Monday, November 9, 2009

Short And Sweet

I must admit posting on my blog in the 'still of the night' is both good and bad. It's good...because it's quiet and peaceful : thoughts are lucid and's bad...because it's quiet and peaceful : thoughts are lucid
and free.

That's all, short and sweet.

Today's pic is a sample of work from local artist and my budinski David Irvine. You can check out more of his wild and fantastic art instantly by clicking ...and ya beddah do it!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Goose

So I've noticed lately: as in the last month or so - that my once independant doggy aka: The Goose has developed what appears to be separation anxiety.

Not totally unexpected given the circumstances. He's old for a Bully (Bull Terrier) and has lost most of his hearing and his ability to see well. Even more so in low light conditions. Night lights though are helping to a degree.
The breed itself has been used, mostly because of their sheer physical prowess, as bait or fight dogs in the horrific world of pit fights.
But Bullies have also had a large role as 'therapy dogs' due to their sweet and stable disposition. They are confident and comical - true companions. And Goose has lived up to all my expectations as a companion dog for the past twelve years.
But nowadays he's easily startled when touched and will bump his nose against me before breaking into a wag. After he's been fed he spends most of his time leaning against my side or lying across my leg until he falls asleep...just as he did when he was a puppy...never venturing far.
The only difference now is that once asleep his breathing can become quite labored if not sporadic. It makes for some long sleepless nights on my part. I always knew our time would have to end eventually. I've never gotten used to the fact that I will have to soon say good-bye to my friend.

Friday, November 6, 2009


The e-world is not to be taken lightly. Take email and 'text-ing' for example. Whereas a 'face to face' conver-sation is layered with personality (idiosyncrasies) and elements on a primal communication - though fast and efficient is really false economy. It lacks the depth and polish to truly represent you or your thoughts. It's like fast food. It's a 'stop-gap'. Only useful as a 'second layer' or 'back-up'. To rely on it as a first wave of correspondence is like playing Russian Roulette.

Actual 'words' during communication account for probably 10% of real conversation, maybe even less. True communication is an orchestra of complex elements such as posture, voice: tone and inflection and even hand gestures that really do the talking.

A sobering thought when you consider the recipient of your email or comment will instinctively and within seconds interpret and make a decision based solely on the typed word they are reading. Even the DELETE button will not save you once that message has been received, read and least not on the other end. It's a 'zero to sixty' world...text carefully my friends.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Taxi

I arrived at the address where someone had requested a taxi. I 'honked' but there was no response. I 'honked' again - nothing. Slightly annoyed I then walked to the door and knocked.

From the other side a frail voice responded..."just a moment".

I could hear something being dragged towards the door. After a pause the door opened. A small woman, easily in her nineties, stood before me smartly attired in a print dress and veiled pill box hat. She looked right out of a movie from the 1940's.

At her side was a small vinyl suitcase. The apartment looked sparse. White sheets draped the few pieces of remaining furniture. In the corner sat a single cardboard box brimming with framed photos and nic nacs.

"Would you carry my bag to the car", she said.

I took the small suitcase and stowed it in the trunk then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we made our way slowly to the curb...all the while she kept thanking me.

"It's nothing"... I told her. "I try to treat all my passengers the way I'd hope someone would treat my mother."

"Oh, you're such a good boy", she commented.

Once settled into the taxi she gave me an address and said..."could we drive through downtown?"

"It won't be the fastest way", I answered.

"Oh, I don't mind, I'm in no hurry...I'm on my way to a hospice."

I glanced in the rear-view mirror in time to see her eyes glisten over.

"I don't have anyone left... and the doctor has told me I haven't much longer."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

I then turned in my seat and softly asked ..."What route would you like me to take?"

For the next several hours we drove through the city. She pointed out the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. Then on to a neighborhood where she and her husband had lived as newlyweds, their first home together.

She had me pull up in front of a large sports outlet store that had once been an arena where she had gone dancing as a young girl.

At specific corners and landmarks she would ask me to "slow" as she stared silently into the night.

When the first hint of daybreak arrived she said, "I'm tired, we can go now."

We then drove in silence to the address she had provided. It was a small building. A large overhang covered the driveway. It seemed more like a convalescent home.

As I pulled to a stop two orderlies immediately approached from within to gather the woman. They were obviously expecting her. I retrieved her case from the trunk and carried it inside the main door. She was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?", asking as she reached into her purse.

"Nothing", I said. To which she replied, "You have to make a living."

