Habs Fans Boo Stutzle in Ottawa

Habs fans

I’m wondering why Habs fans felt the need to be so disrespectful and tacky when playing the Senators in Ottawa last night.

The loud booing by the considerable number of Habs fans every time Senator’s superstar Tim Stutzle touched the puck was annoying and disrespectful. The booing was a result of Habs’ Brendan Gallagher’s comments after the last time the two teams met. Basically, Gallagher alleged that Stutzle fakes injuries to draw penalties. Ironically, I saw a statistic today that showed Gallagher and Stutzle have the same number of diving/embellishment penalties, meaning Gallagher’s criticism is the pot calling the kettle black, so to speak.

The penalty in question was a dirty, potentially career-ending knee-on-knee hit delivered by Nick Suzuki. Stutzle did lie on the ice after the hit but recovered sufficiently to continue his shift. He did miss two subsequent games due to the injury though. Who remembers way back at the beginning of Sidney Crosby’s illustrious NHL career when Don Cherry ragged on Crosby for his “turtle” reaction that drew penalties? I do, I bet Crosby does too. He appeared to learn from that criticism; perhaps Stutzle will learn something from Gallagher’s comment and the booing fans. Stutzle’s obvious talent will draw enough hits from frustrated opposing players, he does not want to encourage more.

Ottawa began last night’s game with a touching (and yes, respectful) tribute to the late Guy Lafleur, a hockey legend that led Montreal to most of their Stanley cups. Lafleur never played for the Ottawa Senators, the gesture was to show respect for a Habs hero. To top it off, Senators goalie Anton Forsberg stopped 44 shots on net last night to lead his team to a (nother) win against Montreal.

Habs fans tacky and disrespectful in loss to Senators

Back to the previous game…Suzuki apologized for the hit the next time he met Stutzle in the faceoff circle. Well before Gallagher’s rant and the Senator’s victory.

Now that’s classy on Suzuki’s part.

Habs fans could learn something from both examples of respect and sportsmanship. And lose the tackiness.

March Break Fun

This past week I spent many days enjoying the company of my grandchildren in some march break fun. As many pandemic restrictions have been lifted here, it was great to get out and enjoy the adventures offered in the Ottawa area. A few years back I complained that my own kids were past the march break years. Fast forward six years to a few school-aged grandchildren to share in the fun.

Sugar Bush

One of our adventures included a short drive to Fulton’s Maple Sugar Bush. Two years ago I planned to take some of my grandkids there, but Covid shut down that idea. Fast forward to 2022 where the sugar bush is now covid compliant as most activities are outdoors. The pancake house, previously a favourite for breakfasts and lunches, was permanently closed, assumed to be a covid casualty.

For those of you not familiar with this attraction, let my pictures show you the details. Activities included a horse-drawn wagon ride around the property and plenty of play structures to keep the kids intrigued.

Taffy on snow was a highlight for my granddaughter and me too! My grandson not so much. He wasn’t tempted by the gooey, sticky, sweet treat, created as we looked on.

march break fun

Educational posters around the site explained the process of making maple syrup well. From the tree to the buckets to the sugar camp, and finally to the products sold. We learned too that it takes 40 buckets of sap from the trees to make one bucket of syrup!

March Break Fun at the Experimental Farm

Our next adventure took place at the Agriculture and Food Museum within the experimental farm. Spring is the best time to visit here as the baby animals are on display. From cows, donkeys, and horses to goats, chickens, alpacas, pigs, ducks, and sheep.

Here too covid precautions were in place, with many indoor exhibits closed or modified to avoid possible contamination.

Outdoor Fun with Snow and Water

My eldest grandson loves to play in snow, ice, water, and mud. Most five-year-old boys do; I remember that well as his father enjoyed the same things as a kid. As well as walks through our neighbourhood trails, March break fun this week included a lesson on how to build a dam to block water when warm weather began the spring thaw.

After the outdoor fun, he dried off inside with a new dinosaur puzzle:

march break fun

Garden Consultations and Design by Gardens4u

gardening business

To cut back on the demands of my gardening business, I aim to concentrate on garden consultations and design services. I have enough garden maintenance to tend to within my own gardens at my home and cottage.

My knowledge and experience have grown (pun intended) considerably since the inception of Gardens4u in 2012. As an extrovert, I love meeting other garden enthusiasts to share knowledge in the form of advice and suggestions.

Although gardening is not an exact science, often based on trial and error, successful landscaping demands patience and perseverance. I believe I can help you avoid many of the costly pitfalls and errors, cutting both your time and expenses.

