Beach gardens ready for their moment in the sun

You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
… Especially in the month of June 

– All In The Golden Afternoon, from Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland

And that’s one of the great things about the Gardens of the Beach tour: there are so many things to see and learn, so many new ideas to pick up.

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Have a tiny garden? Don’t miss the one where nearly every square centimetre of space – front and back – is filled with flowers: astilbe, cimicifuga, phlox, daisies, a prized beauty bush tucked for support against a dead elder – even a dwarf Joe-Pye weed adds a touch of the wild.

The gardener treasures hydrangeas, so check out giants Annabelle and Incrediball, the lovely lacecap Haze Starburst, a towering paniculata backing the Summer Snowflake viburnum, and the very old climbing hydrangea on the home’s side brick wall.

Ravine garden? See how it can work beautifully in a garden south of Kingston Road. Front and back billow with pretty things. Astilbe, peonies, Japanese maples and other lovely plants flourish in front, though a huge, centuries-old wine jug brought from the gardener’s native Chile steals the show.

The steep back garden is solidly built in three descending tiers. Each is lushly planted and features its own viewing path and seating space to look more closely at the hostas and other textures covering the slope.

Mexican containers, tiles and other ornaments make this garden a happy personal retreat.

No back yard? Plant up your front – literally, if it slopes up from the street like this tour garden north of Kingston Road. All its curving levels are studded with spring and summer flowers.

Tulips and azaleas are followed by iris, ornamental grass, lilies and peonies (some moved, with difficulty, from an aunt’s home).

High above the street, the front lawn and side deck become private outdoor spaces, set off by salvaged wood pillars. Pretty red Japanese maples highlight key spots, and a nicely pruned waterfall maple shelters a collection of hostas.

A spectacular climbing hydrangea softens the wooden fencing, where the gardener has added lattice to encourage the vine’s growth.

The Gardens of the Beach tour is Sunday, June 22, 2014, from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at East of Eliza, 1960 Gerrard St. E.; Trinity Gallery, 920 Kingston Rd. and 149 Main St.; Cool, Green & Shady, 601 Kingston Rd.; Pet Valu, 2210 Queen St. E.; Bill’s Garden Design, 903 Pape.

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