"There will be other fares", I responded and then without thinking I bent down and gave her a hug. Her frail arms wrapped me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy", she said..." thank you."

I squeezed her hand before walking out towards the new day. Behind me the door shut.

It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly - lost in thought. For the rest of the day I could hardly talk. What if the woman had gotten an angry driver...or someone impatient to end their shift? What if I had 'honked' only once...then driven away?

As I replayed the events in my mind I came to the conclusion that... I don't think I have ever done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think our lives revolve around great big moments. But the reality is great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

"The above was forwarded to me and I felt it worth sharing."

P.S. Thank you Carol

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lonesome Highway

It was only a few years ago I was considering a lateral move from the insane world of the Film Industry into music video directing and production. That consideration was based on many things one of which was the music of jacksoul - which I was fortunate enough to see in concert.

The venue was the Rose Theatre in Brampton Ontario. We had front row centre seats. The music was powerful and moving and the concert felt more like being in the kitchen at a great house party. It was easily one of the most memorable concerts of my life.

Between songs I remember turning to my gf and whispering, " we are going to see every single jacksoul concert...ever." She smiled back in agreement.

Shortly after that concert Haydain Neale was involved in a horrific traffic accident that almost took his life. The story of his recovery and return is just as powerful and moving as that concert.

On November 3rd 2009 the first new single available from jacksoul, Lonesome Highway, will be made available for purchase on iTunes.

And the album SOULmates will be available in stores on December 1st 2009.

All proceeds from the sale of SOULmates will go to the Haydain Neale Family Trust. I urge you to click on the link provided above...if for nothing more than to feel good for a few minutes of your day. Turn up your speakers...and enjoy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Has To

New day - new month - no expect-ations.
This is the crossroad. This is where I set the cruise control.
I have my plan and I'm sticking. Nothing less.
The last few months...years even have been blurred by outsider agendas.
Will knowing all this change me? Possibly...hopefully...unfortunately... depends on whom you ask.

All I know for sure is life will be different from here on has to be.
This pic is a sand cast from Hydrocal.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Get Outta Dodge

Another Halloween eve is upon moi. And so is decision time.
Do I hang (no pun intended) with the Goose?...curtains drawn, lights turned low... my GREAT PUMPKIN dvd spinning in the background...or do I "get the #@* outta Dodge" before nightfall?

Way too early, very squirrelly...still undecided.
In the meantime I've plenty of cleaning to do around the house...scary 'nuff.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Flying Shoes : Part Deux

Regardless of the trigger there comes a time we reach a tipping point - an emotional saturation. You're done.

It might have been under bearable circumstances but more than likely... not so much. It could have been our own doing or we were dropped into the middle of a situation without warning.

But realization happens in a split second...and can't be undone. Just as you can't un-ring a bell. It's once again time to move to the front of the line. And with a deep breath you step forward.
All you need is the perfect foot wear.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gold, Yellow And Red

Knee deep in gold, yellow and red.

Smell of fresh earth.

The Rock Dove struts,

The black squirrel leaps with bounty.

Leaves fall - blanketing garden stems.

Footsteps swish and crunch.

Knee deep in gold, yellow and red.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


There are some things you can never explain such as what is pleasing to the eye of one and not another.

It's obviously very subjective but personally speaking I find spirals very pleasing and I try to incorporate some form of spiral in every design I draw and every landscape I build.

It may be subtle but it's always there - like a signature - if you know what to look for.

And the best example of a spiral is the Ammonite. Spanning back millions of years they are the most beautiful natural garden element I can think of.

The Ammonite fossil that resides on my desk is dated at 450 million years old.
This pic is actually a cast paver created from a mold using an assortment of genuine Ammonites. I love this piece.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Goin' Ninja

Today I'm on a mission. A mission to relax.

Okay I still have a pile of things to get done, around the house especially, but I also need to chill for a while.

So far things are looking good. I've gotten a fairly early start and I'll soon be out the door to deliver some invoices.

Next I'm back at it...looking at cellphones...believe it or not I ran out of time last weekend....ran-out-of-time-people!

I picked the model I want/need but now comes the part I absolutely suck at...deciphering the monthly plans. You know what I'm talking about.

If I can finally get that out of the way it's off for some (covert) research on the competition...yes I'm goin' NINJA. I will become the shadow on the wall, the wind that spins the leaves around your feet...completely unnoticed to all but the highly trained eye.

Unless of course someone happens to recognize me from across the street and yells , "Hey Skodaman ! What are you doing over there!?"

