Thursday, July 03, 2014

Staying Happy

Well I haven't been here on my own blog very much of late, but only because I really hate staying indoors during the summer months.  Not a lot is happening around here actually.  My small family doesn't get together very often, so there was no family gathering for Canada Day.  We're a bit widespread and it gets more difficult to convince some family members to make the effort to meet.  I miss the happy days when we would gather with all of our kids at my parents' home.  The cousins would all run off on their own down to the creek.  The adults would sit on a jumble of chairs out on the lawn having a cup of tea together sharing the usual stories of what we'd all been up to.

I visit my father on the weekends, but his dementia is worsening by the month.  This past Saturday he was quite surprised to hear that he was my father!  We're in the process of having him transferred to a new care facility, and the one we have in our sights has staff trained specifically for residents with dementia, and he would be able to stay there for the rest of his life unless he required full-time hospital care.  It looks very promising, so we're hopeful everything falls into place.
My father was always very enthusiastic about life and never let a day go by wasting it in some lazy fashion.  He was always busy, even if it was riding his bike for miles for relaxation.  It's a hard thing to visit him now and see his depression, his scruffiness and his constant complaint that he's now only existing, not living.  He's 91 this August, and I'd really like to see him in a place where he is happier.   Fingers crossed he adjusts well to another change.  It's impossible to explain to him so that he understands and retains the information that we're moving him to a new home permanently. 

During this time, my garden has been a bit of a refuge.  The plants there are a bit on the green side at the moment.  The grand spring flourish of colour has subsided, and now we're into the hot weather and the next set of flowers seem slow to mature.  
I was happy to see that the little bush (above) I rescued from my parents' home a couple of years ago is, in fact,  a black currant bush.  Years ago my mom presented a similar tiny bush to my son telling him it was a black currant.  My mom used to make delicious black currant jam, and I don't think there's a better jam in the world.  So tangy, and sweet!  That bush took a long time to produce any berries, but when it did, they turned out to be gooseberries ... so disappointing.  I am not a fan of gooseberry anything, so we leave those berries for the birds. 
I found the above tiny bush struggling to survive in a shady part of my mom's garden, Mom probably shoved it into the ground in a desperate attempt to fit all the plants she had brought from her country home into the small town lot.  A big pile of tree branches had been thrown on top of it through the winter when I found it, but I felt compelled to heave everything off it and dig up this brave little plant.  I recognized it as one of Mom's berry bushes, and I feel quite attached to it since I saved it.  After a couple of years in a sunshiny spot of my own yard, the bush has thrived and grown, and this year has produced berries ... lovely dark black currants!  I've never made jam before, but perhaps this is the summer to learn.
This is my son's clematis on his arbour ... the entrance to his secret pond garden. 
As soon as he finished his exams, he was finally able to clean up the pond and return his shebunkins and goldfish to the outdoors.  The garden around the pond needs some work, so I'll save that for another post.
Secret roses in his secret garden.  This rose bush did not look well after the winter.  I cut away dead stalks from about two-thirds of the bush, but now the remainder is looking healthy, and these buds are finally plumping up.  Even though this is my son's garden, I tend to spend more time caring for it than he does :]
The shed garden ...

And my favourite garden this year is the shade garden beside the patio ...

I moved my free roadside find fountain into this garden.  It looks nice with the water catching sparkles from the occasional drop of sunlight through the leafy canopy, and it's so nice to hear the trickling water as you sit outdoors.  The birds like it too, and we often see goldfinches and grackles stopping at it for a drink.  One young grackle squeezes in the bottom for a good splashy bath!  I like the dark coolness of this garden with the bright flashes of white from the astilbe and pink & white fuchsia.  The ferns behind and the bark nuggets across the ground give it that woodland feel.

And look how nicely my mossy stump is filling in!  I'm thrilled that this simple project worked out ... it's just how I envisioned it.  The astilbe (above) is scented and smells quite spicy in a cinnamon spice sort of way.  My parents used to have a very bedraggled looking flower called "Night-Scented Stock"  (or stalk?).  It always looked fairly sad, but the scent from it filled the air on a humid summer night (and only at night).  This scented astilbe smells very much like those night-scented stocks, and when I walked out early in the morning this past weekend when it was so humid, it smelled wonderful.  Once the breeze picks up, the smell drifts away.
 Thanks for stopping by and listening to me ramble on again about not a whole lot ;)
Happy Fourth of July to my American friends, and I hope everyone stays safe from Hurricane Arthur.  Enjoy your weekend folks!


