July 5, 2014: What’s New in the Backyard Garden?

It’s a hot day.  The lupines have been cut back, to make room for the showy lilies to make their debut very soon.  However, this guy beat them to it.  These poppies are like weeds and reseed at will.  I recommend selecting the areas of your garden where you want colour and let them be, otherwise, you might want to pull them as they appear.  Welcome colour, but so saturated in today’s sunlight, difficult to photograph.  The carrots, beans, onions, radishes, tomatoes and strawberries are all coming along.  Rhubarb needs to be pulled for the third time.  Yummers.  I’m thinking of Pauline as I write.

Not to be confused with an Oriental Poppy.

Not to be confused with an Oriental Poppy.


Meeting Poet, Norman Henry Kendrick, and Dear Imogene

It was three years ago, in summer, that I stopped to chat with Imogene as she tended her most remarkable garden.  As luck would have it, I walked/walk Max regularly at the off leash park across from her home and so, with my love of gardens, I watched the progress of her amazing blooms throughout the summer and into autumn.  I became curious about many of her plants and so this one day, with a brilliant blue sky above us, I pulled my van over and got out to chat.

It was with a generous spirit that she welcomed my questions about perennials and nurturing gardens and she extended her good will to a wander into her back yard gardens and a most amazing and deepening conversation.  In my mind, she was brilliant…a truly remarkable, smart and witty woman.  Our chat in the back yard garden inspired me and I wondered, “How is this even possible that life should be this magical, one moment to the next?”

And then I met Norman.  What a blessing!  And I hope that my readers will take the time to read the publisher’s remarks and his biography here.

I write about Norman and Imogene because just two days ago, I had my annual summer chat with Imogene.  I stopped, as is usual, to remark on the state of her gardens.  I will respect her privacy and will hold myself back from publishing a photograph here, but suffice it to say that there are NO gardens in Calgary like Imogene’s and NO grass like Norman’s.

At our meeting, we had the most precious fifteen minute conversation that I have shared with someone in a very long time.  We spoke of flowers and Spain…health and sons…and then she spoke of her love for Norman.  I get chills as I type the words, ‘love for Norman’ because I remember the look in her eyes as she spoke to me.  Her thoughts are invaluable and are only paraphrased here. ‘Live for the present moment.  It is what we have.  Forgive.  Do what is healthy.  Work hard, but also let go of those things that are unnecessary.  Pay someone else to mow your yard if you are tired OR do it another day. (this, it seemed as she spoke, is a metaphor for all of our busy-ness).  Love passionately.  Grow flowers.’  I always feel to be a better person when I leave my garden-conversations with Imogene.  I will ask her one day if I can take her picture.  I can not possibly capture her face with words…she is beautiful because she lives beautifully.  Her last words to me two days ago were that she would write about our meeting in her night-time journaling…and so today, I am doing the same.

Trafford Publishing says about Norman,

“Norman Henry Kendrick was born in the village of Southwick, now part of the city of Sunderland in the county of Durham, in the North-East of England.

His father, a Liverpudlian of Scottish blood, was a petty officer, gunnery, in the Royal Navy from the age of 15 and saw action in the North Atlantic and with the Russian and Malta convoys.

His mother was a busy housewife, with three sons and an absent husband. She came from a long line of respected clairvoyants and was active in the spiritualist church.

His grandfather, on his mother’s side, became a coal-miner, from necessity, at the tender age of nine and, with determination and tenacity, became very well self-educated, sharing his knowledge with his grand-children.

Norman grew up, during World War II, to the sound of riveter’s hammers and the flash of welding arcs from the numerous, war-driven shipyards of the river Wear, with the resulting intense, industrial pollution and smog.

In the background was the constant, throbbing hum from the busy Wearmouth Colliery as it fueled the war industry. At night, he was kept awake by the menacing drone of hundreds of Nazi bombers, flying overhead to terrible destinations. On their return, dropping their remaining bombs on the town.

Yet, less than a mile away, the lush, green countryside began, reaching north across Durham, Northumberland and the wide-open spaces of Scotland. Excellent cycling country.

