On ants, aphids and mutualism

[Update: Thrilled to announce that this post won Gold for Best Digital Writing at the 2018 GWA Media Awards from the Association for Garden Communicators. It was an unexpected honour, especially since the competition was very worthy.] I’d wanted to tell you a cool thing about ants and aphids. These are Norway maple aphids (Periphyllus lyropictus), one of 4,000+ aphid species. (Who […]

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Someone’s been eating my zinnias

I’m actually not here right now. I’m in Cape Breton on holiday. So just a quickie to say, like Mama Bear in Goldilocks: “Someone’s been eating my zinnias. Someone’s been eating my zinnias! Someone’s been eating my zinnias… and there he is!” The grasshoppers have been more plentiful than usual in my garden in 2018. Tell-tale signs […]

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Stanley Luk’s Terrace Garden Paradise

Landscape architect Stanley Luk packs a whole lot of heaven into his 300-square-foot/28-square-meter condo terrace. My visit on a sunny Sunday morning in late July captured this 5-year-old garden in the sky in just one of its seasons. Trust me, there are at least three seasons of delight here. Visiting brought both pleasure and pain. On one hand, Luk’s […]

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What’s new for 2019 in Echinaceas

My title is a bit misleading, because our covergirl (or coverboy) photo of Echinacea Sombrero® ‘Adobe Orange’ happens to be the right size to crop for today’s feature image. But although s/he’s a couple of years old, isn’t s/he a stunner? This was only one of an Echinacea (aka coneflower) near rainbow on display for show and trial […]

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I’m a convert to ‘Emerite’ pole beans

A quick post, because I’m in Chicago accepting an award for the blog from the Association for Garden Communicators. Before leaving Toronto, one of the last things I did was pick this lovely bowl of ‘Emerite’ pole beans. Are beans worth the space they take in a tiny garden like mine? You might not think so. […]

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ZimSculpt art show and sale at the TBG

It’s one of the most exciting events to happen at the Toronto Botanical Garden – and visiting is free! Until September 30, 2018, ZimSculpt brings hundreds of art pieces from Zimbabwe to Toronto for the first time and displays them amongst the greenery of our tiny perfect botanical garden at Leslie and Lawrence. Artistry in the garden and artistry […]

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Fighting invasive tree-of-heaven

This summer, I’ve been battling tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) like never before. We’ve written before about this struggle, but I’ve never seen it keep coming back so aggressively from the root – till now. Ailanthus is an alien species (read more about it in our previous post), that has become a regular citizen of Toronto’s unguarded laneways and unclaimed […]

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England meets Texas in the Rock Rose Garden

It’s easy for me to be a breathless fangirl when I truly love a garden. I wanna show you this and this and this and isn’t it all amazing? But then I take a deep breath. Helen, I say, control yourself. This garden is in Austin, Texas. Texas! What would that mean to garden people in Toronto? And I have the answer. Lots! […]

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Cabbagetown’s Wellesley Cottages

In the many times I’ve walked through Cabbagetown, I’d never stepped into the secret corner that’s home to the Wellesley Cottages – until last month’s garden tour. What a revelation! But stick around to the end of the post. You’ll see that one cottage kept the biggest secret of all in its back yard. Hover over any image to […]

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RBG’s coming up (sustainable) roses

The 50-year-old Rose Garden in the Royal Botanical Gardens’ Hendrie Park has had a 21st-century makeover. Gone are the hybrid tea roses – which are always intensive-care patients, but particularly so after Ontario’s cosmetic pesticides ban. Instead, the 2-acre garden has been completely reinvented, from the soil chemistry upward. Designed in consultation with sustainable rose garden […]

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Long Branch by the Lake Garden Tour 2018

On Saturday morning, June 23, 2018, I’ll be in Long Branch opening up the event that bills itself as “Toronto’s biggest free self-guided garden tour.” Hope you’ll be there to check it out. Besides my short talk on “eating your garden” before the tour begins, and a plant propagation talk by Jennifer Arnott of The […]

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Good Morning Toronto! Let’s talk Peonies!

This week I had the pleasure of talking with Matt Galloway, at the CBC Metro Morning studio, about one of my favourite things: peonies. The link to the peony interview is here. Why am I a self-confessed peony nut? Well, growing ‘Festiva Maxima’ peonies was my first garden success. Waaay back, thirty years ago when […]

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