The fee for my services is twenty-five dollars per hour.

Location Limitations

My services for physical garden consultations are limited to the west end of Ottawa. This includes most neighbourhoods in the Kanata, Stittsville, and Nepean regions.

However, if you live elsewhere, I would be happy to provide you with a virtual consultation. This service is described below under the virtual design heading.

Initial Garden Consultations

As the British know (their “garden” is our “yard”) gardens and yards should complement each other. My initial consultation with you includes a “walkabout” of your property while discussing your short and long-term goals. In short, my goal is to help you achieve your goals, within your budget and both of our time limits.

I offer advice and suggestions based on extensive knowledge of what works and what will not work in our climate. I will also take pictures of your yard for a “before” view of your project.

After the Consultation

Virtual Design

I can provide visual proposals in the form of pictures. A computerized landscape program, uses JPEGs of the “before” pictures of a garden/yard to offer various suggestions virtually.

As mentioned above, modern technology permits me to offer this service for virtual garden design anywhere around the world! Although my knowledge base reflects plants hardy to my zone 4 to 5 climate, I would be happy to research what would work in your location, for your specific growing conditions.

Chronological To-Do List

If a decision is made to proceed with your project, I will provide you with a to-do list, in keeping with your allotted budget and time commitments. That way we can proceed at a pace comfortable to you.

Plant and Product Lists and Shopping

My services also include plant lists to provide you with guidance when shopping for plants for your project. I know which perennials, shrubs and trees are hardy to our gardening climate zones. Also important to know is which plants grow well in sun or shade conditions.

I will also share my recommendations on soil, mulch, and lawn products. These recommendations are based on my experiences (good and bad) with the many options available.

In some circumstances, I may be available to meet with you at a garden center to peruse options with you. As a landscape contractor, I get discounts at many of the local garden centers. In many cases, I can pass these savings onto you.

Planting Your Gardens

As my time permits, I will plant your gardens or help you plant your gardens. This will be based on your preference and budget, as well as your time and physical constraints.

Landscaping Limitations

I do not provide hardscaping services such as sidewalks, raised garden beds, patios, tree or large shrub removal etc. I do, however, have contact information for several reputable and well-referenced contractors for these types of projects.

Event Planning

I am also available to create unique plantings for summer events, within garden beds, portable containers, or both.

Conclusions on Garden Consultations

If my expertise in garden consultations, design services, or event planning appeal to you, please contact me for that initial consultation.

Spring is coming to my corner of the planet!

garden consultations and design services by Gardens4u
gardens4u logo

Winter Activities in Ottawa

winter activities

Although Ottawa can be miserably cold in the winter months, there are lots of winter activities to entice you out of hibernation during these months. Many of these fun winter activities depend on lots of snow and ice. Although I complain about the cold, I do appreciate the fact that it is necessary to create and maintain the conditions of the winter wonderland we live in here.

Skating on the Rideau Canal a Winter Favourite

Ottawa is home to the longest skating rink in the world. First created in 1970, the rink was the brainstorm of the National Capital Committee (NCC) chairman at the time. Dedicated NCC employees continue to maintain it annually.

Douglas Fullerton, NCC chair in 1970
Douglas Fullerton, NCC chair in 1970

The unique skating rink winds through the heart of the city, stretching for 7.8 kilometers or 4.5 miles of the Rideau Canal system. Opening day of the canal for skating has varied over the years from mid December to early February. This year, with the extended cold weather, the entire length of the canal skateway opened at once mid January. This is quite unusual as generally smaller stretches open as conditions change with the weather.

Ice Fishing on Ottawa River

This weekend we tried ice fishing for the first time. My eldest, almost five-year-old grandson has been bugging his parents to go, so his father (my middle son) purchased some equipment, and off they went. He researched a local ice fishing spot; Shirley’s Bay on the Ottawa River was the place to be. Grandma and Grandpa went as spectators to get our daily dose of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. What a gorgeous spot! Clear, azure blue skies and snow covered, wind-blown, frozen solid water for miles. Not that I’ve been to the moon, but trudging across the (relatively) flat surface that stretched for miles felt like walking on the moon. The horizon, dotted with buildings in the distance, as well as the sporadic huts and vehicles, brought us down to Earth.

The aforementioned NCC maintains numerous parks and related facilities throughout the Ottawa area. Cross country ski, snowmobile, snowshoe and hiking trails are plentiful and well groomed. Ski hills sporting fresh, powdered snow are just a short drive away within surrounding mountain ranges.

