Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back from Vacation

We're in the last stretch of summer and so it was time to take a vacation.  Although I love my island home, and even though it is a top tourist destination, a break from the ordinary is always a treat.  For us that meant a trip to the big city of Toronto with all the hustle and bustle that comes with it.  I have no interest to live in the city again but I do like to visit and take part, for a short time, all that it has to offer.  Which meant a different dinner location every night - Mexican, Hungarian, Indian, Japanese, French...  A tour of the world via my plate.  yum.  Followed by theatre, the art gallery and the Royal Ontario Museum.

The Crystal
This was my first chance to see the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal and from the outside I thought the look was quite impressive.  I have to admit though, from inside the museum, I wasn't as enthusiastic.  The angles produced made the museum layout awkward and I was disappointed at the lack of light and openness.  Regardless of the architecture the museum offered many impressive displays and we spent a lot of time in the European Evolution of Style exhibit.  At antique shops and auctions I have often heard of these funny shelves referred to as 'whatnots'.

I thought this was just a cute term for something that didn't otherwise have a name.   I was wrong.

"WhatNot - Standing sets of shelves for displaying ornaments and
souvenirs first appeared in the early 1800's."
We also spent a lot of time simply wandering the streets, admiring shop windows and buildings.  I particularly loved this impressive glass ceiling built over the street between two old buildings.

In addition I also found myself eyeing up homes in Toronto.  So many houses are made of brick in Ontario, a material not used much here in PEI, and it always attracts my attention.

And because I can't help myself, I eyed up all the gardens in the front yards.  So many people made such great use of the space available.  I was impressed at every turn.

Accommodating both a walkway and a driveway but there's still room for flowers!
Public spaces too showed off many wonderful garden ideas.

I particularly liked this raised seating area with just enough space left between the stones to create planting spots.  I imagine the plants will eventually grow large enough to provide screening between seating areas.

Wandering through a park in the city we came across a tree that instantly caught my attention.  I liked the small leaves and their fine appearance.

I have been contemplating for some time the idea of planting Honey Locust trees on our property. Although I have never seen one in person I liked the description of an open tree that allows plenty of light to stream though to plants underneath.  Imagine my surprise then when I saw a plaque on this tree identifying it as Gleditsia triacanthos or Honey Locust.  What a pleasant surprise to be able to view a mature tree.  It is as lovely as I had thought.

But I am still unsure about planting it.  These trees tend to grow rapidly and reproduce via suckers which can be troublesome to a degree.  However, we do have a large property and having wood for harvest in the future would be a positive aspect.  Another issue is that while the tree is native to Ontario it is not native in PEI.  I'm not against having exotic species but trees take so long to grow and take up so much space that having a native plant that will provide for insects and wildlife over the course of many years seems to make more sense.  I will have to think about this for a while yet.  Has anyone else planted Honey Locust in their yards?  What is your experience?


  1. Welcome back! Your trip sounds wonderful. And what would a trip for a gardener be without viewing some gardens? Thanks for sharing...beautiful display...

  2. Well, I didn't know the proper definition of a Whatnot, either! The glass ceiling is beautiful, and I really like that raised seating area, too.

  3. Nice vacation! I would be careful of Honey Locust. I believe they have thorns. Thorns or not, if they sucker, I would steer away from them.

  4. Wow ! Marguerite ! I just read this now and it is funny to take a vacation away from what is one of the top vacation areas in Canada.
    I live in almost the outskirts of Kingston .. close enough for all of the convienences but not "in" the city core .. so I understand what you mean. But this little city is rapidly growing so I know we will be swallowed up eventually.
    The plantings around Toronto are pretty .. and the front garden pictures remind me of the Netherlands .. not one inch of space was wasted there .. gardens were totally amazing : )
    We have Honey Locust in the neighborhood but of a different cultivar so the spread outwards more than vertically. They are pretty trees .. maybe there is a type that is close to native there ?
    PS .. YES girl I know Halloween is far away but I collect as soon as I see what I like ! LOL

  5. I always thought the Whatnot shelf meant the things on the shelf. How funny!

    About your Honey Locust, I have had experience with trees with root sprouts and (other than an oak) I would say to plant it in an area where you can mow over the sprouts easily. Of course this does not mean you will not have a random sprout come up in a flower bed 20 feet away...