Which in that case I would have to respond at super light speed, drawing on my cheetah-like instincts and stammer...."uh, nuthin" I fleeeeee!

Another day...another step.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Karma Rules

It was a dreary day but there was still work to be done. I had promised the couple (mentioned in an earlier post) to continue liberating pieces of hand cut stone from their neighbouring soon-to-be-demolished home.

Well, I've pulled up about 90% of the Flag Stone and now I have recovered three of the five stone slab steps.

They turned out to be 6 feet long and approximately 160 lbs each. Yikes ! It's going to be an Advil night.

I got drenched during the rain but no matter come Summer these re-claimed pieces will be put to good use in the client's Zen garden - which I've yet to design...a minor detail.

I'm really excited about this project as I've been given total freedom.

I did have a minor run-in with a City By-Law official but all is well once again and harmony has been restored...Karma Rules !

Friday, October 23, 2009


As I wander my yard the steady drizzle and overcast skies make for a great backdrop to the amazing colours of the changing leaves. Not all have fallen and the leaves still in waiting are getting brighter each day. Bright yellows, bright oranges and deep reds.

The Choke Cherry has left a carpet of dark purple around the base of it's trunk. And the Silver Leaf Dogwoods have been stripped bare by the wind and rain which gave me the opportunity to find some of the straighter stems for cutting.

They are great stems for display. They retain their waxy red sheen throughout winter and are a great contrast to the snow.
This pic shows an older piece of work. A cast stone pumpkin tucked into a garden bed near my porch. It's been finished in antique copper.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Arghhh ! My once trusty Dodge Ram 4x4 has yet again met it's annual obligation for giving me grief.

I guess I shouldn't really complain as it's been logging many a mile this past few months with no relief in sight.

I treat it like any other tool in the shed or tool box and thus it's subject to some hard use with only basic care. ..tough love as it were.
But I'm no stranger to field repairs. And fixing parts on-the-fly goes hand in hand with this type of work..

But parts do wear quickly and continue to age regardless of how well looked after...just like people.

Just something else I have to consider replacing as time moves on.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Primal Bonding

The weather is getting a little cooler now... especially at night. Had frost a couple of mornings.

I don't know why but every year around this time I need to get my construction fix. Something about the crisp mornings that just begs for loud obnoxious power tools that grind, bore and beltch.

I own many and yes I put them to use these past few weekends.

The days I've not been working on a site I've instead been reclaiming some Credit Valley flagstone from the porch of an unoccupied home (with permission of course) that's being readied for demolition. Using a mallet, chisels and the obnoxious tool of choice - the jackhammer - always a crowd pleaser on a Sunday morning.

The request came from a couple that wants the pieces of stone...not anyone to do with the house so technically it's scavenging. But I think it's my moral duty to liberate these beautiful pieces of hand cut stone before the demolition crews arrive and literally pulverize the home in it's entirety simply to fill a bin or three.

The reclaimed pieces will now live-on as garden steppers.

The five foot wide step slabs are next...if I can ever remember to bring a dolly.

And this past Sunday found me with my Bosch 'bulldog' boring holes into a concrete pool surround. It was being prepped to install brass anchors for the new spring-loaded trampoline style pool cover - very cool.

Lots of noise, lots of dust, lots of bore holes - it was great.

The job took longer than expected but the majority of work was completed before dark and afterwards we celebrated Pagan style by consuming large portions of roasted animals with a side order of vegetation...and Pepsi. The only thing missing was a bonfire.

Primal bonding at its best.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stones On Stump

This being so short on time thing is really not helpful at all.

So here's another pic from the grab bag.
It's from my own garden.
Pretty self-explanatory but the grouping reminded me of some ancient setting.
Prehistoric eggs waiting to be overgrown by the reaching vine.
They'll be soon covered over - completely hidden - and then hatch in a million years into some giant reptilian critters, worthy of a Japanese Sci-Fi, that will stomp the crap out of cars and such...just a thought.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


No matter what you toss into a garden it's very hard to go wrong. I find the nicest gardens are directly related to how much the owner puts into it.

I don't think a 'class' in garden design is need to have some passion, real honest to goodness heart. And only then will the soul emerge through your efforts.

So, the moral of this story is to simply... go for it! Plant what you whatever you it an old baby stroller or an old clothes dresser. Just do it ! Or you can always call me...

Results do take time, usually years, but it's always worth it in the end. And how successfull you have been is directly related to how often you find yourself strolling your own gardens.

This pic is from a garden bed in my backyard.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Omega Man

It's been a while since I've created anything new. For someone that thrives on being creative this is a very neutral spot to occupy.

