Friday, May 31, 2013

A Weekend Trip to the Toronto Islands

We have lived in the Toronto area for almost 30 years and yet there are still popular destinations that we have never managed to visit. 

Last weekend we used the Toronto Islands Spring Garden Tour as an excuse to check off one more spot on our list of points of interest we haven't explored. 

As you can see here on the map, there is a crescent-shaped cluster of islands just off-shore in the Toronto harbour. 

There is no bridge to the islands. If you want to get there, you have to take a ferry ride.

As well as being a  popular recreational destination, the Toronto Islands are home to a small residential community. Our ferry took us out to Ward's Island. 

The weather couldn't have been better for our first visit! 

Other than service vehicles, there are no cars on the Toronto islands. Bikes are as motorized as it gets. 

The houses are largely cottage style with picturesque lane ways in between them like this one.

Though the view of Toronto's busy downtown core is often within eyesight, 
the atmosphere on the island is relaxed and casual. 

Everywhere we looked it seemed that there are quaint cottages with pretty gardens. 

Today, I am going to show you one of my favourite gardens on the tour.

A flagstone path lined with ferns leads into the core to this garden.

At the heart of the garden, there is a shallow pond with rustic bench under a Redbud covered in 
small magenta-pink flowers.

A stone bridge leads you across the pond.

This is a shady garden and so there were lots of ferns among the plantings, as well as this white 
flowering Epimedium on the right.

I loved this delicate ferns with its fine black stems. I have no idea of its name, but am going to make a point of looking for a plant to purchase at my favourite local nursery.

This is the view looking back to the entrance gate.

A closeup of the entrance gate.

We'll pause for a break at the Island Cafe before touring a few more of gardens on Ward's Island.

Have a great weekend everyone! 

P.S. I promise to post the winners of the Loblaw gift cards up next.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Small Garden with a Pretty Pond

In the past, I have shown this small, but charming garden only in bits and pieces. It is about time I did a post that put it all back together!

The back garden is a typical suburban lot, but the homeowner has done some very nice things with a property that could otherwise have been quite ordinary.

A cedar hedge was added to create some privacy and raised plantings beds were built around the perimeter of the yard.

Did you notice the edging on all the flowerbeds and the pond? 

It keeps the grass just where it should be and contains the flowerbeds in a way that always looks very neat and tidy.

There is a generous deck right off the back door and overlooking the pond. On the right is a detail of the partition that helps keep this outdoor space private.

Throughout the garden there are little hints that invite you to "walk this way."

Every time I look at the picture of Gooseneck Loosestrife, lysimachia clethrodes I admire it so much that I begin to think of trying to find a spot where I can contain it.  Then I remember how invasive it is and think again.

That is Ligularia on the lower left, with a blooming Heuchera on the lower right, and Lady's Mantel is the lime colored flower just behind it.

I believe this shrub is a Cutleaf Tiger Eyes Sumac, Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger' Tiger Eyes. 
Love that outrageous color!

Bee Balm, Monarda 'Marshall's Delight'

The small pond is set into the natural upward slope of the backyard.

I am sure it must be wonderful to sit on the deck, watch the fish and listen to the waterfall.

Have a really great weekend everyone!

Event Reminder: Canadian Cancer Society Annual Spring Garden Tour

Just a quick reminder that the 8th Annual Canadian Cancer Society Spring Garden Tour is this weekend! Here are all the details:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Garden in Early May

In some respects, the garden seems to have been holding its breath and waiting for the right moment. The first days of mid-May were hot and sunny, but there wasn't much in the way of rain. 

Then on Monday night, we had a late evening thunderstorm, followed by a heavy downpour. The rain continued through the night and into the next day.

Now all of a sudden, it seems that everything is richly green. Tentative leaves have shy no more! The hosta which have been holding themselves in reserve; their leaves stiffly upright, have relaxed and unfurled. 

The black flies seem to have eased, but now carnivorous brown mosquitoes patrol the flowerbeds in their stead.

My favourite thing of the moment is this birdbath by the back door. The play of textures 
never fails to delight me.

Rose Mossy Saxifrage, saxifraga x arendsii rose selection

Though it seems that the garden has been holding back, the procession of spring bulbs seems to have sped by at hyper speed. I had loads and loads of the prettiest all-white daffodils. Do you think I got a chance to take a single picture? No, not a blessed bloody one!

Even these white tulips by the back gate blew fully open before I had a chance to snap a picture of them.

Virginia Blue Bells

Generally speaking, I stuck with the color scheme I devised for my bulbs last fall: red and yellow bulbs at the front of the house, white just inside the back gate, a variety of pinks, white and yellow in the main part of the backyard and yellow, white and mauve in the circle garden at the very back.

But as you can see here I messed up a bit and planted some of the mauve tulips in with the pinks. 

Oh well, I guess I'll have to fix this odd mix of colors for next spring.

Euphorbia Polychroma

Love the deep red of these primroses.

The garden at the very back of the yard.

Ostrich Ferns

That's a Buddha in the background meditating under the shade his red umbrella (Japanese Maple).

I have more of these dark maroon geraniums that I know what to do with! 
They are all just starting to flower.

Our crabapple looked glorious for a few days, but now the rains have carried 
off all the sweetly fragrant flowers.

There are many more pictures, but I will spare your patience and save them for another post.