August 28, 2016

Baby Point, Toronto front garden renovation

Why are "decorative white rocks" considered decorative?


Travelling across the city from client to client, I see many strange and wonderful gardening and landscaping materials, techniques, and structures executed in interesting and intriguing ways. Then I see the use of "white decorative rocks/stones" and I die a little inside.


Source: http://californiaquarryproducts.com/decorative_landscape_rock.php


I put the words in quotes because that's how this eye-jarring natural stone is marketed and sold at better big box stores. I always wonder when and how in natural landscapes would these stones be found. Of course, most city gardens are contrivances, put together according to the owner's whims ("no maintenance" comes to mind immediately) and bank account balance. But, still, why would anyone buy and put these unnatural-looking natural stones down? (I'll refer to them as "DWR" from now on.)

This thought entered my mind when I first reviewed this west-end Toronto front garden with the new owners. They just bought the house and weren't enamored with the front landscaping that was "flash-frozened" circa the 1950s with the "foundation plantings" comprising of a meat-balled cedar, senile ground-hugging junipers, the ever-ubiquitous and scaled-attacked "Emerald Gaiety" euonymous and, most confusing, a "baby" Colorado Blue Spruce crammed in tight for good measure.

And to top it off (actually, on top of the soil) was a yard or so of DWR acting as a mulch of some sort!

The owners wanted an updated look. I was concerned with the continuous pruning of the spruce that was shoehorned into this tiny garden bed.


Baby Point front garden renovation before Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Baby Point front garden renovation before


(I blogged about this example of the lack of math in the garden in a previous post called "Do the math! Nah, I'm not expecting it to grow much larger..." The mantra of putting the "right plant in the right location" didn't exactly resonate with the previous owners. A mature Colorado Blue Spruce grows to a mature size of easily 50 feet tall by 20 feet wide.)


Here are other "before" pictures showing the bed around the very mature oak tree:


Baby Point front garden renovation before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Baby Point front garden renovation before 


Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation before 


(The red disposal bin was used for the extensive construction going on in the backyard and the pink twine was mainly used to prevent the workers not to walk on or throw their cigarette butts or coffee cups in the proposed new bed. No, seriously!)

The bulk of my time was removing as much of the DWR that was visible or just beneath the soil. Talk about a tedious task! I find "rock mulch" whether it's the size of pea gravel all the way to larger river rocks utterly useless to prevent weeds from growing, unless a good 6 inches of topsoil is removed to prevent weed and tree seeds from germinating. And which landscaping company is going to do that?

I planted mainly perennials once the existing shrubs (except one) were removed. The owners preferred dark burgundy or purple-coloured perennials so I chose other plants with yellow or chartreuse-coloured leaves to complement and contrast the purple foliage. This front area gets a little bit of direct sun in the morning but is under dapple shade for most of the day under the huge oak.

I used some of my favourite shade-tolerant stalwarts like "June" hosta, Japanese Forest Grass, "Black Negligee" snakeroot or bugbane, "Obsidian" coral bells and "Jack Frost" Siberian bugloss. The owners added some purple petunias for instant colour until frost arrives.

They (owners) couldn't part with the euonymous so it was spared from being shovel pruned.

Here are the corresponding "after" pictures:



Baby Point front garden renovation after Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Baby Point front garden renovation after 


Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation after 



Baby Point front garden renovation after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Baby Point front garden renovation after by 


Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation after Paul Jung Gardening Services
Baby Point Toronto front garden renovation after




I still shudder to think what would have happened if that spruce was kept!