click on a photograph, you can see it much better.
As it’s Mother’s Day this weekend, let all this serve as a reminder to you to spoil your moms. (My kittens don’t remember me, but that’s the life of a cat…) Come into our Secret Garden and I guarantee that you’ll find just the right thing to fit the bill.
Yours in cream (that is, bring me some, not that I’m bathing in- Oh, never mind…)
P.S. I overheard someone call our little living sanctuary a ‘curated collection’. Naturally, I had to use it in the title of this post.
P.P.S. For more photos, check out this Picasa web album.
Finally, we thought we’d spoil you with this ‘moving picture’ tour:
I promised a bathing suit clad post didn’t I?
I did manage spend 10 glorious days in January on
Anna Maria Island just outside of Sarasota on the oh so astonishing Gulf coast of Florida.
So where’s the vacation post? I was having way too much fun to even think about work or blogging.
Here’s what I will say about my holiday- Holy Bio Mass Mother Earth!
Just a few scant years after the disastrous BP oil spill this extraordinary planet we are so privileged to call home is working overtime to repair the damage.
Never in all my time as a devoted amateur student of Nature have I seen so much flora and fauna .
Plants still dazzle me and although most of what I saw in cultivated spaces was familiar there were a few I did not recognize among the usual array of hibiscus, crotons, bird of paradise, ixora and the like. A beautiful tree with leaves like the sea grape -round leathery and blooms that looked very like hibiscus save for the fact that they began as buds deep red and changed to pale buttery yellow as they opened!
Oh and the wild areas – nature preserves, State Parks and even just along the highway, nature had my head whipping this way and that. Of late I have been trying to cultivate a more Zen like in the moment attitude and curb my virgo word loving obsession to name and know everything therefore I deliberatley DID NOT bring any books with me.
Since I dropped my Iphone in a toilet my roaming data plan was of no use either to cheat with!
The result alas no latin binomials to taunt you with- no pictures either !
So the Flora and now the Fauna
Firstly, the birds were amazing, migratory species and permanent residents abound.
I added at least 40 to my life list ( that is if I actually kept one!).
It’s hard to say what was the most exciting sighting – the 4 wood storks casually standing on someone’s lawn or the great blue heron perched on the roof above them.
No actually the I think it was listening to night hawks and wondering what species of owl was hoo- hooting in the large pine trees on the edge of the beach on the night of the full moon.
The flocks of green quaker parrots, phoebes, ospreys, bald eagles, red tail hawks, wood ducks, ibis, egrets, bitterns, king fisher- nah hands down -it was the saucy white cockatiel I met in Everglades City. First he made goo- goo eyes at me then climbed up my arm to my shoulder into, with nary an invite, the front of my t-shirt from which he had to be gently but forcibly extracted!
Skinks, snakes, teeny tiny ‘gators and whoppin’ big 14 footers, dainty little Florida sized raccoons, wild pigs, white tailed deer and a divine encounter with a river otter were just some of the inland animals we saw.
Combining two of my most favourite activities- horseback riding and critter spotting on a 4 hour trail ride through the Myakka River State Park was just heaven.
Last but by no means least the Ocean – We started each day with a long beach walk- Anna Maria boasts 9 miles of wide white talcum powder beach on the side we were on.
The water was a shade between turquoise and green and actually warm enough, for hardy Canucks used to the Great Lakes, to swim in .
Most astonishingly, the ocean just teemed with life.
I am not naive enough to think that all is well in the aftermath of 2010′s disastrous spill and I know from reading there are still hundreds of lives and livelihoods affected.
I suppose what this abundance of life made me think most of is what the earth must have been like before we humans started stomping all over it with our distorted notions of “dominion over all other life forms”.
We continue to wreak havoc and yet still our beautiful Mother Earth does not turn her back on us.
I am reminded of a quote from an First Nation’s elder at an early post rachel Carson environmental forum, when asked what we can do to heal Mother Earth , he replied “Stop hurting her”
So forgive me for my tardy delivery on the bathing suit post but I am still digesting the wonder of ten days of bliss in Eden feeling and bit starved on our more austere Nature diet here in the frozen North.