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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

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So, Where Have You Been, Allan?

My garden design season was cut short for a family reunion held in the Middle East during the last three weeks of August and I was under pressure to complete my projects by the end of the first week of that month. This stressful situation was exacerbated by the “retirement” of my staff at the end of July, all of whom had previous commitments to spend the balance of their summer travelling. They had asked permission to do so, in advance, and I had agreed. Even without a family reunion, I prefer not to plant a perennial flower garden in August because the client will not derive much pleasure from it that same season. Giving the staff their early freedom seemed wise at the time.

Starting in May and ending in July, I worked 15 hours a day. I arose at 6 AM; the staff arrived at 7. We worked sometimes until 6 in the evening, depending on the scope of the project, the heat or the rain. At the end of longer days, I delivered my staff to their homes, on the other side of town, because I felt that they were too fatigued to ride the subway. They had worked hard and deserved this little perk. Usually, on the way back, I would get stuck in rush-hour traffic which added to the day’s burden. Then, it was time for a shower and a quick supper and by 7 PM, I was back in the car, driving to a client’s home for a first interview, a presentation, a consultation or to get paid. At 9 PM, when I would return home, I felt as if I had been awake for 24 hours. To complicate the situation, when all of the projects were finished, I needed time to drive south into upstate New York to help my wife close up the cabin that we had rented for the summer season. Running on a treadmill hardly describes this past summer.

By the time I boarded the plane heading overseas, I was wiped out. Fortunately, my brother-in-law had arranged a flight that would take us first to Zurich, Switzerland, where we could relax for two days before continuing our journey. Breaking up a 12 hour flight into two shorter flights sounded attractive. Although I felt that this stop-over was too costly, in the end, I did appreciate the break because the interlude we spent exploring Zurich helped me to unwind. By the time we would reach Tel Aviv, I would be in great form to undertake the whirlwind tour of historic and archaeological sites that were part of the family reunion.

Visiting Zurich is the equivalent of stepping into a beautifully equipped, pristine, laboratory. Whatever the eye sees, whatever the hand touches and whatever item is functioning, be it a door, a faucet or a train, everything is beautiful, of high quality, flawlessly designed, reliable and neat. Our impressions of this city, apart from the fact that it is very expensive for North Americans, was its cleanliness, the graciousness of its inhabitants, the very high quality of its food, and the slim bodies of its citizens. A welcome surprise was the quality of landscaping surrounding the homes just outside the city limits. While the gardens were worth photographing, the tour bus moved too quickly for anyone to capture images. All I will remember is the beauty and the attention to detail.

When packing for this trip, I courageously omitted my camera. Taking photos, I surmised, would distract from absorbing the visual awesomeness of some of the sites that I planned to visit. I did not intend that the trip be a photo shoot. I wanted an education in the ancient history and archaeology of the land of the bible. My head is now filled with so much fascinating information, that still requires processing, that I am glad that I did not add an extra layer of complexity by photographing what I saw. Whenever I needed to take a picture that I thought would be worth sharing with my readers, my wife was happy to oblige with her camera.

During my travels, my garden, at home, lay unattended and now it looks messy. However, I am so eager to share some of the details of the trip with my readers that weeding and dead heading will simply have to wait. The euphoria of this trip trumps everything.

To be con´╗┐tinued.

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Reader Comments (2)

This sounds like a great trip Alllan, can't wait to hear more.


September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

Allan, Just reading about your summer schedule made me feel exhausted; it makes my 11-12 hour teaching days seem like a vacation in comparison. I'm glad you got a relaxing time away at the end of it all.

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJean

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