  1. It was a delight to stop by for a while and read your lovely post and drink in all those gorgeous photos of the beautiful flowers! They are fragrant balm to the soul! Thinking of you as you grapple with your father's situation. xx

  2. Wendy...I so get why you want to be outside during this season especially after the brutal winter we all had. Your garden is so spectacular! Your shade garden with your mossy stump is stunning especially with that astilbe! WOW! Astilbe is on my list for next year. And what is that plant growing in the foreground of your shed shot?????? Love that too! As well as every single bloom you have rocking here! I hope that everything works out with your dad's new care facility. I do know how things shift and can feel how my family is shifting already as some of my siblings children are getting older. Sending you a giant hug this weekend and thank you for taking us on a garden tour in your beautiful refuge! Nicole xo

  3. Wendy, I am sorry to hear of your father's declining mental health. I went through that with my mother and I know how difficult it is to see one you love, who was so active and happy become quiet and resentful with occasional outbursts of anger. It's always hardest on those who love them. Your beautiful gardens certainly do make a wonderful, peaceful refugee. The flowers are beautiful. Remembering you in prayer. I hope you have a good weekend.

  4. Your photos are absolutely beautiful! And it sounds like your Dad and mine are on the same track. My Dad is in a nearby Nursing Home. He has dementia as well, but at this point, he still knows who I am, and that's a plus.

  5. I'm so sorry to hear about your dads declining health it is such a sad & desperate situation to be in. I do hope the new care home works out for you all, I know the relief this can bring. On a happier note I am thrilled the plant you re located from your mothers garden turned out to be the blackcurrant. Your garden is looking as lovely as always. Take care xx.

  6. What a lovely, bittersweet post, Wendy! My Dad had Alzheimer's - it is a difficult journey, I know..I am wishing you courage and hope. Your gardens are lovely and I can imagine sitting in that little shade garden on a hot summer day, listening to the fountain. How wonderful that you found the black current. Happy 4th - we always stay home with scared pets :) xo Karen

  7. It's really not surprising that you want to be outside in your beautiful garden at this time of year Wendy, it's a glorious place, and I'm so happy for you that your Mom's blackcurrant bush is thriving - I love the jam too! Seeing and/or hearing a water fountain is so very relaxing and therapeutic, I find.
    I am so sorry that your Dad's health is now declining so rapidly - perhaps when you get him moved he may brighten up a bit - I do hope so. I really feel the sadness on reading of your Dad's health situation and am so very thankful that neither of my parents' or Jeff's went through this lonely lost experience: I'm sorry!
    Take good care of yourself and have a lovely weekend, xoJoy

  8. Hello Wendy, it's so sad to hear about your Dad, but what a beautiful tribute to him from a loving daughter. I hope he can be settled into his new home very soon.

    I love that you rescued your Mum's blackberry bush! I hadn't made jam at all until about a couple of years ago, when I tried Nigella Lawson's Chilli Jam .... so easy using Jam Sugar (not preserving sugar) and now I make all my jam in exactly the same way. Add same weight of fruit to sugar in jam pan, squirt of lemon juice, bring to a rolling boil, and boil for ten minutes. Done! No faffing around with frozen saucers and thermometers! I can taste the sweet sharpness of your blackcurrants already ... I like all things gooseberry ... fool, crumble, pies, ice cream!

    Your garden is gorgeous and I love the mossy stump! Great idea.

    Thanks for visiting me earlier, you're always welcome! Hoping to be a bit of a better blogger from now on ...

    Love Claire xxx

  9. You're absolutely right to get specialist care for your dad, it's heartbreaking isn't it to see their decline. I remember how awful it was when I realised my mum didn't realise I was her daughter. The memories fade, you may find his words disappear but I can tell you this, the love never dies. Take care my dear :) x

  10. Your garden looks wonderful Wendy, your mossy log is doing so well isn't it. Glad that your son managed to get his fish back into the pond for the summer, I am sure that you will all enjoy his efforts. You already know the rest from our conversations. xx

  11. I know it's very hard for you seeing your fathers decline Wendy but you are doing all the right things, I'm sure he will be much happier in a specialist facility where they can understand his needs, I hope the move goes well and he settles in quickly. I love the pictures of your beautiful garden no wonder you want to spent your time outdoors, I have blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes, it looks like the blackcurrant aren't doing so well this year but last year I had enough to make blackcurrant syrup and it was delicious used as a cordial or as a sauce on desserts. I also made redcurrant jelly and that was lovely and didn't last long so I will be making more as soon as the berries are ripe. The mossy stump is looking great! :) xx

  12. Hello Wendy, I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad's decline, and will keep my fingers crossed for you and the new home as it sounds perfect for your Dad, also he will get all the care he needs and that will be peace of mind for you. Beautiful flower pictures. especially the mossy log.