He became an apprentice, studied at night-school three nights a week, studied music, pianoforte, on the other nights and at weekends, walked and cycled to keep fit and eventually worked as a Marine Engineer, both on land and sea, then as a teacher. This wasn’t exceptional as most of his friends were working, and playing, just as hard, meeting the challenge of the post-war world.

He will always love the area where he was born: Hadrian’s Wall, the wind-swept, heather-covered moors of the Brontes, Wordsworth’s Lake District, Burns country – just over the border, the Viking-haunted coast-line, the ruined abbeys, the castles, the towering cathedrals with their beautiful, choral music and especially the warm, friendly people of the North of England.

Norman, his wife, Imogene – a State Registered Nurse caring for the severely injured coal miners and shipyard workers in the Monkwearmouth Orthopaedic and Accident Hospital – who shares his love of music, literature, drama and travel, and their three sons and grand-daughter, now live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, close to the beautiful Rocky Mountains, where they have lived, and worked, since 1969.”

Poems of Innocence

Norman Henry Kendrick
Trafford Publishing, 2007-03-01 – Poetry – 152 pages
At last, we have a new book of poems for readers with an open mind – a wide-open mind.
You might never have read a single poem since leaving school, but beware! You are looking back through the eyes of the child you once were. Look now, through the eyes of experience, at these fascinating poems by Norman Henry Kendrick.
If you have always been a poetry buff, then I envy you your first reading of, Poems of Innocence. You will feel your mind gently moved to places that you never dreamed of visiting. Poems which at first seem innocent, to the dreamer’s eye, open up layer by layer, when experienced by the more sophisticated reader.
If you happen to be a prude, and pretend an innocence that you don’t possess; if you are a snob, and never lower your standards to read ‘lesser’ books; if you are religious, and swear never to read anything irreligious; if you find life to be an excruciating bore, while sipping that glass of vintage wine; if you think that poetry is trivial – not for real men then, Poems of Innocence is definitely for you too. Imagine the fun you’ll have reading it. No-one will ever know!
Norman Henry Kendrick will take you on a journey through time and space, with an unexpected sense of deja-vu. You will think, dream, envy, desire, dread, hesitate, agree, disagree, doubt, wonder – and you can even ask a friend.
Visit an English village, ancient Britain, the age of dinosaurs, heaven, Rome, Tuscany, Calabria, Sicily, Spain, Malta, the Rocky Mountains, Calgary, the foothills of Alberta, space, the ocean, the sky, or simply walk with Norman through a remarkable field.
Rub shoulders with the living, contemplate death, dream with Don Quixote, reflect on Einstein, go to war, drift through oceans, look over the Pope’s shoulder, have some advice for God, and experience the beginning of a new universe.
Poems of Innocence, by Norman Henry Kendrick, is not for the faint-of-heart. But if you have a big heart, then these fascinating poems are for you. ‘Take my hand… And I will let you see all the good things…’

When I gaze upon my flowers, I sometimes think of Imogene and Norman.

I am very sad that just today, I learned that both Gene and Norman have passed…they lived such a rich and beautiful life and while I was just a dog-walking, passer-by, they both generously included me in their lives with stories and flowers.  May they be blessed in the everlasting, always.

Kendrick, Imogene “Gene”
October 24, 1938 – September 23, 2016

Gene Kendrick passed away on Friday, September 23, 2016 at the age of 77 years. Gene was born at home on October 24,1938 in the northeast of England in the town of Sunderland. She was the eldest of four childrenGene attended Chester Road School in Sunderland and was trained as a nurse at the Orthopaedic and Accident Hospital. She worked at the Royal Bolton hospital in England for several years. Gene met Norman Kendrick at aged seventeen and the two were married on April 3, 1961. They immigrated to Canada in 1969 and settled in Lake Bonavista in Calgary, AB. Gene worked at the Rockyview Hospital for several years before moving into different jobs including the oil industry. Her best job was to raise her three sons. Her favorite activities included ballroom dancing, gardening, cooking, books, walking, fine needlework, and listening to Norman play music and read poetry.

Kendrick, Norman Henry
August 26, 1934 – November 9, 2016

Norman Kendrick passed away on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at the age of 82. He will be missed by his three sons John, Andrew, and Stephen; grandchildren Ashley and Johannes; as well as extended family and friends. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Gene. As per Norman’s request, an informal gathering will be held to celebrate his life.

