26.11.14

A fall visit to Toronto's Taylor Creek Park

Creating autumn memories along the Massey-Taylor Creek Trail


Autumn seemed to have come and gone so quickly this year. (Yes, I know that we're still in autumn until the winter solstice but leaves off of trees equals winter for me. The early snowfall and Christmas music I hear in stores now suggest that we're unofficially in winter mode.) 

On the last nice weekend, weather-wise, we had several weeks ago, my family and I took a leisurely walk along the Taylor Creek Trail. Taylor Creek is a tributary of one of the main rivers flowing through Toronto, the Don River. Running more or less adjacent to the Don is one of our city's major highways, the Don Valley Parkway (or "Parking Lot" during rush hour)  but a visitor to the Trail wouldn't have noticed the incessant traffic passing close by.

It's not surprising that the Trail is a favourite for families with baby strollers, dog walkers, bicyclists and more than a few photographers. While our visit was late in the season and the fall foliage was past its prime, colour-wise, I managed to snap a few pictures on that brisk but sunny afternoon to share with you.


Autumn foliage Taylor Creek Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Autumn foliage Taylor Creek Park 

Autumn foliage reflection Taylor Creek Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Autumn foliage reflection Taylor Creek Park 

European Larch Larix decidua fall foliage Taylor Creek Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
European Larch (Larix decidua) fall foliage 
Taylor Creek Park 

Fall foliage Taylor Creek Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Fall foliage Taylor Creek Park 

Leaning White Birch Betula papyrifera Taylor Creek Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
White Birch (Betula papyrifera) at Taylor Creek Park

Northern Red Oak Quercus rubra fall foliage Taylor Creek Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) fall foliage 
at Taylor Creek Park 

O'Connor Drive bridge Taylor Creek Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
O'Connor Drive bridge over Taylor Creek Trail

Populus tremuloides Trembling poplar fall foliage Taylor Creek Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Populus tremuloides (Trembling poplar) fall foliage
at Taylor Creek Park

Taylor Creek Park Autumn foliage reflection by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Taylor Creek Park autumn foliage reflection 


Mr Jung at Taylor Creek Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Monkey #1 in the tree

Ms Jung at Taylor Creek Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Monkey #2 posing!

Taylor Creek Park portrait by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Me and the Mrs.

After about an hour and a half, the kids were moaning about being starved. (And, to be honest, I was feeling peckish too.) It was nice to be "unplugged" and away from our devices, even for too short a time.


19.11.14

Autumn foliage in Toronto: memories before the snow comes

2014 fall colours from Mount Pleasant Cemetery, the Toronto Botanical Garden and my backyard!


This week's snowfall and lower than average temperatures (below freezing) unofficially started winter, for me anyway.  So before we plunge into the throes of another Toronto winter, here are some pictures from sunnier and warmer times (about 30 days ago or so!)


Mount Pleasant Cemetery Remembrance Walk fall foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Mount Pleasant Cemetery's 
 Remembrance Walk fall foliage

Mount Pleasant Cemetery is such a wonderful place to take a walk, bike ride, jog and, for an Arboriculture student like myself ten years ago, collect leaves for a Plant I.D. project. I took a few pictures on a quiet fall morning with a brilliant blue sky above me.

On another day, I enjoyed some late autumn brilliance at the Toronto Botanical Garden surrounded by the Japanese and Paperbark maples that seemed to glow.

Lastly, I preserved one memory from my own backyard for you.

Fall colours are so fleeting, dashed by November's wind and sleet.


Mount Pleasant Cemetery Sugar maple autumn foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Mount Pleasant Cemetery 
Sugar maple autumn foliage

Paperbark maple Acer griseum fall foliage Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Paperbark maple (Acer griseum) fall foliage 
at the Toronto Botanical Garden

Serviceberry Amelanchier arborea autumn foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea
autumn foliage at a client's yard
Sugar maple Acer saccharum autumn foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Sugar maple (Acer saccharum
autumn foliage at a client's yard



Sugar maple Mount Pleasant Cemetery autumn foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Autumn foliage of a young Sugar Maple at 
Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery 



Viburnum carlesii Diana Koreanspice viburnum fall foliage Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Viburnum carlesii "Diana" 
( "Diana" Koreanspice viburnum) 
 fall foliage at the Toronto Botanical Garden




