Monday, July 4, 2016

A Visit to the Mother Ship - The New RBG Rock Garden

Most times I prefer to be right - in this particular case I am absolutely delighted to be wrong.  My first impressions of the new Rock Garden have completely changed.

Like every other member of the RBG, we had been waiting to see the new rock garden.  It had been closed for 3 long years.  Kevin and I got in on the May long weekend.  To say I was excited was an understatement.

This garden used to be a smack-in-the-face bulbalicious colour pallooza.  So I was anticipating a crush of bulbs in a new gorgeous design.  However, no such luck.

There were some bulbs in the entry beds down to the garden - almost like a memorial to what the garden once was.

Bulbs were planted sparingly, but effectively.

Instead of bulbs we saw masses of plants.  Plant one times 10 to the power of 6.  (A curse on you Mr. Oudolf.)

There were some old favourites, like this Cercis canadensis 'Alba':

And, the colour chartreuse looms large - Dicentra 'Gold Heart'.

Down into the belly of the beast....this was it.  No wonder we haven't been allowed in for 3's taken this long for the plants to start to look like they may want to grow.

Nice new centre and a garden of green goosebumps.

Excellent new steps - lovely new railing.

We noticed that they've really put a lot of thought into accessibility - anyone in a wheelchair or walker can see most of the garden.  Although there are parts where grandma may want to race her grandchildren - the incline can be a bit steep.

Lovely wide pathways.  Not too much to look at.  So, that's how we ended our first visit to the garden.

However, last week I took some buddies for a picnic over at Hendrie Garden and asked them if they wanted to see (and have an opinion) on what $20MM of our taxpayer (and generous donor contribution) dollars has bought us.  Well, we did and we loved it.

There are large swaths of plants, plus combinations of interesting little plants (that are labeled) to delight you along your way.

And good vistas.

Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes' - a combination of simply too much, and yet, just perfect.

 You can see how things are still a bit dotty.  Obviously, next year will be even better.

Everyone had their camera out capturing the combinations.

One of the rebuilt water features.

Something for everyone:

I had tried to grow this from seed.  It spent all its time lying on its side like it had spent the night drinking.  When E. pallida does what it should, it looks very cool.

I'll be quiet for a few pictures so you can concentrate on the plants:

Cercis canadensis 'Hearts of Gold' - more chartreuse, than gold, but still lovely.

Like the use of dead ends.  It makes you circle back and see the garden from the other side.

Bart and Kevin enjoying the shade.

And here we are on our way out.  As you can see, Bart was ready to climb back up the stairs and stay for another round.  Frankly I would have too, if I'd had the time.  I'll be back with more friends in tow to show them my new favourite thing.

What a wonderful way to spend a few hours on a summer day.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Little Life Speed-Bump Yields A New Project

Such a nuisance.  I completely dismissed this paying attention nonsense to the amount of time spent working away in the garden to the detriment of my back.  Spent a week of recovery doing just as I should - week two much improved - started working in the garden trying to catch up to 14 days of chores - week three - doctor, physio, etc. etc., and week four I've graduated with the wise words of my lovely Physiotherapist, "Don't work too hard."   I shall have several signs made to plant in whichever bed is looking most appalling.  

"Please forgive our appearance, 
Barbara must not work too hard."

So while I'm not working too hard, I thought that it was the perfect time to start a project I've been milling about since I heard Roy Diblik, "The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden" speak at Canada Blooms.  I was transfixed when I heard him speak about how he established perennial gardens in public spaces that not only looked beautiful, but required minimal maintenance.  I've got two large beds that I've never been all that happy with - one I started when I first arrived at this house is a textbook of what not to plant in the shade-sad shade bed.  The other island bed is comprised of a collection of sample/test plants in various sizes and shapes that from time to time delight me, but more often than not, look like a chunky blob of something dug up from somewhere else and plunked in my garden.

After hearing Roy speak, and seeing how strong the theme of environmental gardening is at the moment, I thought it might be interesting (and hopefully a good read for you) if I studied several Timber Press books on the topic to assist in the design my new garden beds.  And, if it all worked out, I'd improve my garden, give the creatures a nicer home, and reduce the amount of time I spend on my maniacal spring spruce-up.  

