Thursday, September 6, 2018

It's been a while...

As you may have guessed, it's been one of those years where habits, work and hobbies are thrown out the window in order to dedicate as much time as possible to aged parents who are far from home.  Kevin's step-mother went into decline late last year and passed away in February.  Then, as is the case with many elderly people who lose their cherished spouse, his father went into a free-fall.  So, every so many weeks we've been packing up the car and driving 7 hours to Quebec to do all that we can in a space of time that never seems sufficient.  While the hospital staff and villagers have been kind and helpful, it's been difficult negotiating the health care system that is primarily French when our language skills are so sadly lacking.

So no chronicles this summer.  But one thing I did do, when I was at home was force myself to have breakfast in the garden.  There's something remarkably soothing about sitting outside in the early morning light.   I took a few pictures every other day, so that I'd be able to share some of the beautiful plants and flowers that helped calm me at the start of the day and have a record of what happened in the garden over this remarkable summer.

I've gathered a passel of snapshots to show you now what my happy place looked like this summer.  And, over the next few months as life moves into a more predictable pattern, I'm looking forward to being able to catch up with all my blogging buddies.

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Sneak Peak at the 31st Annual Toronto Botanical Gardens Tour

There are many fine garden tours in the G.T.A., but this one is my all time favourite!  Yet again, the Master Gardener volunteers have convinced a group of exceptionally talented and generous homeowners to share their gardens with the public in support of the Toronto Botanical Gardens.   This year Mark's Choice has taken a lead sponsorship role to the newly christened "Mark's Choice Through the Garden Gate".

The headquarters of this year's tour is at the Toronto Botanical Gardens.  So many people have enjoyed the TBG tours in the past, but believe it or not, have never been to the Gardens.  Well, this year, that will all change.  New or returning visitors will be amazed at what has been achieved in such a small 4-acre garden:  There are learning gardens, vegetables, woody plants, bulbs, perennials, annuals, tropicals, containers and more.   Even more exciting news, this little garden is now the jumping off point for the newly approved 35 acre garden!

So between, the TBG gardens and Mark's Choice Through the Garden Gate, you will have a fabulous floriferous time.

Here are just a few of the gardens you'll see:

Who needs grass when there are so many good plants out there?  This garden on Chelford Road has lots of natives and stylish specimens in a lush natural setting.  Here are a few that were performing when we visited.  No doubt there will be something special for you to see in June:

Halesia carolina

My first Syringa lacianata (cutleaf lilac)

What to do with that ghastly area where nothing will grow?  Here's a great idea:

Pay no heed to that vehicular backdrop....but feast your eyes on the peony!

From the natural to the tamed - looks like Paul Zammit has been working overtime on beautiful containers:

What an absolutely lovely sentiment:

More of the back garden:

A very cool original home - always find it remarkable to see just how large those evergreens can grow in over 40 years!

Here's a beautiful Brian Cliff garden I visited last August again last week.  Layered planting at its best.  Gorgeous at every point in the season.

Last August:


And then:

The back garden last year:

I really like the Galium odorata with the river stone - it really is sweet (bad horticultural pun, guilty as charged)!

And then, there are those gardens that would require bank robbery and teams of men with clippers for me to ever have -- never going to happen, but so much fun to visit.

There are lots of fancy woody plants:

This old architectural element is made from a new material.  The rebar is covered in different varieties of Clematis.  Please keep your fingers crossed that on the day of the tour, you'll be at face level with lots of blooming blossoms. 

Yet another cool specimen:

And one last photo of the grounds of the TBG that I snapped on the way to the car.  The ride was slow, as it always is, but fortunately I had lots of great memories of my day in the gardens of Windfields Estate.

For more information on this great event, please visit Mark's Choice Through the Garden Gate!  Hope to see you there. #MCTTGG18

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Canada Blooms At the Movies - Popcorn Included!

Like everyone else in Ontario I am suffering from a massive Vitamin D deficiency.  It has been a miserably dark January and February.  In spite of this lack of light, greenhouse growers and the wonderful folks at Landscape Ontario have done a brilliant job delighting us with displays of flowers and greenery at this year's Canada Blooms - co-located with the Home Show.

The theme is "Let's Go to the Movies!"  introduced by this large bag of popcorn that magically transforms into a cascade of tiny white/yellow roses:

Supersized popcorn-styled containers are dotted throughout.

 Aside from the greenery, there are lots of photo-ops with a superhero or two...

So much fun to see Darth Vader sweeping in for his busy photo-sessions.

Would you say this is a Comedy, Crime, or Science Fiction?  Look closely to see.....kale spray-painted gold....

One of my favourites this year was the Highway of Heroes Display.  This wonderful charity's goal is to plant 2 million trees along the 401 in honour of the 117,000 Canadian soldiers killed in combat since our confederation in 1867.  There were beautiful bulbs, pretty trees in leaf, good perennials and excellent construction techniques.

How's this for fence as artwork?

I can hardly wait to see my shade plants in bloom:

For those of you who want to grow what you see, the labelling is excellent.

It's only when you get inside this little conservatory that you can really understand it's charm:

Oh for an unlimited bank account, this could all be mine!

The flower and plant vendors are top-notch.  Here's my friend Peter Wood figuring out which one of these treasures he wants to take home.

So much to see in this particular display:

One of the main messages at this year's show is that gardening is for everybody.  Some of the most avid gardeners cover their balconies with gorgeous displays.  Not only is this very attractive, but look at how many ideas you've got here:

1.  Mirrors and artwork on the walls.
2.  A growing wall
3.  Overhead lights for sparkle
4.  Tropicals that can keep you company inside over the winter
5.  Candles for soft light
6.  Trendy gold accents

I had a girlfriend who's balcony looked like this - not sure how you'd get to the wine, but it would certainly be an aromatic endeavour as your posterior brushed the basil.

Serious growing walls with really serious grow lights:

I think this one was my favourite.  Great floor pattern.  Simple lattice.  A good chair and three beautiful strongly coloured containers.

So there!  You think your balcony is tooooooo small, well the gauntlet is dropped.  You can make a garden anywhere.

How's this for having everything!  I'd like to try the sedum in the floor the next time I do a balcony design.

This is an Inconvenient Garden - a borrowed movie theme from an Inconvenient Truth.  Hmmmm.

I thought this was a very cool smaller garden.  Good colours and also quite doable in many tiny spaces.

And who could resist The Star Trek Garden?  You've got Windex to either drink or polish the place and photos of the Starship Commanders.*
*Phillips Family History Note:  William Shatner, second from the right, was declared by my Grandmother Phillips in her 80th year to be "The Answer to a Maiden's Prayers!"

Always appreciated when the floral displays are right at the edge so they can be enjoyed on both sides.

Spoiled for choice at Grow Ontario.

 And if all this wasn't enough, you really must see the floral competitions.  So very beautiful:

I think this is just about the coolest idea and I've set my mind to percolate in order to figure out where and when I can use it.  It doesn't have to be this colour, maybe something for Christmas along a fence, or on my covered deck in Easter colours.....

And now to leave you with two photos of colour - the second has Salpiglossis - one of my Grandma Stokes favourite garden flowers: