By MARY FRAN McQUADE
Come to the best garden tour in the city – it’s being held right here in the Beach on the weekend of June 8-9.
The Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG) has chosen 21 spectacular gardens to feature in this year’s Through the Garden Gate tour. They’re large and small, sunny and in deep shade, formal and cottage-cosy.
It’s a great opportunity to go behind the garden gates of the Beach and to get inspiration from places like those we’ve sampled here.
The Art Lovers’ Garden
This calmly unpretentious garden near Glen Stewart Ravine fits its setting and its owners perfectly. Like many Beach gardens, the front is a sunny mix of natives and other perennials. Keeping it tended is a particular joy for the owner-gardener.
“I like the routine of deadheading and weeding,” she says.
The sense of peace continues in the shaded area behind the house, with its small stream and pond inspired by the winding stream in the woods nearby.
This private area is home to several pieces of art chosen by the gardener’s husband, including a sleek black sculpted bird and a collection of masks decorating the outdoor dining room that’s in use every summer evening.
The Passionate Gardener’s Garden
You can lose yourself in the lush plantings behind this home north of Kingston Road.
“It’s my canvas that I get to paint with plants,” says the owner, “and what an honour and joy to be part of this ever-evolving beauty.”
Every flower and foliage plant, shrub and small tree, has been chosen with care and is tended lovingly each day. You’ll find gems like tree peonies, rhododendrons, dwarf conifers, magnolias and literally hundreds of Japanese maples here.
Even the owner’s 300 indoor tropical plants come outdoors for the summer.
Herbs and other edibles fill the rooftop deck overlooking the pool, and produce from the vegetable garden perched on the hillside is shared with lucky colleagues at office lunches.
The Daring Small Garden
Through the gate and behind the fence of this small personal garden lies a treasure box of flowers and foliage. This gardener aims for beauty, and she isn’t afraid to break the rules to get it.
She doesn’t worry about the convention of planting flowers in sets of three – instead, she creates harmonious groupings of different plants. She’s also fearless about cutting things back to allow other plants to take their turn in the seasonal spotlight.
And if something doesn’t work, she’ll simply shift it to a better location. “I love to use my own plants to fill in new spots of sun or shade,” she explains.
It’s a strategy that’s kept this garden bursting with bloom through years of changing conditions.
Things to know
Gardens are open June 8 and 9, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. One-day pass: public $45/TBG members $40/students $25. Two-day pass: public $65/TBG members $60.
Passes can be purchased online at ww.torontobotanicalgarden.ca/MCTTGG or locally at East End Garden Centre, Our Cottage and Beaches Home Hardware on Queen Street East; and at The Big Carrot and Yellow House Gallery on Kingston Road.
Parking, information and free buses to take you along the garden route will be available at Neil McNeil Catholic High School, 127 Victoria Park Ave.
Mary Fran McQuade is the garden columnist for Beach Metro News.