New Beginnings...from Euphorbia Obessa
by Kate Middleton
by Kate Middleton

Life-long organic gardener and composter. Created media relations and public education strategy on climate change for David Phillips at Canada’s Weather Service in 1982. Media relations for The United Church of Canada, Canadian Council of Churches, South African Council of Churches and World Council of Churches mid 1980s. Toronto Backyard and Community Composting Program 1990-97 Officer and Advisor. Garden coach Council Fire, Regent Park. Founder and contact Almaguin Highlands Seedy Saturdays. Columnist Great North Arrow. Blog

Horticulture society executive. Resident high risk crime area.

February 18, 2019

Dear Readers,

Some time has passed since my last missive, so I need to reintroduce myself. I am Euphorbia Obessa (in my current more corpulent form). I have another name for my more swelte months of the year Tracellium, but no one is certain of when the polar vortex will return back to its Arctic roots.

There have been winters when we, in this northerly region, have been the same, or warmer than Toronto, almost 300 kms to the south. Not so this winter, and from the looks of the weather maps, California and maybe Mexico are also becoming acquainted with the vortex.

About ten years ago I left Toronto, and my dear gardening friend Eleagnus Multiflora (whose blooms intoxicate women) to start my major garden opus in the land of my ancestors, and copious cousins. In 1982 I created the public education and media relations strategy for Canada’s Senior Climatologist, David Phillips, at Environment Canada’s Weather Service. It was then I told him I would move back to the land of my ancestors to help fulfil the destiny of the area that was to become one of the main agricultural areas of the world as climate change progressed.

So, here I am. After travelling for thousands of kilometres on backroads I found the land of my dreams. Acres of pasture, woods and fields with a very rich botanical diversity. Creeks, very tiny, run through it and tumble over a 20 foot drop in a spring, or major storm waterfall. An enormous white wolf pine shelters this area that leads into a small flats where moose have the old heave hoe each year over a demure female hidden in the background.

Above the falls, the flats are filled with oxalis that fill the area with white blooms in the summer. All around is a wet area teaming with fallen trees and rotting stumps bisected by a mysterious area of no growth divided by a dike that leads to a year round spring black with eons of soil mixed deep by moose and deer hooves.

It sounds like heaven, does it not?

Imagine my surprise, as I unloaded yet another carful of perennials on my driveway, that I was nearly hit by an ATV full bore, driven by a local hunt camp owner. It was hunting season, and I was in full hunter’s orange, to avoid any mistakes as I perused the woodland.

“You’re on private property,” I said, “And you’re trespassing!”

He skidded to a stop sideways and then explained he was looking for his dog Daisy.

“Where should I take her?” I asked. Hmm, just a bit down the road at the hunt camp.

I still puzzle to this day why there are living hunt camps in the middle of rural residential properties. A rifle or shotgun bullet travels much further than most properties, many acres. The township has yet to give me a reason for this oversight.

So, then began my “welcome”, gangs of youngsters on ATVs stirring dust up off the road, pick-ups, cars, etc. doing the same. I had thought it was just a busy area, but, in retrospect realize that, and the visits at nights when I slept over, were not the regular state of affairs.

And, the plants thrived. The field, mostly bare of trees, now has spruce and Tamarack over 30 feet and clusters of hazelnuts along the forest edge. Scot’s Pines have sprung up, and in the last two years, fallen over due to wind, or just, as it appears, very rapid growth. The candles each year can grow to over a foot. It has afforded me some privacy from the ever-present tradition of curious neighbours, but I am somewhat behind clearing up all the falls and cutting them down to size for campfires.

Our current horticultural dilemma is, “With the seven or so new brewaries in the area, and a perfect climate for hops, why do we have only one hops grower?”

A few of us do grow hops, but mainly for ornamental use or as a sleep aid in a little pillow or nightime tea.

Will hops soon fill the air? Or will the market gardens expand first? We wait with baited breath.

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