Lightning Strikes Too Close to Home


I have a weird and very frightening story to share, with permission from the victim. It all started with a phone call. I was at the cottage, enjoying a campfire. I went inside momentarily to refresh our beverages, so just happened to be close enough to my phone to hear it ring. When I answered, I heard “I think I’ve been struck by lightning!”

To put it mildly, the next few minutes were intense.

WHAT! Where are you?

I’m fine, not even sore, don’t worry.

I raced down to the firepit with the phone on speaker mode so hubby could hear the details too:

Taking advantage of the fact that his young children were not home to help, he was standing on scaffolding to trim cedars in his backyard. Dark clouds and thunder in the distance alerted him to an approaching storm. It was not yet raining and the clouds were a good distance away, so he assumed that he had a few minutes to get in the house.

Apparently not.

The next thing he knew, he regained consciousness flat on his back, ten feet from the scaffolding, with rain beating down on him. He had no recollection of what happened but his distance from the scaffolding discounted a (simple) fall.

He felt no pain, so like the dedicated employee he is, drove himself to an extra night shift as scheduled. When he called us the job had been canceled, so he had time to share the few details he could recall with us.

Our phone call disconnected a few times, so I started messaging him…

I lost you again. If you feel any symptoms, even mild ones, go to Emerg!!

From Aunt Vickie (a nurse in Texas): When i worked burn unit (for years in Houston) I saw that. No outward signs but messed up electrical conduction of heart.

Maybe tomorrow

Make sure you do. We love you, that’s why we’re (family and friends) bugging you to go.

I know, I just hate hospitals

The next day he went to work but halfway through the day started feeling pain:

My back is killing me now. I’m sore everywhere, but my back’s the worst

Uh oh, all over your back or specific spots?

A dull pain or sharp?

What were you doing today?

Not sharp pain, it’s hard to tell.

Working. My new nickname is White Lightening

If the pain gets worse, go to ER. Wouldn’t hurt you to go get looked at, x-rays etc, make sure no internal injuries

I’ll see how things are tomorrow. I’m not going now

Did I ever tell you you’re as stubborn as your Grandpa?

Lol. I’ll go in the morning. I just hope I don’t have to wait forever. (Like he did a few years ago when he broke his arm at work, waited four hours to be seen, then 24 more for surgery!)

Go early then, the longer you wait, the busier will be. If you tell them you were struck by lightning you shouldn’t have to wait long.

Early (he did listen to something I said) the next morning I got the news he was in the ER at Ottawa’s QCH. He had only good things to say about the staff and was seen right away.

Although his phone was turned off so no one could reach him for updates.

Are you waiting?


I waited a few hours but when no one had heard any updates, (including the coworker that dropped him off) I phoned the hospital. Yes, I pulled the Mom card! His nurse assured me they were doing lots of tests, just waiting for one last result, and that everything looked good.

What a relief!

The Doctor’s Theory

The theory is that, because of the way he was braced against the (metal) posts of the scaffolding, one safety-boot-clad foot on each, the voltage went up one leg to his knee, (at that point both of his knees were swollen) across to the other knee and out the opposite foot. Because he lost consciousness, he was then tossed like a rubber doll across the yard, landing on his back, thankfully on the lawn. The rain most likely brought him around.

Upon release from the hospital, he was picked up and returned to the office (where his truck was) where he promptly fell asleep until the next morning.

What to Do (And Not to Do) in a Thunderstorm

These tips may seem obvious but are critical for safety. In this instance, when you hear thunder (often before you see lightning), drop whatever you’re doing and get inside!

Beyond Grateful

Wow, how lucky could he (and we) get? It certainly could have been much worse. Very few lightning victims walk away. Although still very sore and physically exhausted, he is lucky and grateful to be alive.

We are beyond grateful to everyone that called to check on him and pitched in to take care of him. You know who you are!

Not to make it all about me but it’s a good thing I’ve already got gray hair!

Photo credit:

Frost Warnings, How to Protect Your Plants

frost warnings

Many locations on the east coast of Canada and the USA have had frost warnings the past few nights with more to come for the next few days. Some annuals tolerate a light frost, others not so much. Of course, the first frost date varies across the globe, sometimes year to year within the same area.

In other words, frost is unpredictable.

You can extend the season on both ends by heeding frost warnings in your weather forecast. In the spring I tend to start my containers early to ensure I get the annuals I want. If a frost warning is issued, I move the containers into my garage, off the (cold) cement floor, for the night in question. The same technique can be used in the fall when a sporadic early frost is in the forecast.

These are ways you can protect your annuals.

Sheets, Towels, Tablecloths, and even Plastic

Beds of annual (those that you have to plant each spring) flowers can be protected with bed sheets, towels, or even tablecloths. I get the cheap tablecloths from a dollar store, the ones with the felt-like backing; they work great. Sticks or stakes can be used to prevent the covering from crushing the plants, and rocks to hold the covering down so they don’t blow in the wind.

Plastic garbage bags work too and often fit right over containers, just ensure they reach right to the ground. And again, use rocks to hold them in place. Or tie something around the base to hold the plastic in place; burlap works well here too. As do large tarps, although they can be heavy but work great on raised beds with tiny seedlings. If plants are taller, simply add stakes around the plants to keep the tarp off them.

Of course, whatever you use will depend on the size of the beds or containers you wish to protect.

