20.8.15

Late summer blooms at the Toronto Botanical Garden

Purple coneflower, Joe Pye Weed, Rudbeckia and other late summer bloomers at the TBG


Where did the summer go? You may be asking where did "garden muses" go? 

Yes, I haven't posted for almost two months which defeats the purpose of having a blog in the first place. My excuse reason is a combination of exhaustion and laziness. I'm often too tired to take pictures,  don't want to carry a camera around and/or preoccupied with the business side of things to post pictures and write commentary.

I agree, it's lame but there you go, faithful reader!

Today is a rain day so I'm taking a break from weeding and decided to write about a recent trip to the Toronto Botanical Garden ("TBG"). I had 2 hours to kill before meeting a client near the TBG so I made my first visit for the year.

Here are some highlights from my late summer visit. I'd post more pictures but of course my camera batteries died.

Another excuse!

I hope you're having a good summer (winter for those in the southern hemisphere.)



Ligularia Rudbeckia Joe Pye Weed late summer blooms at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Ligularia,  Rudbeckia and Joe Pye Weed
 late summer blooms at the Toronto Botanical Garden 

This perennial border is showing its summer flowers wonderfully. Pink and yellow may not be your favourite colour combination (it isn't mine) but the butterflies and bees visiting don't have this prejudice.


Late summer perennial border at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Late summer perennial border
at the Toronto Botanical Garden

What will this bed look like in winter? When I design gardens, I always think about structure during the winter months. TBG's gardeners know better than to level plants to the ground as part of the "fall cleanup" offered by landscaping companies. Birds have to eat too!


Toronto Botanical Garden late summer perennial border by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Toronto Botanical Garden's
late summer perennial border 


A closeup of a hungry visitor on this Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum) set of blooms. This native perennial does well at the back of the border in a big mass, of course.


Joe Pye Weed Eutrochium purpureum at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum)
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 



Eutrochium purpureum Joe Pye Weed  at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Eutrochium purpureum (Joe Pye Weed)
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 

In the Knot Garden, the "White Swan" and species Echinacea and Gaura were in full force. Again, I can't love these enough in masses. The formation remind me of a river/stream or clouds of coneflower.


Toronto Botanical Garden White Swan purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Toronto Botanical Garden's "White Swan"
purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea spp.) 

White Swan purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"White Swan" purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
at theToronto Botanical Garden 



Echinacea purpurea White Swan purple coneflower at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Echinacea purpurea White Swan purple coneflower
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 



Here are four pollinator favourites. I'm discovering Agastache cultivars are truly versatile and bee magnets!

Geranium Rozanne Cranesbill Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Geranium "Rozanne" Cranesbill
at the Toronto Botanical Garden


Kudos Gold Agastache Dwarf Hummingbird Mint at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Kudos Gold" Agastache (Dwarf Hummingbird Mint)
at the Toronto Botanical Garden  



Buddleia Nanho Purple butterfly bush at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Buddleia "Nanho Purple" butterfly bush
at the Toronto Botanical Garden  


Blazing Star Liatris spicata Floristan Violet at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Blazing Star (Liatris spicata "Floristan Violet")
 at the Toronto Botanical Garden



I'm not a rose fan (a lot of effort yielding low results) but this David Austin shrub rose called "Mary Rose" could change my mind. Nice scent and luckily not ravaged by Japanese beetles.


Mary Rose David Austin shrub rose Rosa Ausmary at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Mary Rose David Austin shrub rose (Rosa "Ausmary")
 at the Toronto Botanical Garden 

Rosa Ausmary Mary Rose David Austin shrub rose at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Rosa "Ausmary" Mary Rose David Austin shrub rose
 at the Toronto Botanical Garden 

On display were several containers to give condo owners and gardeners who like colourful containers some inspiration. I was attracted to the containers made up of succulents which offer excellent contrasts in shapes and textures.

Echeveria elegans Mexican snowball at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Echeveria elegans (Mexican snowball)
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 


Echeveria Perle von Nurnberg at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Echeveria "Perle von Nurnberg"
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 



Summer container at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Summer container
at the Toronto Botanical Garden


This container definitely has a big wow-factor. Here's the list of plants making up the design (see if you can identify each component):


  • Pink Diplandenia ("Rio Pink" Mandevilla")
  • Bidens hybrid
  • Indian Feather (Gaura lindheimeri "Belleza Compact Light Pink"
  • Verbena "Lascar Compact Pink"
  • Red Cordyline
  • Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena "Fireworks") 
  • Heuchera "Berry Smoothie"
  • Fountain Grass (Pennisetum x advena "Cherry Sparkler")

I won't even bother showing the containers in front of our house. Compared to this one...



31.5.15

(Re)making a Toronto garden

A city front yard makeover


You might wonder what I actually do, besides writing these blog posts (by the way, thank you for reading!) I've operated my gardening business in Toronto since 2005 and I estimate that 80% of my daily paid activities involve weeding. I admit being a gardener is not the most glamorous occupation out there but I'm treated and paid well by my clients so I have zero complaints. It sure beats sucking in gas fumes pushing a mower ten hours a day. Or being part of the herd in a cubicle farm.

Occasionally, I'm asked to tackle a space that the homeowner is fed up with. Gardens in which plants are arranged haphazardly and/or overgrown,  areas choked full of weeds, or filled with uninspiring plants. I have "rehabbed" two gardens so far this spring and this post profiles one garden's change. (I'd use the word "transformation" but this isn't meant to be a landscaping company brochure.) I'll show you the before and after pictures and give you the plant list too, if you're feeling inspired.

(You may ask "why are you giving away this information? Won't your competitors copy your ideas?" Well, I don't see many disadvantages.  There's no formal plan or design I'm showing for anyone to copy. And if a competitor lacks so much imagination and plant knowledge that he or she has to copy little old me, it's time for more reading over the winter!)

The typical initial meeting with the client involves a review of the site, noting sunlight patterns, soil condition, existing plants, what goes, what stays, etc. Mostly cut and dried. What is much more important is asking questions and trying to find out why the garden is causing so much pain and determining what, if anything, I can do to eliminate or drastically reduce this pain. So while the first meeting is officially an interview, often it's more like a therapy session. 

Ok, we can use "transformation" now.

Below are some before shots of a small approximately 14' x 10' downtown Toronto front garden:



Summerhill garden makeover before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Summerhill garden makeover before

Above, there's a large Weeping Nootka Falsecypress at the far left which, of course, isn't moving. But most everything else is! This includes the Bridal Wreath spiraea, a yew and  two boxwoods in behind.


MacPherson Avenue front garden makeover before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
MacPherson Avenue front garden makeover before


This is the view from the front stoop. For such a small area, the boxwoods screen the rest of the yard. Not much groundcover besides some Pachysandra. The Japanese maple (you see the trunk to the right?) is a specimen so that stays. You're looking south, so the garden receives full sun only on the left side as the maple's canopy provides light shade for most of the day. I consider this a part-sun/part-shade site.The soil is sandy and little organic matter had been added by the homeowner over the years.

The client is very much interested in the Japanese garden style and probably would like to have a teahouse, moss garden and a miniature replica of the Ryoan-ji temple crammed in (I would!) but as a compromise, I suggested we use plants to evoke a Japanese garden.


So we came up with this:


Summerhill garden makeover after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Summerhill garden makeover after 


Summerhill front garden renovation after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Summerhill front garden renovation after 


Summerhill front garden makeover after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Summerhill front garden makeover after 


MacPherson Avenue front garden makeover after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
MacPherson Avenue front garden makeover

Of course, the perennials and shrubs are babies so give them three years to start going. But I think you can see the potential for a full and lush garden. I added lots of composted cow manure to the sandy soil and covered with a thin layer of mulch. Now it's up to the client to water regularly until the plants get established.

Here's the plant list:

  • Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra and Hakonechloa macra "Aureola")
  • Rodgersia
  • "Mandarin Lights" deciduous Exbury azaleas
  • "Green Panda" bamboo (Fargesia rufa "Green Panda")
  • Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum)
  • Green Mountain boxwood (Buxus)
  • "Honorine Jobert" Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida "Honorine Jobert")

At the completion,  the garden owner was very happy (and, frankly, relieved), received compliments and wrote me a cheque promptly so it was smiles all around. 

I enjoy these small neat projects that pop up occasionally for me. I find it very satisfying to visualize and implement ideas into three dimensions. In many ways, I'm not a creative like my daughter who can draw, my wife who plays piano or my son who...plays computer games. But I can "paint" with plants. And write once in a while.

Does that make me an artiste?




19.5.15

May blooms and foliage in various Toronto gardens

I'm alive! 


