Just like little kids, I think our whole class was excited for the class trip on Friday. Get to school early, don steel-toed boots, grab any other gear we wanted, and out to the parking lot for the bus! Or rather, busses. There are 60 in the class, and since someone had said a school bus takes 72, I was a little surprised to see 2 busses in the parking lot. Well, it turns out 2 was a good idea. Not only is it harder to squeeze 2 adults than 2 kids into a school-bus seat, but if you take Hort students to an orchard and a garden center, it is perhaps not surprising that a little shopping gets done along the way.
First stop: Mountain Orchard. A very fast stop, really. We had a ride out to the back of the orchard, picked a few apples, heard a talk by one of the owners about the history of the enterprise and some of the methodologies, trials and triumphs in the business, and piled back on to the wagon to return. Our co-ordinator wanted us back on the bus and on the way to the college ASAP, but gave us 5 minutes to go to the store and make any purchases we wanted. Yeah, you can imagine the bottleneck. Stampede to the store, and subsequent slowdown as two cash registers try to deal with the sudden rush. I think it was a good 15-20 minutes before everyone was back on the bus. I came back with a jug of cider, and a bag of homemade doughnuts.
Being a little late to the college meant that that felt a bit rushed too. The plan had been that we were supposed to be able to watch some of the testing for Landscape Ontario certifications, and do some networking over lunch. Well, by the time my group had been for a talk (a good one, though) by someone in LO, most of the testing stations were being cleaned up for lunch. We had a tour of the stations, minus people actually using them, and sat down to eat lunch quickly. I ate and was looking to see if there was anyone who looked likely for chatting to, getting my courage up - and our co-ordinator spoke up and said we were all to be on the bus in 5 minutes and ready to go. Off again, to our last stop of the day.
I finally thought about getting the camera out when we got turned loose at Rideau Woodland Ramble, with an hour to explore. Big day for them - apparently they were on the Regional Contact segment on the news Friday as well as having all of us show up. As a garden center, they seem to specialize in unusual trees and shrubs, and shade plants like hostas. As a ramble, there's wooded paths, a pond, some garden sculptures and seats, work in progress on a sunken garden and a wildflower meadow - all quite compact, as the property is only 7 acres.
I'm not normally much one for garden sculptures, but they do have a knack. Certainly their choices are a far cry from garden gnomes and flamingos:
And it was nice to have a little color to set off the plants. The emphasis is so much on foliage and form, tranquility and contemplation, that I rather felt glad I had just been reading a chapter on Chinese and Japanese gardens in the history of gardens I got from the library, and so was in the right frame of mind.
The parallel was further carried out by the presence of a North American version of a teahouse - a little cabin, furnished with a couple pairs of tables and chairs, one of the coffeemakers with little individual cups of different teas and coffees (Keurig?), paintings on the walls, and a back entrance facing a spot with a birdbath and some bird feeders. The chickadees were bold and active, and I stood hardly 5 feet away and tried taking pictures of them as they came in for a bathe or a sip. Alas, they were too active for a really clear photo!