August 21, 2015
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.
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.
Given Toronto’s cold winters, being indoors makes sense for comfy fresh-food marketing all year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I laughed when gardeners who live where peonies and lilacs grow like weeds told me: “I’m tired of the same old thing.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
This is certainly a creative group of gardeners, too. Without meeting each one, I knew a lot about them through their choice of screening.
Here’s another version of that screen style: an inexpensive way to spice up a wall or fence.
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.
Everyone provides water and natural plant food for birds and beneficial insects.
These gardeners magnified their diminutive space with levels and a depth-promoting mirror. South Carolina’s Julie Thompson Adolf Garden Delightsalways shoots great angles!
Rather than cluttering with too many containers on the patio pavers, raised beds enhance the clean lines and elongate our viewpoint.
They softened straight lines with the pond’s curved geometry.
A big advantage to patio gardens is the up-close view from indoors.
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 (Carex pensylvanica) paired with alliums line one narrow bed, a combination I’m going to try with my Texas sedge!
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.
And for those cool nights, a fire pit invites cozy conversation, documented by Tennessee gardener, Barbara Wise , who coincidentally matched the blue theme!
Out front, metal rods deter dogs from invading ferns shaded by birch trees—my first to see birch in person, too!
But what a kick: tucked into the ferns, I spied a Spanish bluebell! In my garden, this bulb bloomed months earlier.
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.
And thank you for stopping by! Until next week, Linda