East York Blooming Contest 2009

The Judge’s Choice in the Community category, East York Blooming Contest. This shot would be better if the road beside it weren’t being chewed up by large earth movers.

How do you winnow 135 nominees to a select few gardens for the official judge of the East York Blooming Contest? Send out ten teams of two volunteer judges to pre-score the nominees. This July, I was among them. Not only was it a privilege, it was enormous fun.

Last Wednesday was the fourth annual awards ceremony, a packed house at the East York Civic Centre. The winners at the Judge’s Choice level will go on to the Toronto Garden Contest in 2010. Due to timing, that’s the way it works apparently. I never knew such a contest existed, did you? Must keep my eye out… careful not to damage it on a passing branch.

At left, the Judge’s Choice in the Residential/Traditional category. My picture, shot at high noon during our initial scoring, doesn’t do it justice. The pristine edging alone should be in a category by itself.

And, right, is one of my favourite gardens on our judging team’s list, and a Garden of Merit in the Residential/Environmental category.

I assure you, this is a garden completely created by the owner, who hand-selected each rock from his in-laws’ cottage. The garden was in a bit of a lull when we scored it, but the bone structure was all there. It includes a fountain with a drinking basin for passing pups.

Another interesting aspect of the awards ceremony was a presentation by Andrea Dawber of GreenHere, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to increasing Toronto’s urban forest, especially in less advantaged neighbourhoods. I’ll write more about GreenHere and its inspiring efforts with greening schools, parks and neighbourhoods later.


  1. Wow – seeing such beautiful gardens is an inspiration – I'm trying to plan an ornamental garden in a fairly large flat area of our property – and could use some inspiration! – Thanks indeed.

  2. Country Mouse — glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for dropping by.

    Stenaneener — I would say the winners all trended towards "traditional", with an emphasis on breadth of plant materials used.

    I'd like to have been a fly on the wall with the official judge (maybe next year). A few minimalist gardens that we scored quite highly didn't make it into the winners. Nevertheless, any excuse to walk up to someone's garden, walk around and take pictures is okay by me.

    Full disclosure here though: all I had to do to be a judge was to volunteer; no particular salute to my gardening eye.

  3. I wouldn't want to be a judge when every garden is a winner. But as you say 'any excuse to walk up to someone's garden, walk around and take pictures is okay by me'

    I liked the last garden best but that's not a vote against the others.

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