Without the cold weather and lots of snow, these wonderful winter activities would not be possible.

If you love winter sports, Ottawa is the place to be. Just dress warm!

Mud Lake: a Nature Lover’s Paradise

Recently I took my four year old grandson to Mud Lake, tucked in between the water filtration plant and Britannia beach in Ottawa. More of a (man made) wetland than a lake, Mud Lake is sure to delight nature lovers of any age. Also called the Britannia Conservation area, Mud Lake is maintained by the National Capital Commission (NCC)

Creatures in Their Natural Habitat

On our 3.5 km trek around the lake, we saw numerous friendly adult and baby ducks and geese, turtles, tiny frogs and tadpoles, huge bullfrogs, beaver dams (but no beavers) rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, chickadees and herons.

My grandson wanted to catch them all, but I convinced him to leave them there with their mommies and daddies.

Directions to Mud Lake

You can get there off Poulin, then Howe Street or by following Britannia Road to Cassels Street, next to the Britannia Yacht club. There are a few designated parking spots, but parking on either Howe Street on the south side or Cassels Road on the north side is easier and permitted. There are entrances to the trails around the perimeter of the lake from both sides.

NCC Rules

There are no dogs allowed and no bikes on the trails. These rules make sense as the area is supposed to be about conservation, namely the health and happiness of the wildlife that considers this area their home.

Although you are not supposed to feed the animals, the geese and ducks in particular were quite friendly, approaching us looking for food.

This aggressiveness is one reason you are not supposed to feed them. Creating dependence on humans for food is another reason to avoid feeding them our food. Ideally, they should be able to forage for any food they need to survive.

Respecting the natural beauty is an essential rule. No littering is obvious. Trails are well maintained and should be adhered to for protection of the fragile eco system.

When to Visit Mud Lake

Open year round, Mud Lake offers beauty, peacefulness and nature at its best throughout each season. Birds are predominant in the winter months, but the trails themselves are especially beautiful when snow covered.

Between Mud Lake and the yacht club, the elevated trails can be icy in the winter and spring though, so explore these carefully.

In the spring, migratory birds are abundant, in fact the area is know to bird watchers and photographers. The latest report shows 269 bird species!

In the summer months the wetlands come to life, full of all sorts of creatures. The trails are wide and easily manageable, even for seniors or baby strollers.

Favourite Moment

After our hike around the lake, we were enjoying a snack when a snake-like formation of geese approached. Mom was in the lead with at least 18 babies following along. They waddled ashore right beside us, climbed the small embankment and disappeared across the road…

Locked in with the Ladies

Alyssa Lyons, Michelle Knezovic, and Lindsay Eastwood are the ladies locked in to discussions on anything sports related, with Chiann Nobrega as the editor and producer. I became aware of this YouTube series because Lindsey Eastwood is a fantastic local hockey player.

I say local because she grew up here in Ottawa playing minor hockey, but spent the most recent years playing for Syracuse University in New York state. As their team captain I should add.

Lindsey’s dedication and enthusiasm for hockey is (and has been for years) evident to anyone that knows her or of her; her success is so well deserved. Lindsey’s parents are the quintessential hockey parents so prevalent here in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa, known for its tightly knit hockey community. When one of our kids succeed, we are all thrilled and proud. Thanks to Facebook and other methods of social media, we can all stay updated on their progress.

I do not know much about the other women involved, but if they are anywhere near as inspirational and knowledgeable as Lindsey is, this adventure should be awesome. Find out for yourself. Lock in with the ladies to check out their weekly episodes and subscribe to their success.

locked in with the ladies

Visit the Canadian Tulip Festival, virtually

Our Canadian Tulip Festival, an annual event here in Ottawa since 1953, is a true harbinger of spring. Thousands of tulips, in every colour imaginable, line the flower beds stretching along the Rideau Canal, the same canal, by the way, that becomes the world largest skating rink in the winter, but I digress. Back to the tulip festival…

The Canadian Tulip Festival was established to celebrate the historic Royal gift of tulips from the Dutch to Canadians immediately following the Second World War as a symbol of international friendship. The Festival preserves the memorable role of the Canadian troops in the liberation of the Netherlands and Europe, as well as commemorates the birth of Dutch Princess Margriet in Ottawa during World War II—the only royal personage ever born in Canada.

This year, thanks to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, a virtual tour of the tulips is available. There is an advantage to these restrictions; those of you who live too far away to visit the splendor of these tulips in person can peruse this international symbol of friendship and peace from your own home.

