Toronto Botanical Gardens-Spring

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where all the flowers is!

I was hoping I would find out.  A garden lecture that I was attending with Helen from Toronto Gardens, was being held at the Toronto Botanical Gardens and I thought I would visit a little early and see what was happening in the garden. Luckily with daylight savings time, it is light in the evening, the last lecture that I heard there, Heathcliff of the Hedgerow, was in winter, and it was too dark to take pictures.

The first plant I found as I walked towards the front door was Hamamelis x intermedia  ‘Primavera’. She is much paler than Arnie, and I couldn’t get close enough to have a whiff(darn), there was a wide flower bed under her.

In the small floral courtyard was a large collection of Helleborus “Blue Lady“.

At least that is what they were labelled, although quite a variety of shades.

Isn’t she lovely,

And she is very fertile, I could not believe how many babys were scattered around.

In the large courtyard, heaths were flowering. I have never grown these, although I was smitten by a gorgeous display of them at Holland Park, in London.

 Galanthus was rising out of the heath, not nearly enough for my liking. 

Actually, I thought there should be a lot more small bulbs on display at the TBG. It could really extend the season for them, maybe they could even have “snowdrop parties” like in the UK. I wonder if there is a suggestion box inside.

But they did have eranthis. I am hoping that mine will be in flower when I visit Kilbourne Grove next time.

I love these sunny little flowers, again, big drifts are needed.

These crocus, (don’t know the variety) were a good match with Euphorbia myrsinites.

Another patch of helleborus, this is Helleborus niger “Maximus”.

But, look at the magnolia above them. This is a sunny, warm, protected corner, and she is certainly taking advantage of that.

More helleborus, this time Helleborus foetidus.

I grew this in Kingston, but it never did this well, it keeps its flower bud above ground all winter. I wonder if the massive snow cover at Kilbourne Grove would make it happy.

Because, it is gorgeous.

They only had one urn, potted up so far, right at the entrance.

Can you see the lettuce in it? Toronto Botanical Gardens theme this year is “Edible Summer” and they are starting here.

But an urn does not have to be planted to be beautiful.

At least, that is what I think.

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28 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    gardeningasylum said,

    Hi Deborah, Sorry you found no drifts, but you seem to have seen some pretty things! Agree about the urn – I think that are even some containers that look better without plants – heresy 🙂 Cyndy

    • 2

      There were some nice early plants, but I was surprised that a Botanical garden would not have more in bloom, so many very early bulbs, they could have been used more. I do have urn envy now.

  2. 3

    Edith Hope said,

    Dear D, So much to see. You obviously had a very enjoyable time and I am so pleased for you. The hellebores you showed are wonderful, but aren’t they all? I think that if I could only have one spring flowering plant, then it would probably have to be Helleborus. For you, most likely Galanthus, I suspect.

    Although the Ericas provide much colour, which is good to have at this time of year, I am afraid to say that I am never very comfortable with them. I did once grow E. ‘Springwood White’ but had it out after a few years. I do not know what it is about them – perhaps they just remind me of a piece of tatting stretched out to dry in the garden!!

    I did, indeed, spot the lettuce in the container but, like you, I should ‘go’ for that large, impressive urn – and leave it empty.

    I do hope that all will be well, and a mass of spring colour, when you are next at Kilbourne Grove. I shall look forward to hearing.

    • 4

      Edith, it is so lovely to have you back, I hope that you had a fabulous holiday.
      I agree on the Galanthus, but I am starting to love Helleborus more and more. The niger in my garden have been so fantastic, that I am going to try some more varities.
      I do not have much experience with the Ericas, my soil is very alkaline. The lettuce urn was cute, but the large urn, it was an OMG moment.

  3. 5

    Joy said,

    Hi Deborah … that was so nice seeing beautiful Spring plants bursting forth 😉
    Hellebore are beautiful no matter the cultivar .. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of flowers from mine hopefully .. and my bulb circles are doing very well ! Too bad I will have to dig them up and move them with the landscaping that will eventually ? be done .. right now I’m just so tired from all the raccoon adventures .. I have to rest up and get in garden mode again : )
    Great pictures !

    • 6

      Joy, I can’t wait to see your hellebores, I love the names of the ones you got, especially “London Fog”, got to love that name. Hope the racoon adventure is over.

  4. 7

    Hi Deborah – One of the things that I’ve noticed at the TBG is that since they became the TBG that they’ve focused on more unusual plantings rather the old days when it was just plain old Edwards Gardens. Plus the gardens at the top of the property by the buildings (I think that’s where you were) are newer and haven’t had a chance to really fill in. I must admit that I miss the days of that area being filled with a tulip display each year.

    That being said, the hellebores and hamamelis are beautiful.

    • 8

      Heather, I did not have time to get down the hill, to the older plantings, before it got dark. They are certainly going for more unusual varities near the buildings. Hopefully, next time I visit, I can get to the older gardens.