Mount Pleasant Cemetery Forest of Remembrance autumn foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Mount Pleasant Cemetery's 
 Forest of Remembrance autumn foliage 



Mount Pleasant Cemetery Forest of Remembrance fall foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Mount Pleasant Cemetery's  
Forest of Remembrance fall foliage


Acer griseum Paperbark maple fall foliage Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer griseum (Paperbark maple)
 fall foliage at the Toronto Botanical Garden 

Common witch hazel Hamamelis virginiana autumn foliage Mount Pleasant Cemetery by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana
autumn foliage at Mount Pleasant Cemetery


Autumn foliage Paul Jung backyard by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Autumn foliage in my backyard

It's a bit of a jumble but if you start at the right side and move left, here are the shrubs:

a) dark purple leaves: "Popcorn" doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum 'Popcorn')

b) yellow: a Katsuratree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) I grew from seed

c) light green: "Blue Muffin" arrowwood viburnum ( (Viburnum dentatum 'Blue Muffin')

d) dark green: another "Popcorn" doublefile viburnum that hasn't changed colour yet

e) orange/pink: "Seiryu" Japanese maple (Acer palmatum "Seiryu")

I have a few Japanese Forest Grass at the bottom of the bed.

Autumn is my favourite time in the backyard. The trees and shrubs provide the fireworks, brief as they are.


(Please disregard the landscaping fabric on the left path leading to the back. It will be covered with flagstone next year, budget-willing!)




Bottlebrush buckeye Aesculus parviflora autumn foliage Mount Pleasant Cemetery by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora
autumn foliage at Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Bottlebrush buckeye Aesculus parviflora fall foliage Mount Pleasant Cemetery by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora
fall foliage at Mount Pleasant Cemetery

13.11.14

Falling for Japanese maples in the fall

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's Japanese maples


While there isn't a horticultural version of the Ten Commandments (that I'm aware of), more than a few gardeners every late autumn across Toronto feel pangs of envy and covetousness while peering at another's Japanese maple.

Well, I do.

(On a side note, I've heard reports of specimen Japanese maples stolen from front gardens (and a cemetery!) in our fair city. Obviously, a different Commandment is being broken here.)

You likely walk past more than a few small landscape trees  on your way to work or the store, not really giving much thought to the dark red (wine?) or green leaves. Then, starting in late October for us, it seems that these maples flip a switch and start glowing.



Acer palmatum Mikawa Yatsubusa Japanese maple autumn foliage Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Mikawa Yatsubusa" 
Japanese maple autumn foliage 
at the Toronto Botanical Garden


It's mid November now and the Japanese maple show is starting to wind down a little but I was able to capture these photos over the past few weeks showing some unusual Acer palmatum cultivars showing their fall finery at the Toronto Botanical Garden.

I've had mixed success with Japanese maples in my backyard as I've lost two to verticillum wilt: a very nice and expensive "Seiryu" and a very nice and expensive "Osakazuki" (you see the pertinent adjectives?) Of course the Viburnum plicatum Japanese snowballs are growing madly so these spots have been filled nicely.




Acer palmatum Coonara Pygmy Japanese maple fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Coonara Pygmy"
 Japanese maple fall foliage
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 




Acer palmatum Crimson Queen Japanese maple fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Crimson Queen"
 Japanese maple fall foliage
 at the Toronto Botanical Garden


Acer palmatum dissectum Waterfall laceleaf Japanese maple autumn foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum var. dissectum "Waterfall"
 laceleaf Japanese maple autumn foliage


Acer palmatum Kagiri Nishiki Japanese maple fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Kagiri Nishiki"
 Japanese maple fall foliage
at the Toronto Botanical Garden




Acer palmatum Kamagata Japanese maple fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Kamagata"
 Japanese maple fall foliage
 at the Toronto Botanical Garden



Acer palmatum Kiyo-hime  Japanese maple fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Kiyo-hime"
  Japanese maple fall foliage
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 




Acer palmatum Kiyo-hime  Japanese maple fall foliage detail Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Kiyo-hime"
  Japanese maple fall foliage detail
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 




