August 23, 2018

Ummm, We Know A Gardener Who Can Help...

A Leslieville Summer Garden Cleanup That Keeps the Neighbours Happy



Is peer pressure a wonderful thing? For a gardener who is hired by mainly residential clients and from a sales perspective, the answer is an unequivocal "yes!"  I know, I know, this is a gardening blog so why bring up something mundane and distasteful like selling? The truth, though, is that all of us are always selling if you broaden the definition to include persuading others to follow your wishes and interests. Proponents of greener lawns (turf fertilizer companies) do this with the same fervour as those who prefer weedier lawns and gardens (to the benefit of pollinators) or even no lawns (paver manufacturers). And do you notice that most of the perennials and shrubs that fly off the garden center or nursery shelves tend to be bloom? Hmmmm...

Neighbours will sell you on the idea that your messy front garden (that affronts them every time they gaze over) can and should be addressed as soon as possible. Sometimes even saying it aloud isn't necessary: a pregnant pause here and there and a wry smile will get the message across.



Leslieville Summer Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Summer Front
Garden Cleanup Before


According to John, my client in this post, he (half) jokingly stated he was getting tired of receiving "dagger" looks from neighbours due to the condition of his front yard. When I met him for the initial consultation and estimate, I thought "this isn't that bad" but then again, I didn't live in his neighbourhood!



Leslieville Toronto Summer Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Summer
Front Garden Cleanup Before 


As you can see in the picture below, which is the view looking from the sidewalk towards the front of the house, there's a nice collection of weed tree saplings growing out of the periwinkle (Vinca minor) groundcover. The Siberian or Chinese Elm hedge to the left needs a haircut too.





Toronto Leslieville Summer Front Yard Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Leslieville Summer Front
Yard Garden Cleanup Before 



The backyard, I felt, was messier:



Toronto Leslieville Summer Backyard Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Leslieville Summer
Backyard Garden Cleanup Before 


Toronto Leslieville Summer Backyard Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Leslieville Summer
Backyard Garden Cleanup Before 


Leslieville Summer Backyard Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Summer Backyard
Garden Cleanup Before 


Leslieville Summer Backyard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Summer Backyard
Garden Cleanup After 



Leslieville Toronto Summer Backyard Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Summer
Backyard Garden Cleanup Before 


Leslieville Summer Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Summer Garden
Cleanup Before 


Post cleanup and the neighbours can now relax....



The challenge for the front was dealing with a weedy honeysuckle vine that was growing on top of everything. Whatever saplings that could not be dug out to the size of their root balls were simply cut off at their bases. 



Leslieville Summer Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Summer Front
Garden Cleanup After



Leslieville Toronto Summer Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Summer
Front Garden Cleanup After


Toronto Leslieville Summer Front Yard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Leslieville Summer
Front Yard Garden Cleanup After 




While in the backyard, John can relax:




Toronto Leslieville Summer Backyard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Leslieville Summer
Backyard Garden Cleanup After 



Toronto Leslieville Summer Backyard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Leslieville Summer
Backyard Garden Cleanup After 



Leslieville Summer Backyard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Summer Backyard
Garden Cleanup After 


Leslieville Toronto Summer Backyard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Summer
Backyard Garden Cleanup After 

Leslieville Toronto Summer Backyard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Toronto Summer
Backyard Garden Cleanup After 

Leslieville Summer Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Leslieville Summer
Garden Cleanup After 


As I was leaving and giving John the invoice, he (half) jokingly said (to paraphrase): "Thanks so much, you don't know how you've helped my social life in the neighbourhood!" Based on the condition of my own extremely neglected front and back gardens, it's lucky I don't live in Leslieville.

August 21, 2018

Be Careful Around Me (Opuntia!)

Thorn in My Side/Finger: Eastern Prickly Pear


Did you catch the "pun" in the title about hitting someone?  While this native cactus won't exactly reach out and punch you, if you work around it, you'll need to treat it with (very thick) kid gloves.

I have a somewhat love-hate relationship with these impressive clumps of Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa) I "look after" for my Riverdale, Toronto client, although there's minimal fussing around required for these winter-hardy perennials. As shown below, these clumps are located between two driveways at curbside, in full sun. I never water this area and the plants thrive on my neglect. Excellent soil drainage due to the area's sandy soil helps, of course.

Finally, over the past five years working for this client, I've never noticed even once of "evidence" left by cats and dogs. The spines and barbs deter out four-legged friends from depositing gifts at curbside!




Eastern Prickly Pear Opuntia humifusa in a Toronto Riverdale Ecological Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa)
in a Toronto Riverdale Ecological Garden


The flowers are exquisite as they bloom throughout June. The wax-like yellow petals and orange-red centers practically glow when the flowers fully open during periods of full sun. The reddish fruits developing later are edible and one can make jellies and candies out of them.




Riverdale Ecological Garden Eastern Prickly Pear Opuntia humifusa flowers by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Riverdale Ecological Garden Eastern
Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa) flowers



Opuntia humifusa Eastern Prickly Pear in a Toronto Riverdale Ecological Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Opuntia humifusa (Eastern Prickly Pear)
in a Toronto Riverdale Ecological Garden 



So, what's to hate? The reasons are found very noticeably on the cactus's flattened stems or "paddles": a multitude of spines and the more irritating tiny brown barbed bristles which make working around them quite tricky. I can attest that the bristles are a real pain to remove so wearing thick padded gloves is highly recommended when weeding in and around the paddles.



Garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog--Toronto Riverdale Ecological Garden Eastern Prickly Pear Opuntia humifusa blooms
Toronto Riverdale Ecological Garden
Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa) blooms


The flowers are favoured by many pollinators like this green fly below.


If you're looking for a perennial that's as "low maintenance" as you can go for a xeriscape or rock garden, Opuntia could be your answer. Consider planting a few Eastern Prickly Pears next spring: just pick up some thick leather gloves while you're at it, you'll thank me later!



Toronto Riverdale Ecological Garden Eastern Prickly Pear Opuntia humifusa by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Toronto Riverdale Ecological Garden
Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa

August 08, 2018

A Dovercourt Park, Toronto Garden Resurrection

When the Owners Are Away, the Tenants Will...Not Weed!


I've done countless "garden cleanups" over the years but that's what customers want: to have someone else weed, prune, and tidy up their gardens because they can't or don't want to do it themselves and can pay me to solve their problem. (I guess I'm an expert in dealing with "problem" gardens.) But even within the phrase "garden cleanup" there is what I consider a "spectrum of severity" as some gardens require more work than others, to put it kindly. So we can have a cleanup, reorganization, revamp, overhaul, rehabilitation, resurrection and, in extreme cases, an exorcism. Beyond that, I politely refuse the job.

This post deals with a resurrection as the garden used to look nice before the house was rented out. (I credit my sister-in-law Angela who came up with the phrase "garden resurrection" which describes what her weed-ridden garden has to undergo before being usable.) When this happens, months and years go by and the garden generally goes untended. Complaints about the garden cum moose pasture filter to the homeowners who either call someone quick to clean up things or ignore such nonsense of actually caring about the appearance of the property (seen as an unnecessary expense.) But what if the homeowners move back and actually have to see their particular moose pasture? 

This is precisely Lisa and Walter's story. They moved back into the house previously rented out and hired me to deal with the front and backyards. The tenants were nice enough to mow the backyard lawn while they were there but weeding the beds? Ummm, no.

The front's appearance wasn't too bad (in relation to the back) with some annual weeds and weed seedlings in the pavers and beds:


Toronto Dovercourt Park Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Dovercourt Park
Front Garden Cleanup Before 


Toronto Dovercourt Park Front Garden Summer Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Dovercourt Park Front
Garden Summer Cleanup Before 


Dovercourt Park Toronto Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Dovercourt Park Toronto Front
Garden Cleanup Before


Dovercourt Park Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Dovercourt Park Front
Garden Cleanup Before



With some curiosity and more trepidation I then ventured into the backyard and was greeted by....

Toronto Dovercourt Park Backyard Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Dovercourt Park Backyard
Garden Cleanup Before 


and continuing up one side....


By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Backyard Summer Garden Cleanup in Dovercourt Park Before
Backyard Summer Garden
Cleanup in Dovercourt Park Before



Dovercourt Park Toronto Backyard Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Dovercourt Park Toronto Backyard
Garden Cleanup Before 



Toronto Dovercourt Park Backyard Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Dovercourt Park Backyard
Garden Cleanup Before 



and down the other side...



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Backyard Summer Garden Cleanup Dovercourt Park Before
 Backyard Summer Garden Cleanup
Dovercourt Park Before



Dovercourt Park Backyard Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Dovercourt Park Backyard
Garden Cleanup Before 

 

Hmmm, where do I begin?


I knew this was a multi-day affair so much like eating the metaphorical elephant, I took things one bite (or weed) at a time. There was much pruning involved too as I cut down many weedy saplings and legitimate small (15-20 foot) weed trees like Siberian Elms and Manitoba Maples, pruned back a diseased plum tree, overgrown lilac and spirea shrubs and yanked out meters of Virginia Creeper growing happily in the garden beds and onto the lawn. The cleanup resurrection took about 12 hours to complete for the front and back areas and here are some pictures as irrefutable evidence that miracles do exist, with the help of a strong back and many bottles of water. 

Here's the front again:


Toronto Dovercourt Park Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Dovercourt Park
Front Garden Cleanup After



Toronto Dovercourt Park Front Garden Summer Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Dovercourt Park Front
Garden Summer Cleanup After



Dovercourt Park Toronto Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Dovercourt Park Toronto Front
Garden Cleanup After 



Dovercourt Park Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Dovercourt Park Front
Garden Cleanup After


and the back:


Toronto Dovercourt Park Backyard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Toronto Dovercourt Park
Backyard Garden Cleanup After



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Backyard Summer Garden Cleanup in Dovercourt Park After
 Backyard Summer Garden Cleanup
in Dovercourt Park After



Dovercourt Park Toronto Backyard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Dovercourt Park Toronto
Backyard Garden Cleanup After 



Toronto Dovercourt Park Backyard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Dovercourt Park
Backyard Garden Cleanup After



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Backyard Summer Garden Cleanup Dovercourt Park After
 Backyard Summer Garden
Cleanup Dovercourt Park After



Dovercourt Park Backyard Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Dovercourt Park Backyard
Garden Cleanup After 



I didn't bother removing all the goutweed as it's an effective groundcover (a mild gardening euphemism if there was ever one) and Lisa, one of the clients again, said she would tackle it!

With the gardens resurrected, I leave them to the homeowners for after care. I discussed the possibility of planting perennials and shrubs in the eerily empty spaces or, at the minimum, spreading down a layer of mulch to reduce weeds from germinating. 

Fulfilling garden miracles is hard work, I tell you!