Fling wrap-up at Toronto Botanical Garden: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling


Wherever I travel, I enjoy visiting local botanical gardens. So I was happy to see that Toronto Botanical Garden would be our final stop — including a catered dinner — on the recent Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Upon arrival we 70 garden bloggers were treated to a zingy, high-energy talk and container-design demonstration by the talented and funny Paul Zammit, director of horticulture at TBG. Afterward we were set loose to explore the gardens until dinnertime. I’ll start my virtual tour with masses of tulips in a rainbow of colors. Because…tulips in June!


There were peonies too, in all their improbably large, frilly glory.


Dare I admit that a peony always reminds me of an overstuffed chintz armchair? I swear, it’s not Southern-gardener-can’t-grow-them sour grapes either. I do admire, however, these steel planter rings. I’d put those in my garden! Oh wait, I already have.


I also loved this terraced garden, with sheets of galvanized steel creating tiered planting beds.


Doesn’t this just sing?


I love, love, love these zippy variegated iris.


Dark purple iris adds depth to the scene.


As dramatic as a thundercloud


Purples were also coloring the entry garden, which was designed by the famous Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. (Oudolf also designed the High Line garden and Lurie Garden, both of which I’ve blogged about.)


Fried-egg peonies flounced through the meadowy spring garden.


Purple alliums and burgundy smoke tree — a match made in heaven


Like stars fallen to earth


In a small demonstration garden — stock tank planters! I quite like this formal arrangement, with a tree centered at back.


Paul Zammit’s container arrangements appeared throughout the gardens, like this gorgeous succulent planter in sunset hues.


Echeveria was in bloom.


Fuzzy leaves and kissy-face orange blooms — what’s not to like?


While I was taking photos, a passing visitor stopped to admire this container too. He reached out to pinch a paddle plant (Kalanchoe), and then turned to me and said, “Feel it. It feels like meat.”


By now my appetite was whetted, but I explored on, wanting to see the whole garden before dinnertime.


The garden is not quite 4 acres — very small for a botanical garden — but the director has ambitious plans for expansion into the city-owned parkland next door.


The garden had attracted a lot of visitors that day, and I enjoyed seeing how other people explored and used the gardens. Two women had a tête-à-tête in the clipped hallways of the knot garden.


Other photographers were busy capturing their own vignettes.


On a small lawn, a cluster of what looked like dancing trees caught my eye — part of a temporary art installation by W. Gary Smith. Austinites may be familiar with his work, as he designed the new family garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.


According to TBG’s website, Stooks & Punes — I think Punes is the tree-like portion that remains — is constructed of natural materials found on-site, and it’s “a precursor to the design phase for the TBG’s proposed new children’s garden, which will also be designed by W. Gary Smith.”


Another of Paul’s planters, I assume


When we arrived, tables were set up for us in a lovely outdoor courtyard. But as clouds rolled in threatening rain, staff members made a quick change of plans and moved the tables indoors. I was sorry not to get to eat outdoors but grateful not to have to wear a rain slicker to dinner.


More of Paul’s creations graced the courtyard, and burgundy Japanese maples made the perfect backdrop for them.


I loved them all, but especially these Victorian urns stuffed with sea-glass-colored succulents.


I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts about the Toronto gardens we visited during the Garden Bloggers Fling this year. Enormous thanks to Helen Battersby (left) of Toronto Gardens, who headed up the Toronto Fling planning committee, which also included Sarah Battersby (right), also of Toronto Gardens; Lorraine Flanigan of City Gardening; and Veronica Sliva of A Gardener’s World. These hard-working women did a terrific job of showing us their city’s gardens and green spaces. Hats off to them for a great tour!

If all of this has got you thinking about attending next year’s Fling (open only to garden bloggers), it will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As with Toronto, I look forward to attending in another city I’ve never visited. Meanwhile, if you’d like to follow the links back through my Toronto posts, starting with an artful wildlife garden, click here.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Wildlife garden with an artful touch: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling


On our last day of the Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling in early June, we visited a private garden described as a wildlife garden. I didn’t end up taking photos of its wildlife-attracting features, however. Instead I was drawn to the artful touches found throughout, many of them composed of natural materials. Most prominent was a blue-painted dead tree, centered like sculpture in the back lawn.


What an incredible focal point, don’t you think?