It's deafeningly quiet and solitary but not entirely uncomfortable. It's somewhere between where I was and where I'm ultimately supposed to be.

I'm like The Omega Man (remember the Charlton Heston film back in the 70's?) except without the chases, crashing cars and psychopaths - though my cel phone did take a crushing blow from some equipment this week and I did cross paths with some unruly characters in the line-up at Tim's.

I wonder if that counts? Maybe it was a sign? One thing's for sure I'm in the market for yet another cel phone.

So, I'm sort of on autopilot which is the reason for the old stand-by Booga pic. This guy is becoming the mascot. Except this particular image has new growth in the form of Snake Grass reaching skyward from its headdress.

I suppose there's a touch of symbolism there.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Well it's not the first time and probably won't be the the mood to write but with no time to do so.

Instead I'll just leave you with a pic of a Nasturtium gone 'commando' near my deck.


Monday, October 12, 2009

One Constant

I think the best composit-ions are arrived at after much trial and error and many different unrelated elements are incorporated.

In this day of instant gratification and the notion that one should just throw it away and start fresh I'm reminded of this particular grouping where the exact opposite approach was applied.

A gathering of rock, stone and plant life that would have much less impact as individual placements but when collected over the years and grouped in a seemingly random pattern around the one constant anchoring element (in this case the tree trunk) the picture comes together - it makes sense.

The same could be said of relationships. We experience and collect the shared events and memories of our time together, both good and bad, and when placed around a constant element, a committment, a wonderful composition begins to emerge in the end.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Beginning

As with every ending there had to once have been a beginning. I'm salvaging pics from many sources as I rebuild my files.

After designing, building and tending to my own landscape for so many years now it's interesting to see shots of how it looked on 'day one'...or maybe it was two.

This pic is of the area dividing my driveway from my neighbour's. It was taken around the summer of 2002. In it you can see the large blocks of limestone, or "Armour stone", surrounded by Japanese spreading Yew, Blue Arrow Junipers, some Fountain Grass and Black-Eyed Susan's all rising from a thick bed of pea gravel.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I always find it uplifting to encounter animals during my daily routine. The day started when a stray orange tabby cat approached me for some attention one chilly morning. It was a great start to the day. When he had had his fill of being scratched he simply trotted off...hmmph.

Later on I spotted a very young Deer munching away in a garden directly neighbouring a new clients fence. It kept its distance but was still great to witness...actually probably not so much for the owner of the garden.

And finally upon arriving home I found one of my garden regulars lounging in a thick bed of clover close to the back of the house. I decided to join him with my camera and a steaming cup of tea.
And though he did tune in to me with a twist of his ears he made no attempt to bolt. I like to believe that encounters of these types all mean that something very positive is in the air.
Today's pic is of that visitor.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Trails

Okay so here we are another year or so later since I started this whole blogging thing. And I have to confess it's been fun to express myself to so many readers using only a keyboard. Am I changing the world?...doubtful, but people are reading so that has to mean something.

I know it helps me to be writing.
So back to the topic at hand. The gardens have changed greatly over the last few days. The leaves are preparing for the colder weather by changing colour and beginning their descent that signals we are close to one of which is normally my favorite times of the year.
Fall is the time of thick sweaters, hot coffee on the deck and afternoon drives into the country to enjoy the last of the farmers markets.
Soon the neighbours we see regularly will go into hiding from the fast approaching winter and another year of our lives can be chalked up to experience. I hope yours has been a good one and if it hasn't my best wishes for a better one ahead.
For the next few posts I have a grab bag of pics to showcase. I'm still getting back on my feet after a computer meltdown punctuated what was hopefully the turning point to the free fall my life took this past Summer.
This particular shot is of a large Jade in a handcrafted pot that I spotted.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Though I haven't posted for several weeks I am still here...the earth has not swallowed me whole. Changes in my life are now well in play.

Soon I'll have it sorted...but for the time being thank you for checking in.
In the meantime the Goose and I are preparing for another Fall season. There's much to plan and even more to until next time.
Today is a pic of the view I get every time I arrive home.

"Sometimes you have to just jump and build your parachute on the way down".

- Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I really wanted to post this pic. It's of a garden I cont-ributed to by installing all the stone walls surround-ing the garden beds. The client did most of their own planting.

I just really like this shot. It's one of a large group of pics I took when the garden finally matured which I then presented to the client in an album during the off-season.

Recently I came across the following words buried between the lines in one of my notebooks.

