Enhanced Nature on Display

The Toronto Botanical Garden was the last stop of the 2015 Garden Bloggers Fling (and this is my last post on that trip).

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TBG will not intimidate you with its scale, but it packs a lot that is beautiful and thought-provoking into its four acres.

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I especially enjoyed the Entrance Garden, which was designed by Piet Oudolf. Like Chicago’s Lurie Garden, this urban planting includes shrubs and small trees dotted among big drifts of perennials and a matrix of grasses.

This planting has been referred to as a “sophisticated meadow”, but the harmonious mix of colors and shapes is a product of design working with nature – what Oudolf calls “enhanced nature”.

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After this trip I will always associate Ontario with peonies.

I was interested to learn that for the first three years plants were left free to self-sow at will (though I imagine some editing must have been done).

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Giant clumps of several Baptisia cultivars had a big presence in this garden. Such a great genus, with fresh-looking blueish green foliage and intriguing seed pods after the flowers are gone.

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As at Lurie, the drifts of Salvia take your breath away in May and June.

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Yellow Baptisia in the upper right. And look at how happy those Hosta are in this sunny spot.

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I cannot for the life of me remember what this architectural plant with the greenish umbels is called, but it’s very Oudolfian. And it stands out against the purple Smoke Tree (Cotinus coggygria) so nicely.

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More Baptisia, with Allium in the background.

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Allium and Salvia.

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A long view to the visitor center and entrance to TBG.

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Phlomis contributes its vertical element.

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So appealing how the finely textured grass mixes with the maroon and blue buttons of the Knautia and Geranium.

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I was pleased to see Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) included in the mix, though not yet in bloom. The Monarch butterflies are grateful.

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There’s a courtyard right in front of the building as well.

Unfortunately, Judy had to leave early and missed the Fling banquest, which was held at TBG. She also didn’t get to see much of the gardens inside, so I don’t have much in the way of pictures from the rest of TBG.

But I must say, the Entrance Garden was enough in itself to make me a happy camper.

41 Comments on “Enhanced Nature on Display

  1. The unidentified plant looks like Angelica. These posts have reminded me of many truly enjoyable visits during the Fling. I have yet to write a single post… and may never get around to it! Too many ideas, not enough time to write more than once a week.

  2. I think these photos are enough to let you know how wonderful this place must be. I wish I had more sunshine in my garden…sort of…at least when I see these big displays of sun loving plants.

  3. There are times like this one when I wish I had a great expanse in which to build another garden, but, alas, I remember my back and my check book, and I am forced to be satisfied with my little plot.

  4. I agree that your mystery plant is Angelica. It’s wonderfully architectural and also an absolute aphid magnet!

  5. I was so sorry to have to rush off (for work, alas) and miss the banquet and the rest of the Toronto Botanical Garden! But the Piet Oudolf entrance garden was the perfect ending for me, I loved it so much. I was very impressed by what he could do with a relatively small, kind of uninspiring space (one side of it is the parking lot). I do wish I had seen the rest of the four acres!

  6. I loved the entrance garden, it would be nice to have a patch of garden to try some of those ideas. Anyway, I’m off to read up more on Piet Oudolf.

  7. What a beautiful entrance garden Jason, I really like the planting, as others have said thats Angelica making a statement in the borders, I grow it here – its a biennial for me. I hope one day I get to visit here!

  8. Glorious – this is my kind of planting. I was admiring that first picture then read that it’s Piet Oudolf. Of course it is. The man can do no wrong.

  9. Seeing this garden reminds me of the Lurie, which blew me away when I visited it in ’09. I haven’t been back since, though I’ve always wanted to see it at different times of the year–time for another road trip! It’s interesting how a particular plant stands out on each Fling. I remember the salvia from Chicago, many people mentioned bee balm in Buffalo, and you and others have mentioned the peonies and allium in Toronto. I’m trying to remember what stood out for me in Asheville and Portland–probably the hydrangeas in Portland, the hugest I’ve ever seen.

    • The Lurie is wonderful, and definitely worth seeing in each season. Toronto was the first of the flings for me that definitely is associated in my mind with particular flowers.

  10. Judy’s photos are very inspiring –and I have all winter to dream of what I’d like to add to my garden 🙂

  11. I agree, that planting at the entrance is beautiful and entirely my taste. 🙂 The green ‘wall’ is a nice backdrop.Love those Alliums, and the Angelica is a great eye-catcher, and the Baptisia too. I recently read that there are a few Hostas that like a sunny spot (H. plantaginea, which also smells nice), although they are more susceptible to snails as they contain more sugars in the leaves. Most of mine stand quite a bit of sun too.
    Great photos, you’ll have to take Judy there again one day and show us more! 😉

  12. What an inspiring space. I’m a little surprised that so much of the planting is the same as other Oudolf gardens, I would have expected it to reflect what grows naturally a little more; but there is no getting away from the skill and talent of the man!

  13. Judy’s photos are great. Too bad she couldn’t see the entire garden. I love all the plants pictured here. Just planted some alliums this weekend, but haven’t had much luck with them.

  14. I love the drifts of flowers in the entrance and the large drift of Baptisia. Mine was starting to create its own drift but I don’t have that kind of room, but oh in the meadow what a sight that would be. i think i will have to move future volunteers out there.

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