Welcome to the new Toronto Gardens


With the 10th Anniversary of Toronto Gardens coming up in October 2016, we saw this as the perfect time for a change. Welcome to our redesign! Our whole site has a fresh new look on WordPress using our custom URL. You can quickly find posts by the category you like – such as design or plants. And we will now have a […]

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The rosy (and not-so-rosy) Rose of Sharon


A hedge of Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) near us used to look absolutely show-stopping in late summer – a time when flowering trees and shrubs are rare, and rarely so generous with their flowers. Tired of being stopped by people asking what it was, the homeowners resorted to posting a sign: It’s called Althea!* Althea is another of […]

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Simply Mad About The Succulents

small succulent pots

Certain plants. Hostas. Daylilies. They inspire the collecting FEVAH. I never thought I would get as potty about hostas as my sister Helen; but now, inexorably, I am. I never thought I would get as potty as my father was about succulents. But now I am. Is there something about certain plants that invade your […]

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This is an espaliered Belgian fence


We should be grateful to Philippe Kahn, credited with inventing the camera-phone, back in 1997. (Or not, according to C-Net.) Whomever the mastermind, he (or she!) ensured we could have a camera, all the time and everywhere. So as we walked briskly past this fence near Woodbine Park one evening this May, I could follow up my double-take with the […]

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In which I do Slow Flowers


Last night, I was presenting at the Newmarket Garden Club – a demonstration on making simple flower arrangements using materials from your (in this case, mostly my) garden. It was a fun 50 minutes, during which I did five designs. The materials weren’t all from my garden. It’s the mini Microgarden, after all. There were five kinds […]

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Sit with me in these gardens


When my mum used to tend our infant son, he’d pick up little expressions from her that, from his baby lips, were particularly cute. One was this, “Let’s sit down and have a little chit-chat.” And wouldn’t this be a lovely place to do it? It’s the charming, Englishy-formal pond courtyard at Squire House Gardens in Afton, Minnesota. […]

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Will fine plastic netting deter deer?


The Minneapolis gardener who installed this sash of mesh netting across her front garden bed (can you see it?) told me it was to discourage deer. I don’t have a deer problem, but it looked simple and cool. I neglected to ask her one question: Does it work? Have you tried this technique? And how would you […]

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July 2016 in the Microgarden


Coming home to the garden after a few days away feels like seeing nieces and nephews after a break. Except when you say, “My, how you’ve grown!” plants are a bit harder to embarrass. Want to see what’s growing in a small, shady, city garden – maybe a bit like yours? Certainly, I’d like to recall what worked and what didn’t in the Microgarden […]

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Dotty over Monarda punctata, spotted beebalm


Ah, common names! Here’s a plant with many: spotted or dotted mint, spotted or dotted beebalm, horsemint and spotted horsemint (and possibly even dotted horsemint), for example, all with the botanical name Monarda punctata. No, it doesn’t look like your typical monarda, does it? Whatever you call it, you can call it great for native bees. Pollinators […]

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Sadly, my monarch did not hatch


Before I left for Minneapolis, this little guy caused me some excitement. I always turn over the leaves of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) looking for potential babies. Every once and a while, like this time, a Monarch makes me an expectant parent (or expectant foster parent). But, sad to say, when I got back […]

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Celebrate July’s profusion in the garden


Think of this as a late-blooming “Wordless Wednesday” – a visual, almost-silent* paeon to the glories of the late-July garden. These are all from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, viewed on banquet day at the Minneapolis Fling. I’m not even going to name the flowers, but you can ask in the comments if you’re interested. Just […]

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Making fish box troughs


Let’s focus here on just one of many reasons to love the garden of Lee and Jerry Shannon on the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling*: Alpine troughs made from recycled fish coolers. Yes, that’s right. Fish troughs. Even while photographing them, I had no idea they weren’t concrete, stone or hypertufa, but styrofoam. This row of troughs […]

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Creating a focal point at Hearts + Ivy


The small studio garden of Hearts + Ivy designer Donna Hamilton is like a jewelbox, sparkling with gems. With colour everywhere, everywhere, you feel like a bee, wanting to flit from flower to flower to flower to flower. This got me thinking about focus. I don’t usually post people pictures from garden tours, but this one makes […]

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