Peep into an Open Garden

On a rainy Thursday this week, I popped over to one of the local open gardens, part of Open Gardens Toronto that Sarah wrote about back in April. These are pretty close to “real gardens by real people” all over the city. Check out the link for a garden near you.

The one I visited was created by Paul Geary, of Petal Pushers. Paul calls himself a Garden Therapist. An admitted plantsman, he isn’t one for names or varieties, like the unknown Preston lilac (Syringa prestoniae) above. But he has an amazing eye for design, as his small corner lot – and heavenly “hellstrip” – demonstrate.

I had to rush off to a dance concert, so couldn’t take shots that evening. So you’ll have to make do with what my nosy camera captured in his garden last year.

The picture above is what a “hellstrip” could look like, lavished with love, attention, and many bags of manure and woodchips – which really amount to the same thing, don’t they? Take my word, it looks even better this year. Paul gives it the much more civilized name of boulevard, and had just finished adding 50 dozen (I believe he said) more tulips and daffodils for next year.

In front, the neighbour’s Japanese maple contrasts nicely against the Laburnum tree in flower. This year is one of his off-years for laburnum, which Paul says tend to flower heavily, every other year, like old-fashioned apple trees.

The Wisteria was just as good this year. This runs along his west-facing fence and is absolutely laden with flower. His neighbour across the lane behind has the same wisteria planted at right angles to his, and from inside Paul’s tiny courtyard it carries the eye beyond his boundaries. A space-expanding trick for small quarters.

This hosta is just as electrically yellow-chartreuse in person. It lights up like a lightbulb at the foot of the shrubs.

Paul’s 9-year-old garden will be open at least twice more, in June and September, along with 23 other private gardens. It’s a great way to see what gardeners in your area have created.

Such a great deal: $4 per garden, or a season’s passport for $25. The money raised supports a good cause, the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Take it from me, though, and give yourself more time to see the gardens than half an hour on the way to somewhere else.

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