I also admired this cross-section of a tree stump, set on edge to become a sculptural accent in a shady bed.


And this egg-shaped stone, cradled in an upright tree branch.


Two cartoon-style paintings, hung on exterior walls of the house, create surprise and amusement as you encounter them along the paths.


This fellow seems a little worried about something, doesn’t he?


The back patio is inviting and homey, offering a prime view of the blue tree.


In front, a contemporary porch holds a few pots of colorful annuals.


I like this copper-colored planter.


The front garden slopes toward the street, and runoff has been tackled with a lovely dry stream that winds through the lawnless garden.


Here pollinator plants are favored, like this Jerusalem sage. Although intimately familiar with the yellow-flowering Phlomis, I’d never seen the pink cultivar. I love it.

Sometimes it’s the little details in a garden that really grab you.

Coming up next: My tour of Toronto Botanical Garden, where Toronto Fling officially concluded. For a look back at the Evergreen Brick Works community greenspace, click here.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Golden brocade garden of Marion Jarvie: Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling


All that is gold does not glitter, especially in the Toronto, Ontario, garden of designer and speaker Marion Jarvie. Her home garden was our midday stop on the 2nd day of touring at Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling. High and bright, the sun flattened and shadowed my photos of her richly textured, foliage-focused, collector’s garden, which she ties together through the repetition of color, particularly gold and burgundy. I’m sure the garden simply glows in the mellower light of morning or late afternoon. But it was pretty amazing even at high noon.


For 40 years Marion has been tending this half-acre garden in a suburban neighborhood north of Toronto. The front contains a sloping lawn, lushly bordered, but the back is where she really cuts loose, planting up manmade, curvy berms with seeming abandon, but which are in fact carefully orchestrated.


This white ceramic bust greets you as you enter the back garden…


…which opens before you like a rolling landscape. A large pond creates negative space and a focal point near the back patio.


Yellow iris and white water lilies were blooming during our early June visit.


But Marion mainly favors purple flowers, it seems, which complement the golds and harmonize with the burgundies.


The garden reminded of gold brocade fabric: heavily textured with conifers, glowing with golden foliage, richly accented with specimen plants. It would be easy for a garden like this to become a jumble. But color repetition blends it into an intentional tapestry.


Expansive berms swoop around a narrow, curvy lawn, which functions as a path through the garden. The berms elevate the plants and help screen neighboring houses, plus they provide good drainage. Some of the conifers had been browned during last year’s especially cold winter (I noticed this in a number of Toronto gardens), and Marion’s gardening helper told me she was in the process of replacing those with more cold-tolerant pines.


The lawn also functions as essential negative space amid the busily planted beds.


Peonies aglow in sunlight


Anyone know what this flowering shrub is? Update: The consensus among commenters is that it’s a weigela.


I loved these star-shaped pink flowers atop narrow, blue-green leaves — a dianthus perhaps?


One could wander this garden for hours, I think, and still not see everything.


I’m always proud of how many bloggers from Texas, and particularly from Austin, attend the Fling each year, no matter how distant the host city. This year 13 Texans “flung,” and we got together for a group photo in Marion’s garden. Back row, left to right: Shawn and Laurin of Ravenscourt Gardens (Houston), Linda of Central Texas Gardener (Austin), Sheryl of Yard Fanatic (Austin), Rebecca of Rebecca’s Retreat (Buda), me (Austin), Vicki of Playin’ Outside (Austin), Andrea of Grow Where You’re Planted (College Station), and Chris of Watching My Garden Grow (Austin). In the front row: Cindy of From My Corner of Katy (Katy), Susan of The Bicycle Garden (Lubbock), and Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden (Austin). We were missing Jennifer of The Blotanical Journey (Houston), a Fling first-timer I’d meet on the following day’s tours.


These bloggers were having fun too: Amy of Get Busy Gardening, who’s the lead planner of next year’s Fling in Minneapolis, and Julie of Garden Delights, one of the fun Carolina gals. The hat-wearing photobomber is Helen of Gardening with Confidence.


Allium and clematis make a pretty color echo as you look toward the back patio — and the only seating in the garden. This is a strolling garden, meant for exploring. And how fun it was to explore with my blogger friends!

Coming up next: Cabbagetown garden art and the Hugh Garner Co-Op Green Roof. For a look back at a lush but disciplined contemporary garden in Forest Hill, click here.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.