September 1, 2010

Sonia's Country Hoedown

August 21, 2010

Belwood Ontario was the location of one of the best country parties that I have been to in years. Sonia Day, garden columnist for the Toronto Star, and her photographer husband, Barrie Murdock, hosted the event to celebrate 10 years of country life.

Part of the fun of a country party is getting there. Belwood is north east of Guelph so our route was almost entirely highway #6. People coming directly from Toronto would have taken the 401. It took most people about an hour and a half to two hours to get there. It was slower for people coming from Toronto because they drove through local showers. Rain seemed to threaten most of the day, but it held off until after we left.

The guest list included other garden writers, neighbours, family and friends. It was nice to see my garden writer friends in a setting that was neither urban nor corporate. Everybody seemed to let down their hair and just have fun.

Sonia and Barrie's Home

And what fun we had! Sonia and Barrie had hired a band for square dancing! (Not a very common thing, even in the country.) The girl calling the dance moves helped all of us klutzy types get around the barn without too much embarrassment.

I put my new video camera to use and you can see for yourself the beauty of the farm, and the fun we had dancing. The volume jumps up when the dancing starts so be prepared. (The one annoying flaw that the flip camera software has is that you can't adjust the audio levels when doing the editing. Hopefully new editing software will correct this problem in future.)

For those of you who wanted to take another look at that purple thistle like flower, here it is, the artichoke! I had no idea the flower head in bloom, (because it is the flower we eat), was so beautiful. It was also a shock to see them growing so far north.

Sonia must have the secret to their success.

artichoke flower

BE WARNED! Attending such parties may lead the observer to consider purchasing a country property of their own. Now is probably a good time to do so. But remember, you are seeing only the best of what country life has to offer. You aren't seeing when the power goes out. You aren't seeing when the well runs dry. You aren't seeing when the snow piles up a metre high in your driveway and you say to yourself, “Why did I ever leave the city?”

With that said, it will be a very sad day when I leave the country with its simple pleasures of peace and quite and move back to the city.

You can read about Sonia and Barrie's travails in her book “Middle-Aged Spread, Moving to the Country at 50.” It can be purchased from and

Middle-Aged Spread
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If you are hosting a garden related event in the GTA and would like it covered in or would like to place an e-poster about it on our Events Calendar, just contact me. I am always delighted to promote anything gardening in Toronto.

Mark Disero

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