Norman grew up in Sunderland, England which is where he met Gene. He preserved in times of great hardship and trained as a mechanical engineer. He worked in shipbuilding and spent time at sea, traveling the world from the coast of Africa to India and through the Suez Canal. He went on to train as a teacher and taught engineering for several years in England, before moving with his young family to Canada. He taught physics for a number of years before he retired, freeing his time to travel.

Norman and Gene spent many winters in Spain, Portugal and Italy where they would dance the night away. Norman was an avid history buff and enthralled himself in the history of these areas. Together, they loved to meet people and truly get to know them. Norman was a talented pianist and a great intellect. Norman also loved poetry and published a book “Poems of Innocence”. Here is one of his poems:

Lots To Do.

If I were God, I wouldn’t hang around here!

Not while there are supernovae to watch,
And galaxies colliding.

I would leave everything on automatic,
With life genetically programmed
To repeat itself, ad interim.

With a few, built-in limiting devices,
Such as the atmosphere, an erratic food supply, sex,

Power-hunger, the speed of light, natural calamities,
Death, religion, greed, disease – to name a few –

And some chance, genetic surprises!

And I would go off…

And have fun!




Sister-Fig: Presently a Stick

Sister-Fig in Better Days

Bob, my artist-friend, traveled for a year in Australia.  It wasn’t the first time that he had left Mother-Fig in my care. And each time, he told me the heart-warming story of the lady who had passed Mother-Fig on to him years before and that at one point, the plant had even produced fruit! I was determined to keep her alive, although I was open to critical incidents and there were more then a few, particularly her constant battle with red spider mites!  But, with time, attention and much love, she thrived and was the most unusual plant!  It was fun to do drawings of her…such an unusual contour, smooth woody bark, beautifully-shaped leaves!  A real beauty and conversation piece!

Well, when Bob came back, I already had a well-established cutting, knowing that I loved Mother-Fig so much, and she came to be known as Sister-Fig.  I’ve had her for years now and she’s seen family and friends through many Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas celebrations.  There was always talk about Sister-Fig!  I continued to struggle periodically with her leaf drop and the reoccuring visitation of the dreaded mites (all because of her woody stem), but basically learned her ways and enjoyed her.

However,  this summer I left Sister for two months and have to report that things did not fare well for poor Sister-Fig.  Some of you might say, “Oh, just go back to Bob’s Mother-Fig and begin the journey anew.”  But, I fear that this is the end to this lineage, given that Bob’s Mother-Fig had succumbed some time before Sister.  (I secretly believe that she missed my ministrations.) 

I have cut down the main stems of Sister, have watered her and am hoping that she will somehow revive.  I am not looking to place blame in this situation for I know that it is a difficult thing to take up this sort of project in one’s life.  Tonight, however, I AM looking at the countless WordPress Blogs that deal with this very issue and I’m astounded!  I have NO difficulty understanding why the fig is of biblical stature!  A fig is just soooo hard to grow! 

Poor Sister-Fig!

I invite the wisdom of the experts.  Shall I abandon her at long last or hold out hope?

Ok…so…updates here.  This is what Sister-Fig looks like as she has come out of refrigeration!  Poor girl.  I’m hoping that I will see something green eventually.  For now, I’m watering my soil.  Thank you for the advice!  If she never comes to be, again…where would I purchase a fig?


Planted After Artificial Hibernation in my Fridge!


Backyard Garden: Rhubarb

You’ve Got to Love Rhubarb!

Mom and Dad always gardened!  I suppose that’s where I get the most inspiration to garden.  We just always grew things!  I know that we are very busy people, but a part of the natural flow and ebb of things was to grow things.

Regarding Rhubarb, the thing my father always told me was to rip it out, don’t cut it.  The yield continues throughout the summer in this manner.  I’ve never done it any other way!  The rhubarb that you see right here is ready to be picked!  If you let it go any longer, it will be tough.  I think my favourite combination of fresh flavours from the garden is rhubarb with strawberries.  You just stew the two together for awhile on the top of the stove, add some sugar and serve on toast!  Yummers!