April 21, 2017

Hella Good Looking Hellebores!

Plant It and Forget It: Hellebore Hybrids


Chalk it up to Toronto gardeners having an early case of spring fever as I'm seeing Hellebores popping up in more and more gardens. These Christmas Roses (Helleborus niger) and Lenten Roses (Helleborus orientalis and the many hybrids under H. x hybridus) give us late winter or early spring blooms and look fantastic around daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses and early season tulips. They also don't expect much fussing about from their caregivers either: plant them in soil with rich organic matter, provide average moisture and allow for full to part sun. In many ways, hellebores are like peonies: just plant them, leave them alone and they should be long lasting. In terms of ongoing maintenance, I spend a couple minutes a year cutting off the previous year's old and often diseased leaves in early spring. That's it.

(A great reference for the hellebore care and propagation is Hellebores: Winter Hardy Shade Perennials for the Woodland Garden from Plant Delights Nursery.)




Hellebores and crocuses at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Hellebores and crocuses at 
the Toronto Botanical Garden 


April 19, 2017

Leaside Spring Garden Cleanup

Sharing the Hellebore love in Leaside


The requests for spring garden cleanups are coming in fast and furious with April's good weather. 

Here's another small project for a new client in the Leaside area of Toronto with the typical tasks of raking out the garden beds, pruning some of the shrubs, and the highlight: transplanting three fresh and full containers of "Ivory Prince" hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus 'Walhelivor').


Leaside Toronto Spring Garden Clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leaside Toronto Spring Garden Clean up before 



Leaside Toronto Spring Garden Clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leaside Toronto Spring Garden Clean up after 


Leaside Toronto Spring Garden Cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leaside Toronto Spring Garden Cleanup before



Leaside Toronto Spring Garden Cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leaside Toronto Spring Garden Cleanup after 


The garden center selling these hellebores know how weak and vulnerable many Toronto gardeners are right now. While these perennials can be considered expensive at about $40 for a one gallon pot, there's no denying hellebores (and Helleborus in general) are beautiful and tough as nails too. Combine them with daffodils and crocuses for a winning spring composition!



Ivory Prince Hellebore spring blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Ivory Prince" Hellebore spring blooms 



Ivory Prince Hellebore spring flowers by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Ivory Prince" Hellebore spring flowers 




April 11, 2017

Riverdale Toronto Spring Garden Cleanup

Cleaning Up Your Garden in the Fall Isn't Necessary


There's one garden I look after in Toronto's Riverdale neighbourhood that never experiences the glory of what's known in the landscaping business as a "fall cleanup." Typically, every October or November, a garden is "put to bed" or "closed for the winter" (amusing metaphors!) by having all dead or dying perennial stems, stalks and flowers removed or leaves raked (more likely blown) out. For most gardens, this isn't necessary. The seedheads and stalks can feed overwintering birds and provide homes for beneficial insects while a layer of leaves acts as mulch and protects your perennials somewhat from heaving due to freeze and thaw (especially if a thick blanket of snow is absent.) Lastly, the dead stems can also provide some "winter interest" by catching a bit of the snow and wind (when you experience four solid months of winter like I do, you'll take it!)

I've profiled this "ecological garden" in the past in a post titled "A Tale of Two Toronto Gardens--An Ecological and Formal Garden: And Never the Twain Shall Meet?"  which has only native (to southern Ontario) species and no cultivars. It's actually a "lower-maintenance" garden to look after as the perennials and shrubs are pest and disease free (except the American Plum (Prunus americana)  which always gets scale and needs some horticultural oil sprayed on at this time of the year.)

Coming out of winter, however, all of last year's stalks and flowers need to be cut down in preparation for another season full of colour and pollinator activity.



Riverdale Toronto spring garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto spring garden clean up before


Riverdale Toronto spring garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto spring garden clean up after 


Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup before


Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup after 


Toronto Riverdale spring garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale spring garden clean up 

Toronto Riverdale spring garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale spring garden clean up after 


Toronto Riverdale spring garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale spring garden cleanup before 


Toronto Riverdale spring garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale spring garden cleanup after 


April 07, 2017

Parkdale Spring Garden Cleanup

A Spring Garden Clean Up in the west-end Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale


After another quiet winter hibernating, this bear is ready to work again, motivated by the warm weather and, truth be told, the need to replenish cash. Four solid months of winter are increasingly harder to tolerate for a Toronto gardener like myself. Geez, other bloggers have been posting pictures of spring blooms for months now while we're only finally seeing the colourful blooms of hellebores, snowdrops and crocus. But enough whining...

