April 26, 2016

Riverdale ecological garden spring cleanup

Getting ready for the pollinators with a spring garden clean up in Riverdale


I've profiled this Riverdale garden previously but those posts showed the garden during in its August glory. Here are some links showing the many native species of perennials and shrubs in this garden:




Coming out of winter, there are remnants of last season's AgastachePenstemon, Rudbeckia and Vernonia (and many otherswhich I did not cut down last autumn. The client wanted the seeds to be available for hungry birds during a long and harsh winter.

This spring cleanup is straight-forward: cutting all the perennials to the base. The only weeding to speak of is removing the many baby Siberian squill trying to establish themselves and taking over the beds.

It's amazing how fast these beds will be filled with flowers and pollinators in about a month. There will be a frenzy of activity soon enough...


Toronto Riverdale spring garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale spring garden cleanup
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services



Toronto Riverdale spring garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale spring garden cleanup
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services




Toronto Riverdale spring garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale spring garden clean up
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services




Toronto Riverdale spring garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale spring garden clean up
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services




Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services




Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services




Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup before Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup
before Paul Jung Gardening Services




Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup after  Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto spring garden cleanup after  Paul Jung Gardening Services




Riverdale Toronto spring garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto spring garden clean up
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services




Riverdale Toronto spring garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto spring garden clean up
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services


A native Geum that is just emerging:

Geum triflorum Prairie Smoke in a Riverdale Toronto spring garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke) in a
Riverdale, Toronto spring garden

April 24, 2016

Toronto spring garden cleanup in North York

Dealing with ornamental grasses in a Toronto spring garden cleanup


The biggest tasks in this North York, Toronto garden at this time of the year is cutting back and dealing with the dried ornamental grass leaves that were left on over the past winter. It was a little tough dealing with the woody-like dried stems but my sharp loppers made steady and efficient progress. Being warm season grasses, these Miscanthus sinensis (Maiden grass) cultivars will start pushing new leaves when the temperatures increase a little more in another month.



North York Toronto spring garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
North York Toronto spring garden cleanup
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services


North York Toronto spring garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
North York Toronto spring garden cleanup
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services



North York Toronto spring garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
North York Toronto spring garden clean up
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services


North York Toronto spring garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
North York Toronto spring garden clean up
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services



North York Toronto spring garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc
North York Toronto spring garden cleanup
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc



North York Toronto spring garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc
North York Toronto spring garden cleanup
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc



These two small beds just had a few perennials like lavender and Japanese Forest Grass that needed a little tidying up.



North York spring garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
North York spring garden clean up before
by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto


North York spring garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
North York spring garden clean up after
by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto


North York spring garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
North York spring garden cleanup before
by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto



North York spring garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
North York spring garden cleanup after
by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto



April 16, 2016

Etobicoke, Toronto spring garden clean up

Another Toronto spring garden clean up...


The weather has literally "turned on a dime" with temperatures now in the high teens (Celsius) or upper 60s F. It's hard to believe it was snowing just a week ago! I've been busy with "spring cleanups" for clients and this post outlines getting another garden ready for the all-too-short growing season in Toronto.

In this west-end Toronto backyard garden, I suggested to the client last fall to leave the Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Liatris and other seed-bearing perennials alone for the winter so that birds can feed over a harsh Toronto weather. The before and after pictures show, typically, many of the perennials that now could use some cutting back.

Last year, we planted Butterfly weed, beebalm and penstemon so I'm excited to see how this pollinator-friendly garden develops!


Toronto Etobicoke spring garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Etobicoke spring garden cleanup
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services

Toronto Etobicoke spring garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Etobicoke spring garden cleanup
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services


Etobicoke spring garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Etobicoke spring garden clean up before
by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto



Etobicoke spring garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Etobicoke spring garden clean up after
by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto


Toronto Etobicoke spring garden cleanup before Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Etobicoke spring garden cleanup
before Paul Jung Gardening Services



Toronto Etobicoke spring garden cleanup after Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Etobicoke spring garden cleanup
after Paul Jung Gardening Services


Toronto Etobicoke spring garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Etobicoke spring garden clean up
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services


Toronto Etobicoke spring garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Etobicoke spring garden clean up
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services


Etobicoke Toronto spring garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Etobicoke Toronto spring garden cleanup
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services


Etobicoke Toronto spring garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Etobicoke Toronto spring garden cleanup
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services


Etobicoke Toronto spring garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Etobicoke Toronto spring garden clean up
before by Paul Jung Gardening Services


Etobicoke Toronto spring garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Etobicoke Toronto spring garden clean up
after by Paul Jung Gardening Services



Siberian squill Scilla siberica Toronto Etobicoke spring garden cleanup Paul Jung Gardening Services
Siberian squill (Scilla siberica)
Toronto Etobicoke spring garden cleanup
Paul Jung Gardening Services

Bordering on being invasive, the garden has a small (but expanding!) patch of squill but it's located way in the back and gives a nice blue colour when nothing else is blooming. This spring bulb will go dormant by June with the summer heat so I took this picture while the time was right.

