Pondside Gardens of Eden in Toronto

Three private homes in the Swansea neighborhood were the first gardens we saw in Toronto during the Garden Bloggers Fling. Swansea borders on the Humber River, Lake Superior (Correction: Lake Ontario – sheesh, for dumb), and High Park, one of Toronto’s largest and most popular parks.

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The first garden we saw made the biggest impression on me. Once I came round the back of the house, my eyes were drawn through the relatively narrow yard to a path entrance.

The water, the big old trees (some covered with ivy), the weeping willow, and the lush greenery made me think of a north woods Eden, a tranquil forest primeval.

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Where exactly the path leads cannot be seen, but the waters of Grenadier Pond lie in the middle distance (I thought it way too big to be a pond, but that’s a minor point).

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The path descends a steep slope towards the pond. The rough stonework provides a stimulating contrast to the abundant foliage.

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I admired how the steep and rocky slope was beautifully and cunningly planted, in patches and in little gems here and there. Love these Maidenhair Ferns (Adiantum pedatum).

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More ferns.

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These look like some kind of Hardy Geranium, but I’m not sure.

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Double Columbine growing with Irises, sadly not in bloom.

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I don’t usually like double Columbine (or double flowers generally), but in this case I could make an exception.

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As you descend, a Gazebo comes into view. Talk about an ideal place for your morning coffee. The only drawback being the steep slope, which some of us may not be alert enough to navigate early in the morning, especially when carrying a cup of hot liquid. An underground two-way escalator seems like the obvious solution.

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There was also a second garden incorporating the shore of Grenadier Pond. A patio provided a view of the water, another good location for morning coffee or other refreshments. Those are custom-made iron railings.

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Here too you can descend on a stone path to get closer to the water.

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There is an impressively large dry stone retaining wall.

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This garden also featured some interesting metal sculpture. I like how these accompany the Foxgloves growing in the wooden container.

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There was a third garden, this one not on the pond. Its main feature was a more formal boxwood garden. It was very nice, but I just don’t get excited about boxwood. Just a question of personal taste.

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There was, however, a very impressive hedge of white Rugosa roses along the street.

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And a huge Double-File Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum) in full flower.

I generally like to wait until the gardening season is over before I write posts about the Fling. However, there’s too much good stuff to hold back everything until then. Much more to come.

52 Comments on “Pondside Gardens of Eden in Toronto

  1. This is beautiful Jason. I can imagine wandering around that garden in the morning with my coffee not being able to decide which is the prettiest spot to sit! The stone wall is amazing, and I love the ferns and foliage. The setting makes it very special.

  2. This certainly is a unique place with an impressive amount of stonework. The box garden seems to offer a nice contrast. One would have to be in great physical shape to garden in a spot like this. I can see why it would be a favorite garden from the tour.

  3. You and Judy the verticality of the gardens quite nicely. I agree, I would describe Grenadier Pond, well, as a lake. Lovely recap. I look forward to reading more.

  4. Jason, it is so interesting to read other people’s posts about the gardens we saw. Different people, different observations, different responses. Eventually I will write about these Swansea gardens, near Lake Ontario… your Chicago bias obviously made your fingers automatically type Superior!

  5. Beautiful photos and definitely places that I’ve been to and some that are new to me. Making a mental note of gardens to visit in TO in the future. Did you mean Lake Ontario? You mentioned Lake Superior in the post.

  6. Great shots of these gardens. The ponds up north along the big lakes are certainly larger than what we would call a pond around here. I remember telling someone that lived on Lake Superior about our “lake”. When she saw it she laughed out loud. She said it would barely resemble a pond in her area. Love the way these people used their steep grade to the pond. It is gorgeous.

  7. Oooh. Ah. Love the green and the water but most of all I think I like the stacked stone and the rugosa rose. Was it scented? The pink ones from my childhood had the best smell.

  8. Love your pix of the garden, Jason. Nice to be reminded of how nice it was. The geranium-y plant you posted is Herb Robert, a wildflower.

  9. What a beautiful property! Judy’s photos and your descriptions make it seem so serene. I love the way the stonework, custom railings (fabulous whimsy there), and the metal sculpture all seem such a natural part of the garden. And I’m with you on the Maidenhair Ferns. They’re my favorites. By the way, the geranium you found growing out of the stones looks to be “Herb Robert” (what we call “Stinky Bob”, Geranium robertianum) and it’s a Noxious weed out here. But still pretty.

  10. I can see why this particular garden made an impression. It is impressive. Those dry stone walls are just amazing and the craft’s men that create structures such as these are truly gifted. Thank you for sharing.

  11. I should like to visit all of these gardens Jason but especially the garden with the gazebo and wonderful views. Did you stay in Toronto?

  12. Wow. Beautiful, beautiful gardens! I like b3rd garden, but it certainly takes a back-seat when put alongside the first two! They are just brilliant with the use of dry-stone walls, steps and abundant planting. It’s so interesting to have all of the paths, vistas and levels in the garden

  13. There were some very beautiful gardens there for sure. I was more intrigued by building in that location. No small feat. I wrote my post on this area two weeks ago, but like you, was holding off. My slant is more on the difficulty of the site.

  14. What relaxing gardens, I completely agree there are more spots to sit with a coffee than there is coffee to drink, especially when there’s all that stone to fit together and stack. I’ve never seen stone stacked that high. I’m assuming much of it was onsite, otherwise that’s a whole separate feat getting all the stone and gazebo material down to overlook the pond. I’m impressed nonetheless.

  15. That little geranium is Geranium robertianum — herb Robert, which I grow (it’s a vigorous self-seeder, but insistent rather than invasive) because it’s my husbands name. It isn’t native, but it’s naturalized in North America. Looks great in cracks in stone walls, as you’ve seen. I love these gardens, but it’s likely they need staff to attend, especially on those slopes.

  16. There’s something about seeing a body of water in the distance that brings pure magic to a garden for me.

  17. white Rugosa roses ….I wish I had more space, beautiful:-) What a stunning place as I read through your post and admired your photos of the gardens…I wondered…what would I do with all that space to work with-never leave the garden!

  18. I totally agree with Rickii, and that was my first impression when we started viewing these gardens. I think it was you or Judy who mentioned some of these Lake-view gardens were reminiscent of some in Madison. They also reminded me of similar gardens in Door County. Though I could never afford gardens/properties this grand, I felt strangely at home. A beautiful post, and it brought back pleasant memories.

  19. Garden of Eden, indeed. What a beautiful place!

  20. Goodness! The first two gardens have such steep grades to reach the ponds. The stonework alone is a masterpiece.

  21. Oh….how lovely they all are, visiting other gardens is certainly inspiring, as these are for me!xxx

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