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Design Ideas from Toronto to Texas

On a quick, yet inspiring trip to Toronto in June for the Garden Blogger’s Fling, I didn’t cart much home in my suitcase. But I crammed my head with ideas, which made it through Customs just fine.
phormium in Toronto Central Texas Gardener
Toronto Botanical stream Central Texas Gardener
This front porch is really quite Austin chic!
front porch serenity design Central Texas Gardener
I swooned over plants that I can’t grow, like heart-stealer Solomon’s Seal. Thanks to Susan Harris for the ID! I figure that my winter-blooming Leucojum aestivum bulbs will make a fine substitute for this summertime shady Toronto beauty.
Solomon's Seal Central Texas Gardener
With pleasurable ease, I can match this stunning duo of silver and white: Artemisia ludoviciana and iris.
Parkwood Estate artemisia and white iris Central Texas Gardener
Not sure I can grow flamboyant white-blooming Baptisia and honestly, I can’t remember what that silvery groundcover is. For sure, we can go for white salvias, silver ponyfoot, creeping germander or woolly stemodia.
white baptisia silver ground cover parkwood web
I drooled over the variegated iris I’d never seen before. Look at how it pops out in “psycho” light.
variegated iris Central Texas Gardener
An expert with the Iris Society of Austin said that we can grow variegated iris except for Japanese and Siberian versions.

Silver and burgundy is an unbeatable combination. I’d probably plant this silvery echeveria and begonia in a rich charcoal container.
silver echeveria purple leaf begonia Central Texas Gardener
What a kick to see a favorite grouping: lamb’s ears, purple salvias, and goldenrod. Like this Toronto gardener, I like to texture up with daylilies, small grasses and artemisia.
salvia goldenrod lambs ears design Central Texas Gardener
In several gardens, I spotted my favorite ‘Helen von Stein’ lamb’s ears, here to soften a border and delightfully contrast deep green boxwood.
lamb's ears boxwood Toronto design Central Texas Gardener
Catmint is a mutual favorite for its silver-toned leaves and lavender flowers that bees love. We can brew a soothing tea with its leaves, but we all know the REAL reason many of us grow this perennial!
catmint Central Texas Gardener
On those 50 shades of purple, I’ve got to find a way to achieve this one of alliums and clematis. In the same hue spectrum, their diverse forms and heights magnify each plant.
allium purple clematis Central Texas Gardener
In a fairly small space, the Toronto Botanical Garden dazzles with depth and verve.
Toronto Botanical garden pathway Central Texas Gardener
Toronto Botanical Central Texas Gardener
But I stepped on the big-picture brakes when I spied their test garden of various alyssums, including Alyssum ‘Dark Knight.’
Alyssum Dark Night Central Texas Gardener
Just a few months before on CTG, Texas A&M’s Brent Pemberton showed off a heat-loving alyssum in that same new hybrid test. But the winner in Texas is Alyssum ‘White Stream’, declared a Texas Superstar in June. Toronto-to-Texas trials mean that we can pick up the right plant in our local nurseries.

At the historic Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, we were treated to Downton Abbey-like period glamor and “characters.” Even though we can’t alternate marigolds with cooler-weather dusty miller here in summer, certainly we can create similar contrasting drama in our annual beds, even with upcoming fall lettuces! And this winter: calendulas with dusty miller–oooh!
Parkwood Estate period actors Central Texas Gardener
Everywhere, gardens reminded me that powerful views start with depth and diverse texture. Boxwood frames this side yard destination in Toronto, just as it can for us.
pathway color and texture in Toronto Central Texas Gardener
boxwood and Japanese maple Central Texas Gardener
Grab attention with lighting. I do envy Toronto gardeners their success with Japanese maples!
Japanese maple in Toronto Central Texas Gardener
The Toronto Botanical Garden maximizes our connection to each plant through depth, contrast in colors and texture, and structure to formalize flowing lines.
Toronto Botanical design Central Texas Gardener
In a small garden, plantswoman extraordinaire Marion Jarvie achieves the power of depth while framing unique spaces that screen the view to the neighbors.
Marion Jarvie garden Toronto Central Texas Gardener
Marion Jarvie garden Toronto Central Texas Gardener
She encourages even more viewpoints with a walk-around central island bed.
Marion Jarvie island bed Toronto Central Texas Gardener
Berms promote drainage, of course, but also add depth on her flat terrain.
Marion Jarvie garden Toronto Central Texas Gardener
Like Marion, we can build dimension and a “peeking point” with a pergola.
Jarvie pergola borders Central Texas Gardener
Her front yard border softens the street view without a soldierly barricade.
Marion Jarvie front yard border Central Texas Gardener
The Toronto Botanical Garden promenades lush diversity to attract pollinators.
Toronto Botanical border Central Texas Gardener
Their galvanized raised beds ramp up our view, thanks to a striking contrast against the natural stone pathway.
Toronto Botanical Garden galvanized raised beds Central Texas Gardener
Toronto Botanical Garden galvinized raised beds Central Texas Gardener
Let’s not neglect the view at our feet.
ajuga pathway Central Texas Gardener
Now, let’s add water to soothe us and hydrate our wildlife. Marion Jarvie tucked a pond into her island bed.
Marion Jarvie pond Central Texas Gardener
Marion Jarvie island bed pond Central Texas Gardener
And oh, how I love this narrow stream at the Toronto Botanical Garden!
Toronto Botanical garden stream Central Texas Gardener
Toronto Botanical Garden stream Central Texas Gardener
Along with all the insightful gardeners I met, here’s the ultimate Texas to Toronto connection! I was honored to meet Harry Jongerden, Toronto Botanical’s Executive Director. He told me that he was headed to a conference to meet up with Andrea DeLong-Amaya, senior program coordinator at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center! Small world, indeed.
Harry Jongerden Toronto Botanical Central Texas Gardener
Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda