December 09, 2013

Saying goodbye to a Toronto garden

(An open letter to two former gardening clients)

Dear Sue and Doug:

As 2013 draws to a close, I'm reflecting on the "highs and lows" gardening-wise over the year. I wasn't surprised to hear that you decided to move, downsize and spend more time travelling. Still, I'll miss spending time in your garden.

I think we first met about 8 years ago when I was gardening at the church (Islington United Church) and you must have got my number from Rosemary. You'd asked me to, first, put down a short fieldstone path around some perennial beds and towards the back pergola. Then, over time, the garden enchanted me.

Of course, over the years, we:

  • fretted over the possibility/likelihood of the oakleaf hydrangeas blooming on old or new wood (still a mystery to me, they do what they want to do)
"Sum and Substance" hosta and oakleaf hydrangeas by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
"Sum and Substance" hosta and oakleaf hydrangeas

  • resigned to seeing the slug and snails wreaking havoc with the hostas
  • tried to tame to wild and woolly trumpet vine
  • complained about the condition of the front lawn
  • marvelled at the Paper Birch's beauty
  • laughed at how the Pagoda dogwood grew from a sapling near the compost bin, likely introduced through a bird dropping!

After my last visit before your move, I realized that I would miss the garden more than I thought.

I think a garden gives back to the gardener in many ways, dividends that enrich the soul and psyche (to mix metaphors.) I always found your garden to be restful and even idyllic with the pond gurgling away. Yes, it was visually nice to look at, with the iris and peonies blooming in the spring and later with the monkshood and bugbane tying up the year. And, although I'll miss the weeding and fussing about the garden, deadheading here and there, I'll really miss my experiences with you both: sharing time over coffee, talking about the kids and grandkids, and even commiserating about aches and pains due to aging!

Thank you for providing a space for me to develop and implement my creative thoughts about garden design and, much more importantly, showing me how to be a better person, with your kindness and generosity, in and outside the garden.

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


  1. It's hard to lose a friend, or a friend's garden. Hope you find many more to fill the gap, Paul.

  2. Thanks Helen, we're lucky to find a few gardens that connect with us emotionally so strongly in our lives.

  3. How wonderful that you had such a great relationship with your clients and their garden. A lovely tribute.

  4. Thanks Yvonne for your generous comment, the couple I referred to in my post, Sue and Doug, are truly exceptional people!

  5. Paul, I hop on to Facebook maybe two or three times a year and what a wonderful surprise to see your blog!! I am so glad you found your true passion of gardening evolve into something you can do and love on a regular basis.
    BTW, I finally moved the Japanese maple out of the front yard - too much exposure to the wind. Now it is flourishing (though lopsided) in the back...

    1. Well, hello Jeannie!

      I'm glad you found me through my blog, even though we live several kilometres apart, lol!

      Glad to hear about the maple doing better in a protected spot.

      Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas!