December 31, 2012

Happy New Year to my garden muses' readers


It's almost over...

I'm sending out a big thank you to all my readers who subscribe to my little blog (or stumbled upon it while searching for porn, sigh...) 

It's that time of the year again where we reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly experiences over the last twelve months.  (There were many more in the "good" category for me, thankfully.) 


calendar_showing_month_December_2012_days_crossed_out by_garden_muses: a _Toronto_gardening_blog
Counting off the days...

I think we tend to learn a lot more about ourselves, our character, with the latter two types of scenarios. And as self-actualizing humans (and gardeners!), we should strive to be continuously learning and evolving into better beings with better gardens. Well, this could justify all the pottering around yard we do, often to our spouse's/partner's consternation.

Anyway, enough with the armchair philosophy. I wish everyone (anyone?) reading this a wonderful 2013. The world didn't end last week so all this "extra time" is pure upside!

By Paul Jung, author of "garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog" Google Google Find us on Google+ Find us on Google+

December 15, 2012

Allan Gardens Conservatory Christmas Flower Show 2012

'Tis the Season for Poinsettias and More!


Living in downtown Toronto has its pros and cons, gardening-wise, but I'm lucky to have a public conservatory within a 10 minute walk from home. I've visited the Allan Gardens Conservatory before with readers in a post called "In need of some colour, quick!" It's such a nice place, especially in winter, when you need to be surrounded by living green stuff. The staff change plantings throughout the year to keep things interesting and, currently, the 2012 Christmas Flower Show is on exhibit. Here are some highlights from my visit last week.

(Just a note of caution before we begin. If you're allergic to poinsettias like this person claims to be, you may want to skip this post!)

Thank you, dear reader, for visiting me for the first time or regularly throughout 2012. I've had a terrific year personally and professionally. I hope you did as well.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season (Christmas for me)!


blooming paperwhites and red twig dogwood at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
The smell of paperwhites is a love/hate thing.  "Cloying" seems an appropriate description for some!

Cyclamen and hellebores at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Hellebores and cyclamen elicit thoughts of spring
pink and white cyclamen at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
A nice drift of pink cyclamen
Prelude amaryllis hippeastrum Allan Gardens Conservatory Christmas Flower Show 2012 by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Prelude" amaryllis (Hippeastrum)  
Allan Gardens Conservatory Christmas Flower Show 2012 


Mocha amaryllis hippeastrum Allan Gardens Conservatory Christmas Flower Show 2012 by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Mocha" amaryllis (Hippeastrum)
Allan Gardens Conservatory Christmas Flower Show 2012 

Temptation amaryllis hippeastrum Allan Gardens Conservatory Christmas Flower Show 2012 by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Temptation" amaryllis (Hippeastrum)  
Allan Gardens Conservatory Christmas Flower Show 2012
Floral victorian parlour at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012
A living Victorian fireplace, rug and chairs!  See the closeups below.

Victorian parlour sign at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a toronto gardening blog
I was lazy so click and enlarge this photo for more info on how Victorians celebrated Christmas in their houses.
Closeup of floral Victorian rug at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a toronto gardening blog
The living rug with kalanchoe and echeveria

Closeup of Victorian parlour fireplace at Allan Gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a toronto gardening blog
More kalanchoe, echeveria and hypoestes,  the polka dot plant, forming the mantle and hearth

detail of floral rug at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a toronto gardening blog
Closeup of part of the rug. Someone is patient and detail-oriented!
Christmas tree at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a toronto gardening blog
Not your typical modern Christmas tree (I like the citrus slices.)
red white poinsettias purple oxalis and spider plants at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a toronto gardening blog
Poinsettias, like most annuals, do so much better in drifts. The white poinsettias contrast so nicely with the dark purple oxalis. The silver Helichrysum ties it all together.
red and white poinsettias at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a toronto gardening blog
The poinsettias are the visitors as the umbrella  and banana trees are the permanent members  in this part of the greenhouse

red white poinsettias and banana trees at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a toronto gardening blog
The poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is native to Mexico and Central America, so it isn't out of place next to these tropical neighbours.

white and pink poinsettias with purple dracaena at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a toronto gardening blog
My favourite colour combination in the conservatory! The dark purple of the Cordyline makes the off-white poinsettia even brighter and the variegated version ties the two together. Soft, muted and a little sinister.

layers of white red pink poinsettias at allan gardens christmas flower show 2012 by garden muses: a toronto gardening blog
The power of layers!


November 18, 2012

November at the Toronto Botanical Garden


No "fall yard cleanup" here!


autumn_ornamental_grasses_toronto_botanical_garden_by_garden_muses:_a_Toronto_gardening_blog
Brown is a colour too!
Most of the leaves are off the trees in the city and as a result, the whine of gas-powered leaf blowers shatters any peace one seeks  in one of our public parks or our private yards. Not many seem to use rakes these days. Is such usage too low-tech and pedestrian? Where's the wow factor?

