June 23, 2012

Do cacti need viagra?

Or: Why we keep plants

Drooping cactus in a pot by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Limp cactus is not the name of a punk band, yet...

The garden muses took me to my dad's place today. Going near his crumbling front stoop I noticed this cactus propped up, trying to achieve horticultural turgidity.

I didn't bother asking him why he's keeping and nurturing this guy (it has to be a guy!) as I doubt dear dad sees any irony with the composition.

My father's an interesting fellow, a bit of a well-educated hoarder. Why is he keeping the cactus?  Maybe it could be as simple as not being willing to throw away something living and "perfectly fine." I see variations of this affection among my clients as well: grandma's monster forsythia overtaking the front porch, the row of bridal wreath spiraea last pruned in 1978, the decrepit juniper bought as a baby 1 gallon plant now threatening to block out the second floor windows.

I always ask my customers before pruning if there's any sentiment attached to said-to-be-pruned shrub. New  homeowners who inherit a garden are often perplexed. "Why would we be possibly attached to this overgrown green blob?" is often communicated verbatim. Older garden-owners appreciate the question.

As I get older, I'm starting to understand the reluctance of letting go of objects which have meaning and significance. I need to remind myself that it's easy enough for me to say that "it's only a plant", let's shovel prune it and put something newer and cooler in. A plant can be a symbol of better days and of family and friends no longer here.

By Paul Jung, author of "garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog" Google Google Find us on Google+ Find us on Google+

June 09, 2012

A little garden TLC somewhere in Toronto

It's summertime and the weeding is easy...

Toronto garden cleanup before with bed full of weeds by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
I know there's a bed in there somewhere!

Readers of my modest blog may wonder what I actually do, work-wise, to feed my kids, among other noble tasks. Well, I am a proud and independent  gardener in this fine city. (This will help to explain why I've been posting infrequently since April...it's been flipping busy!) 

I took the picture above as a "before" shot recently during a client visit. I think you can make out where the lawn is supposed to end and the garden bed begins. Maybe.

Toronto garden bed after cleanup weeded and edged by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Ahhh, doesn't that feel so much better? Ready for mulch!

I love it when there's a happy ending...

I hope your weeding and overall maintenance yields similar results this summer!

June 03, 2012

Paeonia lactiflora "Heartbreaker"

The perils of herbaceous peonies

After the torrential downpour Toronto received two days ago (although much needed), it wasn't exactly a surprise to see this at a client's yard:

herbaceous peony damaged by wind and rain paul jung toronto organic ecological gardening services
Hoops didn't help with these peonies

I suspect this scene has been repeated across our fair city. The timing is awful, the the fat flower buds just about to open. 

Maybe a tree peony, Paeonia suffruticosa, or an Itoh hybrid is the way to go to avoid such carnage? Sure, they are expensive but all this sadness would had been avoided.