September 20, 2016

Leslieville summer garden weeding

Pea gravel mulch + landscape fabric = likely future garden maintenance


It looks good on paper and relatively easy on the wallet: cover your small city garden with black landscaping fabric and pea gravel to minimize weeding and have a polished "clean" look. And maybe for a year or two that would be the case but inevitably more than a few weeds will pop up and through the fabric (or simply on top of the stone). Hand weeding will be chore in trying to dig out the root ball after getting past the gravel and fabric. (Of course, spraying a herbicide can be an option.) Multiply this several dozen times and you can see how frustrating things are getting. And wasn't reducing maintenance (weeding) the main purpose of laying down the fabric and gravel in the first place?

Here's proof that the "landscaping fabric and stone (river rock, drainage stone, pea gravel, etc.)" combination often fails to reduce ongoing maintenance, especially in a city garden surrounded by trees and windborne weed seeds.

This front city garden in east-end Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood isn't overly elaborate: some yews, lavender and Potentilla (cinquefoil) shrubs in full sun until mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, there's a lot of foot traffic so the cinquefoils are particularly effective in trapping all sorts of garbage like coffee cups, junk mail, etc.

And don't forget about the weeds!  I discarded weeds like Petty Spurge (Euphorbia peplus), Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), and dandelions and discovered many of them grew under the fabric and emerged where they found light.

My guess is that the previous homeowners wanted a cheap way of improving the house's curb appeal during the sales process by laying down the fabric and pea gravel and planting a few shrubs and perennials. Of course, they aren't around to deal with the constant weeding that ensued.



Leslieville summer garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville summer garden cleanup before




Leslieville summer garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville summer garden cleanup after 




Leslieville summer garden cleanup before by Toronto Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leslieville summer garden cleanup before




Leslieville summer garden cleanup after by Toronto Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leslieville summer garden cleanup after



Leslieville summer garden weeding and cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville summer garden weeding and cleanup




Leslieville summer garden weeding and cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville summer garden weeding and cleanup 




Leslieville Toronto summer garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening ServicesLeslieville Toronto summer garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leslieville Toronto summer garden cleanup before




Leslieville Toronto summer garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leslieville Toronto summer garden cleanup after


There's a lot of truth in the old saying that the best mulch are other plants.

I suppose the cleanup could had been more tedious. Can you imagine if the front was covered with larger 6" river rock like this?


Image result for river rock
Source: http://www.sandeessoilandrock.com/portfolio-item/6-river-rock/



Literally and figuratively, a Sisyphean task....




September 10, 2016

Big weeding in Little Portugal

Lamb's Quarters and Labour Day


No rest for this weary and (semi) wicked gardener over the last long weekend of the summer. Designing and putting in new gardens back in May and June seem like distant memories as most of my work now involves weeding, weeding and more weeding. The major fall cleanups will occur in October and November but until then, the weeds in Toronto are still growing lustily.

This post covers a front and backyard cleanup for a client I've seen in the past and profiled in a previous post titled "Front and back garden cleanup in Little Portugal". He (the client) contacts me every late August to schedule a visit and since the gardens are only tidied up once a year, I'm always curious (i.e., filled with dread) to see how weedy things are. And, as usual, I wasn't disappointed!

The client lives in a funky west-end Toronto neighbourhood known as "Little Portugal" or "Brockton Village". The lots are quite small and the front gardens are usually postage-sized lawns or simply covered with concrete pavers for that "no maintenance" horticultural look. 

His front yard  is a hybrid of sorts with some plant beds filled with tawny daylily and ribbon grass with some concrete pavers. Here are some before and after pictures of the weeding, which wasn't too onerous:


Brockton Village summer garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Brockton Village summer garden clean up before 



Brockton Village summer garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Brockton Village summer garden clean up after



Brockton Village summer garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Brockton Village summer garden cleanup before




Brockton Village summer garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Brockton Village summer garden cleanup after 


Little Portugal summer garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Little Portugal summer garden cleanup before 



Little Portugal summer garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Little Portugal summer garden cleanup after 


Little Portugal summer garden cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto before
Little Portugal summer garden cleanup



Little Portugal summer garden cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto after
Little Portugal summer garden cleanup 


The backyard, however...


