We have become the kind of people who go to gardening expos.

Please excuse the cell phone photos–I forgot my camera.

It all started when Graeme texted me from work the other night with the message: “there’s a plant sale at the botanical gardens tomorrow if you’re interested”. I was. I very much was.  It turned out that his colleague’s mom was going to be in town, and he had found out about the event while searching for interesting activities to do with her. He mentioned it to Graeme, who immediately relayed the info to me, thinking this would be an awesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It was.

I turned 30 just a few months ago, and thus age has been a somewhat touchy topic for me as of late; as Graeme and I strolled through the myriad of vendors at the Rendez-vous horticole this weekend at the Jardin botanique, we reflected on the reality that we were now super into going to the kind of events that you take your mom to. I am pretty much ok with all of this, but my recent interest in things like gardening expos is definitely one of the subtle ways I realize that I have, begrudgingly, become an “adult”. How odd.

The expo itself was lovely, and drew a good crowd despite the rainy weather. We wandered through various stalls selling a myriad of different kinds of plants as well as various gardening accessories, and took in the smells and colours. It was a welcome meditative activity after what had been a long week for both of us.

Our principal interest at the expo, though, was to buy some heirloom vegetable seeds and seedlings to plant in the garden this year; we had already planted most of our veggies for the season, but we wanted to add a little variety to the usual mix of tomatoes and leaves that our garden produces each summer. On this front, we were not disappointed at all, and we scored many new-to-us varieties of edible goodies that we fawned excitedly during our drive home (surely another sign that we may be getting old). Our scores included:

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A San Marzano tomato plant, which grows the infamously delicious tomatoes that make for the richest, loveliest pasta sauces, which we purchased in the horticultural students’ tent.

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A Paul Robeson tomato plant from the friendly people at Ferme du Zephyr, which Graeme insisted on getting as he was excited about a tomato variety named after the famous singer and socialist and civil rights activist (yes, this is how we choose what varieties of tomatoes to plant).

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Tomatillos also from Ferme du Zephyr, which we could not be more excited about since it is so difficult to find fresh ones in Montreal.

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Poona Khera cucumbers from Ferme du Zephyr, which are also very exciting because: 1) they’re YELLOW! and 2) they have a funny name. We were assured that they make for delicious salads as well, but really, their colour is what sealed the deal.

We also bought some lovely organic seeds from La Ferme Cooperative Tourne-Sol. These nice folks were very helpful in advising us on which seeds to choose, and explained how they cultivate their heirloom seed varieties to be diverse, as opposed to uniform, like most seed people prefer. We bought some:

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Red Cored Chantenay carrots

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Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach

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Rainbow Lacinato Kale

I look forward to seeing how these seeds grow and am glad the farm does seed orders online too–they have a great selection and we are all about supporting coops in this house! I planted all of this potentially tasty stuff as soon as we got home, and will be psychotically monitoring its progress. These veggies are in good company, as we’ve already planted quite a few new-to-us plants and varieties this season, such as: Brussels sprouts; Lebanese cucumbers; horseradish; bok choy; fava beans; chamomile; echinacea; and a few other goodies. We look forward to seeing how the new guys, as well as our usual crop of cherry tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce, etc., do.

A post about the gardening expo would not be complete, however, without mentioning Graeme’s fixation on the little corner of the event that focused on these guys:

Oh yes. Bonsais. One tent displayed some old and truly stunning bonsais that awakened in Graeme an apparently long-held desire to become a bonsai whisperer; an ambition which he continually returned to as we strolled through the rest of the expo. He could not let go of the idea and so we eventually found ourselves picking through various young bonsais that were for sale, until my husband, who it should be pointed out rarely even waters our regular uncomplicated houseplants, purchased this tiny beauty:

I remarked to Graeme, continuing our reflections on how we were starting to show our age, that bonsais are a true old person’s hobby. He agreed, but decided that this was ok. A Boxwood or “Morris Dwarf” bonsai, this little thing has Graeme pouring over bonsai growing books he fetched from the library as I type this out. He is apparently very attracted to the idea of having a plant that is likely to outlive him. I am not sure what that says about him, but we’ll see how this goes.

There is Nothing Better in this World than Springtime in Montreal

Montrealers are proud people. I always suspect that one reason for this is that for all of its attractions, this is not an easy city. I spent much of this past winter on the academic job market, which meant that Graeme and I were constantly dealing with the spectre of moving elsewhere for a job; as we bundled up in parkas and snow boots every day for several months, I was prone to occasionally wondering why on earth we had such angst about leaving Montreal. Why were we so attached to this icy hellhole?

Right now is why. There is just about no other place in the world where I would rather be than Montreal in springtime. After such long winters, spring here is so hopeful, so exciting, that it is hard not to feel revived. Every year the tree in front of our house will bloom overnight, going from thin, bare branches to a festival of pink flowers; usually this is the first sign that spring is indeed here to stay, and not merely a sunny day or two teasing us in between snowstorms. The tree bloomed this past weekend (rather late this year, sadly) and it makes me deeply happy every time I look at it. It will only last for a week or so, but by the time it’s done, the rest of the city will be in full bloom.

This is our first spring with Daisy, our beautiful dog, and because we have to walk her several times a day, I feel like we have been lucky enough to be able to witness how how subtly things change; how our neighbourhood has slowly gone from grey to colourful; how the pond in Parc Lafontaine transformed from skating rink to mudpit to, finally, a pond with quacking ducks in it; how cafes are slowly putting their tables outside, often when it’s still a little bit too chilly to do so, but it doesn’t matter, because people in this city will sit outside as soon as it is humanly possible.

These are the moments when I think that I live in the greatest city in the world. And I think that Daisy agrees.