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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Spring, season of fragrant trees and shrubs

Next time you walk down the street in May and wonder, “What’s that wonderful smell?” look up. It might be coming from above, and flowering trees and shrubs. These are just three. One of the underestimated smelly (in the best way) shrubs is the Viburnum – not all with fragrance, but some that make you want only […]

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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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2017 was a great year for Hydrangeas

In 2017, we’ve had rain, we’ve had rain, we’ve had more rain. It’s raining now! My annuals are slow to bloom, probably due to lack of sunshine. But one thing for sure seems to be doing well around Toronto. Hydrangeas! The smooth hydrangea or Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ in my dry-shade front garden (above) is mammoth! Lots of rain and […]

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Wow, when clematis met smoke tree!

Here’s a combination to remember! A burgundy-red Clematis (perhaps ‘Nike’? [Ed: My clematis-loving friend Marie suggests it might be C. ‘Mme. Julia Correvon’) clambering over a Japanese maple and then up through the “smoke” of a golden smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria Golden Spirit aka ‘Ancot’). Wow-ow-OW! Let me show you my shoes. I was walking in […]

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Enormous hardy hibiscus is not a pest

The first time I saw hardy hibiscus or swamp mallow flowers (Hibiscus moscheutos), it almost caused whiplash. Mine. We were driving through St-Laurent on Ile d’Orleans near Quebec City when I spied what looked like a tropical hibiscus. Only the flower was huge. HU-U-U-UGE. What the heck, I thought, this is Zone 4B (Canadian Zone 4B!), for […]

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The rosy (and not-so-rosy) Rose of Sharon

A hedge of Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) near us used to look absolutely show-stopping in late summer – a time when flowering trees and shrubs are rare, and rarely so generous with their flowers. Tired of being stopped by people asking what it was, the homeowners resorted to posting a sign: It’s called Althea!* Althea is another of […]

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Yum, a candy-coloured garden

What fun! Pool seating in a handful of jellybean colours. As my beloved would tell you, I’m not keen on surprises. However, surprises in the garden are a few of my favourite things. The last thing Sarah and I expected to find behind the lovely Georgian home in Port Hope, for example, was this playful […]

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Fall colour in Hydrangea ‘Quick Fire’

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Quick Fire’ isn’t famous for fall colour. It probably should be. Even the Proven Winners site doesn’t mention fall foliage in its write-up for Hydrangea ‘Quick Fire.’ Why on earth not? The colour this year in my garden is a show-stopper, giving the dried blooms a flattering new outfit. Just look at the […]

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May Blooms Day in Toronto

Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’ with Hosta ‘Pineapple Upside-Down Cake’ and the glorious Tulipa ‘Prinses Irene’. May has raced by so quickly, I forgot it was the 15th – the day when, every month, Carol of May Dreams Gardens invites garden bloggers to share what’s growing on. I might just make it under the wire. After a […]

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Idea file: Four unusual native flowering shrubs

Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) in the Westview Terrace at the Toronto Botanical Garden What is a native plant? We weighed in on this complex discussion – or argument – in 2011. Let’s just say that the four lesser-known flowering shrubs in this Friday’s Idea File are native to North America. All are hardy in Toronto’s […]

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