Readers will forgive me for not blogging in a while as it's been another incredibly busy spring as a (paid) Toronto gardener. The upside, besides much needed income,  is that I can take pictures from my clients' gardens showing what's in bloom in this month.

As a bonus, I've included some pictures of foliage and blooms from my garden as well. Alas, none of veggies...


Star Magnolia stellata by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Star Magnolia ( Magnolia stellata



4.4.15

Centennial Park Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2015

More spring blooms in Etobicoke (under glass)


Toronto is not experiencing higher temperatures (say, above 60 degrees F. or 10 degrees C.) yet. Even tulips and daffodils are reluctant to emerge, although I did see a few winter aconites flower nearby. Most local gardeners, I suspect, are winter-weary, just aching to see some colour outside.

Several posts ago I showed some highlights from my recent visit to a local Conservatory to catch its Spring Flower Show ( you can click here: Centennial Park Conservatory 2015 Spring Flower Show ). I'll finish up with the remaining photos from that visit in this post.

I feel it's going to be one of those springs in Toronto in which the temperatures will zoom from about 5 to 20 degrees Celsius overnight. If that's the case, we should be seeing flowers and foliage exploding all over the city soon. 

Come on spring! Don't be coy!


Blue pink hyacinths Centennial Park Conservatory 2015 Spring Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Blue pink hyacinths at the
Centennial Park Conservatory
2015 Spring Flower Show 


29.3.15

"Garden muses" turns four!

Baby, you're a big girl now!


Every March 29, I get kind of emotional. This blog that you're reading gets another year older, smarter and sassier (unlike the author who's simply getting older.) Like most parents  (indulge me while I anthropomorphize), I didn't know what the future held for my creation for the first few years--whether she would survive, what her personality would be, how long it would take her to be diaper-trained, etc.


Fourth birthday lemon loaf by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Sorry, a lemon-poppy seed mini loaf
from the freezer will have to do 



27.3.15

Centennial Park Conservatory 2015 Spring Flower Show

Spring blooms in Etobicoke (under glass)


"What am I going to do with the kids during March break this year?" was a question that many parents in Toronto had to grapple with.  After a couple days of  being couch zombies staring at their devices, enough was enough.  So, off to another Flower Show!


Tulipa Green Wave Parrot tulips Centennial Park Conservatory 2015 Spring Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Tulipa "Green Wave" Parrot tulips 
Centennial Park Conservatory 
2015 Spring Flower Show 


We, Torontonians, are spoiled with having two Conservatories that:

  • offer seasonal flower shows
  • charge no admission fee
  • accessible by public transit

I've written many times about my visits to the Allan Gardens Conservatory which is very close to home but there is another "sister" Conservatory in the west side of Toronto called the Centennial Park Conservatory which also holds similar seasonal flower shows. (Here's my post from the Centennial Park Conservatory's 2014 Spring Flower Show ). 

It's a bit of a trek to get out there by subway and bus but the kids and I did it anyway. It was quid pro quo: I got to take some nice pictures of spring blooms and the kids got to eat at their favourite restaurant. Kind of a win-win-win:

  • I experienced more wonderful blooms without having to run through a gauntlet of vendors shilling this and that
  • my kids received some visual stimulation that didn't originate from a screen
  • you take in some more pictures of pretty flowers (I just wish you were able to smell the hyacinths and freesias. Absolutely divine!)

Isn't spring wonderful?

20.3.15

Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2015 (part three)

Toronto's other Flower Show

According to its website page,
"Canada Blooms is an annual world-class festival that connects people to the joys and benefits of nature through experiences with gardens and flowers, by promoting, educating, inspiring and celebrating all aspects of horticulture...(sic) "
After spending about 90 minutes on opening day; however, I didn't make the connection. However, if one replaces "horticulture" with "landscape construction" in the preceding quote (mission statement?), I'd wager that connections were more likely to be made.

Reviews have been mixed, as usual, according to the Canada Blooms  Facebook page. If a hybrid Flower-Home Renovation Show (which Canada Blooms has become in spirit, if not de facto)  isn't your thing, there's still time to drop by the Allan Gardens Conservatory for its annual Spring Flower Show which finishes at the end of March. 

Here are the rest of my pictures I took a couple of weeks ago at the Conservatory--a quiet place devoted to flowers and foliage.

100% flowers and foliage(or just about), 0% vendor booths.

Spring container Allan Gardens Conservatory 2015 Spring Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Spring container
Allan Gardens Conservatory
2015 Spring Flower Show

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