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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Gorgeous native azure blue sage


My sad story is that I constantly fall in love – with plants that I can’t grow. But if your garden (unlike mine) is sunny, hooray! Here’s a great one for you. The delightful name azure blue sage (Salvia azurea) refers to its sky-blue flowers in late summer and early fall. Right about now, for instance. It gets big bonus points for being a […]

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A September evening at the TBG


It’s a lovely day. The evening of the first day of school for 2016/17 and, coincidentally, the night of our first Toronto Master Gardener meeting for the new season. We have a few minutes. Come walk with me through the Piet Oudolf entry garden at the Toronto Botanical Garden. Let’s not worry about plant names. Let’s […]

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Glads and graphology


Yes, they can look stiff and formal. But I like glads because they remind me of our mother. Not only because Gladiolus is August’s birthday flower, and August 31st – today – was her birthday. It’s because of a piece of art she made, a print of some coral-coloured gladioli. Both our parents were gifted artists. Both were art-school […]

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Enormous hardy hibiscus is not a pest


The first time I saw hardy hibiscus or swamp mallow flowers (Hibiscus moscheutos), it almost caused whiplash. Mine. We were driving through St-Laurent on Ile d’Orleans near Quebec City when I spied what looked like a tropical hibiscus. Only the flower was huge. HU-U-U-UGE. What the heck, I thought, this is Zone 4B (Canadian Zone 4B!), for […]

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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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