  13. Hello Wendy
    I went through quite an experience with my mother when she was in a nursing home with Alzheimer's so can sympathize with you dealing with your Dad.
    The garden is a great place for solace and you have some beautiful plants that you've nurtured.
    Sending a hug to cheer you up.

  14. Isn't it funny how a family falls apart after the grandparents are gone? I hear so many stories about gatherings in Colin's family (at grandparent's farm). But I haven't even MET all of his cousins (let alone their wives and kids). Luckily MY Grandma is still alive and well (in her own home) so Mom's family still get together for birthdays and holidays. The problem is being over 4 hours away now.

    The garden is beautiful. Don't be afraid of jam, it's easy.


  15. I'm so sorry your dad seems to be deteriorating. Dementia is such a cruel thing.

    Making jam is not difficult, and there is a great feeling of satisfaction when you have all the newly filled jars sitting on your counter. They are almost as nice to look at as they are to eat!

  16. You have such a beautiful private garden. A place enjoy and sip tea in the quiet splendor of your own backyard. I don't believe I've ever had black currant jam -- tea yes, jam no. I have jam making friends that share with me and I share homemade vanilla back. Enjoy your weekend.

  17. I really hope things work out and your Dad manages his move happily. Your garden is beautiful. I don't like gooseberries but gooseberry jam is good!

  18. My goodness your photos are beautiful! I'm sorry about your dad - we went through a similar experience with my father-in-law. It's so incredibly hard. He would get so upset when he couldn't remember things and it was so hard as he started forgetting everyone. My thoughts are with him - hoping the move does him well. Yes, you should definitely try canning! It's not hard at all and not as awful as I once believed it would be. :) And enjoying the fruits of your labor.....delicious!

  19. Wendy, I'm sorry you're dealing with your father's dementia, that is hard. I hope a new place will be good for him. Hope you are able to duplicate your mother's jam too! the flowers in your son's garden are beautiful. And your mossy stump is looking very old and mossy -- perfect!!

  20. Hi Wendy,

    I'm sorry to hear about your dad's decline, but you are doing the very best you can for him, and I'm sure he feels that, although he may not be able to express it. When I read about families losing touch, my heart aches, as I am so far away from my two siblings, their families, my parents, and now, my only daughter, Liberty, who is living with my sister and her family, and I cannot be near them on an every day basis. I'm thankful that I did get to spend good, quality time with them all this spring, though, and hopefully, Liberty will come to visit for a month this summer.

    Your beautifully tended garden, so lush and green and colourful, must be such a pleasure to sit in. Gardens in Canada are so very fresh and pretty due to your rainfall in the summer, as we don't get a drop for at least 7 months every year, which does have its consequences! I love the quiet quaintness of Ontario's green and gorgeous gardens and yours must be such a treat!

    Thanks for sharing and hope you have a lovely weekend enjoying all your loveliness.


  21. Wendy, I wish you the best of luck getting your Dad into the best facility. I know what you are going through. My Dad is in a nursing home as well. Enjoy that beautiful 'refuge'. It's important to take time for yourself to stay strong for your Dad.

  22. I am sorry to hear about your Dad's's so hard on loved ones. I hope the move will help both of you. Your garden (or your son's garden) is beautiful. Balm for the soul, indeed.

  23. Hi Wendy, so sorry about your dad and hope you are happy with the new facility grandad had dementia so I know how hard and sad it is.... thinking of you...
    Gail x

  24. I'm keeping your Dad in my prayers. I know how hard it can be to lose your health when you get older. I hope you're having a good week and enjoying some nice weather. It's hot here in Florida....but I love it! Summer is my favorite season! sweet hugs, Diane

  25. I'm sorry to hear about your Dad Wendy. I hope he is happy in his new home <3

    Your mossy stump is looking brilliant! Your garden is beautiful, you've done so much work in it!

    Sarah xx


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