Among Brenda's Quilts


There's more to life than sewing and quilting (shocking!) and it's the time of year here in Southwestern Ontario to get out in the garden and make it pretty for summer.

I’ve been spending a bit of time there these past two weekends with my wheelbarrow, bags of mulch, hoe, rake and shovel. We’ve planted the vegetable garden as well, and now, ‘all’ that remains is keeping the weeds down to a dull roar, staking tomatoes, climbing beans and cucumbers, watering and mowing our naturalized (think weedy) lawn.

May brings on the most scented flowers in our flower garden with, lilacs, lily of the valley and rhododendrons perfuming the air. You’ll smell them all as you wander up the front sidewalk to the door. But let’s have a look at that same view at year’s end.

Deep in December it’s hard to remember that spring will come and a garden can go from this:

house in winter


To this:

house in late spring

Last November, our yard enjoyed a long awaited appointment with professional tree trimmers. After they’d left we had a lot more sunlight on our lot. But the yard itself looked like a bomb had gone off.

Numerous craters remained where several sick and dying trees had been removed, where 48 year old overgrown junipers had been pulled out and where huge limbs had created giant sized divots in the lawn as they dropped. As well, whole areas were opened up with the trimming of our gargantuan cedar hedge. What were we going to do with all of that never before seen exposed ground under it?

There was a flurry of clean-up done before the snow flew. I became the grass seed fairy as I dusted seed willy-nilly over the smoothed over holes in hopes that it might sprout under the snow.

As early spring rolled around we were pleased to see a light green haze of grass sprouts springing forth from all but the most inhospitable spots in the lawn.

Our former Cedar hedge, trimmed up 15 feet, became almost sculptural in nature. We decided to hang a selection of bird houses on the trunks to welcome back those birds that might have been displaced by the loss of the lower branches.

birdhouses hanging in trees

We continue to hope to see more bees returning to the area.  But so far our bee house on the hill is still vacant.  I think we must be too close to the corn and soya bean fields. Perhaps in a few years the bee population will increase again and we’ll see a lot more insect activity.  

Harry (our cat and chief quilt & bag inspector) absolutely loves the garden and can most often be found sunning himself on the deck. That is, if the dive bombing Blue Jays will leave him alone. And if they are a bit too pesky he’ll hide under the Hostas. The minute I come outside he’ll generally turn up for a scratch under his chin. He’s also very fond of watching me hang laundry! I love hanging laundry, especially in spring as there is a bed of fragrant lily of the valley directly at the clothes line.

Harry the cat

Harry has friends next door in our neighbours Dan and Bonnie, but he’s found a new friend in our garden. Do you see that tree growing out of our deck? After we had the hole in the deck trimmed larger (around the trunk) it became much more interesting to local wildlife. We are currently housing the world’s largest skunk below deck. She pops out around 9 pm every night while Harry stands by watching carefully.

We have decided that it might be more trouble moving her than waiting until she moves on after her litter is born. So long as we all get along together we think this might work!

Michelle, who helps me out with preparing patterns, was over today and decided to take a couple of tulip tree seedlings home with her.  She grabbed a shovel out of the old chicken shed and a couple pots from the greenhouse and got digging. 

Michelle taking tools from the shed

Two of our tree specimens are registered with the local university as rare trees. These are the Carolinian Tulip Tree and the English Hawthorne.

I’ve shared Tulip Trees with the local college for their horticultural program as well as with family and friends. If you’ve never see this native tree it has orange and white striped tulips. Our tree is very tall now and you really have to look up to see the blooms. It’ll be blooming soon now but today the only color in the tree was the flash of red from a visiting Cardinal and a Baltimore Oriel.

English HawthorneNow that it is no longer in the shade, our English Hawthorne is extremely showy with its double fuchsia blooms Sometimes if we are lucky it blooms again in the fall.  The original owners of our home brought it back with them after a trip to Great Britain.

We love our vegetables and so have a pretty extensive vegetable garden. This year we are looking forward enjoying peas, carrots, brussels sprouts, kale, 4 varieties of tomatoes, two types of peppers, leeks, red and white onions, garlic, beans, cucumbers and potatoes.  We also grow red and black currants, gooseberries, rhubarb, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and sour cherries.  Our herb garden is also full to overflowing.

This last weekend while working away with hubby Rob, I remarked that I really didn’t know anybody, except my friend Janet, and neighbor Dan, who even bothered with a vegetable garden anymore. Perhaps it’s an old fashioned pastime but I think the reward of fresh of vegetables, fruits and flowers is a very rare gift! 

Brenda working in the garden

“And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”

-Percy Shelley



Written by Brenda Miller — May 31, 2016


I'm Brenda, and I love designing patterns that help you create beautiful, functional bags and quilts.

These patterns are unique, well-illustrated, simple to follow, and fun to sew.

We also carry my own line of bag zippers, finished designer bags, bag hardware kits, specialty fabrics, and notions, so you're able to easily find what you need to do a superb job on all of your ABQ projects.

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