September 16, 2018

Weeding Raised Beds in a Central Toronto Courtyard

Getting Gritty in Downtown Toronto


Working as a gardener in Toronto over the past 15 seasons has given me many opportunities to see various city neighbourhoods. Some areas are enclaves for the extremely wealthy while others are occupied by those barely scraping by. The size, condition and the mere existence of gardens, of course, reflect these differences in income and wealth. I was reminded of this during a recent garden cleanup for a condo located in the downtown Toronto neighbourhood called the Garden District

To describe the area as diverse is an understatement: I walked by many renovated million dollar homes and condominiums (although in Toronto's frothy property environment, that dollar value seems not to carry much cachet) located next to garbage-strewn alleys and tired-looking rooming houses and hostels.  And while I don't intend to generalize, some of the folks living in the area are rather...interesting. (If you've ever been in the Moss Park area, you know exactly what I mean.) 


I usually don't work for/around condominiums as our needs normally don't coincide. Most condos have a few containers or shrubs by the front door, that's about it. So it was unusual for me to be contacted by a condo board member named Sheelagh to see if I could do some gardening around the building. We met recently and she showed me around the condominium's interior courtyard which is accessible only to the residents and not visible to the public. The courtyard, more or less, is a series of paths leading to the various homes with many raised beds. There's also a common sitting area nestled among some mature (but declining) Paper Birch trees. 


Looking around the various beds and all those yews (!), I considered such commercial work (maybe that's the wrong word) under the purview of a traditional landscape maintenance company. A crew would come in with their leaf blowers and gas-powered clippers roaring away and be in and out within a hour, tops. Weeding may or may not occur as, for some reason, many companies loathe to pay staff to hand weed: hence, the "mow-blow-go" moniker given to such maintenance companies. I asked Sheelagh if this was the experience in the past and she confirmed that it was but going forward, the board prefers to have a long-term relationship with one gardener. And that gardener, after our initial interview, would be me!


Since there are so many garden beds, I'll show you the "before" and "after" pictures of the same bed. I do like the curvilinear shape of the beds and paths which make the space seem larger than it really is. The plantings (and architecture), though, seem to be stuck in the 1980s: yews and wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) of various shapes and sizes are everywhere and a deep love for Fiveleaf Aralia  (Acanthopanax sieboldianus) very evident. I can understand why these plants were chosen since the require very little care but being surrounded by all these yews especially gave me the impression I was visiting a cemetery! The exciting news is that the board is interested in remaking some of the beds and updating the plant selection. And, yes, that means getting rid of some of the beloved yews. This is a spring 2019 project and I'm looking forward in designing with and transplanting new perennials and deciduous shrubs at this location.




Toronto Downtown Garden District Courtyard Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Downtown Garden
District Courtyard Cleanup Before


Toronto Downtown Garden District Courtyard Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Downtown Garden
District Courtyard Cleanup After 



Garden District Toronto Downtown Courtyard Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Courtyard Cleanup Before 



Garden District Toronto Downtown Courtyard Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Courtyard Cleanup After 

Toronto Downtown Courtyard Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Downtown Courtyard
Cleanup Before



Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup After by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Garden District Toronto Downtown
Cleanup After 



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup Before
District Toronto Downtown
Cleanup Before



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup After
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Cleanup After



Toronto Downtown Courtyard Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Toronto Downtown Courtyard
Cleanup Before



Toronto Downtown Courtyard Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Services Company
Toronto Downtown Courtyard
Cleanup After



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup Before
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Cleanup Before



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup After
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Cleanup After



Garden District Toronto Downtown Courtyard Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Courtyard Cleanup Before 



Garden District Toronto Downtown Courtyard Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
A herd of newly shorn Fiveleaf Aralia 



Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Cleanup Before 



Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Clipped meatballs



Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup Before by Paul Jung--Toronto Organic Gardener
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Cleanup Before 


Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup After by Paul Jung--Toronto Organic Gardener
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Cleanup After 



Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup Before by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Cleanup Before



Garden District Toronto Downtown Cleanup After by Paul Jung--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Garden District Toronto
Downtown Cleanup After




The weeding and pruning took up the entire day but thankfully the weather was cool and dry. I'm looking forward to the glorious weather coming up later this month and October which means, for you dear reader, many posts about fall cleanups.

I apologize in advance....




September 13, 2018

Annual Garden Maintenance in Leslieville

Weeding Your Toronto Garden Once a Year


Is such a thing even possible? Lately, I've been dealing with gardens which haven't seen the sight of a trowel or hoe in 2018 or earlier and some of the weeds have been, well, atrocious. So while I don't recommend you ignore your favourite (and likely expensive) patch of green space, working on it (or paying someone) annually may be feasible, as shown in this post.