" Lord, grant that I may desire more than I can accomplish."

~ Michelangelo

Words to live by? You decide.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

So It Goes

It's all very fleeting when you think about it.

Our favorite things blossom and peak and then retreat again. Building up momentum until the next time they flower. The downtime used to prune and channel the growth.

And so it could be said with everything in our lives.

This is a Clematis that has begun flowering in the garden.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Truce

Unless you are fortunate enough to have the proverbial charmed life then there will inevitably be times you need a break...a truce with the world at large. I think life in general is unforgiving - not for the faint of heart.

Rarely are we given second chances to get it right. We wade into dangerous territory everyday believing our wits or savvy will keep us safe and sound. Seemingly unaware every new decision, good and bad, ultimately sculpts who we become and where we are headed.

Today I'm posting a pic I took at the Japanese Gardens in Springfield Missouri.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Sometimes words can escape us and summing up how you look at life is no easy task. For me personally I haven't yet decided how I look at life. I have many an idea but they seem to be forever evolving as new experiences continue to wash over me.

Luckily it's easy to find inspiration in the words of others. I read this following piece a little while ago and I've been playing it in my head ever since.

I really wanted to post it so here goes.

"There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; The philosophy is kindness."

~ Dalai Lama

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Finding Treasure

I'm fascinated by the notion that as humans we are capable of tran-scending our primitive addictions and desires. I do believe it's simply the next stage of attainment and I also believe we are well on our way.
Not that you would ever notice outright since evolution is always in play like one big swirling soup.

This pic is of something I came across in a client's garden. It was hidden - out of the way.

It was apparent that I had stumbled upon something that was not created for exhibition or accolades and it felt like finding treasure.

I soon returned with a camera and took several shots. When I inquired about it I was told it was done by the client's young grandson during a visit.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Next Life

In my next life I think I'd like to come back as a rock. For one thing they get to exist every-where. They are used to build foundations that house generations of families.

Upon close observation they can tell stories of ages past. People of all cultures use them as places to sit or meet and even scratch artwork upon.

Rocks see and hear all and if you stop and think about it no-one dislikes a rock. In fact some people, myself included, are fascinated by rocks and study them endlessly.

This pic is a rock specimen I spotted at the Botanical Gardens in Hamilton Ontario co-existing beautifully with the surrounding gardens.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Destiny... Or Not

I'm not sure if I believe in destiny or not. After all it's too easy to give credit or assign blame to some unseen force. In fact I don't know much about anything except that we are all in the same boat. We all need to eat, sleep, laugh and feel safe. We all need to know we are not in this alone.

I think we have a responsibility to treat others well. To help out when and where we can. To be kind as much as possible. And to go out of our way to make sure others are free of fear. If we do all of that then the rest should fall into place.

Today I have a pic of sculpted planter heads I did a couple of years ago. I custom carve these and they range from two to three feet tall and have an open chamber in the headdress to install topical grasses or even a small palm.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Somewhat Unscathed

The new realities of my life are coming to light a little more each day. New situations bring new hopes and yes sometimes doubts. It's a balancing act worthy of The Walenda's...assuming I got their name right.

Again this week I was forced to face some new challenges of which I came through somewhat unscathed. But it seems every new week brings me yet another test.

Here's another pic from the backyard. Eventually I'm going to post some shots of the bistro patio and also of the shed. I just need to do some final touches when I'm able.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pretty Insignificant Stuff

Every day now I seem to be looking around my surround-ings with a new set of eyes. As the clock runs down on my time here I notice new things everyday...or I should say appreciate new things everyday.

A couple of days ago I watched as a Chipmunk darted back and forth playing hide and seek with the rain and taking shelter under the large Hosta leaves on either side of the garden bed. Pretty insignificant stuff on the grand scale of things but a priceless memory nonetheless.
This shot depicts the Morning Glory Flowers (Heavenly Blue) that seem to now magically appear anywhere in the yard.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some Twelve Years

It's a funny thing the way our hearts and minds work. What we assume we will miss about a loved one and what we actually end up missing are usually two very different things.

For example, when my mother passed away some twelve years back I knew I would miss our conversations.
But what really hit home...what really hammered me with the reality that she was gone was the moment I realized I would never again taste her Irish Soda Bread. Sounds strange I'll grant you that but it was the tipping point for me.
Sometimes it takes a while - days, months and maybe longer - to hit that tipping point but if you're human that day will come. It's all part of the process.

