June 18, 2018

A New Shade Garden in Mount Pleasant East-Davisville

Improving Curb Appeal, One Root-Filled Front Garden at a Time


Gardening under or near Norway Maples always requires some planning or, when it comes to dealing with clients who want to do this, "managing expectations." When even weeds are reluctant to grow in these dry and shady spots, you know that some challenges await.



by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Mount Pleasant East Davisville New Front Shade Garden Before
 Mount Pleasant East Davisville
New Front Shade Garden Before


Jennifer, my client in this post, has had enough of this front bed and who can blame her? I won't comment on the rock placement (ahem) but the three boxwoods are ailing in this dry bed about 50 feet away from the maple's trunk. Even at this distance, the maple's shallow roots are greedily taking in as much moisture as it can. The boxwoods, like many across Toronto, are afflicted with their most serious pest, the Boxwood leafminer and have never been pruned so I'll take them out of their misery.


Mount Pleasant East Davisville New Front Shade Garden Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Mount Pleasant East Davisville
New Front Shade Garden Before



This small bed is next to the path leading to the front door. As the "before" pictures show, there isn't much visual interest--essentially three unpruned and scraggly boxwoods and that's it. And the rocks...

Davisville Mount Pleasant East New Front Shade Garden Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Davisville Mount Pleasant East
New Front Shade Garden Before 


Afterwards....



by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Mount Pleasant East Davisville New Front Shade Garden After
 Mount Pleasant East Davisville
New Front Shade Garden After


I chose shade-tolerant perennials like bleeding heart, barrenwort, Carex, hostas and hellebores. These shady characters are very common and easy to find at most garden centers. The maple will always compete for moisture and nutrients with the new perennials but the client was willing to "give it a shot" and promised me to regularly water this bed.


Mount Pleasant East Davisville New Front Shade Garden After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Mount Pleasant East Davisville
New Front Shade Garden After 


I forget there were even boxwoods here! Maybe it's the black mulch...

No, I didn't bother putting the boulders back into this bed since they were too small to have any significant visual interest.

This was a cute little project although, for me, a challenge was digging through the "rooty" soil.The shallow maple surface roots were more of a nuisance than an outright obstacle luckily.

Davisville Mount Pleasant East New Front Shade Garden After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Davisville Mount Pleasant East
New Front Shade Garden After





June 12, 2018

Bye Bye Barberry!

Garden Bed Makeovers in Toronto's Wychwood neighbourhood


I can see why you would plant a Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) hedge to prevent or dissuade people from cutting across your lawn but on more than one occasion during my work visits, I see an ancient and prickly barberry just sitting there. Here are a couple of "specimens" I have the misfortune to prune occasionally:



Berberis thunbergii (Japanese Barberry) in a Toronto garden by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese Barberry) 


Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) in a Toronto garden by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii


There are so many other alternatives to choose from beside having a giant thorny purple blob greeting you and visitors (don't get too close though!) 365 days a year.

But we'll get to the barberry that was shovel-pruned a little later in this post. 

June for me is all about creating/remaking/re-organizing new gardens, transplanting and, of course, more weeding. It's a great time to be working outside as the temperatures and humidity levels are still, usually, civilized. 


The gardens covered here are in Toronto's Wychwood neighbourhood.  I met Maria, the client, a few months ago who expressed an interest to re-design her front and backyard gardens.

Below are some of the "before" pictures of the front raised bed:


by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company new front garden perennial bed in Wychwood before
 A new front garden perennial 
bed in Wychwood before

The raised bed is about 10 feet long by 3 feet wide, faces west so receives full sun from mid-day onwards, has no automatic irrigation, and has a small tree in the middle.


New Wychwood Toronto front garden perennial bed Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New Wychwood Toronto front 
garden perennial bed Before 

Obviously, the hosta is loving the location a little too much and is out of scale with the tiny bed. Other existing perennials include a nice clump of daylilies (unknown variety), a few coral bells (Heuchera hybrid) and a "dwarf" Cotoneaster. The remaining plants will be discarded.



by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company new front makeover in Wychwood before
New front makeover in Wychwood before

Above is the view from the parking area. It's important to note that all the snow will be dumped on the garden during the winter so there's little point having shrubs here.