Acer palmatum linearlobum Japanese maple fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Linearlobum"
Japanese maple fall foliage
 at the Toronto Botanical Garden 




Acer palmatum Mikawa Yatsubusa Japanese maple autumn foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Mikawa Yatsubusa"
 Japanese maple autumn foliage
 at the Toronto Botanical Garden 



Acer palmatum Mikawa Yatsubusa Japanese maple fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Mikawa Yatsubusa"
 Japanese maple fall foliage
at theToronto Botanical Garden


Acer palmatum Osakazuki Japanese maple fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Osakazuki"
 Japanese maple fall foliage
 at the Toronto Botanical Garden




Acer palmatum Trompenburg Japanese maple fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum "Trompenburg"
 Japanese maple fall foliage
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 




Acer palmatum var. dissectum Green Hornet Japanese maple Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum var. dissectum "Green Hornet"
 Japanese maple fall foliage
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 




Acer palmatum var. dissectum Waterfall  Japanese maple foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acer palmatum var. dissectum "Waterfall"
 Japanese maple foliage 




Fall foliage Acer palmatum linearlobum Japanese maple at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Fall foliage of Acer palmatum 
"Linearlobum"Japanese maple
 at the Toronto Botanical Garden


Laceleaf Japanese maple  Acer palmatum dissectum Viridis autumn foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Laceleaf Japanese maple
 (Acer palmatum var. dissectum "Waterfall")
 autumn foliage on display at a client's garden





Oh, by the way, my neighbours don't have a Japanese maple but rather a plastic lawn (artificial turf) installed. No coveting here...

3.11.14

Ginkgo biloba's wonderful fall foliage and fruits (for some) at the Toronto Botanical Garden and Mount Pleasant Cemetery

"Thar's Gold in Them Thar Branches"


There's a figurative gold rush (and a literal one for some Asian cooks) in the canopies of Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair trees) all over Toronto now. Ginkgoes (plural could be either with or without the "e" apparently) are very common city landscape trees due to their ability to withstand pests and pollution. I've seen them in public parks, cemeteries, front gardens, and city boulevards.

The leaves of ginkgoes are unique. They are fan-shaped with a groove in the middle which forms two lobes (hence "biloba"). They also have a veining pattern called "dichotomous" because the veins fork out from the base of the leaf and don't cross.


Ginkgo biloba leaf fruit by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Ginkgo biloba leaf and  fruit at Allan Gardens Park in Toronto


Ginkgo fall foliage is a brilliant, bright and buttery yellow. When seen against a clear blue sky, the effect is breathtaking. However, it's not uncommon to discover most of the leaves on the ground the next day, en masse!


Yellow autumn ginkgo biloba leaves against blue sky by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Yellow autumn Ginkgo biloba 
leaves against a clear blue sky


Maidenhair tree Ginkgo biloba  autumn foliage Mount Pleasant Cemetery by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba)  
autumn foliage at Mount Pleasant Cemetery 

Ginkgo biloba Maidenhair tree autumn leaves Mount Pleasant Cemetery by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree) autumn leaves
 at Mount Pleasant Cemetery 


Speaking of breathtaking, I'd be remiss if I didn't discuss the lovely (for some) fruit borne by female ginkgoes. Many years ago, I took my infant son for a walk through nearby Allan Gardens Park. I pushed my stroller past this tree:

Gingko biloba Maidenhair tree Allan Gardens Park by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Gingko biloba (Maidenhair tree) 
at the Allan Gardens Park in Toronto

and smelled something quite unpleasant. Now being in a downtown Toronto park, the origin of this smell could be human or animal. Not exactly fecal, more vomitous. In fact, very cheesy!

Well, I found out later as I studied Plant Identification college courses that this tree, being a female ginkgo, produces an abundance of malodorous fruit. The ripe fruit begin to rot immediately with the fleshy outer layer containing butyric or butanoic acid, a chemical also present in vomit and milk. (The word "butyric" is derived from the Greek word for "butter").


Ginkgo biloba Maidenhair tree fruit Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree) loaded 
with ripe fruit at the Toronto Botanical Garden 

Now accidentally stepping on ripe fruit in a park is a minor inconvenience but I personally know of three female ginkgoes doing their autumn thing outside a busy office building. A little disconcerting to be in a meeting and catching a whiff of good old butyric acid!

One person's trash is another's treasure and this isn't any different with ginkgo fruits. Many older Chinese, Japanese and Korean ladies flock to female ginkgoes in the fall, gloves and bags in hands, to retrieve the fruits not for the bad-smelling outside pulp but for the nuts. I recall seeing a pile of ginkgo fruits at the base of the Allan Garden's ginkgo mentioned above that were obviously squished of their seeds. I can't imagine a squirrel doing this so...


When boiled or roasted, the seeds are edible and have a creamy and rich, well, somewhat cheesy flavour. I usually throw commercially prepared ginkgo nuts in a soup my son loves as they add a umami flavour to the stock. When combined with pork bones, shiitake mushrooms and dried bean curd, the soup is pure umami!

For a city gardener, buying and planting a ginkgo tree is still a bit of gamble. Theoretically, you're planting a male cultivar like "Princeton Sentry" or "Autumn Gold" that shouldn't produce fruit but don't be completely shocked to see and smell the fruits produced by a determined female ginkgo many years after planting.


Toronto Botanical Garden Ginkgo biloba Maidenhair tree fall foliage  by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Toronto Botanical Garden's  
Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree)  fall foliage  

Ginkgo biloba Maidenhair tree fall foliage Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree)  fall foliage
 at the Toronto Botanical Garden

Maidenhair tree Ginkgo biloba autumn leaves Mount Pleasant Cemetery by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) autumn leaves
 at Mount Pleasant Cemetery 

Ginkgo biloba Maidenhair tree autumn foliage Mount Pleasant Cemetery by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree) autumn foliage at
 Mount Pleasant Cemetery


Personally, I would still enjoy the brief and spectacular show every autumn while prudently making good friends with old Asian ladies and gentlemen in the neighbourhood.






29.10.14

I need to get this plant: Dwarf fothergilla

Horticultural lust for Fothergilla gardenii


I'm starting a new series of special posts  titled "I need to get this plant:" with strong feelings of masochism, (zone) denial and greed. All gardeners (yes, you included, dear reader) feel these emotions walking through the garden center during the first blush of spring. during a garden visit of better (wealthier) homes and gardens or, for me, ambling through the Toronto Botanical Garden recently.

Here's the object of my affection:



Fall foliage Fothergilla gardenii dwarf fothergilla Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Fall foliage of Fothergilla gardenii
(Dwarf fothergilla) at the
 Toronto Botanical Garden 


You may know from previous posts like "Common witch hazel not common at all!" and "When Arnold (Promise) met Jelenathat I get weak-kneed for all things witch hazel (and actually all things Hamamelidaceae) so when I gazed at this Fothergilla's fall foliage (unintended alliteration), (a) I had to get out my camera and (b) said to myself "I need to get this plant!"


Fall foliage dwarf fothergilla Fothergilla gardenii Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Fall foliage of dwarf fothergilla
(Fothergilla gardenii)
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 

Dwarf fothergilla Fothergilla gardenii fall foliage Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)
fall foliage at the Toronto Botanical Garden  

Dwarf fothergilla Fothergilla gardenii fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii )
fall foliage at the Toronto Botanical Garden 



Fothergilla gardenii Dwarf fothergilla  fall foliage at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Fothergilla gardenii (Dwarf fothergilla)
fall foliage at the Toronto Botanical Garden


Hence, the garden muse struck and suggested this post.


Here's a picture of the fragrant spring bottle-brush blooms:


Fothergilla gardenii  (Dwarf fothergilla) spring blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Fothergilla gardenii  (Dwarf fothergilla)
spring blooms


Good information sourced from the Missouri Botanical Garden website (apologies in advance, I don't think of plant sizes in metric):

Common Name: dwarf fothergilla
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall

Culture:

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, acidic, organically rich soils which have good drainage. Best flowers in full sun. May spread by root suckers to form colonies if suckers are not promptly removed.


Why the lust?


  • Amazing fall foliage
  • Cute spring flowers
  • Somewhat harder to find and expensive = snob appeal

If I get this plant, I don't have to get:

  • Burning bush (Euonymus alatus





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