  5. 9

    Hello Deborah – thank your for the wonderful tour!
    I always sigh when I see a picture of pretty little crocus blooms like those ones. I planted some for the first time in my garden today (just a small handful) and have my fingers crossed they will survive. Those ‘Blue Lady’ Hellebores are just lovely too.

    • 10

      I look forward to seeing your crocus in bloom, I hope that they survive. I do love the Blue Lady, she had so many babies at her feet, I am hoping that my hellebores prove as fertile.

  6. 11

    Barry said,

    Hi Deborah,
    I worked as a volunteer at the TBG when it was being planted up in 2005(I think), so I may well have planted those hellebores.
    You’re right about the lack of the small bulbs,and maybe we should suggest planting more to Paul Zammit. I think many of the bulbs are donated by Gardenimport and are used to fill the Piet Ouldorf Garden when it’s looking rather flat in the Spring.

    • 12

      That must have been fun Barry, you did a great job with the hellebores, lol.
      There were bulbs coming on in the PO Garden, but not a lot of early small stuff. You could have a river of eranthis there, or galanthus. It would be beautiful. I think that we will have to work on a campaign to get this done!

  7. 13

    Beautiful post Deborah, I can’t believe how much is going on already! So lovely. The blue helleborus is beautiful. I like the idea of ‘edible summer’ I remember seeing a picture of raised beds with rose bushes, underplanted with lettuce. It was a remarkable pairing! Thanks for the tour, and yes, urns & planters can be lovely, even when empty. ~Rebecca

    • 14

      Thanks Rebecca, the season is 2 to 3 weeks ahead this year, maybe more. I am loving that. What a great idea underplanting the roses, although you would have to be careful, getting it for dinner, lol.

  8. 15

    I loved seeing all the hellebores. Blue Lady is lovely. Thanks for the tour. I am really looking forward to seeing spring at Kilbourne Grove.

  9. 17

    teza said,

    Deborah:
    Indeed, the bulb displays need bulking up! As for the Helleborus, H. foetidus was always one that I wanted to thrive here, but two years running, I’ve lost both so have quietly given up in favor of H. walhelivor ‘Ivory Prince.’ [Barry will likely cringe when he reads this…LOL!] I do like the look of H. nigercors ‘Maximum’ as well – relatively upturned flowers like the Prince.
    I love the urn….. empty, it does make a wonderful statement! Hope you are enjoying Spring….. Mother Nature is due to bring us back to reality by the end of the week.

    • 18

      Teza, bulb displays always need bulking up in my mind, you could never have too many! I had foetidus in Kingston, and had to turn a planter over top of it to protect the flower bud for the winter. I do look Ivory Prince, (sorry Barry), actually I like them all!

  10. 19

    ‘Primavera’ looks fluffier than most. I have a big honker of a nose, but it can never pick up the scent of the hazels (wrong varieties maybe?). Is the eranthis a new name for aconitum? and why do they keep doing that? They look very like buttercups, which are way less temperamental (one might say thuggish).

    • 20

      ricki, I finally got a whiff of my witch hazel this weekend, it was so warm and the heat does bring out the scent, unfortunately, it also caused the flowers to finish, boo! I think once it grows a bit, I will cut some to force in the house, then I can really enjoy the scent.
      Eranthis is the latin name for winter aconite (the common name), although aconite sounds like a Latin name. They do looks a lot like buttercups, and the yellow shows up well from a distance, especially at this time of year, when everything is so brown.

  11. 21

    Gloria Bonde said,

    I really like the 3 tier tree with the lettuce. Thanks for the tour – I put down the corn gluten WOW – now I am just waiting for the weeds not to sprout.

  12. 23

    Hi Deborah, You are right, the bulbs would have looked better in drifts. I like the Helleborus, love the color.

    • 24

      Helen, I love drifts of bulbs, I would rather see a larger number and a smaller variety if budget is a problem. Bulbs, especially the small bulbs, need the numbers to be impactful. (of course, that is what I say, not what I do, as I am always impulse buying at the nursery, after ordering 150 scilla and 100 chionodoxa, I have to pick up a package of 20 crocus,bad girl!)

  13. 25

    Grace said,

    Hi Deborah~~ The urn is a show stopper and I like the coniferous topiary in the other one. I agree. More snowdrops in the heather grove. Why not? They’re a perfect symbiosis, having the same soil requirements and the heather would help conceal the aging Galanthus foliage.

    It looks like you had a great time.

  14. 27

    Melissa said,

    Deborah, always interesting to see what others in your profession are doing. I must confess I kept thinking about your Valentine’s Day bouquets and thinking how much more beautiful they were than what was on at the show!

    Loved the ‘Shady Lady’ hellebores. Like you, I have a hard time growing H. foetidus in this area but love it where it is successful.

    My snowdrops have gone over now. But there is still a lot of foliage and whenever I see the clumps I think of you!

    • 28

      Melissa, it is, and sometimes you get really inspired. But, thank you for admiring my work more, I knew there was a reason I liked you, lol.
      The hellebores are so lovely, I was told if you put a growers pot over the plant for the winter, it will protect the bloom, but not very attractive.


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