Through the Garden Gate 2011

This past weekend the Toronto Botanical Garden had their 24th annual Through the Garden Gate garden tour. Each year residents of the featured neighbourhood are able to showcase their home landscapes in a two day event that has become a must see in the gardening community.

This year the event was being held in Swansea Village, a beautiful area in Toronto with hills, ravines, and gorgeous views of Grenadier Pond, Brule Pond, the Humber River and High Park.  Unlike last years event that spread over a massive geographic area of The Beach, the homes featured in this years tour were more contained yet just as visually spectacular.

This time around I was fortunate to be joined by my amazing future sister-in-law and her childhood friend who I always have an absolute blast with.  Both women were hoping to come away with ideas for their own properties and possible solutions for their own unique landscaping dilemmas.  I, on the other hand, much like last year planned to leave with a camera full of memories to share with all of you.

One thing I love about these type of garden tours is they showcase a magnitude with gardening styles done really, really well.  This year I found for me it was all about the front yard and entryway.  A basic principle of landscaping I learned in school was to highlight the front door to the house in different and unique ways.  Not to put columnar shrubs, one on either side of the door, but to make the garden an extension of that front entry, or vice versus, the front door apart of your landscape. 


I think every gardener has rules and traditions they like to live by when working with their own property and I personally have always lived with the idea that unless done well, perennials should not be used extensively in front gardens except for a few select varieties (hostas are about all I’m okay with).  Perennials tend to get untidy once they have flowered, and unless you are well read on seasonal planting and color perfusion your front may end up being a vision of boring green for the majority of the growing season.  Over the next 22 days as I share my photos with you from each house you will see how perennials are done right in a front yard.  And in some cases they are done so well that I want to throw my rule right out the window and smack my hand for even thinking such thoughts.  Sadly as we walked past houses not on the tour I was reminded on how badly it could also look.

As you will see not all of the homes are just about the front.  There was plenty of spectacular views, stunning backyard landscapes, breathtaking pools and quirky elements to be seen. 

Again I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.  Check your own areas to see if there are any tours going on.  Even if you are not an avid gardener, it is still a great afternoon to get together with some great friends and enjoy each other’s company in a beautiful setting.

As for my two companions? Did they solve their own gardening problems? I can tell you they were definitely impressed with what they saw but also immediately overwhelmed. I think the consensus at the end of the day was to concentrate in one small area first and work from there.

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