January 28, 2020

A New Pollinator-Friendly Raised Bed Garden in Toronto, Part One

We Won't Be Missing Yew(s)


It's almost half way through my winter hiatus or hibernation and while "spring thoughts" shouldn't be in our minds yet, I am being inspired by some gardening books I'm reading now. I haven't posted anything in over a month and wonder why you, dear reader, even stick around this ghost town of a blog. But someone is reading so...onwards and upwards in 2020! 

Combing through my 2019 pictures, I realized I never wrote about a few design proposals for a courtyard complex I "maintain" (well, visit in the spring and fall only). I've posted some "before" and "after" pictures of the cleanups I've done for this condo board before. For example, here's a post titled Weeding Raised Beds in a Central Toronto Courtyard: Getting Gritty in Downtown Toronto that shows the beds before and after I work my magic!

There are about a dozen raised beds inside the private courtyard of various sizes and shapes. They all have yews (Taxus sp.), pruned into balls, ovals, alien spacecraft, etc. and most have hostas, that overused workhorse among perennials. That's more or less it. Lots of green.

Automatic irrigation is in place but no one looks after the plants' maintenance (i.e., no weeding or pruning occurs in the summer).

Some of the condo board members expressed an interest to modernize some of the beds as the feeling in the courtyard is definitely circa 1983. They asked me to come up with three drawings for three small beds as a start. In this post (and two future ones), I'll show the existing bed and my rendered sketch showing new perennial possibilities.

Here's "Bed A", for lack of a more scintillating description:


A New Toronto Pollinator Garden Design Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
A New Toronto Pollinator Garden Design Before 

It faces west but will be shaded by early afternoon due to a large tree located nearby. For this and the other raised beds,the clients wanted more plants that offer seasonal interest and encourage more wildlife (pollinators and birds especially) to visit.


My proposal...



A New Toronto Pollinator Garden Design After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
A New Toronto Pollinator Garden Design After 

The yews, I suggest, would be removed but the existing native serviceberry kept. Four types of shade tolerant native species would fill in the small bed:



What do you think of my plant selection?

December 16, 2019

The 2019 Allan Gardens Conservatory Winter Flower Show

Masses of (unpainted) poinsettias, Hallelujah!


A disconcerting sight I've seen over the past few Christmas seasons is the spray-painting of poinsettias to give them a "glittering sheen". They don't need this embellishment which is literally gilding the poinsettia. I find it extremely tacky.

Luckily, the folks who design and plant the hundreds (thousands?) of poinsettias every December inside Toronto's Allan Gardens Conservatory for its annual Winter (formerly "Christmas") Flower Show forego using shiny poinsettias.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a lover of poinsettias as they truly deserve to be chucked out on January 1 (ever seen a leggy Poinsettia in July that's kept alive by an owner who couldn't bear to part with it after the holidays were over?)  but the idea of painting plants, dead or alive, doesn't sit well with me.

Now that the Christmas Curmudgeon has vented a little, let's enjoy the winter flowers and arrangements at this year's Winter Flower Show which runs until January 12, 2020 here in downtown Toronto.



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show eight by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show


Lots of poinsettias coming in this post but first let me show you this Amaryllis (Hippeastrum for the more exacting types, although no one calls it that). We usually see lots of Amaryllis, Cyclamen, and Paperwhites at the Winter Flower Show although this time there were no Hellebores, which was disappointing.


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show eightteen by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show eleven by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show fifthteen by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show five by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show

You can count on mass plantings of cyclamen and ornamental cabbages every December as part of the Winter Flower Show. The layer of variegated English Ivy at the front of the raised bed is, more or less, permanent as the other seasonal show flowers work around it. Those who grow perennials with silver-coloured leaves and flowers know this: silver connects plants of various colours, acting as a neutral of sorts.



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show four by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show fourteen by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show nine by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show nineteen by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 

Bright orange and yellow Kalanchoes make up part of the left "topiary" above while magnolia leaves grace the model's skirt.




Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show one by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show seven by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show seventeen by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show six by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show sixteen by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 

The scent of paperwhites permeated this part of the Conservatory. I guess you either like or hate the strong scent!



