Check out this wild front garden I came upon yesterday afternoon. On just a glance I can identify a couple of poppy varieties, calendula, bachelors buttons (aka cornflower), cosmos, and a host of attractive weeds.
I just can’t see myself dedicating the space to a wild garden of flowers, preferring to fill up that sunny front yard with vegetables, yet I very much appreciate the idea of it. I passed a lot of gorgeous gardens on this street, but this is the only one that stopped me in my tracks and begged for pictures. The irony being that this is probably the most hands off garden on the block, requiring a bit of deadheading now and again if you want to keep the blooms going throughout the summer but very little else. Any one of these plants individually might require some staking to keep those long, thin stems growing upward but as a dense mass the whole thing was held together around the edges by some sticks and string, the plants doing the work of holding each other up.
Flowers like this grow very easily, attracting lots of pollinators and continually producing blooms perfect for vases. I have developed a recent affinity for simple vases full of bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus). And with so many of each type of flower you’re not left hovering over the garden waiting to pounce on that single bud before a greedy passerby gets it.
Yeah, in hindsight a garden like this may have been a less traumatic choice for the street garden.
I came upon this shopping cart planter the other day while riding my bike along College Street here in Toronto. The planter sits outside a restaurant located at the corner of College and Clinton, perched up high atop a metal outdoor patio fence.
There is a tiny anal-retentive person living inside my brain that REALLY, REALLY longs to remove that dead strawberry leaf. Fighting. Urge.
What I love about it is that it is such an affront to the typical planter box. I’m a firm believer that anything that can hold soil can function as a container. And if it can’t hold soil, with a little innovation it can most likely be made to. In this case the designer simply used the basket of the cart like a wire hanging basket, lining it with burlap to allow drainage but also keep soil in. The planter is deep enough to house some pretty deep roots so really the only challenge comes in keeping the soil consistently moist. We’ve had a very forgiving wet and cool season so far which is why those violas are holding up so well into the month of July. In addition to the violas they’ve included some other edibles including strawberries, mint, Vietnamese coriander aka ‘Rau Ram’, nasturtium, rosemary and thyme.
The planter is great, but I’m most in love with their sign… I just can’t figure out the logistics involved in urinating in a planter box that high up. Given what I have experienced with my own public garden I can believe that anything is possible and that some people will go to acrobatic feats to make the impossible possible. But still… how do they do it? And what’s more bewildering, why?
So here’s what I did. First, I shelled out $3.99 for a viola. We’re not talking your typical 4-pack of cells for a buck here. No, we’re talking one plant. One plant that cost $3.99. One plant whose tag bragged its rareness and specialness and three dollars and ninety nine cents worthiness. There was also something about how the variety was popular 150 years ago. There was other information too but I didn’t get that far. I was sold at “popular over 150 years ago.” Because if it was popular 150 years ago then by gum that is a plant I have got to grow! I could care less about the botanical trends of the day, but the plants trends of yesteryear, I’m all over it. Next I’ll be up on the popular plants grown 200 years ago! 250! When I eventually learn the Latin names of plants listed in the 16th-century Aztec Codex there will be no stopping me!
In truth, I was also sold at “pretty flower” and “Psst. Hey you sucker. Here’s an over-priced flower you’re sure to want. Buy me!”
Not surprisingly the rare and popular one hundred and fifty year old, costing three dollars and ninety nine cents viola was found next to the wildly expensive $18.99 echeveria. This particular region of the garden centre forever to be known as the place to be avoided and the place where they put the fancy expensive shit that suckers like me are sure to buy.
So… skip ahead to the waiting in line and the exchange of money. All that time I had in which to reconsider the purchase but I went ahead anyways. Next, I placed the Most Expensive Viola There Ever Was into my bike basket along with several other plants. And somewhere between a long and precarious downhill bike ride balancing an overflowing bag on my left shoulder and a basket full of plants with my right arm, the tag came loose and sailed away never to be seen again. I have spent the last hour fruitlessly Googling search terms such as “rare pansy”, “150 year old viola variety”, “wildly expensive violas purchased by total suckers” and other search terms with no luck of unearthing the name of this plant. I’d let it go if this were your average dollar viola. However, since I paid three dollars above market value for this sucker I have got to know its name! For that kind of dough I want to be able to cuddle, hold hands, and watch movies with this thing. Without the formality there will be no opportunity to get better acquainted. How will we bond when there are only nicknames and pseudonyms between us?
In looking around the flowers look a lot like the ‘Terra Cotta’ viola but I’m just not sure. Any guesses? I will happily send a couple of big buttons to the reader who can identify this variety and end my suffering.
Update: I went back to the store this afternoon and they were all gone and the main person wasn’t there so I wasn’t even able to find out the name of the grower. To be continued….