New front garden perennial bed in Wychwood before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New front garden perennial 
bed in Wychwood before



Above is her view from the porch looking down.




New front garden makeover in Wychwood before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New front garden makeover 
in Wychwood before 



And in the back, the barberry you've been waiting anxiously to see...




Wychwood Toronto new backyard perennial garden before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Wychwood Toronto new backyard
 perennial garden before 



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company new back garden makeover in Wychwood before
A new back garden 
makeover in Wychwood before

I think this picture gives you a better idea of the barberry's current size and location in the raised bed. Maria mentioned that she had another barberry (!) to the left of this one but was mercifully taken out before. I'm scratching my head, metaphorically, and ask why in the world would you plant barberries here. Sure, if you hate your neighbours and/or want to screen the view from seeing their junkyard of a backyard, a row of barberries is an excellent "F-You" horticultural statement but the neighbour's garden is actually very nice and Maria gets along with them so...WHY?




New Back garden perennial bed in Wychwood before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New Back garden perennial 
bed in Wychwood before 



A mass grouping of small shrub roses. I like this arrangement and will try to keep most of them.



A new back garden makeover 
in Wychwood before

Above is the view looking towards the other end of the raised bed. There's a P.G. hydrangea and a small "Bloodgood" Japanese maple here. Frankly, the maple is planted way to close to the fence. I like the stonework though, the curve of the bed and the cute little sitting area. Nicely done, Mr./Ms. Contractor, with the raised bed!


Let's go back to the front, post-makeover:



by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company new front garden perennial bed in Wychwood after
A new front garden perennial
 bed in Wychwood after

I re-used many existing plants like herbaceous peonies, dwarf Weigelas and coral bells but added many new sun-loving perennials like moss phlox, purple coneflowers and Dianthus.

I'm curious what colour the daylily flowers are once they bloom later in June. Nevertheless, lots of colour now for Maria and her neighbours to enjoy after the makeover. 



New front garden perennial bed in Wychwood after by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New front garden perennial 
bed in Wychwood after


New Wychwood Toronto front garden perennial bed After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New Wychwood Toronto front 
garden perennial bed After 



by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company new front makeover in Wychwood after
A new front makeover 
in Wychwood after


New front garden makeover in Wychwood after by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New front garden makeover 
in Wychwood after 


And in the back...



Wychwood Toronto new backyard perennial garden after by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Wychwood Toronto new 
backyard perennial garden after

Removing the barberry is a bit like love-making: one approaches the object of desire tentatively and gingerly, wary of prickly defences and probing for weak and sensitive areas. A little more deft maneuvering with some vigorous rocking and heaving until satisfaction occurs: the root ball has been excavated.

The shrubs will grow taller than the fence, of course, but nowhere as tall, bulky and oppressive as the barberry. Again, I ask rhetorically, why would you want to obscure the neighbour's garden, given how nice it looks? You wouldn't, of course.



New Back garden perennial bed in Wychwood After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New Back garden perennial 
bed in Wychwood After 

I kept most of the miniature roses behind the yellow Japanese Forest Grass as the roses add consistent colour throughout the summer.



New Backyard garden perennial bed in Wychwood After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New Backyard garden perennial 
bed in Wychwood After 

I divided the massive clump of "Halcyon" hosta you saw in the front garden's "before" pictures and planted the six or seven divisions in the rear. Like most hostas, the "Halcyon" (I think) divisions make a good "filler" in my design. The hostas are not spectacular but useful in creating a mass of silvery-blue leaves. 


By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company new back garden makeover in Wychwood after
A new back garden 
makeover in Wychwood after


And here's the view looking down the bed. There's a mixture of the common (e.g., bigleaf and P.G. hydrangeas) and not-so common like Japanese Forest Grass and Fothergilla shrubs.

This was a cute little garden makeover, compensation for the previous parking pad cleanup!


June 08, 2018

Fine Gardening in Cabbagetown

Gardening in the...Parking Pad?