This April has been milder compared to previous years so I've received more calls for "spring (garden) cleanups" than usual from old and new clients.

(As an aside, I don't like the terms "spring/ (or fall) cleanup" as it suggests a garden has to be sterile and polished like, for example, your bathroom. But that's the vernacular so I'm not going to quibble with a client over this usage.)

The weather was pleasant the other day so I scheduled a visit to tidy up the front and back gardens belonging to this client living in the west-end Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale.



Parkdale front garden spring cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Parkdale front garden spring cleanup before 


Nothing too elaborate involved here: primarily raking up last season's decomposing leaves and stems, pruning a few dead branches and removing the old (very dead) annuals from the three containers.

Typical of city gardens, there was quite a bit of garbage mixed in with the leaves. The juniper seemed to attract and collect most of the debris and working around it is always a delight (sarcasm inserted.)




Parkdale front garden spring cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Parkdale front garden spring cleanup after



Parkdale Toronto front garden spring cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Parkdale Toronto front garden spring cleanup



Parkdale Toronto front garden spring cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Parkdale Toronto front garden spring cleanup


Parkdale Toronto front garden spring clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Parkdale Toronto front garden spring clean up 



Parkdale Toronto front garden spring clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Parkdale Toronto front garden spring clean up after



Toronto Parkdale front garden spring cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Parkdale front garden spring cleanup
(Sorry for the glowing orb at the bottom.
I'm not sure why it's there!) 



Toronto Parkdale front garden spring cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Parkdale front garden spring cleanup 


Toronto Parkdale front garden spring clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Parkdale front garden spring clean up




Toronto Parkdale front garden spring clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Parkdale front garden spring clean up 



Here's to Spring 2017, Toronto version,  another work season for me and more dirty fingers for you!

April 01, 2017

Succulents and cacti at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory

Prickly and Juicy Characters



Succulents seem to be all the rage these days and I can understand why. They're "low maintenance" (well, not hardy for us in zone 5 Toronto but not slaves to watering either) and, admittedly, very cute. I was reminded of this during my visit to the 2017 Centennial Park Conservatory Spring Flower Show (outlined in my previous post.) The Conservatory has a separate area or "Arid House" with many succulents and cacti on permanent display. Many of these "desert" plants have interesting flowers and fantastic foliage in their own right.

So while the seasonal flower exhibits are showing spring bulbs or fall mums blooming their (forced) heads off, our little friends who prefer the dry heat just keep doing their thing.

Maybe I'll pick up an Echeveria this year and see if survives my lack of love!


Kalanchoe thyrsiflora Paddle Plant at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (Paddle Plant) at 
Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House 


Echeverias at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Echeverias at Etobicoke's
 Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House 



Echeveria detail at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Echeveria detail at
Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House 



Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's
Kalanchoe Arid House blooms 



Euphorbia milii Crown of Thorns flowers at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Euphorbia milii (Crown of Thorns) flowers
at Etobicoke's Centennial Park
Conservatory's Arid House 



Aeonium at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Aeonium at Etobicoke's Centennial Park
Conservatory's Arid House 



Aloe flowers at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Aloe flowers at Etobicoke's Centennial Park
Conservatory's Arid House




Blue Sticks and Aloe glauca at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Blue Sticks (foreground) and Aloe glauca
at Etobicoke's Centennial Park
Conservatory's Arid House 




Cacti at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory  by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Cacti and Kalanchoe blooms at
Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory  




Kalanchoes at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory  by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Kalanchoes at Etobicoke's Centennial
Park Conservatory's Arid House 



Paddle Plant Kalanchoe thyrsiflora at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory's Arid House by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) at
 Etobicoke's Centennial Park
Conservatory's Arid House 



Senecio Mandraliscae Blue Finger Succulent and Kalanchoes at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory  by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Senecio mandraliscae (Blue Finger Succulent)
 and Kalanchoes at Etobicoke's
Centennial Park Conservatory 



Succulent topiary at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory Arid Room by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Succulent "topiary" at 
Etobicoke's Centennial Park 
Conservatory's Arid Room 