Here's another shot from within the backyard. This version is pre-pruned so it's a little scrubby looking.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Second Thought

I think it's safe to assume that at times we all take the good parts and the good people in our lives for granted. We generally don't give those aspects a second thought for the most part. "They will always be there" the general consensus.

Whereas we give the more negative or less than ideal parts of our lives way too much airtime. I guess it's just another quirk of the human condition.
I'm very aware of the limited time we are given and I've tried to do the right thing by others...especially those I'm closest to. But I'll admit I've not always been successful.
Today is another pic of the garden. This grouping shows a clump Red Maple surrounded by Hosta and butted up against a Fat Albert Blue Spruce. And by the way about the only way you can "buy time" is by planting mature trees. It's well worth the extra expense.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tree Light

It never fails to amaze me how many people don't take full advantage of their homes until it comes time to sell. I had a friend that renovated his bathroom to make it more saleable. And another that spent loads on landscaping for the same reason. Neither one considered doing it for the sake of their own enjoyment.

Well, what I find even more amazing is the fact that here I am doing the same thing. The house I've occupied for the past eight years is going on the market within weeks and I'm working to get it in pristine shape - inside and out - for someone else...the next owner.
Come to think of it that's all I've been doing for the past eight years. Not that it isn't in nice shape but you do get caught up in the day to day chores of running a house and loose ends have a tendency to accumulate.

All the real homeowners out there can relate I'm sure. It won't always look pretty but it is - or I should say was - home.

My pic today is another garden shot. As I mentioned in my last post I'm scrambling to collect as many photos as possible before I close the door on this part of my life. This is what you would see looking from one end of the deck or through the bedroom window.
Yes, I'm big on trees...lots of trees.

Friday, July 24, 2009


I never get tired of watching the rain. A massive downpour just hit my neighbor-hood so I went to get some garden shots as it began to lighten up.

Though I had to get back inside when the thunder and lightning started I was still able to get a handful of new pics.

The garden here is beautiful in the rain and it's one thing I'm really going to miss. I'll try and post as many garden shots as possible while I'm still here.

This pic shows my Buddha (praying for rain?) on the corner of the deck.
I also wanted to mention my StoneGarden email link is now closed and has been for some time but I added an email link on my profile page.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Right Thing

One of the best qualities I feel a person can have is character.

I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and was able to witness character first hand, albeit from a distance, earlier this week. And it couldn't have been more timely.

If I had to take a shot at a definition I would describe it as..."doing the right thing even when you think no-one is watching".

I find this image really calming .

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Once Forgotten

A friend of mine has a saying he uses when dealing with conflict within a relation-ship.

He would say... "downsize the problem and not your feelings for each other".

When faced with something overwhelming break the problem up and deal with it in pieces...together.

Try not to react to the problem as a whole by numbing or changing your relationship.

I realize it's all much easier said than done but if you don't at least try what does that say for what you had to begin with.

It wouldn't be the first time something amazing grew from a once forgotten place. As long as you keep the roots healthy it's never too late.

This pic shows a collection of plain stone bowls I sculpted some years ago...some as wide as 16 inches. They were each filled with an immature plant (Hens and Chicks or Hens and Chickens according to my friend Ceferina) then forgotten within the garden bed under a layer of mulch. They have since been re-discovered and are shown mature and in flower.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bleeding Heart

I truly believe the most powerful thing in this world is the resolve of the human heart. The decision to love and care can be unstoppable.

Multiply that by two people in the same relationship and you have a force to be reckoned with. There is literally nothing that can't be distance is too far and no obstacle is too great.

And yet it's also the most vulnerable. A broken heart can plunge one into darkness for years. And for some they will never fully re-emerge. And if they do they will be forever changed.

This pic is of the Bleeding Heart flower. A shade loving perennial that I have growing around the patio.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I think we all at one time or another have given some thought to things we would like to do or see one day. Well I compiled a list several years ago. It actually topped out at close to 100 items but here's an excerpt from that list...a random ten.

1. Live in Chang Mai.

2. Author a stage play.

3. Experience Stonehenge.

4. Witness the Aurora Borealis.

5. Learn to play the saxophone...for New Years Eve.

6. Take a working vacation in the Galapagos.

7. Volunteer at a prosthetics clinic in the Third World.

8. Film a documentary for the Festival circuit.

9. Learn Gaelic.

10. Christmas shopping weekend in New York City.

This pic shows one large garden boulder I made a few years back. I sculpted it using various products including steel mesh, mortar and various stains. This particular one is around four feet wide.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Time changes everything Time sculpts our thoughts, our bodies and ultimately our lives. And the lives of those close to us...if only by default.

