Sunday, September 13, 2009

No Mow: No Blow:No H20

Royal Botanical Gardens
No Mow! No Blow! No H20
Sept 10, 2009, the Royal Botanical Gardens opened a new exhibit called No Mow!, No Blow! No H2O.
In a cedar hedge enclosed setting at the Laking Garden location of the expansive RBG, they have created three different landscapes designed to teach and inspire all gardeners. Moving beyond a wide range of beautiful gardens, the RBG visitor can view the three vignettes representing three styles of environmentally prudent gardens, to inspire us to rethink some of our well entrenched but ecologically poor garden practices. While we gardeners may think about what a wonderful part of God’s creation our gardens may be, we may not be conscious of what harm we do to Mother nature to get where we are.
The RBG’s new gardens show us how to have beautiful gardens without resorting to carbon spewing lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Watering can be all but eliminated with native and drought tolerant planting. Why bother with chemical fertilizers when fallen leaves and grass clippings natural, healthy for the garden and free. Once you have finished admiring and photographing the gardens and clever home/cottage style facades, you can flip open the mailbox at the street front of each garden for info on the waste of some of our past gardening practices and ideas for more ecologically practices.
Visit for hours of operation. While there check out the extensive list of workshops, special events, music and speakers held throughout the year. I could only wish that Bracebridge were closer to the wide variety of activites at the Royal Botanical gardens in Hamilton.
Although their gardens are great, the RBG is not just for gardeners.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Kenyan Woodworking

In August 2008 I had the opportunity to try woodworking with no power tools at all, certainly not my first choice. We were in Wongonyi village, Kenya. We had discovered that everybody walks everywhere and it is rarely more than a few dozen yards in any direction before you are going up or down. We had ordered sand and gravel for making concrete Biosand water filters. After the stone is crushed by hand hammers and sorted to the correct size, it would be carried in five gallon buckets on the strong backs of local workers.

This seemed like a good time to build some wheelbarrows. Wheels were ordered for the next shopping trip in town and the local wood supplier has some 3 by 4 lumber that was closes enough for our needs.
With Eddie doing the hard work and me doing the planning we set to work. The generosity of several stores in Bracebridge provieded many tools that we needed. A Fiskars pruning saw with Japanese style blade cut quickly and cleanly through the lumber. Chisels and hand plane from Muskoka Lumber came in handy when shaping the handles and cutting mortises. New spade drill bits from Home Depot were teamed with a yard sale brace for drilling holes.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Garden Writing

I came into freelance writing in a casual sort of way. My wife, Kathy, had been writing for The Muskoka Sun and one article concerned a patio that I had made for our garden. She casually referred to its construction out of recycled materials and what a great margain it was.
When I challenged her on her offhand comments for the time and effort involved, she suggested that I write my version of its construction. What followed was my side of the story describing several round trips to Toronto to bring the stone back to Bracebridge, hours spent cutting and laying and the indiginity of being referred to as "Pigpen" in reference to the clouds of stone dust that followed me from workplace to jobsite.
With one successful article in print, I offered to do a series on garden tools. This eventually evolved into my weekly column of tools and projects combinig some useful tips with a little humour chronicalling many of our home and garden projects.