Thursday, February 28, 2019

Sunny Winter day

Our winter weather trend took an abrupt turn today, away from the wind and storms of the past few days, bringing us bright sunshine and blue skies for a change.Off to Owen Sound (again!), so we enjoyed the drive today.

Yes it was a bright sunny day, a far cry from yesterday's blizzard!

But winter is still here - that's Georgian Bay frozen right over to the other side.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Back to Winter

Thanks for staying with me while I went back to pictures from Parkwood in late summer.  Sadly, coming back here with me now means we're deep in the heart of winter.

The view out back hasn't changed much in 3 weeks, though it varies from bad to worse.  I heard a teacher say students have missed 20 days school since Jan. 1st.  Exams have been postponed and school buses have stayed parked.  On several occasions all roads in and out of Meaford have been closed.  Sensible people just stay home!  Never-the-less, I'll see what I can find in the way of photos to share with you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Outdoor Model Railway

I visited one corner of Parkwood several times; it was the outdoor model Railway, just down the hall from the Occupational Therapy gym.  Only open with trains running for two hours a week, I had to be organized to get there.

Welcome to the 'Leisure Garden Railway', sponsored by the London Model Railway group.  It's aa well done combination of three rail lines and a number of buildings, including a small village.

The outer line is a Canadian Pacific line, shown here with a freight load of cars.  I only aw one derailment while i was watching.

The inner line is a small streetcar route which circles through the village.

The centre line is an older Canadian National freight railway, carrying coal or gravel when I saw it.

In between and around the rail lines are a number of other buildings, like this small farm.
   A small freight shed, complete with two rail workers.

And passing in front of the grain elevator and freight shed and arriving at the station
 is a CP passenger train.  Members of the group changed the railway cars regularly, 
making it a lot more interesting.

Tomorrow you'll have to come home to enjoy our continuing winter weather
 with me; our summer holiday is over.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Parkwood Miscellanea

I have a few more interesting features to point out about Parkwood before we return to our current winter storm here in Meaford, so here they are.

The architecture of the building is itself impressive.  This is the view from the back; the main entrance comes in on the second level under all that slanted glass; the cafeteria is on the bottom floor.
Plants line the railing in the large entrance lobby, looking down over the cafeteria.  Rain brings interesting patterns of droplets running down the glass.

Outside, a new feature I found a few days before leaving, is this labyrinth, just the right size to drive through in a wheelchair (which I did).  Labyrinths date back to the Greek era, and are interpreted as having significant spiritual significance.  The one in Chartres Cathedral is perhaps best known of the medieval labyrinths.  There has been a revival of labyrinths in the past two centuries, in which pilgrims walk slowly around the path while meditating.  I don't know if you've encountered these, but personally I find them fascinating.

And how about a pair of fat tropical fish in a big aquarium?  Parrot cichlids perhaps?

Notice the little red dot in the sky?

This is one of Ontario's 'Ornge' medical helicopters.  Run by a non-profit corporation, the Ornge air ambulance service reflects the large size of Ontario, especially the widely spaced aboriginal communities, not often served by roads.  It also reflects the increasing specialization of large hospitals in the large cities of southern Ontario.  Rather than spread the facilities we bring patients to a central location.

Parkwood does not have a landing pad, but we experienced one of these taking off from the pad in front of University Hospital.  Dust and noise in all directions!  Ontario was the first Canadian province to introduce an air ambulance service.

Finally, this pair of blogging friends dropped in to see me when they were in London.  I still can't get over their kindness.  During the summer months they live about half an hour south of us.  During the winter months they pull their big fifth wheel to Arizona to escape the snow.  Patty writes 'Chillin' with Patsy'.

Friday, February 22, 2019


42 years ago today, our oldest son William was born.  Over 15 years and 10,000 hours of flying he worked his way to achieve his dream, becoming a water-bomber pilot.  Nearly four years ago his plane crashed while he was fighting a forest fire in northern Alberta, victim of a fire tornado.  You can read his story under the tab above.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Modern Fountain

In comparison to the little peaceful fountain at the back of the garden, there is a modern stark bright very artificial waterfall in among the parking lots in front of the hospital.  I found it quite a striking contrast!

I only found this in the final week I was there, so I didn't find much information about it.

The waterfall was featured in a concrete plaza, with a number of benches to sit and relax on. 

They did provide some shade shelters, but they didn't line them up with the benches very well!

Credit was given to Glenn and Joan Johnson, but there was no information whatsoever about who they are, why the fountain was built, or what it represents.  Too stark, too bright and too sterile for me!  But it must have cost a bit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Cup Plant

Before we leave the back part of the garden, let me share one other beautiful plant. the Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum.  It grows 5-6 feet tall and features numerous bright yellow flowers like tiny sunflowers.

We had a few of these in our garden, but I've never seen such a luxurious stand as here.

And they kept on blooming forever!  I went down that path numerous times just for the pleasure of seeing them.

The flowers are typical of the Aster family, about 4-5 cm. across, with numerous flowers on small branches at the top of the main stem.

And this is the 'cup',where the base of the large opposite leaves are fused together, catching a drop of water during a rainstorm.  Birds and insects love this plant!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Korean Remembrance

Behind the main part of the garden, down a path toward the 'back', is an interesting memorial "dedicated to the veterans of WWI, II and Korea, who received treatment and care on the grounds of Westminster Hospital" (the former name of Parkwood).  This is a large, symmetrically designed layout of sculpture and fountain.

The formal and symmetrical part of this is the rotunda on the hilltop and the semi-circular area below.  This leads directly to the tiny fountain below.  I quote the carved inscription above; the right-hand flag is the Korean flag.

The sidewalk goes straight through to this small fountain.  Surprisingly, although I asked several people, I was unable to get any detailed information about this area.  Apparently it was built fairly recently, and is a popular place for wedding photos, but the veterans don't like it because it hard for them to get up that hill since they're mostly in wheelchairs.

In a band around the edge are some striking ornamental grasses, so far maintaining themselves as pure stands.

I found this one of the most peaceful places to come and sit.

You can see the bands of red and green grasses in this photo.  The fountain is to the right.

These two photos show the danger of what's happening on the other side though.  Can you see where the smaller stems of Phragmites (also in the back) are popping up among the ornamental grasses?  It spreads by underground rhizomes.

 I could sit and watch the fountain for hours.

Saw a few other things too.

Saturday, February 16, 2019


Phragmites is Canada's worst invasive plant, and it is spreading through the gardens at Parkwood.  It grows to 15 feet high, and forms a 'forest' of thick stems so dense even a turtle can't get through it.  Looking like a tall, coarse grass, it is actually European common reed, Phragmites australis, native to Eurasia.

It might be mistaken for an ornamental grass, both for its huge size and its feathery seedhead, but it couldn't be worse in your garden! It grows straight skyward and forms these dense mats of up to 200 stems per square metre.  It's easily mistaken for bulrushes or cattails.

By late summer the dark brown seedheads are forming.  The plants are now well over my head, perhaps 8 - 10 feet tall.

The thick dark seedheads bend the plants that line the path so I have to push them out of the way as I ride through.  These will dry out,and look almost white by late fall, with light brown stems.  At this point they form an impenetrable, self-perpetuating mat.  So don't make the mistake of including this species among ornamental grasses!

At Parkwood at large area along a tiny trickle of a stream has now been taken over by Phragmites.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Ornamental Grasses

It's been a cold snowy windy day here, and road conditions are bad.  Turning back to the gardens at Parkwood is a relief!  Among plants, ornamental grasses stood out as one of the striking elements of the gardens.  Sorry I don't know the names of each.