Because of the complexity of human nature we really don't have much say in where we end up. We can only stay true, do our best and then hang on.

I've come to the conclusion, whether right or wrong, that it really is as fragile as a house of cards. There are no guarantees in life. It's never a done deal.

I read a great piece the other day. It went something like this.

"At the end of our life - as we lay in our death bed - we will not ask to see all of our accumulated material goods. We will only want to see those people we have shared our life with...the people that have been with us and cared for us. The people who have had a hand in shaping our memories and who we are. That is the only true gold. In the end absolutely nothing else matters".

When I need to gather my thoughts I sometimes visit an area called the Badlands. It's located near my home in Caledon Ontario. The pic I've included today is a dead tree that I discovered while exploring there. One could say it's time has passed but I would argue it's role has simply changed.

Friday, June 19, 2009


It's with some reservat-ion that I write this post. The past few weeks of my life have been some of the most reflective in years. I guess the best way to sum it up is by saying I've taken a hit in my personal life.

Anyone who has been around long enough might be able to relate to what I'm describing as I'm sure my situation is not unique.

It has definitely affected my creative momentum...for the time being anyway.

So now that all the cryptic stuff is out of the way I should mention that Art In The Open begins another season tomorrow, Sat June 20th and I'll be there bright and squirrely (well, squirrely anyway) setting up in front of the Rose Theatre in downtown Brampton.

Today I have included a pic of the Goose. He's having a 'bit of a relax' since his allergies have been acting up.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


The weather appears to have stabilized enough to get some veggies into the ground. I have my planters and garden beds sorted, now it's on to soil prep. For the containers I'll mix, in equal parts give or take, peat moss-vermiculite-soil-sand. This mix will support new plants or seeds keeping them damp and protected as well as enabling new sprouts to push through the mix without using up too much energy.

For those on a budget you can always swap plants with friends or neighbors. For everyone looking to start or add to a garden there is always someone that needs a garden thinned which means extra plants. It could be a perfect excuse to meet a new neighbor or give a much needed hand to an older one. So green thumb your way through your address book and start asking. For those really new to the garden you'll be shocked at the cost of building even a two by five foot bed.

This pic shows chives growing from one befuddled looking planter on the stone step to the deck.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Many Pieces

I'm back after a very physical week. The new gardens are falling into place quite nicely and the sculpted stone patio I've been working on is nearing completion.

This week I also acquired about a dozen or so medium and large plants for the deck. Palm and grass type tropicals that were freebies left over from a house resale.
The sellers of the property moved out leaving many pieces of garden art along with the potted plants which I found unusual. That is until the new owner informed me the sellers were also dissolving their marriage.

Always sad to hear but to see the personal touches like plants and garden decor abandoned really punctuates the situation.

Today I have a pic of a neighboring property that raises horses.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

All Zen

I spent the day focused on the garden. It was peaceful with a light 'now and again' rain. Come to think of it that's probably why it was so quiet...everyone smarter than me was indoors.
On days like this you're able to really zone into the garden. From the Robins scratching at the soil, the rising drone of a passing bee even my own footsteps on the grass... all sounds become bigger than life.

Not meaning to get all Zen but if you're having a bad day or need time to reflect I recommend getting your hands dirty in a garden bed.

I'm down to just a few more chores on my garden list and then it's on to sculpting.

This pic shows a newly created plant bed alongside the deck.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bare Bones

Landscape season has definitely begun and the clock is ticking. Meaning it will all be over once again before you know it. In the meantime I'll make the best of it. I've missed a few days worth of posts and honestly it felt like it was more.

For the last several days I've been digging, building and planting non-stop. I set a timetable for myself to complete a certain number of garden tasks before the end of May which is the reason for the long days.

I did get a small rock garden/vegetable garden built using an assortment of containers and rocks which was one of those tasks. It's all very bare bones right now as all the containers are empty awaiting soil and some stable weather. Actually I did plant one. A client gave me some raspberry plants this week that I grouped together in a wooden half barrel.

Here's another wacky tree pic.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Peering Back

Recently I had sourced some building material on Craigslist for a landscape feature I have in mind. Upon arriving at the arranged address I found a large gated entrance flanked by stone columns and garden beds full of Periwinkle. As my truck wound up the long gravel driveway I couldn't help but notice wild and fantastic pieces of art peering back at me from every nook and cranny.

I finally came to a stop at a clearing near a log home. In the distance I could see an open air workshop with an individual illuminated only by a shower of welding sparks. He stopped what he was doing, approached and introduced himself as the person I had spoken with earlier.

