June 16, 2017

Toronto front garden cleanups in King West Village

Minimalist design, luxuriant weeds


It's June and many couples have weddings on their minds, while I have weeding on mine. With the record amount of rain Toronto has had in May and the spike in temperatures lately, the weeds I've encountered during my work across the city have exploded in quantity and variety. I was reminded that weeds are opportunistic and adaptable like all organisms and that nature truly abhors a vacuum when I was hired to clean up these garden beds below in Toronto's King West Village neighbourhood recently.

You leave a bare spot of soil  measuring 13' x 3' near a busy street for several months and you get this:



King West Village Toronto front garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
King West Village Toronto front garden cleanup before



A "sister" bed located in a shadier spot below is a little better (or less worse?):




Toronto King West Village front garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto King West Village front garden cleanup before 


Each property also has a bed with a variety of prostrate juniper ("Blue Rug"?) in which a few weeds have popped up but not to the same extent as in the unmulched beds above. However, growers of these low-lying junipers know intimately how the ubiquitous evergreens attract and collect all sorts of debris near the sidewalk and the sprawling plants didn't disappoint, unfortunately for me.





Toronto King West Village front garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto King West Village front garden clean up before 



King West Village Toronto front garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
King West Village Toronto front garden clean up before 



Being a gardener in the city often involves unglamourous non-horticultural duties we didn't learn in school like trash collection and this cleanup produced a full garbage bag of discarded coffee cups, cigarette butts, old public transit transfers, etc. I felt like an anthropologist at times. Apparently, no one in the neighbourhood drinks at Starbucks but many prefer the other Canadian coffee chain, oy vey!

There are four small rectangular beds in total that were to be weeded but one had been done before my arrival as the homeowner likely couldn't take the look any longer and another bed was weeded by another homeowner's helper while I was there. He was a nice fellow and was helping out with some painting inside the house. His weeding skills were like my painting skills but I did appreciate his efforts!



And here are the "after" pictures:




King West Village Toronto front garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
King West Village Toronto front garden cleanup after 



Toronto King West Village front garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto King West Village front garden cleanup after 



The four empty rectangular beds (you see two above) will be filled in with the same Ajuga (!) groundcover to keep the uniform look.


The weeded Juniper beds are below. We'll need some mulch near the sidewalk as this area is the weediest.





Toronto King West Village front garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto King West Village front garden clean up after 



King West Village Toronto front garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
King West Village Toronto front garden clean up after 


In case you think I'm showing the same garden from different angles, oh my, you are cynical! The four units have the identical front gardens in shape, dimension and plants. The design is modern (in other words, no flowers) and, frankly, gas-blower friendly. 


I asked one of the homeowners who originally contacted me why he didn't choose one of Toronto's myriad of "mow-blow-and go" landscapers (although there's no mowing here) and he replied that no one was interested in fighting traffic getting to this very busy part of Toronto with no parking nearby for such a "small" job. Which made complete sense, if I ran a "traditional" business based on mowing large tracts of turf many times a day.


But since I travel by public transit and the streetcar (we have them in Toronto) stop is a block away, it's a win-win for both me and my new client here. 





June 06, 2017

A New Garden Bed Creation in Leaside

Cutting a new garden bed outline using the old "watering hose" technique 


I haven't done this in a long time! Yes, it's hokey and the arbiters of fine gardening would be aghast but it's quite fun to create a curvy outline of a garden bed using the good old water hose. 

This side area along the fence faces south and gets full sun for most of the day so it seemed to me a waste to have a forlorn Weigela, some sort of lilac and and wild rose be the only plants here, besides the weeds. 



Leaside new side garden bed installation before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leaside new side garden bed installation before 



Leaside Toronto new side garden bed installation before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leaside Toronto new side garden bed installation before 



Toronto Leaside new side garden bed installation before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Leaside new side garden bed installation before 


I suggested to my client, Gail, to create an outline using an edger, dig out all the weeds and plant "nicer" stuff. I wanted to hide the wooden board-on-board fence panels a little so I thought clematises on trellises (I like how that rhymes!) would work. And if you grow a few clematises (?), you should have a rose or two nearby and what could go well with roses in a hot and sunny spot? Lavender, of course!  

To establish the curvy outline, I used the nearby watering hose. It took a few minutes to move and fiddle with the hose but when the moment was right, out came the edger.  I just had to be careful not puncturing the hose!