April 14, 2016

Spring garden cleanup in the Summerhill area of Toronto

A small Toronto garden spring cleanup in the Summerhill neighbourhood



Spring 2016 finally is starting to feel like spring although, to be honest, it was hailing a little during this cleanup the other day. This small mid-town Toronto backyard had a lot of maple and Ginkgo leaves on the ground left from last fall. Removing the partly decomposing leaves was the bulk of the cleanup, along with tidying up the sedges (Carex "Ice Dance")  in front of the water feature which had just a little bit of winter-kill. The spiraea, near the statue, was also pruned lightly to remove some dead tips and inner stems.




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


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


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


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


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


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



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



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



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



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


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



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


April 10, 2016

Vivian Swift's "Gardens of Awe and Folly": A Book review

Very personal reflections of nine gardens


It dawned on me the other day that I haven't posted a book review in ages. I think I've written maybe 4 or 5 reviews over the past 5 years so this review will be my sole contribution for 2016. (Half joking). This makes some sense because, frankly, the majority of gardening books don’t appeal to me. I ignore topics and titles, for example, dealing with city or urban farming, “the 100 best plant combinations”, do-it-yourself landscape construction projects, “frugal” gardening, etc. I find them usually pedantic, parsimonious, simplistic and, worst of all, boring.  I’m more drawn to stories about people who love gardens and/or particular plants to the point of obsession, grief, ecstasy, or lunacy. (Eric Hanson's Orchid Fever which I reviewed several years ago comes to mind.) Could such emotions be found in Vivian Swift’s latest book Gardens of Awe and Folly: A Traveler’s Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening? ((2016). New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury USA).


Book cover of "Gardens of Awe and Folly" by Vivian Swift

Book cover of "Gardens of Awe and Folly" by Vivian Swift.
(Source: http://bit.ly/20s66Hu )


I found this title intriguing. You see many gardening books along the lines of “the top 100 gardens to visit before you die” but a book about “gardens of awe and folly?” About seeing gardens that are frivolous, inside jokes, whimsical, unsuccessful and worse of all in this day and age, don't grow vegetables? Can one possibly find the “meaning of life” in such a silly space? I’m naturally drawn to incongruities, disconnects, aberrations and the occasional hyperbole inside and outside gardens so Swift’s new book seemed promising, as far as titles go.

If you are expecting detailed and factual descriptions of typical “awe-inspiring” gardens (according to Western garden writing) like Sissinghurst, Versailles, Villa Lante and other heavyweights, it’s best to place Swift’s book back on the library shelf or off your online shopping cart (I mean, who goes to the library anymore these days?) But if you're more adventurous, consider going on a very personal journey and visit nine gardens in the U.S., Europe and South America with the author. Some of these gardens are better known than others on the itinerary but each has a special story for Swift. She tells us as much in the opening lines of the book:

“If all you ask of a garden us What?, then all you’ll probably get in reply is a planting list. But ask, instead, Why? How? When? And, most of all, Who?, and then you’re in for a nice, long conversation. This book is a collection of the conversations I’ve had with nine gardens that had a lot to say.” (p. 1)

Beautifully rendered water colour paintings produced by the author herself capture how each garden holds a unique and special place in Swift’s heart and imagination to an extent that mere photographs cannot. Her travelogue covers the time spent with friends or by herself in very different locales and contexts: an overly contrived Japanese garden in Long Island, New York; a solitary visit to Edinburgh Baroque garden during the “gloaming” hour; the feeling of saudade experienced in a moonlit Brazilian garden. There is wonder, sadness and wry humour throughout her “travel notes” (her comparison of New Orleans to Cleveland is gently withering.) We come across people, places and gardens once lost, now reclaimed; their stories forgotten then remembered. I think gardeners (and especially garden-makers) know this instinctively: Every garden tells a story, regardless how small or large, simple or complex it seems at first glance. Sensitive garden visitors can pick up on this too by putting away our plant lists and, dare I say/write, asking owners and custodians questions.

Gardens of Awe and Folly comprise of nine short stories about small gardens that seem unrelated in location, style, and plantings yet are connected to Swift since each has given her, in her words, a “wow” moment and an epiphany in its own way. I know exactly what she means by that. A “wow”, a revelation, a new story to tell others. I experienced these moments in a classical Chinese garden in Suzhou, a tropical garden in St. Lucia, under an ancient ginkgo tree at a local park with my young daughter. I’m sure you have felt the same spending time in your own garden or visiting another. And that story has been told ever since we’ve been on this planet, conceiving and wrestling gardens out of nothing.

But Swift sums it up much better:

“No matter how grand or miniscule, every garden has a meaning all its own; but every garden, everywhere, has a common reason for being, in that it was made in homage to this wondrous Earth that has given life to very Eden we’ve ever imagined.” (p. 166)


Helpful words to consider as we go into yet another growing season, wherever you are.