March 24, 2017

Etobicoke's Centennial Park Conservatory 2017 Spring Flower Show

No Pots and Pans and Hot Tubs: Just Flowers


Toronto's other Flower Show just ended this past weekend to, as usual, mixed reviews. The National Flower Show known as "Canada Blooms" (because, hey, Toronto is the horticultural capital of Canada right?) runs every early March when the fine citizens of this city are at their most vulnerable and desperate for anything resembling living vegetative matter. I haven't attended in a few years, even with the lure of free media tickets, because the Show doesn't resonate with me: I simply want to see and take pictures (for you, dear reader) of pretty flowers and not be solicited aggressively with offers of kitchenware or outdoor hot tubs. The exhibits for Canada Blooms are located close to a Home Show in the same complex so one usually needs to run a gauntlet of home improvement salespeople to see gardens which focus on dimly lit large areas (read expensive) of concrete pavers. (According to some of the latest reviews on the Canada Bloom Facebook page, this experience hasn't changed much since my last visit.)  

But let's be fair so here's a great overview of the Show titled "A Viral Tour of Canada Blooms 2017" by fellow Toronto gardening blogger, Helen Battersby,  for those of you interested in seeing the exhibits and reading her witty comments. Apparently she had a bad cold while attending, what a trooper!

I was in the west-end of Toronto in a section/municipality called Etobicoke (for you non-natives) the other day for an appointment and decided to visit a public Conservatory afterwards to see its spring floral displays. It was much more my style: low key and quiet with me and a few families escaping the lousy March weather inside the greenhouses. The Centennial Park Conservatory is the smaller and perhaps overlooked compared to her bigger and better known sister, the Allan Gardens Conservatory, which I've visited and posted about many times. But smaller is good too sometimes: there's always ample parking, no admission fee (although donations are welcome) and never (in my experience) a big crowd getting in the way of my pictures!

Below are a few pictures of lovely tulips, daffodils and hyacinths from this spring's flower show, commerce- and commercial-free. We won't see these blooms outside until another month but it's officially spring so we'll go with that!



Canada 150 tulips at Centennial Park Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2017 by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Canada 150" tulips at the
Centennial Park Conservatory
Spring Flower Show 2017


February 25, 2017

Late Winter Colour inside the Allan Gardens Conservatory

Come on, Spring 2017!


This post, like all the others I've put up in the previous late winters, is more for my relief in dealing with another long Toronto winter than anything else. There's no theme or message today, just some pictures of colourful flowers and leafy things. (The only real outdoor colour I'm seeing is the yellow from my "Arnold Promise" witch hazel that's blooming his (?) head off right now, just like clockwork.)

I visited the nearby Allan Gardens Conservatory the other day to see what was blooming indoors. The staff is preparing for the Spring Flower Show scheduled to start on March 1 so the show beds still had remnants from the Christmas Flower Show like ornamental kale and cyclamen. I'll return in about a month when the Spring Show is in full "bloom" as it were and post pictures of tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinths, etc. I did manage to take, however, some nice shots of orchids, amaryllises, and some unrelated tropical things below for your enjoyment.



Allan Gardens Conservatory white and purple Phalaenopsis orchid by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
white and purple Phalaenopsis orchid 


February 04, 2017

Formal Hedges Have Straight Edges (or Should Anyway)

A Cabbagetown, Toronto Front Garden Makeover


What comes to mind when you think of a hedge (the horticultural and not financial type)? Likely a "living fence" that separates two functional spaces like this one along the Sacred Way near Beijing


The Sacred Way near Beijing China by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Hedges, willows and paving along 
the Sacred Way near Beijing, China


The hedges on both sides of the path are ramrod straight. level, plumb and run for hundreds of metres. They direct visitors onward without creating mystery or curiosity. That's the message our lazy reptilian tourist brains want: stay on the path and you should be rewarded. Rectangular hedges (especially made up of broad-leaved evergreens) are usually boring and utilitarian because that's their job.


