Offerings from the lilacs on our balcony

Offerings from the lilacs on our balcony

To celebrate spring and all things non snow related, I took a stroll to photograph one of my favourite spring blooms, lilacs. It’s a lazy long weekend here in Toronto with the May 24th weekend the first official long weekend of summer. I know it’s not the 24th but no one calls it by the official name – Queen Victoria’s birthday. The holiday is simply referred to as the 2-4 or May 24th.  I doubt half the people in the country even realise it’s a hold-over from Empire days. But death to the politician who entertains the idea of doing away with it.  It’s a grand excuse to enjoy the first days leading into summer, plant gardens with no fear of frost, open up the cottage, and crack open a case of beer. That’s the 2-4 reference by the way. A case of beer holds 24 bottles, QV’s birthday is the 24th – a match made in Canada.

Alright, I cheated, I went out onto the balcony and snagged some shots without putting on shoes.  We’ve been growing a lilac tree for a couple of years now, and it’s beginning to shine.  We thought we’d lost it two years ago. And again, last year it looked sad and forlorn after we moved. But it survived the extreme cold, benign neglect and a move. During the summer, it shot up and produced a lot of greenery. It has proven to be quite popular with the local sparrow community that flitters about our balcony. We were concerned they may be eyeing it for nesting at one point. Luckily they opted for a less traveled location.  This spring, it’s honoured us with a bumper crop of purple.  It loves the corner we plopped it in. Here’s the first photo:

Photo of the lilacs blooming on our balcony

Too bad there isn’t  scratch and sniff internet.  The scent is intense this year. Can’t get enough of it.

Photo of the lilacs blooming on our balcony

 I leaned over the balcony and debated about getting dressed and actually going out, but nah – it’s the long weekend. Another espresso, prop my feet up and say screw it. I’m not budging for the rest of the day. I can look out my window and admire the birds and the blossoms without putting on shoes. 


Spring flowers on St. Clair Ave Toronto – Timothy Eaton Church

Spring flowers on St. Clair Ave Toronto – Timothy Eaton Church

See, I told you all we needed were a couple of bright sunny days and the blooms would be in overdrive:

Lilac May 2016 in Toronto

On a good day, when I spend time fussing with settings, my little smartphone does an admirable job of taking snaps. About the only thing I did to any of these photos was a bit of cropping and reducing the size for the web. I used OneShot app and tweaked the settings for sunshine, macro and white balance to avoid the white washed effect that often happens. After pissing about I found I could grab both bright flower colours and the brilliant blue sky.

I was walking home along St Clair Ave Friday afternoon and went right past these lilacs.  I stopped and backed up and couldn’t believe they were so far ahead of the ones in my neighbourhood. I stopped and sniffed them for a bit … yea I really do stop on random streets to smell flowers. I pulled out my camera and started taking shots. The photos came out far better than I thought they would.

Lilacs in blook Toronto May 2016

Just up a bit is the venerable Timothy Eaton Memorial Church:

Timothy Eaton Church Toronto, Ontario May 2016

For a change, I didn’t end up with a washed out background. I still can’t believe the blue came out so vibrant. This was achieved by being careful where  I focused the camera, fixing the white balance and turning off autofocus. Once I switched auto off, I had far more control over the final product. The photos came out crisper than they usually do. I took about 10 photos on the same spot, focusing on different parts of the church. This was the best balanced of the lot.  Quite impressed with the final product.

Not sure what tree it is, I just call it the Tulip Tree. It sits in front of the church, petals floating off into the breeze all day. Lovely close-up using OneShot’s macro feature.  Came out with a excellent and natural colour balance.

Flowers in front of the Timothy Eaton Church

Looking forward to a summer of green and colour.

Balcony surprise – lilacs in the city 20 floor up

Balcony surprise – lilacs in the city 20 floor up

I was just out on the balcony about 15 min ago and was shocked to see this:

Lilac Tree balcony garden

Our lovely and much neglected lilac tree survived the winter. We’re 20 floors up and we get furious wind gales all winter long. We thought it was a gonner, but a few weeks ago we thought we saw signs of life.

Didn’t think more about  it because the weather turned cold again and I was sure that was it for poor lilac. We were out putting water in the birdbath just now (the sparrows have been bopping around in the morning again) when mom said “Did you see this?” Neither of us had taken any notice of the leafy lovelines standing beside us because we were both so sure the sudden cold snap had done in the tree. Amazing.  We are going to have lilacs again this spring. When it blooms, we roll it over to the door and the morning breeze fills our living room with the scent of lilacs.  Tough little tree!

Lilac buds balcony garden 2016

Now, this brings me to something VERY IMPORTANT. It must be important, I typed it in caps.  If you are an urban gardener saunter over to the Urban Gardener’s Alliance website at  Well, actual, just go, even if you don’t garden, but enjoy all things leafy.   Join and share about your little urban kingdom and enjoy. I’ve already picked up a few good ideas about keeping my balcony garden thriving. So enjoy: Urban Gardener’s Alliance. Drop me a line and let me know if you joined so I can look for your posts. (Urban Gardener’s Alliance page on Post Waves is no longer available)

Here’s one last look at the leaves on the  lilac tree. Too bad we can’t do scratch ‘n sniff websites: Lilac tree on our balcony 2016