Friday, June 2, 2017

Rain Gear, Puddles and Some of Toronto's Finest Gardens!

Got to go to the media preview for the Toronto Botanical Gardens 30th anniversary tour:  "Through the Garden Gate" coming up June 10th and 11th. There will be 30 lovely North Rosedale and Moore Park gardens for you to enjoy.  And, if the 10 or so that I've seen are any indication, this tour is not to be missed.

Here's a little of what I saw that day and a few sunny day snaps that I took back in September. As you can see, these gardens are marvellous, no matter when you get to visit.


The architect of this fine home was Eden Smith, renown for his Arts & Crafts designs and many public buildings in Toronto including the Lawren Harris studio.  He believed that a home should provide its best views into the garden.  Look at the wall of windows and just imagine how gorgeous the views must be. 




Everyone on the tour works so hard to make their gardens look spectacular.  Coats of paint have been added since late last year.



There are lots of white and soft coloured flowers no matter the season.







This was our second stop.  Its has a great no-grass front garden and splendid roof-top garden.  There are several gardens with some really good ground covers on the tour this year.  The secret is pick your plants well and plant them in abundance -- don't wait for the magic, MAKE it happen.






Sean James came up to the top of the porch to get a better view.  Not only are there the usual suspects in the roof-top garden, they've planted iris as well!


I know there are those who aren't all that fond of chartreuse in the garden, but situated well it almost makes you think the sun is shining.


Such sweet little pansies.


If ever there was a spring to show off your formal boxwood garden -- it's this one:  Not too much snow and cold over the winter; lots of rain, and no scorching sun as the new growth appeared.  Here's my buddy Margaret Bennet-Alder, author of "The Toronto Gardener's Journal", who is turning 90 on the 19th of June.


The dear owner left her cushions out in the deluge so we could get the full effect -- and served us little treats and bubbles to wash it down with.  You can get an idea just how much rain we got that day:




Even big kids like to play in the rain -- a little soft shoe splish splash with Sara Katz.




And a few sunny shots from last fall:  A driveway that's more pattern than concrete.  And, who wouldn't want to spend time in the back corner with friends?



A cozy surprise in a sheltered corner garden:


A plant collector, who sources his plants from around North America, starts many from seed and has established a boxwood hedge from cuttings!



A garden with a cobbled walkway circling the garden.  


How's this for respecting what came first?!   Lots of limbed old bushes, but as you climb the stairs, look at the stonework around the tree.....



With 30 gardens on the tour, you're going to have to put on your runners and scoot.   While the tour is adding an extra hour, on both Saturday and Sunday, starting at 10:00 rather than 11:00, you'll be hard pressed to see it all.  But no matter where you start, or end, you'll have a great day.  Leave that electronic device at home and let the sights and sounds wash over you as you step "Through the Garden Gate".



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

Finally spring.  Finally spring-like weather.  And finally, I've done enough work in the garden so that I'm not running through my mind how I might enter into some sort of witness protection program rather than 'fess up to the mess of my garden.  Between work and the weather, clean-up has been a challenge.  I often leave a lot of leaves in the beds over the winter to help preserve the tender perennials -- snow cover can be spotty.  However, this year, I'm thinking I've got to be a little more industrious in the fall -- and perhaps say goodbye to a few of those sissy perennials.  My schedule and the garden just aren't playing in the same key in spring.  Having less to do would make things that much easier.

You may know that this area has been hit with substantial amounts of rain.  Lake Ontario is up three feet at the moment.  It's also been cold.  This nice part of a cold wet spring is that the bushes are beautiful, tulips are lasting, grass is green, and we're getting good use of all our sweaters and light jackets.

Tomorrow I'm headed out to a preview of the Toronto Botanical Garden's annual Through the Garden Gate tour in North Rosedale & Moore Park.  There will be 30 gardens to see June 10&11th.  Tickets are on sale now.  I'll get to see a sample of these lovely gardens in the pouring rain (if the weather forecast is right - and when it comes to rain, it usually is!).  Boots, trench coat and wipes for my camera lens - should be a great catch-up with my garden buddies.

Mum and I got out to the Royal Botanical Gardens Rock Garden for Mother's Day.  Such a pretty venue.  It gets better each time I see it.  Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary - so there are lots of red and white tulips about.




Chartreuse anyone?  When you don't have a lot of flowers, this is a very bright way to bring some sunshine to the garden:





There has been a bit of a grumble that the Canada 150 tulips (a red and white broken coloured tulip) have not come true to colour.  In fact many of them are yellow, purple, or as my Aunt Carolyn said, "They're an odd beige colour at the base."  So much for hardware store bargains.  Anyway these look quite pretty combined with red and white tulips - wondered if they are the same type or a fancier variety.



Back at home I pulled a few bits of spring from the garden to enjoy.


The garden at it's 50% presentable stage.


Discovery time.  This Epimedium was not cleaned up (the leaves stay green during the winter - then turn brown and ugly just as the new leaves and flowers come up), i.e.  I did not get out there and take off the dead.  Well, guess what, it's never looked so good.  The dead folds back quite nicely on its own and the new leaves cover it all up.  Lesson learned.  Epimedium plants do not need to be "cleaned up".



Mertensia virginica.


Cercis canadensis volunteer from a very clever bird.


Many of our little pathways down by the Lake have been closed because of the height of the water.


The rhodos have been wonderful this year.


When I look at this I want to go out and get a can of paint, and start painting random rooms.



My lovely Exocorda 'Snow Day'.  Planted in 2010, run over by a car a few years later, and doing beautifully this year.



Here are some lovely pink plants from the same garden on our morning walk - really nice combinations:




Another garden by the corner.....This was the year to have blooming bushes and tulips:


Only an Italian designer would match car upholstery and brake doodads.  Zowie.


Back to reality.  Some pretty pink tulips in my own garden:


The Akebia vine.


And for the first time ever - black spot on the Akebia vine.  There's also a black fungal wilt in the Cornus alternafolia that I've never seen before too.  Nothing like cold and wet to bring these fungal diseases out.


My work for this afternoon:





 And a very pretty Proven Winners rose called Rosa at Last.  No note with it -- just arrived on Mother's Day - so lucky me and thank you to Proven Winners!




So it's time to get out there and plant.  Look forward to sharing my TBG photos with you very soon!