March 09, 2012

Are we there yet? Late winter in Toronto

Spring is around the corner, trust me! 

Rosetta McClain gardens daylily bed by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Daylily bed in its August glory

I would normally post pictures of crocus and snowdrops blooming right now in Toronto but haven't done garden walk-abouts lately (pre-occupied with mundane things like filing taxes, budgeting, website-tinkering, getting ready for another work year,) so I've posted the following photos from the long and hot days of last August to inspire and/or relieve you temporarily of a Toronto gardener's "spring fever." 

These were all taken at Rosetta McClain Gardens in east Toronto (Scarborough) which are basically on top of the escarpment overlooking Lake Ontario. Not only can you enjoy the various beds but can have a bird's-eye view of the lake for miles and miles

Mid-summer is daylily time so here's a picture showing the flowers leaning south towards the sun. Because there are thousands (?) of Hemerocallis cultivars, daylilies are a useful addition in a perennial bed. You choose them based on height, bloom time, flower colour, throat colour, ruffled vs. not, etc... You can see why they're collector's dream with so many hybrids available.

Rosetta McClain Gardens purple tradescantia and yellow rudbeckia annual bed by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
You know I love this colour combination!

The gardens are public and easy to get to by public transit but the area is wedding-photo heaven so you might be constantly shooed away from being in the wedding party's shot. Which happened to me when I snapped this complementary purple and yellow colour scheme. I love the contrast and drama between the colour and form of the purple tradescantia versus the yellow blooms of the rudbeckia and (I think heliopsis/helianthus/sunflower. Definitely worthy of duplicating or imitating in your summer container this year.

Rosetta McClain Gardens English perennial border  by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
The cliche and conventional thinking of a successful garden bed

Give the public want they want and Rosetta doesn't fail. Many of us (well, many of my clients and myself) were brought up to believe that a "real" and "beautiful" garden needed an English perennial border like you see on the left. Fixed between a swath of lawn and a yew hedge, the bed contains a recipe of perennials, small shrubs and maybe/usually (?) annuals.  This was the conventional wisdom and you still see it throughout Toronto parks.

English perennial border Rosetta McClain gardens by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog

I don't know why this view is so dark but I hope you get a sense of scale of the bed's length (that's me way at the back.) The bed contains the hardier stuff like Echinacea, Sedum, Rudbeckia so it doesn't probably get the maintenance like the other annual beds and rose gardens. So maybe if you have a hundred plus feet patch of land in full sun, you might consider this approach. You'd be worthy of hiring your personal gardener (wink!)

Japanese beetles on white rose Rosetta McClain gardens by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
In case you forgot, all you rose lovers out there!

I couldn't help but to end these thoughts with a graphic example of what's around the corner! With such a mild winter and almost no persistent snow cover in Toronto, overwintering pests should be emerging very nicely soon.

The Rosetta McClain Gardens have many roses because, again, many visitors believe that a public garden should have them (I know this view is slowly changing, for the better.) Well, with roses you get a legion of "challenges" and here's a picture of a gregarious bunch of adult Japanese beetles doing what comes naturally (chewing and mating, maybe even simultaneously.) 

Food for thought for summer 2012...


  1. This is such a wonderful garden, used to visit it often when we lived in the Beach.
    Hope to see some photos of life in the garden now, I am not returning for another month, and getting worried I will miss the snowdrops with the fab weather you have been having.

  2. Hi Deborah,

    I discovered RMG last year after a friend recommended visiting and wasn't disappointed. I couldn't help making wry comments about the motels one sees driving up Kingston Rd., lol.

    Very atypical weather we've had, especially near the lake, looks and feels like late April.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Ten ogród jest bardzo ciekawy, ale trochę za daleko żebym go mogła sama zobaczyć , a szkoda. Pozdrawiam. *** This garden is very interesting, but a bit too far I could go see for myself a pity. Yours.

    1. Hi Giga,

      maybe one day you can visit us in Toronto, we have many beautiful gardens!