Perhaps there are some of my dozen or so readers (thank you!) who romanticize about being a paid gardener: working outside, surrounded by beautiful plants in other people's gardens and getting paid for this privilege. And I'd say this is more or less true, about three-quarters of the time (getting paid is always 100% of the time; otherwise, one is just a glorified hobbyist.)

But that other 25%... 


Toronto Parking Pad Cleanup Cabbagetown Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Parking Pad Cleanup Cabbagetown Before 


I'm making out things worse than they really are. This short post covers the less-attractive side of garden maintenance: I'll call it "parking pad weeding" (I just made this up but you can use it freely!)

I've cleaned up more than a few parking spots over the years. It's always an "add-on" task, when the client says: "Do you mind tidying up the parking area? There are just a few weeds..."

This small area in Cabbagetown is "only" 15 feet by 10 feet, I'm guessing, but as you can see, no car has been here for a few years. Opportunistic weeds, on the other hand, have taken full advantage of the bare soil.


Toronto Parking Pad Cleanup Cabbagetown After by Paul Jung Gardening Services a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Parking Pad Cleanup Cabbagetown After

Weeding by hand-digging instead of weed-whacker (line trimmer) is, of course, laborious and hard on the knees and back (hence, I was hired) and spraying with government-approved herbicides will take a while to show effect. To be honest, during these type of unglamourous and mundane jobs, I "zone out" and just focus on the square foot in front, dig out the weeds by their roots, move over, lather, rinse, repeat. It's my form of meditation: I think about what's for dinner, which clients I'll see the next day, the aching feeling in my lower back, etc.

Fortunately, there were no dog droppings (or worse) to deal with, just a litany of "Toronto's best weeds." I just count my blessing there wasn't any creeping bellflower to contend with.

Feel free to share this post with anyone thinking about becoming a "horticulturist". It's not just about pretty flowers, dahling!


June 04, 2018

New Garden Installation in North High Park/The Junction

Enough With the Spring Cleanups, Let's Get Planting!


You've been patient, I'll give you that. Either you've endured the many spring cleanup posts in April and May or ignored them (I'm fine with that). June is here and traditionally I spend the month putting in one garden after another. New and fresh perennials, shrubs and trees are in the garden centers now and temperatures are still reasonable for transplanting.

In this post, I weeded and edged two backyard garden beds for a property in Toronto's High Park North neighbourhood, near "The Junction" area. I originally did a spring cleanup in this backyard way back in April (feels like a lifetime ago) and since then the weeds, of course, have grown vigorously during a very warm May. 

I was presented with this the other day when I arrived:



In the Junction a New Backyard Garden Installation Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
In the Junction a New Backyard
Garden Installation Before 


New Backyard Garden Installation Before in Toronto's  The Junction by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New Backyard Garden Installation
Before in Toronto's The Junction


High Park North Backyard Garden Installation Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
High Park North Backyard
Garden Installation Before 


and on the other side of the backyard:



New Backyard Perennial Garden Installation Before in Toronto's The Junction by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New Backyard Perennial Garden
Installation Before in Toronto's The Junction 


A Backyard Perennial Garden Installation Before in High Park North by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
A Backyard Perennial Garden
Installation Before in High Park North 


High Park North Backyard Perennial Garden Installation Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
High Park North Backyard Perennial
Garden Installation Before 



The lawn is in poor shape but since I'm not involved with lawn care, the homeowner should get some quotes to have it re-sodded as I feel re-seeding won't be effective due to the many weeds in the turf.

More pressing for me was to deal with the weeds infesting the two beds. The biggest culprits were violets and creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens) which were quickly taking over the beds. Hand digging them out, roots and all, was the most quickest and effective way to create "clean" beds ready for transplanting. And, yes, edging makes a difference appearance-wise, besides keeping the grass out of the beds.

On the shadier north-facing side, I chose plants like astilbes, hostas and bleeding hearts to accompany Buddha. The strange-looking stem is part of the old grape vine that was removed from the blue wall and roof. I left it alone as it looks decorative (i.e., I didn't want to deal with the root ball.)

You'll notice the beds could use more plants but let me explain: the client couldn't get all the perennials I suggested way back in April and I'm leaving room for the to grow. That "sleep, creep, leap" aphorism when it comes to perennials does apply if they are sited and cared for well during the first few seasons after transplanting.



