June 29, 2017

Leslieville front garden weeding and summer cleanup

The "Satomi" Chinese Dogwood is Beautiful, the Rest of Garden, Not So Much


There are some gardens that I visit yearly and they always fill me with intrigue and, frankly, more than a little anxiety. Now a little mystery or intrigue in the garden is usually a good thing ( hmmm, I see the bodies of garden gnomes scattered throughout, implying a situation gone sideways.)

But anxiety? Angst? Dread?

Not the emotions that come to mind when experiencing landscapes but....



Leslieville front garden cleanup weeding before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville front garden 
cleanup weeding before 


To provide some background, the owner of this Leslieville garden is a friend so her name won't be revealed to prevent further discomfort. She will be the first to admit that looking after plants is not "her thing" and after inheriting the garden when she bought the house several years ago, her idea of garden maintenance is to call me every summer.

And when I get that call or e-mail, I always wonder "how bad are the weeds?"

So by late June, as you can tell from the "before" pictures above and below, yep, they're bad.




Leslieville front garden weeding cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville front garden weeding 
cleanup before 

Well, not all is bad. The "Satomi" Chinese dogwood ( Cornus kousa "Satomi" ) is blooming ("bracting"?) the best I've ever seen and from my travels across town and in my own backyard, Cornus kousas everywhere are outstanding. It must be all that rain we've been having making them and all sorts of plants very happy.

Especially the weeds....



Leslieville Toronto front garden clean up weeding before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leslieville Toronto front garden 
clean up weeding before 

This cleanup should be a textbook example of how the "lazy landscaper/house flipper/cheap homeowner" technique of covering a swath of garden with that ubiquitous landscape fabric and then dumping a tonne or two of some sort of rock (can be limestone screening, pea gravel or river rock) with the false promise that a "low maintenance" solution is at hand is, inevitably, completely ineffective.

Why? In urban settings with lots of tree and weed seeds blowing around and if the ground was not completely weed-free before the fabric was laid, it is only a matter of time before seeds germinate on top of the rock "mulch"or aggressive weed roots spread below the fabric and emerge up and through the fabric and rocks (Creeping bellflower, anybody?)



Leslieville Toronto front garden cleanup weeding before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leslieville Toronto front garden cleanup weeding before 

And so you often get this situation above. In the past, I've had to deal with extracting thistle, burdock and dandelions from this extremely weedy area next to the sidewalk. And the garbage! This year's version included some sort of crazy Malva genus member thinking it's some sort of groundcover.


After the cleanup....


Leslieville front garden cleanup weeding after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville front garden 
cleanup weeding after 


The homeowner has had enough of the pea gravel and landscape fabric "solution" and asked me to come up with a new design. As you can see below, the Chinese dogwood flowering in front of the yew hedge is quite attractive. I'd get rid of the 5 cinquefoils (Potentilla fruticosa) and the lone surviving Lavender and mass plant some "lower maintenance" ornamental grasses as the client, realistically, will not do any gardening on her own. 



Leslieville front garden weeding cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
Leslieville front garden weeding 
cleanup after



Leslieville Toronto front garden clean up weeding after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leslieville Toronto front garden 
clean up weeding after



Leslieville Toronto front garden cleanup weeding after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Leslieville Toronto front garden cleanup weeding after


The great thing about doing all these "cleanups" is that occasionally I see some beauty in the midst of disorder and disarray. 


Aren't these dogwood blooms below wonderful?

So if you're considering a small tree to act as a specimen or focal point in a sunny area of your garden, Cornus kousa "Satomi" could fit the bill (there are many other excellent cultivars.)



Cornus kousa Satomi Chinese Dogwood blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Cornus kousa "Satomi" 
Chinese Dogwood blooms 



Cornus kousa Satomi Chinese Dogwood flower by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Cornus kousa "Satomi" 
Chinese Dogwood flower 



Satomi Chinese Dogwood Cornus kousa blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Satomi" Chinese Dogwood 
(Cornus kousa) bracts



Just promise me that you'll weed the ground below it more than once a year!