Kylemore Abbey and Victorian walled garden, Ireland

Closing time seems to be my siren call. Especially when it comes to gardens. We were in Galway, Ireland, one afternoon when we impulsively decided to drive 90 minutes northwest to see Kylemore Abbey. Once a stately home, it’s now a Benedictine abbey, still famous for its postcard-pretty setting and restored Victorian walled garden. There are only […]

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Knotweed: The naughty and the not

To be honest, most knotweeds are at least a little naughty. They can spreaaaaaaad. That might be a good trait in a ground cover. But some, notably the invasive and hard to eradicate Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica, syn. Fallopia japonica, syn. Polygonum cuspidatum), are very, very naughty indeed. This PDF from the Ontario Invasive Plant Council explains. Others, like our covergirl, Persicaria amplexicaulis […]

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And now, June Blake’s Garden, Blessington

After our wet, wild, wonderful day at Jimi Blake’s garden on our Irish holiday, we tore ourselves off to visit the garden of his sister June Blake, about five minutes away. It was almost closing, and our visit was cut decisively short by a sudden, intense deluge, a theme for the day. The siblings share an exuberant […]

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Jimi Blake’s Hunting Brook Gardens, Ireland

As giddy as a schoolboy. (Picture Alastair Sim skipping around as Scrooge on Christmas morning.) That’s how my husband described me when we finally arrived at Hunting Brook Gardens on Lamb Hill near Bellington in the Wicklow mountain foothills. It had been a long time coming. Four years ago, I’d tried, tried hard, to persuade my travelling buds in Ireland […]

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The evil that is painted plants

Ireland has beautiful gardens, and I’ll soon be writing about them. But you won’t see these spray-painted heathers in any of them. Pictured at the Irish big-box store Woodie’s in Dundalk, County Louth, they prove that even countries with beautiful gardens can commit serious “crimes against nature.” They put the “vulgar” in Calluna vulgaris. Online snooping reveals that this crime has […]

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Here there be dragons

If things have been quieter on the Toronto Gardens blog recently, it’s because one of us has been travelling and the other is now back teaching. The traveller (me) is in Ireland, being distracted by – among many other things – dragons. While the ones at the top were “captured” in a local antique shop, I’m […]

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Win tickets to see The Gardener documentary

Did you know? Canada is home to one of North America’s most spectacular private gardens. We’ve written twice about Les Quatre Vents, near La Malbaie, Quebec (here and here) and at last I have an excuse to write about it again. Because it, and its creator Francis Cabot, is now the subject of a feature documentary, The Gardener, playing May 18 […]

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What Toronto needs is a Chinese garden

Google “classical Chinese garden Toronto” and here’s what you’ll discover: we have a lot of Chinese restaurants with “garden” in their name. Digging deeper might get you this link to the lost Chinese garden once-upon-a-time on Spadina Avenue. But do we have an actual, gardeny Chinese garden in T.O.? Not yet. And I wish we did. Classical Chinese […]

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Paving the way: One pebble at a time

In the Italianate terrace at Powerscourt Estate in Ireland’s County Wicklow, a journey of 1,000 pebbles (many times over) began in 1843 with the very first stone, placed by a kid aged seven. Look at the finish date above – more than three decades later. And it all happened one pebble at a time. It makes me think of […]

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A flashback to Jane Austen’s garden

A regular reader of this blog might know our affection for Jane Austen. We began our very first post, more than 10 years ago, with one of her quotes. And she does pop up here from time to time. With the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death (aged just 41) coming on July 18th, 2017’s arrival flooded my social media […]

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A short, quirky floral tour of Taiwan

When I first visited Taiwan five years ago, I had no idea it would be the first Asian country I would come to know – and, after four more trips,  come to love, too. Here are a few floral impressions from my introduction to the country. Though it was a business trip, as always my antennae were up for […]

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