One of my favourite gardens at the Royal Botanical Gardens has been the Laking Garden. It was always a great resource. If you gardened in this part of Ontario and needed a hint or two for colour at a certain time of year, you'd be certain to find something delightful at the perennial garden you could use at home. The hosta walk was lovely and calming - in spite of the fact that some folks were using it as their 'harvest-your-own' hosta farm. There is a sweet old-fashioned garden with perennials used from the period when this area was settled by Europeans that was always worth a look. And probably the most notable section, was a brilliant collection of peonies and iris - collections larger than even the Lilac collection for which the RBG is renown.
Staff hard at work getting the annuals in outside the Laking Garden
The original iris collection was displayed in rectangular beds by decade. It was great fun to troll through and see what was popular - ruffles, pastels, scent, large flowers or bicolours. The sad thing is that over the years, this garden had really fallen into disrepair. Several years ago, in order to make it look like anything, the iris were corralled into a Fleur-de-Lis pattern hedged with a dark Wegeila (something like Wine and Roses). This is what it looked like in 2012:
Not bad says you, but scroll down.....
Not so good either. And apparently the pattern was really tough to maintain.
So, here it is - back to its historical planting by decade:
Iris 'Florentine Silk' 2004:
I. 'Wonders Never Cease'
I. 'Broad Minded'
I. 'Haunted Heart' 2009
I. 'Pursuit of Happiness' 2007
So while the plantings are still pretty new, we are in for a fabulous display in the coming years. I for one am so pleased that they decided to revitalize the garden returning it to its former glory.
The main perennial garden is pretty much the same - here it was in 2012:
and in 2014:
Seems that I enjoy photographing the same plants... Baptisia 2012:
It is a very exciting time at the RBG. This is just one of the major improvements planned for the gardens. I can hardly wait to see what the complete re-vamp of the Rock Gardens will look like in 2015....it's not often you get to spend $20MM on a garden!