I was familiar with the size and shape of the backyard so knew that regardless of how bad/tall/deep the weeds were, pulling and digging them out would be possible for me to do by myself. But I didn't expect to see this:


Little Portugal summer backyard garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Little Portugal summer backyard garden cleanup before 

The taller weeds are, ahem, very mature Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album) which, lucky for me, are relatively easy to pull or dig out due to their small and shallow roots. Did you know that Lamb's Quarters are very edible vegetables? Still, I placed them in the compost bags along with the few Tree of H*ll Heaven (Ailanthus altissimasaplings and Goldenrod clumps mixed among the Lamb's Quarters "crop."

Here are some more before and after pictures of the backyard weeding:



Little Portugal summer backyard garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Little Portugal summer backyard garden cleanup after 



Little Portugal summer backyard garden cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto before
Little Portugal summer backyard garden cleanup 



Little Portugal summer backyard garden cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto after
Little Portugal summer backyard garden cleanup 



Looking around the corner afterwards....



Brockton Village summer backyard garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Brockton Village summer backyard garden cleanup after 



I had completely forgot that there were hostas back here!  Even when they were shaded out by the taller weeds, they still seemed to thrive.




September 06, 2016

Late summer or early fall (you pick) at the Toronto Botanical Garden and Edwards Gardens

Spending part of Labor Day weekend at the TBG


Work has slowed down a little to give me some time to write about....flowers! My recent posts have covered garden maintenance "befores" and "afters" which, while perhaps cathartic for the clients, are not pleasing to the eye for the rest of us.

This Labour Day weekend was spent just relaxing around the house and enjoying the fantastic weather in Toronto. Sunny, upper 20s (Celsius) and no humidity. I'll take that anytime, especially given the torrid weather we've had in July and August.

Linda and I spent one morning at the Toronto Botanical Garden, along with many other visitors and more than a few wedding parties who were creating memories along side their respective brides and grooms.

Here are some "late summer/early autumn" pictures showing many plants that bloom at the TBG and elsewhere in Toronto right about now.

I can't/don't want to think about fall until after (Canadian) Thanksgiving in October, knowing what will soon follow! So enjoy the sun and warmth with me for a little longer...



Allium and bee at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Allium florets and a hungry bee


Anemone x hybrida September Charm wind anemone at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Anemone x hybrida "September Charm" 
Japanese/wind anemone 



Backlit Brugmansia flower at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Backlit Brugmansia flower:
I was trying to be "artsy"!



Blue and white Cardinal Flower Lobelia siphilitica at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Blue and white Cardinal Flower (Lobelia siphilitica
at the Beryl Ivey Knot Garden 



Blue and white Lobelia siphilitica at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Blue and white Lobelia siphilitica among the boxwood hedges



Blue Anise Sage Salvia guaranitica Black and Blue at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Blue Anise Sage (Salvia guaranitica "Black and Blue")  



Echinacea coneflowers and Bear Breeches Acanthus hungaricus at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Echinacea purpurea (Coneflowers) and 
Bear Breeches (Acanthus hungaricus



Hibiscus Kopper King at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Hardy Hibiscus "Kopper King" 



Kalanchoe thyrsiflora Paddle plant at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
The token succulent: 
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (Paddle plant) 




Kopper King hardy Hibiscus at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Kopper King" hardy Hibiscus, dinner plate size



Phlox paniculata Robert Poore Summer Phlox and Goldenrod at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Phlox paniculata "Robert Poore" Summer Phlox and 
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) screaming for your attention



Pink Brugmansia flower at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Pink Brugmansia flower, nicely lit for me




Pink Phlox paniculata Summer Phlox at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"No I.D." Pink Phlox paniculata (Summer Phlox). 
Perhaps a reader can help identify?




Russian Sage and Rudbeckia along path at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
My kind of flagstone path: Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia
and Rudbeckia beg to touched as we pass by.



Tall Bearded Iris Immortality at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Tall Bearded Iris "Immortality". 
I assumed wrongly that all Irises have 
finished blooming by now. 
Such a clear and clean white!




Vernonia noveboracensis New York Ironweed at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Vernonia noveboracensis 
(New York Ironweed) 
Why don't we see more of this 
native plant in Toronto gardens?




Next to the TBG is the older Edwards Gardens section. I call the seasonal temporary plantings here "municipal" because of a reliance on bedding plants to create island beds of which Queen Victoria would approve and such a style is a favourite throughout the several municipalities making up Toronto in their public parks. These "show gardens" provide the colour many visitors (and taxpayers) expect to see in public spaces. (Will there a shift in the public's attitudes towards more sustainable horticultural practices and plants which require lower maintenance and other inputs?)


As the song goes, these tender bedding plants are "here for a good time, not a long time" and will be tossed away soon and be replaced by fall mums and other frost hardy annuals. So we might as well enjoy them for now!