In the Junction a New Backyard Garden Installation After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
In the Junction a New
Backyard Garden Installation After 



New Backyard Garden Installation After in Toronto's The Junction neighbourhood by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New Backyard Garden Installation
After in Toronto's The Junction neighbourhood 



High Park North Backyard Garden Installation After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
High Park North Backyard
Garden Installation After 



On the sunnier south-facing side, I planted purple coneflowers (Echinacea hybrid) and two variegated Feather Reed grasses (Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Overdam'):



New Backyard Perennial Garden Installation After in Toronto's The Junction by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
New Backyard Perennial Garden
Installation After in Toronto's The Junction 



A Backyard Perennial Garden Installation After in High Park North by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
A Backyard Perennial Garden
Installation After in High Park North 



High Park North Backyard Perennial Garden Installation After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
High Park North Backyard
Perennial Garden Installation After 



"It's a start" as the saying goes. I advised the client to lay down more mulch and buy more perennials to fill up the south-facing bed especially.

Many more transplanting examples are on the way, along with "summer cleanups" because the weeds just keep on growing!


June 02, 2018

Another Riverdale Spring Garden Cleanup

A Toronto Garden Cleanup in the East End


It's still spring but before we head into hotter and drier days, here's yet another "spring cleanup" I was hired to do in the Riverdale neighbourhood last month. Being early in the season, there wasn't too much weeding but raking out leaves and edging were priorities here.


In the backyard...





by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Riverdale Backyard Garden Spring Cleanup Before
Riverdale Backyard Garden
Spring Cleanup Before


I planted these "Emerald" cedars (Thuja occidentalis "'Smaragd") last autumn and you can few several failing already. I strongly recommended not to plant these as the site is exposed to harsh north winds, under a tree and in shade for most of the day and regular watering was not guaranteed by the busy homeowner. She wanted an instant living screen to block out the neighbours and soon she'll have a dead screen. Erecting a short decorative fence would be more effective but for some reason, many homeowners love plunking rows of these cedars instead of putting in a "real" fence. In protected sites where the cedars receive full sun and regular watering, they can form a "jagged" living green fence. Above all, do not cut the tops off these things!



Riverdale Backyard Garden Spring Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Riverdale Backyard Garden
Spring Cleanup Before 


Riverdale Spring Cleanup Backyard Garden Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Riverdale Spring Cleanup
Backyard Garden Before



Toronto Riverdale Spring Cleanup Backyard Garden Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Riverdale Spring Cleanup
Backyard Garden Before 


After...



by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Riverdale Backyard Garden Spring Cleanup After
 Riverdale Backyard Garden
Spring Cleanup After



Riverdale Backyard Garden Spring Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Riverdale Backyard Garden
Spring Cleanup After



Riverdale Spring Cleanup
Backyard Garden After

It's amazing how an edged bed looks a 1000% better. Well, maybe not exactly a 1000% but a "heckofalot" better.


Toronto Riverdale Spring Cleanup Backyard Garden After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Riverdale Spring Cleanup
Backyard Garden After 



Front Yard



Riverdale Backyard Garden Spring Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Riverdale Backyard Garden
Spring Cleanup Before 

Hopefully, you can make out the darker garden bed above surrounded by patchy grass.



by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Riverdale Front Garden Spring Cleanup Before
Riverdale Front Garden
Spring Cleanup Before


The tiers were full of last autumn's leaves, matted down and partly decomposing.


Toronto Riverdale Spring Cleanup Front Garden Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Riverdale Spring
Cleanup Front Garden Before



Riverdale Spring Cleanup Front Garden Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Riverdale Spring Cleanup
Front Garden Before 


Afterwards...




Riverdale Front Garden Spring Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Riverdale Front Garden
Spring Cleanup After 



by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Riverdale Front Garden Spring Cleanup After
 Riverdale Front Garden
Spring Cleanup After



Toronto Riverdale Spring Cleanup Front Garden After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Riverdale Spring
Cleanup Front Garden After



Riverdale Spring Cleanup Front Garden After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Riverdale Spring Cleanup
Front Garden After