November 28, 2011

Their gardens, my babies?

Who are the parents of a new garden?


It's late November in Toronto. We haven't had snow yet and most of the leaves have fallen or melted on the perennials. If you're a student of tree bark or (dormant) plant structure, this may be an interesting time (and will be for the next 4 months or so.)  For me, there isn't very much to look at in the garden. The glorious blaze of colours we had up to several weeks ago is replaced with bare limbs and stems. On the positive side, pruning strategies are more obvious for the shrubs and trees in the backyard, I guess!


Work is slowing down for the year so now is the time to evaluate the business' financials for trends. It's been another good year, considering the lingering effects of a recession. I've met quite a few clients from my Paul Jung Gardening Services website this year and look forward to meeting more next year as the business grows. I've also been privileged to maintain gardens for outstanding customers again who are really more like friends. Working in their gardens (many have been profiled in this blog) over the years has been a treat.


A new client, C., said something that I found very interesting and profound. She asserted that (a), the new garden I installed for her below doesn't really "belong" to her. Yes, of course, it's part of her property but she felt that my imprint on it via plant selection and placement (with her consultation) made it mine, somehow. And (b), the more time I maintained it, the more it became my garden. I was initially perplexed by her observation but upon further reflection, maybe she was on to something.

Here are the before and after shots:


Front yard before new design showing overgrown evergreens by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Not much interest going on with the evergreens and sedum
Front yard after new design with new weigela, blueberry, moss phlox by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
We have more seasonal interest with some flowering shrubs and perennials


This wasn't a complex makeover. For her front garden, I removed most of the overgrown "foundation" plants like junipers and euonymus that were sheared into balls/vases/disks. They were replaced with perennials and shrubs she had in the back (e.g., 3 yellow variegated weigela, sedum, maiden grass, moss phlox) that now offer multi-season interest. Several dozen allium bulbs will start the show next spring. We now have the beginnings of something special, it is hoped.

Will this front garden ever be mine as C. believes? And what if she moves? Will the new owners know or care of its genesis? I always have a fond connection with the gardens I design, install and maintain. What started as a jungle or horticultural wasteland became a blank canvas then became a work of art and science, or, to mix metaphors, became my baby. And as anyone who has the experience of raising babies (I have two older babies) will tell you that it is a work in progress, the end results may never reach perfection even with the requisite amount of love and discipline.

Still, this never stops some of us from having them.