This past week, with Ontario taking baby steps to reopen their economy, we were granted permission to walk along the paths to view the tulips in person. That is as long as we are practicing social distancing and not loitering in large groups.

If the Covid police are out, as I’m sure they will be, it might be less stressful to watch the video…Enjoy!

Photo Credit to Jackie Heslop, Kanata Ontario.

What a Difference a Day Makes

flowering shrubs

Don’t you just love spring?  It seems every day something new is popping up in my garden.  Saturday we had a beautiful spring-like day and by the end of it my daffodils were blooming…..

Monday evening my magnolia was looking promising under the low light at dusk…

By noon Tuesday, a few magnolias were in full bloom, with bees buzzing happily from blossom to blossom…

Wednesday brought more blossoms with cloudy skies and wind, lots of wind…

Today the magnolia blossoms are soggy in the rain….

Matthew House Update

Donating

As a recent donor, I received this letter from Matthew House recently to update me on their status during the COVID-19 pandemic.  I thought I would pass it on to you.

Thanks to each of you who have supported Matthew House and the people we serve during this difficult time. We continue to be so grateful for the encouragement and support of our community.

Several of you have checked in recently and requested an update, so I thought it was time to bring you up to speed as to where things are at with Matthew House Ottawa and our programs amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks for your interest and concern.

Furniture Bank

Demand remains strong for our furniture bank services. After consulting with Ottawa Public Health, the City of Ottawa, and the province we re-opened a pared-down version of our furniture bank operations with physically-distanced pickups and deliveries. Our warehouse remains closed to the public, so we have developed a new system where we select essential items for clients and make curbside deliveries of furniture without the need for any physical interaction.

Our goal during this crisis is to furnish the homes of the most vulnerable families who are in dire need of furniture essentials, and so far so good: we have been able to furnish 8 homes a week since we re-opened. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue serving families in need.

Refugee Services

Thankfully, our residents and staff are following public health guidelines and have remained healthy.

Demand for beds at Matthew House has been very high, and in partnership with Bethany Baptist Church we have developed a protocol for safe intakes of new residents in order to meet the ongoing need for beds. We are grateful to continue welcoming refugees during a challenging time.

We and our residents miss our volunteers greatly, but we really appreciate the many ways that our community of supporters continue to help with groceries, prepared meals, grocery cards and online conversations with our residents.

Finances

We have seen a large reduction in income from our refugee services and (especially) furniture bank programs, due to the COVID-19 crisis. But thankfully, our losses over the last 6 weeks have been significantly offset by the generosity of our donors, a grant $10,000 grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation’s emergency relief fund, and a $40,000 loan and a wage subsidy (between 10%-75%) from the federal government.

While we continue to face many challenges and welcome your financial support, we have much to be grateful for!

How can I help?

If you are able, we welcome your ongoing support to help make the work of Matthew House Ottawa possible. Here are some ways that you can help right now:
Donations: you can give online here or cheques can be mailed to 380 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa ON K2G 6A1.

Become a monthly donor:

If you are open to it, please consider setting up a monthly donation to support our programs. The consistent support from our monthly donors has been a HUGE help during this time, and we would encourage you to give in this way if you are able. You can set up a monthly donation here – just click “donate monthly” tab at the top of the page. Call me if you have any questions: 613-255-0168.

Refugee Services:

If you want to support our refugee services program, please be in touch with Doreen at 613-262-3643 or dkatto@matthewhouseottawa.org. We welcome donations of grocery cards (or groceries and frozen meals) to help feed the refugees we have welcomed at the house, though we ask that you please contact Doreen in advance to make arrangements.

Furniture Bank:

If you have gently-used furniture you no longer need, please give us a call at 613-591-6681 to discuss options for a safe pick up. And please spread the word among your networks as well. [Please note that our furniture warehouse and showroom will not be open to the public for the duration of the pandemic, so drop-offs of donated items are NOT being accepted at this time. Please call furniture bank at 613-591-6681 if you have any questions.

Thanks again for your supporting the work of Matthew House Ottawa. I am so grateful!

May God bless you and keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy.  This is an unusual and unsettling time, but we will get through it.
Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions: 613-255-0168 or arm@matthewhouseottawa.org.

Sincerely,
Allan

Allan Reesor-McDowell
Executive Director
Matthew House Ottawa

Pruning dormant shrubs and trees

dormant

In Ottawa (predominantly zone 4) this is a perfect time to prune dormant shrubs and trees.  The timing is even more perfect if you are out of sorts self isolating or practicing social distancing as currently recommended by our government officials.