    When we lived in a tourist town, we enjoyed town during the off season and then went to the neighboring town for entertainment when the tourists arrived. I enjoyed your photos of Toronto yards and gardens.

  6. Really enjoyed your photos...especially the one of the ROM outside. Welcome back!

    As for locust...they have lovely blooms in the spring that scents the air, and they do travel. Yes, they have thorns and hubby has the scar to prove it... Think it's all about location location and if you want to introduce a non native to the area. Oh yes, they are also brittle so heavy snow might be a problem. For all that...I have always been rather partial towards them.

  7. Sage Butterfly - I hadn't really thought about viewing any gardens on my trip but I'm like a moth to a flame, I just can't resist.

    Holley - I've only heard the term whatnot a couple times and had no idea it was really a proper term. I was shocked to see that sign.

    Janet - yes, they have huge thorns. But there are also thornless varieties. I wonder though if the thornless trees revert back to having thorns?

    Carolyn - I'm on a diet this week due to the vast quantities of food consumed. but it was absolutely worth it!

  8. Joy - our Toronto friends laughed at us vacationing away from PEI in the city. I told them I had to get away from the sound of the ocean, it's just relentless! Ha ha

    Tufa - I kinda thought the same thing! whatnot/knickknack, it's pretty similar. Could refer to the shelf or what's on it. Turns out my vacation was educational. Great point about the tree sprouts. Mowing over them isn't an issue - we do that with aspen shoots all the time, but they do tend to pop up in garden beds which is annoying and difficult to remove.

    Bren - thanks for the thoughts on the locust. I feel similarly. I like the beauty of that tree but I also know there's some issues.

  9. Marguerite,
    Looks like you had a great vacation. Toronto is a great city to visit.

  10. Hi Marguerite: Glad you enjoyed Toronto, I live 2 hrs. north in Muskoka and my son has lived in T.O. now for many years..There is a resource library near him which has a small room off to the side that sells used books..where I bought most of my treasured garden books..also an enclosed garden in a building which name escapes me that he always takes me too..I believe my father grew a sunburst locust and it was gorgeous, have just been wondering how it would do on the island..enjoyed your pictures of your trip..happy gardening..Lannie

  11. What a great way to spend a vacation, given where you live. Toronto was the very first place I visited in North America, and I loved it, so I was all nostalgic reading about your adventures. I ate very well there too, though there was no Crystal to admire or critique. Lovely city though!

  12. Marguerite,
    Thanks for sharing some T.O pictures. Sounds as if you had a good vacation.
    Hope you visited the Toronto Zoo and Centre Island while you were there. Two great spots and Centre Island is just loaded with flowers.
    I've never planted any Honey Locust
    and have never seen any here, but that doesn't mean they won't grow here.
    Glad you are back.

  13. Jennifer - I've only been to Toronto a couple times in my life but I must say I really enjoy visiting there. Lots to do, easy to get around and generally very pleasant people.

    Lannie - that secret garden and library sounds lovely. There are so many places to explore in the city, I could have stayed much longer. There is a nusery on island that sells honey and black locust, including sunburst, so I guess they must do well here. The snow is probably the biggest problem to brittle limbs.

    Janet - glad to hear you enjoyed Toronto when you visited. I was a bit nostalgic myself on this trip as I haven't been to Toronto in over 6 years. It was fun to see some old sights and some new ones.

    Witch - oops! do I dare say we didn't go to the zoo or centre island?! LOL We walked along the boardwalk and looked out at the island but didn't visit. 5 days simply wasn't enough to enjoy all the sights. Seems I'll have to make a return trip in the near future.