New Year’s Day

You don’t always have to travel a great distance to enjoy completely different surroundings; the beauty of nature, a garden or amazing property.

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Friends from Toronto invited us to their magnificent farm they’ve recently purchased in Northumberland County for a New Year’s visit and a wonderful walk through their wooded acreage. The former owners of this 70 acre estate farmed Dogwood, Curly Willow, Hydrangea and other perennials that they harvested and sold to many of the nurseries in the GTA, usually during the holiday season. They also used them to teach basket weaving and create other hand-crafted garden architectural products for sale.

To walk though fields full of rows of crimson Dogwood and golden yellow Curly Willow contrasted with winter snow, the brilliant blue sky and rolling landscape is really quite remarkable. Venturing further through the trails into the Cedars to the frozen pond where snow, frost and bright green moss blanket the forest floor reminds one of how beautiful, rich and inspiring nature is untouched by human invention. My favourite colour palettes are found in such places and the things I design always seem to find their reference from the natural world. There is something about this planet’s beauty that resonates with our souls.

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One of my great frustrations with the country I live in is how void of aesthetic consideration much of the development here is – be it in the country or in the towns and cities. Canada as a country is incredibly rich in natural beauty, but severely poverty-stricken in its design sense when it comes to the mindless development we often see and the maintaining of our properties. There are exceptions to this observation, but as I travel across the land and see a majority of “litter” or mish mash human development scattered across the beautiful landscape we’ve inherited I find it heart-breaking. This is particularly disturbing with the phenomenon of urban sprawl. Our once rich farmland now being crowded with copy and paste neighbourhoods, retail and commerce, stripping each community of its individual character. The lack of imagination, driven by a conspiracy of greed between government and developers hungry for revenue streams seems to be more like disease than a plan for a better future.

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When I see the country untouched, or travel to places where respect is given to past beauty, or for the natural context and a sense of space, I’m reminded of the madness we currently face in keeping our land proud worthy and giving future generations something worth living in.

No matter what our income bracket, it is possible to ensure that our property, the space we’re responsible for, complements its surroundings. Let’s all give thought to how we might improve our country in this way in the coming year. I extend a Happy New Year greeting to each of you for 2019!

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