No leaf blowers at the TBG when I visited a couple days ago mercifully. No crowds either but hardly surprising.  The halcyon days of late spring and early summer are long gone when it seems everything is blooming its pretty head off. Gardens now emit a different level of energy which likely few find inspiring. 


Who finds brown interesting?


Well, I do!


Since we in Toronto aren't surrounded by pretty flowers for 5 or 6 months (holy moly, that's half the friggen year!), those who have an eye for things horticultural rely on the structure of, um, dead parts of perennials and dormant shrubs and trees to get us through the winter. "Winter interest" is an euphemism to describe our supposed appreciation of botanical brown bits like seedheads, tree bark, or dead grass stalks. I do believe it's a valid concept when choosing plants for a garden but on more than one occasion, a client/garden owner has looked at me with deeply distrustful eyes a I fawn over the virtues of a pagoda dogwood "holding" a fresh layer of snow as the sun rises on a crisp January morning, etc....

autumn_native_plant_species_toronto_botanical_garden_by_garden_muses-_a_Toronto_gardening_blog
I'm sure some viewers will take out their pruners right about now
Non-believers of the "winter interest" concept may experience a change of opinion if not a horti-religious conversion by visiting places like the TBG in which ornamental grasses and other "brown dead things" are not hacked to the ground the day after Halloween. I truly believe this "scorched earth" approach under the guise of a "fall cleanup" represents some deep psychological need to impose control and order on the external world.

Luckily, I haven't met many clients with such a neurosis but you see them removing every offending leaf from their front lawn, daily, with their blowers!


autumn_ornamental_grasses_entry_walk_toronto_botanical_garden_by_garden_muses: a_Toronto_gardening_blog
As low(er) maintenance as you can get

autumn_maiden_grass_Miscanthus_toronto_botanical_garden_by_garden_muses: a_toronto_gardening_blog
Backlit Miscanthus

autumn_backlit_maiden_grass_miscanthus_toronto_botanical_garden_by_garden_muses: a_toronto_gardening_blog
This will be even nicer once it snows
I don't want to give the impression that all things botanical were shades of brown, tan, wheat, khaki, etc. I saw this nice composition of fall beauty- and winterberries (Callicarpa and Ilex) which my crappy camera doesn't do justice to. The red (more scarlet) and purple really grab you visually. Alas, it lasts 2 weeks a year like magnolias, rhodos, etc., but what a two weeks!

autumn_callicarpa_ilex_verticillata_thuja_occidentalis_toronto_botanical_garden_by_garden_muses_a_toronto_gardening_blog
A montage of Beautyberry, Winterberry and a Thuja

detail_autumn_crocus_colchicum_autumnale_toronto_botanical_garden_by_garden_muses_a_toronto_gardening_blog
When nothing else is flowering, depend on Colchicum

Nestled among some bearberry  (I think), some autumn crocus were in full bloom. This was a nice way to end my visit, don't you think?


By Paul Jung, author of "garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog" Google Google Find us on Google+ Find us on Google+

November 04, 2012

Mellow yellows


More fall colour in Toronto

Yellow autumn ginkgo biloba leaves against blue sky by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Autumn Gingko biloba leaves, pre-Sandy

As the remnants of Hurricane Sandy blew into our fair city earlier this week and stripped many leaves off of trees overnight, I was lucky to have taken these pictures before the big winds hit. When some of us think of autumn foliage, we might come up with colour descriptions like wine, russet, crimson, tangerine but let's not forget one of my favourite colours: yellow! There's a huge range of tints and shades of yellow we see in the fall and the following will give you a flavour of the spectrum. 

More reason to consider fall colour in plant selection and placement but to be honest, no one thinks about this in the garden centres in May!

Autumn_eastern_redbud_cercis_canadensis_leaves by garden_muses:_a_Toronto_gardening_blog
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Autumn_oriental_bittersweet_celastrus_orbiculatus_leaves_by_garden_muses:_a_Toronto_gardening_blog
Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

autumn_common_witch_hazel_hamamelis_virginiana_blooms_by_garden_muses: a_Toronto_gardening_blog
Common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) blooms

autumn_littleleaf_linden_tilia_cordata_by_garden_muses:_a_Toronto_gardening_blog
Littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata)

autumn_bottlebrush_buckeye_aesculus_parviflora_leaves_by_garden_muses: a_toronto_gardening_blog
Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
autumn_common_witch_hazel_Hamamelis_virginiana_leaf_by_garden_muses: _a_Toronto_gardening_blog
Common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) leaf

autumn_elegans_hosta_leaves_by_garden_muses: _Toronto_gardening_blog
"Elegans" hosta

autumn_common_witch_hazel_hamamelis_virginiana against a blue sky_by_garden_muses: a_Toronto_gardening_blog
Autumn common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)






By Paul Jung, author of "garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog" Google Google Find us on Google+ Find us on Google+

October 26, 2012

Toronto Music Garden Revisited in the Fall

Autumn glory at the Toronto Music Garden


On an impossibly beautiful day in late fall, I made time to visit one of my favourite places in the city. I've posted about the Toronto Music Garden twice before under the titles 
"wind + ornamental grasses = kinesis" and "Toronto Music Garden with the kids" so as you can guess this garden still intrigues and inspires me. The design is thought-provoking and the plant list, well, elicits serious hort envy!

