Aldona at Large: Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Okay, I know I’m jumping the gun and it’s not really wintry yet. The thing is, I’m fast-forwarding a little because it’s that murky, meh, neither-here-nor-there time of year that I detest, with its short drizzly days, the last slimy leaves underfoot, and leaden skies overhead. In the gardens, most of the plants have shed their fall finery and look rather uncertain as they wait for nature to give them the definitive thumbs-up for their long winter’s nap. (Some days, when my bones ache a little and my hair lies limp, I could use a little Nana nap, too.)

But then I say, “snap out of it!” and go for a brisk walk through our gardens to take a closer look at things, and whaddya know, there’s a whole lot more going on out there than you might think, and life is pretty darn great after all.

“Grey skies are gonna clear up–put on a happy face  Brush off the clouds and cheer up–put on a happy face…”

–From the musical Bye Bye Birdie, with music by
Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams

Many people ask me about the shrub with the unusual bright purple berries in fall. It’s aptly known as Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), seen here with ‘Amethyst’ coral berry (Symphoricarpos ‘Amethyst’) and bright red winterberry (Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’). The berries are on their way out now, but still have enough punch to catch your eye. And grown together like this, ka-POW!

But beauty doesn’t have to be bold and in-your-face. Witness this dainty heath (Erica carnea) in the Westview Terrace, which is putting forth tiny, perfect white blooms.

And at this time of year, without the billowing distraction of flowers, I think the crisp, formal lines of the Beryl Ivey Knot garden really come into their own. Like a man in uniform, a knot garden has an admirably distinctive bearing.

If ever an argument needed to be made for growing a judicious selection of evergreens in your garden, this is it. Why bother with blooms when you can have this much year-round contrast of colour and texture, as seen in the TBG President’s Choice Show Garden? And if you like this look and are ever in England, try to get to Norfolk to check out Adrian Bloom’s famous garden, “Foggy Bottom.” He is a virtuoso with evergreens, and has created rich and stunning landscape vistas—in one section, bisected by a river of bright red Japanese blood grass.

This morning, Anwar Knight of CTV News stopped by to have a live, on-air chat with our Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture, Paul Zammit. Behind them you can see some of the celebrity-designed wreaths that will be part of our silent auction at the Holiday Open House on Thursday.

Some of the wreaths come with extra- added bonuses – like the five great holiday CDs that adorn music journalist and broadcaster Errol Nazareth’s creation. (The winning bidder will get the CD cases, too.)

And here’s what’s going on with the City parking lot project this week: the cisterns and bioswales are in and the electrical conduits are being installed. Weather permitting, the crew will start pouring the concrete curbs in the next few days. Meanwhile, if you have mobility issues, keep in mind that we’ve made the parking spots in our shipping area (accessible via the second driveway west of Leslie off Lawrence) available for people with handicapped stickers in their cars. This is also the pick-up and drop-off spot for people, supplies and goods (thanks to Plant World, we have six extra jumbo carts available to help you haul your stuff inside). Need more help? Unsure of what to do? Then call the Maintenance department cell phone at 416-830-1344.

Things That Make Me Happy

This giant wreath! It was generously created for us by the talented Sue Stevenson and her accomplished co-Horts at The Milne House Garden Club. We proudly hung this beautiful large artemesia wreath behind the reception desk so it’s the first thing you see when you come in the door. Hmm….which do you think shines brighter, the silvery wreath, or angelic volunteer and receptionist extraordinaire Joanne Campbell’s beautiful bouncy halo of hair?

Last but not least, though I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, I’m also thinking ahead to Saturday, January 14 and the Toronto Master Gardeners’ day-long Technical Update right here at the TBG. The theme this year is “Practical Gardening” and the day is open to anyone who’s interested in becoming a better, more knowledgeable gardener. And it’s fun. Click here for more info.

That’s it for now–I’ll be back with more in a couple of weeks.

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