June 03, 2016

Forest Hill, Toronto rock garden installation

A small slope yields much potential in Forest Hill


At first glance, it doesn't look promising: a weedy patch of soil on a small slope facing a shared driveway between two rental properties. My client was so desperate (maybe a slight exaggeration) to garden that she was willing to pay for my time and materials, even though she is a tenant. So it was on a whim and a lark that we met way back in March to see what could be done with the space below:



Forest Hill Toronto new rock garden before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Forest Hill Toronto new rock garden before



I like these small projects and haven't put in a rock garden for ages so I decided to take on the challenge. My client is also very nice so that sealed the deal!

It's not a very large area, maybe 20 feet across and 5 feet high. The good news is that it faces south and gets full sun until afternoon and the soil isn't too bad. The rocks were already there so someone in the past made this into a rock garden of sorts. But time and negligence have taken their toll and the soil was choked with many types of weeds with the main culprit being creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) Anyone who's worked with this perennial weed that spreads vigorously by underground rhizomes knows intimately how difficult it is to eradicate it. Leaving just a bit of the fleshy pinkie-finger like roots is enough for it to regenerate.

I prefer not to use a non-selective herbicide so this entire face was hand-dug in order to remove as much of the roots and stems of this bad boy of a weed in preparation for the new alpine/rock garden perennials.

That was in April and when I returned a month later (after the client bought the plants), a few Creeping Bellflower shoots were still emerging. They were easy enough to dig out but vigilance is the key here to really get rid of the weed for good (even then...)

Here's the list of the rock garden perennials we chose which are hardy to zone 5 Toronto and lower: (Click on the links for more information.)




The "finished" garden below looks sparse but many of these rock garden perennials grow quickly so the bare spots should fill in over a few years. Of course, the challenge is to keep these pockets weed-free until then!


Forest Hill Toronto rock garden makeover by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Forest Hill Toronto rock garden makeover 



I used the same "boulders" (small rocks really)  that were there already but I suggest that if you were to attempt this, get bigger and nicer looking rocks and plenty of them. (I'd have more rockery than plants.)  The perennials are, of course, tiny at the beginning but will definitely fill in over a couple of years. I expect to see a blaze of white, pink, yellow and blue spring flowers every April-May. Weeding on a slight slope can be a little tougher but other than the occasional watering to get these small plants established plus the weeding (we didn't use mulch like pea gravel), this small rock garden is very low-maintenance.

More "before" and "after" pictures for this small Forest Hill rock garden:



New Toronto Forest Hill rock garden before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
New Toronto Forest Hill rock garden before 




New Toronto Forest Hill rock garden after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
New Toronto Forest Hill rock garden after



Forest Hill Toronto new rock garden before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc
Forest Hill Toronto new rock garden before



Forest Hill Toronto new rock garden after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc
Forest Hill Toronto new rock garden after



New Toronto Forest Hill  rock garden before Paul Jung Gardening Services
New Toronto Forest Hill  rock garden before



Forest Hill Toronto new rock garden after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Forest Hill Toronto new rock garden after