Ideas for Cabbage-Sized Patios

In June, I made a quick trip to Toronto to join garden writers from the U.S., Canada and England, like Kylee Baumle from Ohio and Tony Spencer from Ontario.
patio screen Toronto Kylee Baumle and Tony Spencer Central Texas Gardener
Walking over six miles a day was a breeze in bracing air, starting one morning with a group stroll for breakfast at the fanciest Farmers’ Market I’ve ever seen.
St. Lawrence Farmers Market Central Texas Gardener
Given Toronto’s cold winters, being indoors makes sense for comfy fresh-food marketing all year.
St. Lawrence Farmers Market Central Texas Gardener
Between garden jaunts with innovative, energizing media makers, I loved cruising downtown in a bustling, environmentally conscious city that spikes to the sky while respecting its historic architectural stories.
downtown Toronto Central Texas Gardener
Oh, how I treasured my once-in-a-lifetime luxurious stay at the historic Fairmont Royal York, even though I wasn’t there much except to crash on the softest bed ever with the best in-room quick coffee.
Royal Fairmont York Toronto Central Texas Gardener
Royal Fairmont York Central Texas Gardener
The voyage of my dreams was the last morning before heading back to heat and relentless drop-dead deadline scurry. In the drizzle I adore, I strolled among the suited folks on their hurry worry Monday morning mission in the financial district.
downtown Toronto Central Texas Gardener
I had all the time in the world—well, maybe 30 minutes—to sit on a wet bench and catch up on much-needed slow down, reflection time without a “to do” list plastered to my brain.
boardwalk Lake Ontario Central Texas Gardener
Okay, Linda, now can we please get down to some garden pictures? First, I totally get why Texas transplants from other climes email me to bemoan that we can’t grow peonies and lilacs. I sniffed myself into allergy overload, but it was worth it!
Purple peony in Toronto Central Texas Gardener
Lilac tree Toronto Central Texas Gardener
I laughed when gardeners who live where peonies and lilacs grow like weeds told me: “I’m tired of the same old thing.”
Peony garden Toronto Central Texas Gardener
They envy what we can grow in Central Texas! That’s what so fun about our connectivity: We’re all on the same boat of curiosity and creativity; just in different harbors. But we all anchor to the same problems: weirdo weather, insect pests, and cute fuzzy animals that chomp our gardens to smithereens.

One thing many of us share in our hometowns is an historic neighborhood. In Toronto, it’s Cabbagetown. Charming homes built for the working class in the 1800s succumbed to rental disrepair until gentrification resurgence salvaged them to high-end real estate.
Cabbagetown Toronto Central Texas Gardener
Cabbagetown Toronto Central Texas Gardener
This little corner market, where you can buy a coffee, milk, craft beer or plant at the Garden “Centre” is what Austin needs to do NOW!
Cabbagetown Toronto corner market Central Texas Gardener
Obviously, residents often stroll (I would!), so everyone makes it fun, like this tiny window tucked into a privacy fence for a non-invasive peek inside.
cute window in gate Toronto Central Texas Gardener
Narrow alleys unite homes in back. Even though this cute plant “frame” was set up for the tour, I bet that there’s a lot of daily socializing among neighbors in their cabbage-sized patio gardens.
Garden art frame planter Central Texas Gardemer
scottish terrior sign cute Central Texas Gardener
This is certainly a creative group of gardeners, too. Without meeting each one, I knew a lot about them through their choice of screening.
Painted patio screen Central Texas Gardener
Here’s another version of that screen style: an inexpensive way to spice up a wall or fence.
Painted patio screen Central Texas Gardener
In small spaces, a fence makes a handy platform for vertical gardening. I can tell that these gardeners are wildlife activists, easily possible even in tiny quarters.
fence art vertical planting Central Texas Gardener
Everyone provides water and natural plant food for birds and beneficial insects.
Bird bath wildlife habitat patio garden Central Texas Gardener
Cute recycled kettle pond fountain Central Texas Gardener
These gardeners magnified their diminutive space with levels and a depth-promoting mirror. South Carolina’s Julie Thompson Adolf Garden Delightsalways shoots great angles!
Cute small patio design Central Texas Gardener
Rather than cluttering with too many containers on the patio pavers, raised beds enhance the clean lines and elongate our viewpoint.
raised beds small patio Central Texas Gardener
raised beds small patio Central Texas Gardener
They softened straight lines with the pond’s curved geometry.
small patio pond Central Texas Gardener
A big advantage to patio gardens is the up-close view from indoors.
Small patio Toronto view from inside Central Texas Gardener
In the Forest Hill neighborhood, this contemporary small space patio goes for soothing, low-maintenance that handles what I call “psycho lighting.” Even in early morning, you can see what I mean: sun and shade that most likely swaps positions later in the day.
Pennsylvania sedge small Toronto patio garden Central Texas Gardener
Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica) paired with alliums line one narrow bed, a combination I’m going to try with my Texas sedge!
Pennsylvania sedge and alliums small Toronto garden Central Texas Gardener
Richly stained horizontal fence planks and a bright orange chair warm up the serene greens, where I can imagine sitting back without a care in the world.
Stained fence design small courtyard garden Central Texas Gardener
And for those cool nights, a fire pit invites cozy conversation, documented by Tennessee gardener, Barbara Wise , who coincidentally matched the blue theme!
Patio fire pit Toronto Central Texas Gardener
Out front, metal rods deter dogs from invading ferns shaded by birch trees—my first to see birch in person, too!
metal rods dog deter garden Central Texas Gardener
But what a kick: tucked into the ferns, I spied a Spanish bluebell! In my garden, this bulb bloomed months earlier.
Spanish bluebells Central Texas Gardener
In two days, I saw plants I’d only read about, and most I couldn’t even identify without help from my northern friends. This singular flower reminded me that we’re all connected in our goal to populate wildlife and beautify our lives and cities, wherever we live.

Thank you to Ontario organizers, Helen Battersby, Sarah Battersby, Lorraine Flanigan and Veronica Silva for widening my garden horizons and friendships!

And thank you for stopping by! Until next week, Linda