Sunday, August 23, 2009

Container Gardening in North Toronto

Spring and summer is a special time of year where I live in the Toronto neighbourhood of North Toronto. It seems, as soon as we are sure the chance of frost is past, we go into a frenzy of gardening activity beginning with planning our containers to add instant colour to our gardens. The rule of thumb is that the final date for possible frost is Victoria Day, May 24th.Those who are both thrifty and impatient begin the process two months earlier by starting seedlings indoors. Even those who don’t normally garden are sure to display potted plants or flowers on their patio or balcony.

Beginning on May 20th for about two weeks, we head for the garden centres to buy flowers, shrubs and trees to replace, and replenish our existing plantings. My favourite garden centre is Sheridan’s on Yonge Street near Glengrove. The queues at the cash register during this time are often as long as those on December 24th. This year, I saw a woman who had rented a U-Haul truck to transport all of the purchases for her city garden.

When I visit friends during the summer I enjoy seeing how they are expressing their individual style, creativity and taste in their container plantings. Each one is different, adding colour to a door, window, or patio. Some of them even add some large pots of flowers bringing beauty to the utility area of their yard.

The two photos above show a friend's lovely green ferns she plants every May without fail in her black concrete urns. She painted them black to mimic cast iron. Her front entrance is inviting with a formal elegance.

At the right is another friend's cast iron urn brimming over with petunias and million bells. She doesn't fill her urns with the same types of flowers every year, but she loves pink and purple flowers. Typically, her urns are the first ones ready in the neighbourhood in the spring, filling us with great delight.

The container below is done with fuchsia pink geraniums and lobelia. So lovely with the blue spruce shrub.

Below is a large vase planted with vines of different colours topped off with a dramatic pink semi-tropical flowering vine. This is suitable for the dramatic front entrance.

I love visiting another friend whose garden encompasses urban sophistication and cottage garden elements. It is artistic, eclectic, and forever changing. Her garden shed's window boxes are filled with yellow begonias.

On the fence in the perfect spot near the shed is her wall fountain.

The potted vine hanging over her stone wall looks like it was just casually placed giving this garden a relaxed inviting appeal.

Another example of this is the antique coal basket used as a container to fill with perfect pink geraniums. The rush filling, and the rustiness of the coal basket give a cottage feeling to this corner of her garden.

How pleasant it is to live near the people whose container gardening I've featured. All of them have their own special artistic flair with attention to detail, giving their gardens their own brand of beauty. They help make North Toronto a very special neighbourhood.

I have two examples of my own container gardening. The globe cedars on either side of the door have survived in their vintage concrete containers for four years helped by double liners to keep the roots protected from harsh winter frosts.

Thunbergia and orange impatients at the side door.