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.
Where have we gone….?
In a word we have been eaten by the giant monster known as Christmas in a retail florist/garden centre/gardening and special projects/ emporium.
The season got underway innocently enough - with a field mission for dogwood, moss, hemlock, native yew, grapevine, birch and whatever I could responsibly harvest from the wild.
This year found me in beautiful Grey county going all misty eyed over the delicious wildness of that part of the world.
Once home with the bounty, we stripped the store naked clean (like only possessed Virgo bosses can insist on) and then strung over 5000 faerie lights through the network of vines and branches that wreath the shop and ceiling height .
Once the shop was transformed inside and the gorgeous new stock brought in and the back yard stocked to the eyeballs with greenery , garlands, wreaths and more, I should have had time to sneak in a quick blog post ,right?
Not so’s you’d notice…
Short of giving up the 3 or 4 hours of sleep I get at this time of year- ie up at 2 a.m for market ,shop ’til I drop in the dark wee hours , back at the shop at by 10 ish and then begin the real work of the day- there really isn’t a minute that is not scheduled.
Here is just some of what we packed in since the beginning of November
A complete garden reno to prepare a house for sale.
Planted a few hundred bulbs around the neighbourhood.
Recreated our wonderful forest in front of the Bloor street Club Monaco and hung 500 feet of garland.
Doing such a great job with the Bloor Street location that we did all of the other Club locations including the gorgeous new Yorkdale store.
Emptied then filled about 60 client urns on site and hung several hundred more feet of garland and lights .
Of course then there is the day to day bread and butter of being a walk in retail florist and garden centre. You know weddings, a back yard full of oodles of greenery and bijoux for holiday decorating, our annual Open House and two- count’em two -Urn Workshops !
I think there was a movie or two in there- one top secret - our lips are sealed , based on very popular supernatural book series and also ongoing work for the CBC show the Murdoch Mysteries.
As well ,yours truly appeared in two segments of a new HGTV series that will air some time in 2014 or 2015!
So really there simply wasn’t time for frivolities like blogging or much of anything else except collapsing at night.
So why am I showing up now?
Let me spell it out for you F-L-U!
I wrote one more cheque than my body could cash -
I am now at home, aching, sniffling and generally feeling sorry for myself.
I have scheduled 2.5 hours for the flu and so will rest withpaperwork , doing a blog post and maybe a load of laundry or two.
Seriously it has just been a whirl!
One of the highlights was definitely working with Club Monaco’s amazing visual team out of NYC
Talk about a creative and dedicated team!
It was so exciting and fortifying to be the”go to” for a group of fantastically talented people to provide all the greenery and holiday magic for the 5 T.O shops.
MY son Ace got me the gig in the first place.
He said to me while dashing from Bloor street while we were hanging garland to Yorkdale where he is the new men’s manager,
“Wow Mom, it is so cool to see all these emails going back and forth from New York saying “ask reed, reed will do it, reed is s your go to”
Big smile on Mama’s face.
Its hard to say what part of the job was the best- the creative, the ego boost or knowing that you didn’t mess things up for
your kid with his bosses!
While Martha and I have been running around the city outdoors, back at the shop Nicola, Sophie and Trish have been keeping the home fires burning.
We have just about finished the last of the outdoor work , so its time to rejoin the inside girls and settle into the Holiday workshop like the good little elves we are .
We are creating our signature woodland greenery arrangements , mossy delicious faerie gardens , one of a kind door wreaths, inserts to pop in your urns hellebores, amaryllis and paperwhites done-up with twigs and trimmings and of course our sumptuous floral designs.
Whether you are looking for a little hostess gift or dazzling someone special you are sure to find something in the shop.
In January there wil be no excuse for not keeping up with you, gentle readers but I guarantee I will be posting in my pjs or if I am really a good girl- in a bathing suit on a beach.. .one can only dream.
But in the meantime my 2.5 hours for the flu are up and I am back at it -fever be damned.
See you in the sparkly store soon I hope- just please don’t ask me to put up more faerie lights- 5000 is quite enough!
Watch for Twitter and Facebook updates, as we bring home the Holidays for the 25th year.
Craving a fall palate of wine reds and burnt orange? How about fall’s favourite green – chartreuse. Or starving for a little garden inspiration? We can’t wait to start getting our hands dirty again planting up fall urns. The girls are dreaming of dusty miller’s smokiness and lime veins planted with lime coral bells. Concord barberry with rich green ivy. And burnt orange mums with red rooster grass.
The store is stocked up and ready to help make all your visions for fall come to fruition. And if you need a little extra, how about getting the E of E ladies to come plant them for you. As the cool nights start putting your garden to rest, E of E can come a tuck it in. We’ll come clean up your beds and give them some fresh nutrients to get them through the winter. Remember, your plants are quiet but they aren’t dead. Make sure to give perennials (especially evergreen trees) some water before the ground freezes to help bring them through the winter – frozen water is akin to drought.
Fall is a fabulous time to prune many trees and shrubs. Pruning can help bring back shape to mop like Japanese maples, open up canopies so shade gardens get better air movement and a little dappled light, and remove diseased or sick branches before winter ice causes heavy branches to snap them at problematic locations. Let the E of E ladies show your trees some love with a fall prune.
Also, spring bulbs are almost in. We’ll update everyone when they get here.
Dreaming of cooler temperatures and vast swaths of flowers?
Hard to believe that we’re thinking of spring, but it’s time to order bulbs. Last year we dipped our toes back into the market of spring bulbs, and had some success. So we are going forth into bulbs again, but doing it on a custom order basis.
How does it all work? Come into the store and check out the catalogue and we will help you find exactly what you’re looking for and put in the orders by the end of the month.
Not sure where to start?
Possibly a garden of alliums?
Or a carpet of scilla?
Or some cool green and whites to keep spring feeling fresh.
Orders must be finalized by July 31st. So please get them in as quickly as possible.
And remember the garden center is still swinging along. Lots of plants, and lots of sales! Come in for a visit.