The trick is knowing what should and should not be pruned or cut back this early.  Here is a list of plants you can cut back NOW…

  • trees (it is much easier to see branches that need to be cut back before the leaves sprout).  Oak, ash, birch, maple, linden, walnut and fruit trees are on this list.  Beware, some of these trees will release sap when cut this time of year.
  • shrubs that do NOT flower in spring.  Leave the trimming of lilacs, forsythia, etc until right AFTER they bloom.  The shrubs you can prune now include hydrangeas, potentilla,  spirea, (with the exception of bridal wreath variety) smoke tree, butterfly bush, ninebarks, false spirea, and weigela to name a few.
  • shrubs grown for their foliage only (burning bush, willows, boxwood, euonymus, cedars, dogwoods, barberry, junipers, yews, etc)
  • roses, except for the climbing variety.  Cut back to 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud/leaf node, slanting the cut in a 45 degree angle, away from the bud/leaf node. (see picture below)
  • vines, (except those that flower early, like clematis) especially vigorous growers, can be cut back to 5 feet from the ground.  My golden hops falls into this category.  Left unpruned, it will take over my gardens, in one season.
  • ornamental grasses (cut back to 4 inches from ground)
  • stalky perennials (these should snap off easily at ground level) like coneflowers, daisies,
  • perennials that have died back to the ground, leaving mushy mounds, can be tidied up now.  Hostas are an example.  I cut my hostas back in the fall because I can’t handle the mushiness in the spring.

 

Many trees and shrubs do not need to be pruned, unless their growth is out of control or they have diseased, dead or crossing branches.  All such branches should be removed any time of the year, but while dormant it is easier to visualize the crossing or damaged branches.  Cut broken branches back to the closest healthy branch.  Cut diseased branches back to the ground.  Cut crossing branches back to where they no longer cross/touch another branch.  You may have to choose which of the crossing branches is the best one to keep.

Other garden chores to do early

There are several other garden chores you can get done early, as soon as spring fever hits…

  • edging can be done as soon as the ground is thawed enough to get the edger in. The same applies to making your garden larger or changing its shape.
  • perennials can be dug up, divided and/or moved as soon as the ground thaws too.
  • add compost or composted manure around your plants.
  • take cuttings from any shrubs you have pruned.  Dip the end into rooting hormone and put the cutting into a pot of soil.  I make hundreds of new plants this way each year.  They take a few years to reach maturity, but it does work.
  • clean out and disinfect any pots you emptied in the fall that you plan to reuse this season.
  • start annuals or perennial seeds indoors. My granddaughter loves to plant them and watch them grow.
  • clean out and replace bird houses.
  • rake your lawn, hard, but wait until it is no longer soft and soggy.
  • treat your lawn with weed & feed, preemergent crabgrass treatment, or grass seed.  You cannot treat for weeds and spread seed at the same time.  If you treat for weeds now, wait six weeks before adding seed.  Fescue is best in our area, grubs don’t like the roots.
  • powerwash verandas, decks, fences, patios, patio furniture and any other surfaces that get dirty/moldy over the winter.
  • leave the debris in the gardens though, as bees and other beneficial critters are still hiding there.

As new Growth Appears

Some plants, like most varieties of clematis vines, should only be cut back (to 4 inches) when new growth appears.  This happens sometime after the dormant stage and before the last frost date.

After the Last Frost

Some garden chores must wait until the chance of frost is gone.  I rely on the blooming of my forsythia to tell me when it’s time.  Mother Nature is amazing and the forsythias haven’t steered me wrong yet.  Here is a list of garden chores that should wait…

  • pruning climbing roses.  Cut lateral (side shoots emerging from main stem) shoots back to two buds from the main stem.  As above, angle your cuts. As the lateral shoots grow, tuck them into their trellis (or whatever they are growing against) horizontally.  They produce more blooms that way.
  • trim old growth from late bloomers like hibiscus only when new growth appears.  Every year I worry mine did not make it through the winter, then bang, they show up, just as I’m about to give up on them and pull them out.  My advice?  If you think yours has croaked, wait a week.

So, if spring fever has hit you (as it has me) get out into your yard and garden to get a start on things.  Take advantage of the social distancing restrictions to give your gardens some extra TLC!  Later in the season, when we are able to entertain friend and family again, you will be happy you spent the time now.

Just don’t forget to do your stretches first!  Your muscles will thank you.

feature (top) image credit to Pixabay