January 21, 2017

They Really Do Sleep, Creep, and Leap! Perennials in a Toronto Garden

Occasionally, a gardening cliché is true


If you've been gardening long enough, you've come across your share of horticultural rules of thumb, proverbs, observations, truisms, etc.. Nuggets of horticultural wisdom like "choose the right plant for the right space", "feed the soil, not the plant" and "plant a fifty-five cent plant in a five dollar hole" (amen) are good pieces of advice. I wish I'd listen to these adages as a new gardener many years ago--it would have saved me a ton of heartache (and cash) by preventing many of the plants I bought from inexplicably perishing or taking over the entire bed. But this is just tuition paid by a newbie gardener so "chin up", to use another idiom.



New Danforth Greektown perennial garden by Garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
New Danforth Greektown perennial garden


Speaking of idioms. another horticultural saying came to my mind when I last visited a garden I designed about three years ago in Toronto's Greektown neighbourhood (a.k.a. "The Danforth" area).

(The installation is profiled in my blog post titled A new garden in the Danforth/Greektown area of Toronto: a case study.)

I usually tidy up this backyard garden in the spring and fall so it's interesting to see if the original plants I planted have thrived or not. Even after researching what the "correct" plant should be based on existing site conditions and the garden owner's preferences, whether the newly transplanted perennial, shrub or tree actually lives is a bit of crap shoot. Things just fade away, occasionally, even with adequate cultural conditions and plant care. The plant warranty honoured by the garden centre is there for such tragedies.

Transplanting not only involves the "right plant, right place" adage but also, when spacing out the proposed holes, imaging how the mature size of whatever you're plopping in (remember, "five dollar hole") will look in five years and beyond (this is especially true for trees but some homeowners ignore this, to the future benefit of tree trimming companies.) For herbaceous perennials, it's been said, one should expect them to "sleep" during the first year after transplanting. "creep" during year two and, fingers crossed, "leap!" in year three and beyond.

But what does this saying mean?

It's not unusual for newly planted perennials to simply "sit" in the garden. They've likely experienced some transplant shock from being displaced out of the cozy confines of the greenhouse straight into your garden but I also suspect they're using more food energy (carbohydrates) in establishing new roots and not necessarily concerned about pumping out new leaves or flowers for our enjoyment.

That's my best guess anyway.

Nevertheless, I'm delighted to report that sleeping, creeping and leaping definitely have occurred in this perennial garden over the past three years!


East view:


I've broken up the "garden in progress" pictures into three views to make things easier to follow.

Below is the set looking east showing how the newly transplanted perennials and "Seiryu" cut-leaf Japanese maple are doing since 2014. (The two two columnar European Hornbeams (Carpinus betulus "Columnaris" ) were planted in 2015.)



the danforth new garden design after by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
The Danforth new garden design after




Honorine Jobert Japanese anemone x hybrida by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Honorine Jobert" Japanese Anemone
(Anemone x hybrida) and friends



New Greektown Toronto perennial garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
New Greektown Toronto perennial garden 


If you're wondering out loud "holy cow, that's a lot of green!", you're absolutely right. The client wanted perennials and trees with green foliage and white flowers. That's it. Whether the monochromatic colour scheme is tranquil or boring is, of course, determined through the eyes of the beholder. I personally find it calming and quasi-formal without the need for boxwoods, yews and other evergreens clipped within an inch of their lives. The different foliage shapes give enough contrasting visual interest to prevent one from falling asleep in the garden (although there are worse experiences in life.)


North view:




the danforth garden design before by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
The Danforth garden design before 



the danforth garden design after by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
The Danforth garden design after 



New Danforth backyard by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
New Danforth backyard year two


Greektown Toronto garden design after by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Greektown Toronto garden design after 



North-east view:




the danforth Toronto garden design before  by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
The Danforth Toronto garden design before  



the danforth Toronto garden design after  by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
The Danforth Toronto garden design after  


Monochromatic green garden design Danforth backyard by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Monochromatic green garden design Danforth backyard 


Greektown Toronto new perennial garden by garden muses not another Toronto gardening blog
Greektown Toronto new perennial garden 


I find the "sleep, creep and leap" rhyme is useful to manage the expectations of impatient gardeners and, importantly for me, impatient clients. On the other hand, "sleep, creep and weep" is just as educational to the gardener. I'll readily admit I've planted trendy and "must-have" (i.e., expensive) perennials and shrubs as dictated by some marketing guy or gal only to experience the silly plant sulking and disappearing after a few years.

As I mentioned earlier, gardening is a bit of a crap shoot at times but we still dig, hope and smile if we're successful.