Bluffs Garden Tour: Highlights

On Sunday, the Bluffs Garden Tour organized by the Scarborough Horticultural and Garden Club allowed us to see five very different gardens.

Of course, the Bluffs being the bluffs, in a couple of them the star performer, as above, was the view. Seeing how the turf shelfs out along the coast, like something from a Roadrunner cartoon, you don’t want to venture too close to the edge. Behind me, as I’m shooting this, is a large tree with a woman clasped tightly to it.

This Forever View (and the unshown kidney-shaped pool and carpet of crisp, green lawns leading up to it) is attached to the garden of a multi-million-dollar home. Nevertheless, it contained a few ideas for real gardens by real people.

This twig bench, for example, would be at home in any garden. (Though I would probably angle it to face Lake Ontario on the horizon in that patch of white in the background.)

Another idea worth adapting is the use of stacked logs, here giving the garden shed more presence when used as fencing material. At a recent presentation, I saw an arbour sandwiched between slopes of stacked wood, a surprisingly simple yet dramatic piece of garden architecture.

In the Bluffs area, if the striking topography isn’t bluffs it’s ravines. Just five minutes from bustling Kingston Road, the back yard of this grand, new-built house on a keyhole cul-de-sac feels miles from the city. This picture doesn’t do justice to its sense of openness and space.

On another ravine, this charming cottage garden is set on terraces edged with towering woods. Besides a sunken garden with cascading beds of roses, veronica, anemone and clematis (all principally between blooming periods when we toured), the surprise here was to turn a corner and discover an immaculately tended putting green, complete with bent grass.

The included a wide variety of styles. The last garden we visited depended on annuals for colour, anchored by a few perennial and shrubby specimens. The feature of this garden though was its avian theme, ornamented by bird sculptures and feeders.

Despite a yard full of people, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker swooped in for some suet as we visited. My camera wasn’t fast enough.

Nothing else in the tour compared with the star of the show, the first garden we visited. I’d love to go back, as this was a gardener’s garden filled with treasures. Its beauty simply transcends my photography skills. Or perhaps there are some gardens that just require you to be there.

In about 26 years, the gardener has transformed his 50-foot suburban lot into a shady space filled with many varieties of Japanese maple, ribboned with hostas, Cimicifuga, ferns and other shade tolerant species. A massive Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum) is the opening gambit at you enter the back space, and unusual varieties of clematis clamber up roses or fences. I could do a feature on this garden alone, but I’d need better pictures.

So, next year, keep the Bluffs Garden Tour on your radar.


  1. In an attempt to foil spammers who seem to have latched on to this post, I have recreated and republished it in the hope it will have a new identity. This probably won't work, but here goes. These were the comments on the original post. Wish I could restore the links to their sites:

    Pomona Belvedere said…

    Those bluffs are gorgeous, and I appreciate your focus on the garden ideas ordinary mortals can use. I'd seen stacked-log stuff before but not as part of garden architecture, I've been planning an outdoor garden room and that's something to toy with. Oh and I must say, as a Californian in mid-summer, I envy you all that green…
    July 21, 2009 12:51 PM

    The Garden Ms. S said…

    The view is spectacular, but the last garden you feature is simply divine.

    Very inspiring!

    July 21, 2009 11:22 PM
    Nick said…

    Isn't it a bad, unnatural thing to have turf running to the edge of water without having a shrub border holding the edge of the land in?

    I had no idea that there were mini-cliffs like this in Toronto!
    July 22, 2009 5:07 AM

    Helen said…

    Here's a newspaper article about the erosion of the Scarborough Bluffs:

    They're still a sight to behold.
    July 22, 2009 10:58 PM

    realtor elli said…

    Simply stunning.Beautiful pictures and you described everything so well. I can imagine that just being there, surrounded by all the beauty certainly is a great relax. Kind regards, Elli.
    July 24, 2009 9:48 AM

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