My client, J-F (I'll use his initials), calls me only once a season to weed, prune and tidy up his very small backyard garden in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood. The garden bed is only about 15' wide by 20' long and, plant-wise, is comprised of several large shrubs and hostas with a tall white cedar hedge acting as a backdrop. 



I've worked here before so I know that while the weeds will be large, the scope of work isn't extensive. Here are some "before" pictures showing the growth since my last maintenance visit in the summer of 2017:



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


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


I also weed this small paved area connecting the front and back of the house:


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

This year, J-F has asked me to weed his driveway and a small raised bed under the stairs:



Hire a Toronto Gardener in Leslieville Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Hire a Toronto Gardener in Leslieville Before 




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



Afterwards......




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




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

I prune back the red-twig dogwood (Cornus alba 'Elegantissima') above on the right  by about 2 feet to control its size. The spirea below the dogwood hasn't been pruned in many years so I reduced it by about half in order to rejuvenate it.



And here are pictures of the interlocking paver path, driveway and street-level raised bed after weeding:



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



Hire a Toronto Gardener in Leslieville After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Hire a Toronto Gardener in Leslieville After 



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


I'll likely revisit this space next summer and anxiously await for what the garden will present to me then!


September 07, 2018

Weeding a Riverdale Corner Garden and Driveway: Better Late Than Never

A (Really) Late Summer Toronto Garden Cleanup


It's September and I'm still weeding? Well, yes. Weeds don't stop growing simply because of a calendar date and when I'm hired to do a garden cleanup at this time of the year, more often than not, it usually means that the garden hasn't been touched at all since...who knows when.

This post covers recent cleanup session for a house with a corner garden and parking pad in Toronto's Riverdale neighbourhood. The "before" pictures illustrate wonderfully what occurs when no one looks after a large area of un-mulched soil: air-borne weed seeds set up shop and happily grow unmolested. 

To give some background information, this house is another rental and the owner lives off-site. Out of site/sight definitely means out of mind, but not for the other homeowners living nearby. I suspect a tenant received some complaints about the state of affairs and suggested to the owner to "do something about this." 

I dropped by, took a look, came up with an estimate and was hired soon after. I'll walk you around and show you the scope of work:


Riverdale Toronto Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Looking towards the front door




Riverdale Summer Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
From the front door to the sidewalk




Riverdale Summer Garden Cleanup Before Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Part of the retaining wall at the sidewalk


Toronto Garden Cleanup in Riverdale Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
The very visible corner area



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Garden Company Riverdale Frontyard Garden Cleanup Before
The raised bed around the corner 




By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup Before
 The raised bed from above. 
This area was completely filled 
with Lamb's Quarters or 
Goosefoot (Chenopodium album)



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Garden Company Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup Before
Mulberry saplings and 
part of the raised bed



Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Garden Company Riverdale Frontyard Garden Cleanup Before
 The raised bed and mulberry 
trees from the sidewalk




Riverdale Toronto Summer Garden Weeding and Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
The mulberry saplings near the AC unit



Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
The base of the retaining wall




Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
The base of the sidewalk at roadside



Riverdale Toronto Summer Garden Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
The unused parking pad




Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup Before Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
At the base of retaining wall




Riverdale  Summer Garden Weeding and Cleanup Before by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Inside the backyard, 
two Siberian Elm saplings

Afterwards...


The cleanup took about 12 hours, mulching included. It will be interesting how the space will look next year since, I think, no weeding will be done/hired out until "things get out hand" again.

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



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



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



Toronto Garden Cleanup in Riverdale After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Toronto Garden Cleanup in Riverdale After 



By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Garden Company Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup After
 Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup After:
The raised bed was mulched




By Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup After
Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup After



Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Garden Company Riverdale Frontyard Garden Cleanup After
Riverdale Frontyard Garden Cleanup After


Riverdale Toronto Summer Garden Weeding and Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Mulberry saplings removed



Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardening Company
Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup After:
The sidewalk weeded and swept



Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Organic Gardener
Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup After



Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup After Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
Riverdale Front Garden Cleanup After 



Riverdale Toronto Summer Garden Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
The unused parking pad that no 
longer looks unused



Riverdale  Summer Garden Weeding and Cleanup After by Paul Jung Gardening Services--a Toronto Gardening Company
The Siberian Elms cut down. 
My four legged friend certainly 
appreciates this!


Such a large and extensive cleanup reminds me of what a former garden cleanup client said to me many years ago: "We're not re-creating Versailles, we just want the garden to say 'someone gives a damn!'"