So thanks to the lovely people at Timber, I now have in my possession the books of my gurus Roy Diblick, Douglas Tallamy, "Bringing Nature Home - How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants" and Larry Weaner's "Garden Revolution - How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change."  I've also added "Gardening for Butterflies" by the Xerces Society, because who doesn't want to garden for the peacocks of the bug world?

So over the next few months I'll be sharing what I'm learning and how I'll be incorporating these ideas into these two less-than-satisfactory gardens.  Whether I'll get them planted this year or next, I'm not sure, but I'm looking forward to sharing this transformation.

And, of course, what would a posting be without a few more photos in my very, very dry garden - no rain since May 30th - every North American storm has been completely rung out by the time it reached the shores of Lake Ontario.  I water sparingly, just to keep things alive.  Here's what is/has been doing well:

Calycanthus florida

It has been a terrific year for anything oniony - my chives, prettier than they are tasty.

It's always interesting to discover when a plant finds "it's happy place" - I'm not entirely certain I'm on board with Anemone nemorosa being so happy.

Not even afraid of Anthyrium 'Ghost'!

Hosta leaves, lovely lovely leaves.

 Spring colours are so pretty.

The best year ever for the Kolkwitzia.

The children are taking on the parent's reign of terror - a Red Tailed Hawk youngster.

It looks as if I'll be filling up the JBBOD very soon (Japanese Beetle Bucket of Death)

If you could bottle the scent of these, I'd wear it.

H. 'Empress Wu' asserting herself.  From time to time, it would appear the size on the tag is really the size of the plant.  I'll ask her where she'd like to move in the new plan.

Dependable Aruncus dioicus.  

The latest bit of nastiness to find my garden (click to see all the little white spots) - wooly larch adelgid (Adelges tsugae).  Going to do my best to get some of them out with a blast of the hose.  If they really set in, these foreign invaders will kill the tree in 4 years or so.  With any luck I'll be able to postpone this pretty tree's demise.

So I'm off to a day of hose-play, reading and not working too hard.  I cannot imagine a lovelier summer day!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sneak Peak of the Toronto Botanical Garden Through the Garden Gate

40 garden communicators got a sneak peak of this year's Through the Garden Gate tour.  We got to see 7 of the 18 beautiful gardens that will be featured June 11th and 12th in The Kingsway.  This charitable event, in support of the Toronto Botanical Gardens, is in its 29th year and continues to be one of my favourites.  Everyone who participates puts on their very best:    There are gardens designed by Toronto's best landscape architects and tended by staff.  There are collector's gardens with cool plants and excellent labelling.  There's marvellous artwork.  There are gardens that may have been designed and built by professionals, but now are taken care of by owners.  There are even gardens where they've installed a whole new lawn.  How's that for hospitality?  I'd say that puts us right up there with The Queen.

So here's a taster of what you'll see on the tour:

Isn't this a fun idea!

Count the garden communicators on their devices, 1, 2, 3......

Old-fashioned and wonderfully perfumed containers.

Truly the secret to a beautiful container in Toronto - a watering system:

Small yard, nicely done.

A very pleasant front yard.

A back yard - this was the garage - it is set up for fun and entertainment.

It's very unusual to have a house so far set back in this 'hood.  It is right on the back lot line.

And John and Kathy Chris' collector's garden:

I had never seen one of these in the flesh.  Isn't it pretty?

Sara Katz (on the bike) & Terrence Eta (below) - garden star and tour leader - talked about Petals and Pedals.  Yet another way you can enjoy this great tour.

Just to let you know - this was merely for the camera - if you participate - you will be riding along side Terrence, not being transported by him!

And then, my favourite category, "If my husband loved me, and he robbed a bank, this is the garden I might have."  The zowie-wowie gardens:

This play area hangs over the Humber River Valley:

The rock garden seen from below - quite magnificent:

And another garden down the street using the Humber River Valley as a backdrop:

Same garden, more elegance....

A very cool pool:

And, then it was all over for the day.

One last look, and a thought - wouldn't this be the best place for a croquet party!

I was so lucky to have the chance to visit these fine gardens - and you can be to, if you decide to meet me "Through the Garden Gate" June 11th & 12th 2016!  Hope to see you then.  #TTGG16