I got the impression he was a bit of a outsider type. I have to admit I liked him immediately. I soon learned that he and his wife lived in this hand crafted home on almost two acres of sculpted landscape. He was long retired and now simply created whatever his imagination and sometimes the scrap heap dictated. Even his house exterior was adorned with creations manipulated from off-cuts and discards.

There were rock carvings married to tree trunks, wind chimes cobbled from rusty car parts and bird feeders coaxed from knotted pieces of driftwood. And the whole property was dotted with natural stone staircases, patios and water features. It was a mirror reflection of his undefinable character.

Though I did get the impression he was not too keen on strangers so I was surprised that he invited me in for coffee and a tour of his home. Inside was just as interesting as the outside. Exposed beam ceilings, natural stone floors and solid slab doors were just some of features I tried to take in on my short visit.

Some two hours after arriving I was loaded up and making my way out through that same heavy black gate. And as it closed automatically behind me I pondered what are the odds of meeting someone that interesting again any time soon.

This pic shows three twenty foot totems that were poised over my parked truck.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Full Circle

Sunday was Mothers day and I wanted to share a story. About three weeks ago I did the road trip in search of retailers that might be interested in selling some of my work. One stop I made was in Toronto where I mis-spent much of my youth.

I went into the office of this particular business and recognized the names of the owners. It was the same family owned nursery that I went into around 1965 to buy my first Mothers Day gift which also happened to be my very first plant purchase. I was around five years old and our home was just around the corner . This nursery had now grown from a single room roadside shack, with a ten cent coke machine, into a muti-million dollar enterprise.

That day I bought my mother a tiny forty cent potted plant with my savings. All under the watchful eye of my father. I can still remember carrying it all the way both hands. It had two variegated leaves but can now only guess as to what it was. My mother absolutely loved it and sat it on a little saucer then arranged it perfectly on the kitchen window sill just above the sink.

Though I didn't make a sale that day the lady in the office did melt into a big smile when I told her the story.
I named my landscape company after that street I grew up on. Life really does go full circle.

Friday, May 8, 2009


I can appreciate that everyone wants to make a buck. But I have little patience for the lawn aeration companies that go door to door pushing their service.
Lawn aeration is basically the punching of holes through the top couple of inches of your lawn/soil surface. The theory being it lets water and oxygen reach the roots...a good thing.
The machine they use to punch the holes is in many cases a gasoline powered rental with no noise or emission requirements...not a good thing. The tines on the machine are more than likely contaminated with weed seeds and various insect larvae that have been picked up along the way from every other house visited...a bad thing.

By allowing this machine to run over your lawn you could be playing host to a new generation of weeds and insect pests for years to come...a really bad thing.

Alternatively you could purchase a bucket of Red Wiggler worms and free them on your lawn. They aerate naturally and their castings condition the soil organically. It's also more efficient and cheaper.

This pic is from an ad I found. It read something along the lines of... Tree for sale...I'm selling it because I don't know much about trees. "Hmmm."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Big Weed

Today I made my first trip to the recycle center. Once I begin pruning and clearing out garden beds I'm left with a huge amount of cuttings and such. Not to mention the shrubs that didn't survive the winter. Today I had nine large bags of leaves and brush and half a truck bed of branches and cuttings.

There is a lot more to do but I try to work in sequence. I wait to pull all the new dandelions from my lawn until a few days of rain softens the ground. I also wait to cut my lawn until after the big weed pull.

Some neighbors started cutting two weeks ago which means they probably sliced and diced all those new weeds and broadcast their remnants across their lawns. If you take the time to pop out dandelions in the early days the re-occurrence rate is drastically reduced. Otherwise it's like the gift that keeps giving...all summer.

Not a good thing unless you don't mind waking every morning to hoards of people from the old country bent over your front lawn picking dandelions for tea. But then again you can always call me. I can't do much for the zillions of new dandelions but I can haul away all those people in my truck and leave them in the woods for you.

In tomorrow's post I go Neanderthal on lawn aeration companies.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ready Aim Garlic

I started growing roses (Climbing Blaze) a few years back and now have a well sized root. Each year there's a show of beautiful bright red blooms during the summer months.

But for the last two growing seasons I've watched the leaves being chewed up by aphids. This year I plan to fight back...with garlic.

I'll plant a few cloves around the base. It apparently repels aphids...who knew? Now hopefully the Goose won't take a liking to the garlic.

Here's a pic of a Blaze flower.