August 09, 2011

The "municipal" style of planting and garden design?

James Gardens in Toronto: you better like annuals coming here!

Today's post is more rant than muse so, with this caveat...

Mass of yellow and blue annuals James Garden kidney shaped bed by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
The archetypical municipal bedding arrangement,
 just missing the cannas in the middle

Near my client D's place is James Gardens in Etobicoke (west-end Toronto) which I try to visit after work. I'm curious to see the large beds in the park and garden areas, their condition and types of plantings. Inevitably, I always think/ask about: a) how many thousands of annuals are planted and b) the small army of seasonal staff in charge of planting, deadheading, and removing the plants once we get hard killing frost in early winter.

James Garden  triangular annual bed with catharathus by garden muses: a Toronto gardening  blog
Flying in formation

These photos are examples of what I call the "municipal" style of plant design within an overall landscape design style perhaps labelled as picturesque. (If Capability Brown was around, he'd contract out the placement of some moats, lakes, hills, and a few cows in the park.) 

We have row upon row of annuals in military order designed en masse to attract your eyes from a distance. 

Imagine deadheading and preening these beds to ensure the public is presented with a neat, tidy, and highly controlled garden style.

James Garden mass of orange zinnias, yellow rudbeckia, purple salvia, lavender ageratum by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
I'm getting dizzy...

Perhaps it's no surprise that I became visually fatigued/ overwhelmed/ bored with the beds in very short order because you can see everything in a few glances from a distance. Take the detail of the bed above. Every plant is blooming its pretty little head off and by focussing all your energy on the blooms, your eyes never get a rest. It's like a neon sign that's on all the time, day and night. Maybe you were drawn to it originally but discovered how quickly you lost interest.

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