Cutting through the weeds and many surface roots from the maple you see behind the fence was tedious but eventually the new bed was shaped and cleaned up, ready for fresh material.

Below are the "after" pictures showing the outline of the bed, some tiny new plants and a layer of mulch.

Here's what was planted:




Leaside new side garden bed installation after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leaside new side garden bed installation after 


Leaside Toronto new side garden bed installation after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leaside Toronto new side garden bed installation after


Toronto Leaside new side garden bed installation after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Leaside new side garden bed installation after


A few more perennials should be added but the framework is at least there.

So you see, often my plant "designs" originate from trying to solve a problem (in this case, reducing the severe look of the fence) while taking advantage of a positive from the site (full sun = more flower opportunities). And, of course, the client has to love the plants or, at least, not hate them.

Oh, by the way, I really don't know what happened to that poor Weigela....

May 28, 2017

Mid Toronto new front garden installation

Another Toronto Front Garden Makeover



Once in a while I'm asked to revamp/makeover/redo a Toronto garden that is located on a rental property. The landlord/s usually want to invest as little as possible (upfront and future maintenance dollars) in order to maximize their return on investment. If I can get them (the homeowner) away from the "low maintenance" conventional wisdom of laying down sheets of black landscape fabric and then dumping a tonne of pea gravel or river rock (which over time, by the way, does not work in keeping weeds from popping up, through or on top of the gravel), we may ideally consider transplanting a mixture of perennials, shrubs and trees to make the site look better than an enlarged municipal drainage swale.


April 30, 2017

Spring blooms at the Toronto Botanical Garden

Crocus, tulips, daffodils and more blooming at the TBG


Spring has sprung in Toronto (although as I'm writing this, the weather is cold, wet and miserable) and many flowering shrubs and bulbs are blooming magnificently. I had an opportunity to visit the Toronto Botanical Garden several weeks ago to see what was in bloom and while most of the tulips (at the time) had not emerged yet, there were plenty other spring stars on display.

(I took many pictures of hellebores at the TBG so if you missed a previous post showcasing them, go to this post titled "Hella Good Looking Hellebores!")


I hope you're enjoying your spring (or fall)!



Chionodoxa Glory of the Snow at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) 
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 




Cornus mas Cornelian Cherry spring flowers at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry) spring flowers 
at the Toronto Botanical Garden


April 25, 2017

Summerhill Toronto Spring Garden Clean Up

And the Spring Cleanups Just Keep Coming...


Toronto's weather in April  has been fantastic compared to last year with many warm and sunny days so far.  The yellow blaze of Forsythia is seen over the city and is a welcome sight after many dreary winter months. Even the magnolias and flowering cherries are currently blooming and this normally occurs in May. 

Below are some photos from a recent cleanup for a client in the Summerhill neighbourhood of Toronto showing some "before" and "after" pictures. All the leaves and stems are from last autumn so I filled about 8 "yard waste" bags (which are collected and composted by the city.)



Summerhill Toronto spring backyard garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Summerhill Toronto spring backyard
 garden cleanup before 



Summerhill Toronto spring backyard garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Summerhill Toronto spring backyard
garden cleanup after 



Summerhill Toronto spring backyard garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Summerhill Toronto spring backyard
garden clean up before 




Summerhill Toronto spring backyard garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Summerhill Toronto spring backyard
garden clean up after 


Toronto Summerhill spring backyard garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Summerhill spring backyard
garden clean up before 




Toronto Summerhill spring backyard garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Summerhill spring backyard
garden clean up after 




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




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


Summerhill Toronto spring front yard garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Summerhill Toronto spring front yard
garden cleanup before 



Summerhill Toronto spring front yard garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Summerhill Toronto spring front yard
garden cleanup after 



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




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




If you made it this far past these boring shots, here's your reward:

 A beautiful double flowering hellebore was in fine form in this garden. My best guess for the cultivar name is "Harvington Double White" which has brilliant white flowers (sepals?) shining brightly against glossy fresh green leaves. Very classy!





Harvington Double White hellebore Helleborus x hybridus by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Harvington Double White" hellebore 
(Helleborus x hybridus)




Helleborus x hybridus Harvington Double White hellebore  by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Helleborus x hybridus 
"Harvington Double White" hellebore 




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!