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Time for a mid-summer break

Posted on August 2, 2016 by Mark Cullen

It is now officially mid-summer and time to treat yourself to a break. Who says? This guy. The guy who knows how you have nurtured the lawn, planted your garden, kept the weeds under control, mulched, pruned and watered all season. I know these things because I am in your group: we are all in this together.
I am taking a break, so why not you?
Do you need to travel abroad to “take a break”? Not on your life. Though, there is nothing wrong with air travel in the summer, when our landscapes are looking their very best and our public gardens are to die for. Stand in line at security and customs, sit on a plane to goodness knows where? Why not.
Me? I am touring around my home province checking out our investment in some of the finest public gardens anywhere and I am starting at the newly rejuvenated David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington/Hamilton.
This Rock Garden Rocks!
This amazing metamorphosis is truly a tadpole that grew into a gorgeous, shiny new frog. You have to see it to believe it. You will want to get married there. If you are already married, you will want to attend someone else’s wedding there. There are extensive new perennial plantings, many in full bloom and looking their best this weekend.
You will walk among a renewed collection of uncommon perennials, shrubs and trees, many preserved from the gardens’ 80-year history. And speaking of history, you will learn to appreciate the role of horticulture in Ontario history as you pass through this grand, new entrance to the Royal Botanical Gardens. As they say on the RBG website, “The new Rock Garden serves as a horticultural treasure and portrays the ecological importance and economic value that the RBG brings to its community (and all people who visit).”
The new RBG Rock Garden includes an outstanding new restaurant, washrooms and a visitors’ centre. For reservations or more information, go to http://www.rbg.ca. After your visit, I would be delighted to hear how you felt about your experience: does this new garden rock? Do you think that it was a good investment of $20 million? (I do) Let me know at http://www.markcullen.com — contact us.
I am on my way back to see it again just as soon as I can.
Toronto Music Garden
For over 10 years now, the Music Garden has been my favourite public garden in the entire city of Toronto. Why? On a mere two acres, the amazing design of this garden reflects the integration of classical music and horticulture. Designed in co-operation with Yo-Yo Ma, this garden is unique, indeed. And all the while, it sits on the edge of the marina at the west end of Queens Quay, overlooking the calm harbour water with a wonderful view of Toronto Island, framed by plant material that is lush, green, colourful and moving with the breeze. As a music garden should, don’t you think?
Take your time at this garden. It is easy to do as there are many benches, each strategically located to provide the best view possible. Watch pollinators work over the myriad of flowering plants, watch the people, take a thermos of coffee and a newspaper. Bring your camera. Stop. Be still. And hear the music of this extraordinary garden. http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/venues/torontomusicgarden/
Toronto Botanical Gardens
You can slow down and explore the TBG if you like, but it is more likely that you will want to check out the many activities at this bee-hive educational facility/garden.
For details, go to http://torontobotanicalgarden.ca/. Free admission. Events run the gambit from an Organic Farmers Market every Thursday to extensive programs for children, including summer day programs, Garden Sleepover, Halloween Howl (October), Harvest Day (September) and more.
The three-acre garden deserves a slice of your time, to be sure, but keep in mind that the Gardens move seamlessly into Wycott Creek park, a long, meandering paved walking/bike path that continues south all the way to Lake Ontario. I have biked it many times and I can get to the lake in about 45 minutes with a leisurely pace (vs. the serious cyclists in all of the bike gear who race down the path). When you take this path you will feel as if you are in cottage country for much of your journey. On a nice, sunny day you will witness many groups enjoying picnics and having day-long bbq’s. The smells are amazing. Bring something to eat because your appetite will be hyper-stimulated. http://torontobotanicalgarden.ca/
Of course, if you are inclined to just stay home and enjoy the multi-sensory experience of your own garden, that is OK, too. You worked for it. You earned it. Hammock-time is an important ingredient in the overall gardening experience as is weeding, maybe more so.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author and broadcaster. Get his free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com. Look for his new best seller, “The New Canadian Garden,” published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and Facebook.

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