Frost Covers

Yes, frost covers are a thing sold in garden centers, nurseries, big stores, and even on Amazon. I’ve never tried any of these options, if you have please let me know how you like them!

A Warmer Spot

If you have annuals in pots or still in their nursery containers waiting to be planted, simply move them to a garage or basement for frost warnings. If in an unheated garage, store them on something so they are not on the cement floor. A shelf or even storage bins work well. Then you can move them in and out depending on the weather.

If you have lots, a wheelbarrow or cart works well to transport them back and forth. You could even leave the tender plants in whatever you use in the garage.

My yet-unplanted annual collection stayed in my garage all day yesterday as the temperature here never reached double digits before another frost warning last night.

frost warnings

Don’t Worry About Perennials in Frost Warnings

While annuals will be affected by frost, most perennials will not. Perennials can be planted as soon as the ground is thawed and will survive the temperature fluctuations in spring and fall.

Perennials can overwinter in containers too if you choose plants two zones hardier than what is normally hardy in your area. Otherwise, you can stick them in the ground to overwinter, to use them again the following spring.

Spring-Blooming Plants

which plants bloom in spring

Spring is my favourite season. I love the fact that the plants in gardens, roadsides, and parks start strutting their stuff, with changes every day. My own gardens don’t disappoint me every spring. In fact, I am known to just wander/putter around enjoying the new growth on a daily basis. If you too love cheery blossoms in spring, here are a few spring-blooming plants to consider for your yard and gardens…


My spring starts off with the star magnolia in my front yard. From afar, the blossoms look like pom poms, brightening up my yard even before the leaves emerge. Up close they are even more spectacular. This tree gets more gorgeous every year. I have complete strangers stopping to take pictures of this spring-blooming favourite.

plants blooming in spring
spring-blooming magnolia

Another magnolia blooms a bit later in my backyard. This beauty is the Ann variety, with blossoms that change in shape as they progress…

Forsythia Plants are Spring-Blooming

After my white star magnolia blooms and drops its flowers, forsythia bushes brighten the neighbourhood with their striking yellow blossoms. My neighbour’s is especially pleasing to me as I enjoy this view from my front windows:

plants blooming in spring

I have a forsythia shrub in my backyard too, but it is still small and not as effectively placed as the beauty above.

Plum Trees

Next to bloom in my gardens are my plum trees, usually. This year their blossoms were barely there thanks to the birds. This is what they are supposed to look like:

plants blooming in spring

Plum trees are very fragrant when blooming too, another sign of spring. Unfortunately, my husband suffers from seasonal allergies, so he does not find them as appealing as I do.

Apple and Crab Apple Trees

Next up in the spring-blooming parade are my McIntosh apple trees. This year they are particularly gorgeous…

…perhaps because the plum trees were not. The apple trees are loaded with bees too; I’m doing my part to keep them thriving!

Around the same time as the apple trees in my backyard, the crab apple tree in my front yard and in yards all across this city is in full bloom, ranging from the palest of pink to light pink to my own darker almost-wine-colored version. Whatever the variety, they are all beautifully spring-like.

Lilac Trees and Bushes

While most lilac trees and bushes are in bloom by now, with their distinct and fragrant blossoms, mine does not bloom until early June. After the plum and apple trees have shown off. These lilacs are still spring bloomers by calendar standards, but not quite a harbinger of spring in my yard.

plants blooming in spring

Shrub Roses

Shrub roses (usually) bloom earlier and for longer than rose bushes, but of course, there are exceptions. My favourite shrub rose, with pale yellow five-lobed petals and lemony yellow centers, is just starting to bloom now while my crab apple tree is still going strong.

spring blooming plants

A few other varieties of pink shrub roses throughout my gardens will wait a few weeks before they decide to bloom.

Roses of the climbing or bushes type wait for the hotter days (and nights) of summer to perform.

Spring Bulbs

Spring bulbs are planted in the fall to provide early spring colour in your gardens. Early tulips and daffodils are currently blooming, with allium still working on their strappy leaves and tall stems. The alliums will be blooming soon too, with the later variety of tulips. With summer still a month away, these later tulips and allium are still considered spring-blooming bulbs.


Another spring-blooming shrub is the rhododendron, fast becoming one of my favourite for all of my gardens including my own. They too range in colour, including white, pale pink, hot pink, red, and purply pink.

I have a story that I tell anyone who will listen of how I was introduced to rhododendrons. Currently, I choose them for most of my clients’ part-sun gardens, especially east and northeast-facing ones, their preferred exposure. I have two in my own backyard too, ready to burst out in blossoms any time now…

Other Perennial Plants Blooming in Spring

A few perennials bloom in spring too. A few examples in my gardens are garden sage with pale purple flowers and Jack Frost brunnera which sports green and white heart-shaped leaves and tiny blue flowers:


There are also several groundcovers that bloom in spring. In my gardens that includes sweet woodruff with delicate leaves and tiny white flowers, as well as lamium with variegated leaves and pearl pink blossoms:

Fiddlehead Ferns

These ferns don’t flower as such, but their fronds are fascinating to watch unfurl. Apparently, fiddleheads are delicious to cook and eat, although I have not tried them. This bed is full of ferns, turning into a lush, green focal point in summer:


There are lots of plants to choose from for spring colour in your gardens. Plant bulbs in the fall or perennials and shrubs anytime the ground is warm enough to dig in.