Summer Fluff of the Cottonwood Tree

cottonwood seed pods

Cottonwood seed pods explode into a summery fluff.

If you are anywhere near a Cottonwood tree (Populus deltoides, a member of the poplar family) you’ll experience a seasonal event in summer when the seed pods of the female trees ripen and explode, causing fluff to fly everywhere. I caught this one in mid-explosion at the beach on Lake Ontario. You might notice piles of fluff and not know where it came from, as it blows in the wind very easily. The tiny seeds are attached to the fluff, and are spread by the wind or anything the fluff attaches itself to, much like a dandelion seed.

The Eastern Cottonwood is a tall tree—one of the largest in North America—with thick, papery leaves that make their presence known in more ways than one. Another is sound. There was a massive one in my neighbourhood, (until lightning struck it) and I loved the particular sound of the leaves rustling in the wind. Yes, some trees are noisier than others! Maybe Cottonwoods’ sonic force is due to the coarsely-toothed leaf edges. Cottonwoods have a lot of visual clues that help you identify it. I like this description of the seed pods from The Tree Pages:

Fruits are capsules on long pendulous catkins appearing somewhat like green beads on a necklace.

Cottonwoods grow happily along our lake front and in many parks and ravines. They are a bit large for most home landscapes.

Cottonwood trees are the fastest growing trees in North America. A young tree can add 6 feet or more in height each year. This rapid growth leads to weak wood that is easily damaged.

The trees can grow to well over 100 feet tall, with eastern species sometimes reaching 190 feet. The canopy of a mature tree spreads about 75 feet wide, and the diameter of the trunk averages about 6 feet at maturity.

In fall, the leaves turn a bright yellow, adding to the beauty this tree provides. We are lucky in Toronto to have so many cottonwood trees as part of our large tree canopy.

So You Have to Work on Canada Day


After a weekend of terrible weather we’re happy to see the sun out again so we can get back into enjoying this summer. Canada Day hits on Wednesday and since the celebration is midweek and a lot of us have to work we thought we’d look into a menu that’s easy to execute as soon as you get home. Burgers seem like a perfect choice – they’re easy to cook and serve and go well with any number of toppings. Grab some salad fixin’s and you’ve got dinner down.

Now making your own hamburger patties from fresh ground beef, or veggie patties from quinoa and mashed beans, is all well and good, but for the sake of simplicity and ease we looked into frozen patties. There are a lot of hockey pucks out there in the frozen patty section of the freezer but we found two, one vegetarian and one beef -so no one gets left out, that raise the bar and are definitely worthy of your Canada Day barbecue feast! Continue »

BBQ Like A Pro

We interviewed competitive barbecue chef Stephen Perrin about how to get the best results when cooking barbecue this summer.


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How did you end up becoming so interested in BBQ, was there one defining moment that made you fall in love with BBQ? 

During a trip to Whistler, I visited a local barbecue restaurant called Dusty’s and was fascinated by their smoking and grilling techniques and the overall concept of a BBQ joint. I was excited by the challenge to try out a whole new style of cooking since I was coming from a fine dining, classical style and decided to open up my own spot.  Continue »

Whisky For Father’s Day



Most guys like whisky, and dad is no exception. His special day is coming up this weekend and rather than traditional Father’s Day gifts like leather bound law books, fly fishing equipment or an elaborately carved chess set – why not give him a gift he actually wants? Continue »

Greek Meatballs & Stuffed Eggplant

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We’re big fans of Christine Cushing’s line of tomato sauces, roasted peppers and bold Greek olive oils. She’s doing a tasting of her products tonight at the Drake Hotel. She’ll be serving up juicy Greek meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce, eggplant stuffed with manouri cheese and she’ll be also be offering a tasting of those delicious olive oils. It’s all free and it starts at 8pm.

We caught up with Christine for a quick interview about Greek cuisine… Continue »