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Aldona at Large: Slow Off the Mark

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata).

Happy New Year! Too much holiday food, fun and family can play havoc not only with your waistline, but also with your work ethic. Maybe that’s the reason why it’s so difficult to rev up your engine after all the festivities, at least for me. These days, even my two dogs, Sadie and Willow, have taken to sleeping in, and look at me reproachfully as I bundle them up for their “it’s-still-dark-outside, what-are-you-doing?” pre-work morning walk. I’m a bit brain-dead, so this post will be short-ish and sweet-ish.

Before the holidays, the TBG Board of Trustees treated the staff to a festive lunch in the Garden Hall.

Maintenance Manager Walter Morassutti raises his glass to cheer the season.

I planned to accomplish so much during the break, but on Boxing Day a nasty bout of flu put the kibosh on all my good intentions to thin out all the “stuff” in my basement. However, as Christmas Day was mild and drizzly, I did manage to plant many dozens of tulip bulbs in my tall raised planter beds—in between a large festive breakfast and a large festive dinner! Urp. And talk about serendipity, the very next day we had a deep freeze and a major snowfall, so maybe for once I may have even managed to outsmart the squirrels (but I’m placing no bets on this).

Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends, Once More

(from Henry V, Act III, by William Shakespeare,1598)

As previously reported, in December the City’s Budget Committee approved a $75,000 increase in funding to the TBG for 2013. Hooray and hallelujah, but we’re not home free yet. This recommendation also has to be approved by the Executive Committee and the full City Council—both votes are taking place over the coming days. If you haven’t done so already, please consider sending your councillor a note supporting the TBG. It can be as simple as:  “I support additional funding for Toronto Botanical Garden, the city’s only botanical garden and a valuable resource for the entire community.” Thank you, and fingers crossed.

A Winter Wonderland

When it comes to the TBG gardens, winter brings the subtle beauty of muted colours, punctuated by the high drama of snow caught on grasses, shrubs and structures. At the end of last week, a gorgeous snowfall made them picture-perfect. Grabbing my camera, I rushed out to patrol the property. Here is some of what I saw:

This to me looks like a fine Currier & Ives print, but it’s actually a view across the perennial border toward the barn. Note how lovely the snow looks on the Hydrangea paniculata seedheads.

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris) is an all-season plant that earns its keep. It has long-lasting white blooms in late spring, handsome leaves, yellow fall colour, and gorgeous bark, form and buds to hold your interest in the winter as well. However, it does take awhile to get established, so don’t expect instant results

‘Midwinter Fire’ dogwood in Nature’s Garden at the TBG

The Beryl Ivey Knot Garden shows off its elegant bones.

Winter brings out the beautiful, cinnamon-coloured, exfoliating bark of the aptly named paperbark maple (Acer griseum), seen here in the Garden Entry Walk.

Near the Beryl Ivey Knot Garden, the Merrill magnolias are loaded with buds and getting ready for a good spring show. At least we hope so—last year’s blossoms were nipped by frost, and hung down like tattered tissues.

While many sedums splay out and go mushy in winter, Sedum matrona stands up to the snow.

Of course, our gardens have handsome grasses a-plenty to add texture and movement to the winter garden. These Miscanthus can be seen near the City’s raised carpet beds, and look great against a background of evergreens.

Alas, my mad exotic necklace is likely as close as I’m going to get to a tropical getaway this winter. If you’ve already had enough of cold weather and grey days, and cabin fever is starting to get a grip, why not console yourself by attending the upcoming Southern Ontario Orchid Society show on February 16 & 17, or Get the Jump on Spring on February 23, both here at the TBG. And check out our winter Program Guide and sign up for a fabulous course. Of course in March, we can all look forward to Canada Blooms, which to me is a real harbinger of spring. Think warm thoughts!

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