Thousand Island Gardening - Eliminating the Pests

thousand island gardening

Thelma is no exception to the challenges that face a gardener in the wilderness.  Unfortunately, the foraging animals have a tendency to prefer my cultivated plants rather than the natural variety.  While I have so far been able to keep out the deer and muskrat,  the mice were a real problem with my southern flower bed that houses the David Austin roses, a few perennials and geraniums and petunias.  Every year the mice would come in and cut down all the flowers.  I tried cages which didn't work and traps that sometimes worked, but after I found a frog in a trap I abandoned them.  

So this year I went on a tangent to find a way to keep them out.  Much to my surprise, I stumbled upon the miracle repellent - garlic.  Mice apparently hate the smell of garlic.  So I planted garlic cloves around each of the Geranium and Petunia plants as they went into the ground.  I also tried this with some Impatiens that are in another bed.  To my surprise, not a single flower was touched the entire season.  As the garlic grew I just tucked the stocks under the plants to conceal them.  Next year I'll try this to protect my Oriental Lilies at my home.

Another pest is the aphids on my roses.  For years I have been battling them and have found spraying a Neem oil, water and dish detergent mixture to be the most effective solution.  This year they deserted the roses, however took residence on the petunias in the planters.  Next year I'll spray all of my plants with Neem oil and see what happens.  Apparently the Neem oil eventually goes into the soil and the plants take it in.  I watched a TV show and it said the Queens gardeners use garlic powder and water to keep away the aphids.

I'm happy with my results this year and being able to use an organic means to control the pests.    

Thelma, Ivy Lea Cottage Turns 120


While Canada turns 150 this year, a quaint cottage on The St. Lawrence River turns 120 years old. Known to many Thousand Island boaters by the sign Thelma 1897, which is part of her river view facade.  The cottage is literally on the water at a chanel to Smugglers Cove at Kings Landing.

Thelma was built by David A. Haig for Markus J. King.  Mr Haig was a top notch carpenter who built many homes in Ivy Lea and the Benson Estate at Benson's Rift.  The name for the cottage came from a novel Mrs. Haig was reading as the building was being erected.  Marie Corelli's book Thelma was about a young lady who lives in Norway and loved the sea and nature.

Markus King was a Lansdowne tinsmith who eventually went into the cottage and confectionary business after Thelma was built.  Tour boats use to stop at Kings Dock which can be seen on old postcards.  Apparently there was even a tea room at Thelma.

In 1965 Thelma was purchased by Eleanor Austin and her friend Frances (Frankie) Christopher. Ms. Austin was from Connecticut and was introduced to the Thousand Islands by her mother.  She spent summers operating her successful cottage rental business until she passed on at the age of 92. 

Eleanor was an extremely talented artist, woodworker, poet and even placed third at the Westminster Dog Show.  Thelma was unique, full of antiques and her paintings.  She had called her rental The Driftwood but apparently referred to the cottage as Thelma.

The decor both inside and out was like a ship.  With a gangplank entrance, roped balcony, numerous portholes and a binnacle from the ocean liner the SS Normandie.  The Thelma 1897 facade was put in by Ms. Austin.

Thelma was sold to longtime Thousand Island residents and today operates as a cottage rental.  While renovations were desperately needed, the character of Thelma remains.  Many of Eleanor's antiques and paintings still grace the walls.  Her original bar remains and is referred to as "Eleanor's Bar."  Each summer former renters show up to see if the old Driftwood is still around, sharing numerous stories and memories.  They all say, Eleanor would be happy with the changes and to see how much of the history still remains.