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show ten by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show

An obligatory picture of a decidedly non-hardy bromeliad showing its somewhat holiday seasonal colours. We're inside a greenhouse after all!


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show thirteen by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show three by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 

This container "floating" in the permanent koi-pond is wonderfully monochromatic: just shades of silver, white, green and brown. Very elegant, to me, but others may find it "too cold" as a container.


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show twelve by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 

A reindeer amidst the palms can work, you just go with the seasonal vibe!



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show twenty by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show twentyfive by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 

Poinsettias as bedding plants? Well, the picture above and below suggest the possibility.


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show twentyfour by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show twentyone by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show twentysix by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 

A "floral" dress that can be better described as a "succulent" dress. I appreciate the effort put into creating and executing this "living piece of clothing." 



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show twentythree by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 
In case you're wondering, the large tropical plants in the background above are permanent residents of the Conservatory. The colourful additions in the foreground are rotated in and out with the seasonal shows.


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show twentytwo by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show 



Seasons greetings and thank you, dear reader, for being part of the "garden muses" experience again this year. We'll reconnect in a few months, closer to spring 2020!



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2019 Winter Flower Show two by garden muses--not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 
2019 Winter Flower Show





December 09, 2019

Putting the 2019 Gardening Season to Rest

A Final Fall Cleanup in Cabbagetown


Better late than never: that's my attitude with getting my autumn work completed before a big snowfall occurs and in posting these garden cleanup examples. This will be my last one this year, I promise!

I have quite a few clients in the downtown neighbourhood of Cabbagetown, The size and location of these gardens fit well with my capabilities (one person company who travels by public transit). The properties tend to be small and I often consider the gardens like jewel boxes: tiny but filled with glittering objects.  Many mature trees line the streets and laneways and make growing a lawn on a postage stamp-sized front or back area impractical in most situations. The emphasis, then, is on hardscape and specimen trees and perennials.

The front and back yards shown in this post will show, again, "no lawn" gardens typical in Cabbagetown. 

I'll start in the front first:



Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Front Yard Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Front Yard Before


Nothing complex with the front cleanup: just raking out the large amount of maple leaves which have been collecting since October in this very small Cabbagetown front garden.

There's no real "right" or "wrong" answer with not removing leaves from your garden beds every autumn. If you're lazy, busy or prefer to give your perennials and overwintering insects (pests or not) a cozy home with a nice thick layer of natural insulation, it's o.k. that you don't bother raking the leaves. I think it's also fine if you prefer to remove them in the fall as you may consider the look messy. Since winter here in Toronto lasts into April, that's a long time to see an "untidy" area for many homeowners and certainly for those clients who have hired me in the fall.

Given the amount of property taxes one pays for a Toronto now, you should be able to decide about your leaves one way or another without public shaming or moral judgments.

They're just tree leaves!


Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Front Yard After by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Front Yard After


Cabbagetown Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Cabbagetown Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before



Cabbagetown Front Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Cabbagetown Front Yard Fall Cleanup After


Cabbagetown Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Cabbagetown Front Yard Fall Cleanup Before 


Cabbagetown Front Yard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Cabbagetown Front Yard Fall Cleanup After 

In the backyard...



Cabbagetown Backyard Fall Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Cabbagetown Backyard Fall Cleanup Before 



Cabbagetown Backyard Fall Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Cabbagetown Backyard Fall Cleanup After 


I cut down the herbaceous perennial stalks and leaves from the peonies, hostas and phlox. I also left alone the "evergreen" coral bells (Heuchera), a woody Tree Peony and, of course, the various boxwood beach balls. The latter, I admit, do provide winter interest as the snow collecting on them will make them green and white beach balls!


Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Gardening Company
Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before



Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Gardening Company
Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After 


Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before 



Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After 


Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before



Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After

Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before



Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After 


Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before 

Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After by Paul Jung Gardening Services Inc.--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After 


Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard Before 



Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Cleanup Backyard After 



That's it for the fall cleanups this year. I'll start posting blog entries which will show flowers, lush foliage and vibrant colour as several seasonal indoor flower shows are/will be occurring soon at a nearby Conservatory.

You've put up with seeing nasty brown bits of dead and dying vegetation in this blog recently so it's the least I can do!