Bedding plants at Edwards Gardens by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
I do admit I found the Musa spp.
(ornamental bananas) very striking!



Carpet bed hummingbird at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Carpet bed hummingbird



Cherry Brandy Rudbeckia hybrid at Edwards Gardens by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Cherry Brandy" Rudbeckia hybrid



Edwards Gardens annual bedding plants by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
A mass of begonias, salvia and ornamental bananas



Edwards Gardens bedding plants by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Nothing subtle here with these "streams" of annuals




Tiger Eye Rudbeckia hybrid at Edwards Gardens by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Tiger Eye" Rudbeckia hybrid 




Victoria Blue Salvia farinacea at Edwards Gardens by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Victoria Blue" Salvia farinacea (Mealy Cup Sage)



Xerochrysum bracteatum Strawflower at the Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Xerochrysum bracteatum (Strawflower).
A new one for me...


Toronto Botanical Garden carpet bed by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
A carpet bed celebrating our city's baseball team 

August 28, 2016

Baby Point, Toronto front garden renovation

Why are "decorative white rocks" considered decorative?


Travelling across the city from client to client, I see many strange and wonderful gardening and landscaping materials, techniques, and structures executed in interesting and intriguing ways. Then I see the use of "white decorative rocks/stones" and I die a little inside.


Source: http://californiaquarryproducts.com/decorative_landscape_rock.php


I put the words in quotes because that's how this eye-jarring natural stone is marketed and sold at better big box stores. I always wonder when and how in natural landscapes would these stones be found. Of course, most city gardens are contrivances, put together according to the owner's whims ("no maintenance" comes to mind immediately) and bank account balance. But, still, why would anyone buy and put these unnatural-looking natural stones down? (I'll refer to them as "DWR" from now on.)

This thought entered my mind when I first reviewed this west-end Toronto front garden with the new owners. They just bought the house and weren't enamored with the front landscaping that was "flash-frozened" circa the 1950s with the "foundation plantings" comprising of a meat-balled cedar, senile ground-hugging junipers, the ever-ubiquitous and scaled-attacked "Emerald Gaiety" euonymous and, most confusing, a "baby" Colorado Blue Spruce crammed in tight for good measure.

And to top it off (actually, on top of the soil) was a yard or so of DWR acting as a mulch of some sort!

The owners wanted an updated look. I was concerned with the continuous pruning of the spruce that was shoehorned into this tiny garden bed.


Baby Point front garden renovation before Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Baby Point front garden renovation before


(I blogged about this example of the lack of math in the garden in a previous post called "Do the math! Nah, I'm not expecting it to grow much larger..." The mantra of putting the "right plant in the right location" didn't exactly resonate with the previous owners. A mature Colorado Blue Spruce grows to a mature size of easily 50 feet tall by 20 feet wide.)


Here are other "before" pictures showing the bed around the very mature oak tree:


Baby Point front garden renovation before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Baby Point front garden renovation before 


Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation before 


(The red disposal bin was used for the extensive construction going on in the backyard and the pink twine was mainly used to prevent the workers not to walk on or throw their cigarette butts or coffee cups in the proposed new bed. No, seriously!)

The bulk of my time was removing as much of the DWR that was visible or just beneath the soil. Talk about a tedious task! I find "rock mulch" whether it's the size of pea gravel all the way to larger river rocks utterly useless to prevent weeds from growing, unless a good 6 inches of topsoil is removed to prevent weed and tree seeds from germinating. And which landscaping company is going to do that?

I planted mainly perennials once the existing shrubs (except one) were removed. The owners preferred dark burgundy or purple-coloured perennials so I chose other plants with yellow or chartreuse-coloured leaves to complement and contrast the purple foliage. This front area gets a little bit of direct sun in the morning but is under dapple shade for most of the day under the huge oak.

I used some of my favourite shade-tolerant stalwarts like "June" hosta, Japanese Forest Grass, "Black Negligee" snakeroot or bugbane, "Obsidian" coral bells and "Jack Frost" Siberian bugloss. The owners added some purple petunias for instant colour until frost arrives.

They (owners) couldn't part with the euonymous so it was spared from being shovel pruned.

Here are the corresponding "after" pictures:



Baby Point front garden renovation after Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Baby Point front garden renovation after 


Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation after 



Baby Point front garden renovation after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Baby Point front garden renovation after by 


Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation after Paul Jung Gardening Services
Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation after




I still shudder to think what would have happened if that spruce was kept!



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