Recently, I was the guest caretaker of a lovely garden in Stratford, Ontario.
Stratford is a gardening-mad little city in the middle of southwestern Ontario. Harry Jongerden, who now leads the Toronto Botanical Gardens, once told me that the main reason gardens flourish here is the level of precipitation: Stratford gets snow cover in the winter and higher-than-average rain in the summer because it’s actually the highest land point in this part of the province, which causes rain or snow clouds blowing west to east, off Lake Huron, to release their liquid or frozen moisture at that point.
The public gardens are spectacular but individual gardeners also pull out all the stops. Together, they have earned the city numerous Communities in Bloom championships.
My own, tiny urban garden in Toronto tends toward the practical: herbs, a few vegetables, flowers you can eat, such as day lilies and nasturtiums. This garden is one planted for beauty, not practicality, although there are milkweed plants for the Monarch butterflies and much, including the anemone, that makes the bees happy.
What a treat to have such an abundance of flowers that you can make up bouquets easily from the garden cuttings.
The same flowers change colours, depending on the light and from where you see them, such as these monstrously tall Golden Glow Rudbeckia.
And when you think of purple flowers, what shade? This clematis, hibiscus, and aster are all abloom in late August.
The wet summer of 2017 has also been glorious for hydrangea; the big-snowball-style ones were just starting to move beyond their prime for closeups but the cone-shaped ones were coming into their full flower.
And to round out the yellows, purples and white, some touches of pink, and the promise, in the next days, of striking red canna lilies to come.
All photos: Kelley Teahen