Under a brilliant blue sky with an ever-present prevailing wind off Lake Ontario, I spent an hour admiring the fall foliage and feeling at peace with the rustling sounds from the ornamental grasses. My only regret was running out of camera battery power but the memory is ingrained. Anyone in the Toronto area should visit the space, whether one is a lover of Bach or garden design or not.

Fall ornamental grasses and perennials at the Toronto Music Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Shimmering Miscanthus, Chasmanthium, and Panicum


Common witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) fall foliage and blooms at Toronto Music Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Fall common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) foliage
and blooms

Common witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) blooms at the Toronto Music Garden autumn by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
More common witch hazel blooms with
last year's opened seedpods



Fall Japanese Forest Grass at Toronto Music Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Another reason to love Hakone grass

Fall Miscanthus sinensis Maiden Grass seedheads at Toronto Music Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Maiden grass seedheads ready to catch the wind


Fall ornamental grasses and perennials Courante section Toronto Music Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Going up the Courante section...

Fall Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) foliage at Toronto Music Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
A grove of paper birches in its autumn glory

Toronto Music Garden gigue section in the summer by garden muses- a toronto gardening blog
On July 1 compared to...


Gigue pathway at Toronto Music Garden Fall 2012 by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
A more subdued feeling 4 months later



Spadina Quay wetlands fall foliage near the Toronto Music Garden by garden muses- not another Toronto gardening blog
At the adjacent Spadina Quay Wetlands.
An excellent example of ecological planting
that is also highly ornamental.



October 15, 2012

It's all about the foliage, baby!


Reasons why autumn is my favourite season as a Toronto gardener:

  • I was born in September
  • My wife was born in October
  • We were married in September
  • It's the best time to work outside
  • no bugs, no humidity, deals at the garden centres
and....
  • fall foliage!
Hamamelis x intermedia  Arnold Promise witchhazel fall colour by garden muses--a Toronto gardening blog
"Arnold Promise" witchhazel on fire, figuratively
Detail of Hamamelis x intermedia  Arnold Promise witchhazel fall colour by garden muses--a Toronto gardening blog
Detail of Hamamelis x intermedia "Arnold Promise" witchhazel leaf in autumn
This witchhazel at my clients, A & M's, has a different colouring than mine at home which has no red margin. Unusual and beautiful nevertheless. Another reason why you need a witchhazel in your garden and not another purple leaf sandcherry from a big box store!


Cotoneaster lucidis Hedge cotoneaster fall colour by garden muses--a Toronto gardening blog
Fall leaf colour and pome (fruit) of  Cotoneaster lucidis (Hedge cotoneaster)



Hedge cotoneaster fall colour by garden muses--a Toronto gardening blog
Oranges and russets of Cotoneaster lucidis  (Hedge cotoneaster) in autumn

You're likely more aware of "Coral Beauty" cotoneaster or Cranberry cotoneaster (C. dammeri and horizontalis cultivars)  with their vivid red berries but I came across a hedge type which I think has superior fall colouring. I don't see C. lucidis that often in nurseries. Maybe a good alternative to privet if you're considering putting in a hedge next year.


Acer ginnala Amur maple fall colour by garden muses--a Toronto gardening blog
Acer ginnala (Amur maple) fall colour

Acer ginnala Amur maple fall leaf colour by garden muses--a Toronto gardening blog
Acer ginnala (Amur maple) fall colour with a halo effect
Here are some shots of the Amur maple doing its autumn thing in my backyard. The leaves will only be on for about a week so I had to take some photos before they all drop. Acer ginnala is one tough and hardy maple. It's often sold multi-stemmed and shrubby. I prune mine as a tree form. My plant i.d. prof at Humber College called it a "poor man's Japanese maple" which I think is a bit unkind!



Cornus kousa var chinensis Chinese dogwood autumn foliage by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Cornus kousa var. chinensis
(Chinese dogwood) brilliant autumn foliage


Yet another reason to plant Cornus kousa (there are many wonderful cultivars to choose from) is the outstanding fall foliage. Chinese dogwood is one of the best plants I know with multi-seasonal interest.




Happy birthday to my wife today. 

As I tell her, gardening in the fall is all about the foliage, baby!



By Paul Jung, author of "garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog" Google Google Find us on Google+ Find us on Google+