Last weekend I visited my friend Barry Parker, the man with the best backyard garden in Toronto. Barry recently returned from a botanical tour of South Africa (he is starting to post pictures on his blog) and we were treated to a slideshow of photos he took on the trip. So of course, I have added the Quiver Tree Forest to an ever-growing list of places I would like to visit someday.
Back to Barry’s garden. Unfortunately, I was lazy and did not bring a proper camera. As a result all of these photos were taken with my phone. Still, they may not be the best photos I have taken, but there are some wonderful things happening at Barry’s that I know you would like to see.
My friend Uli Havermann has the most inspiring garden. [Note: you might remember Uli from the community greenhouse and this incredible succulent pot.] She manages to bring a passion for foliage and a love for vintage metal and terra cotta together in a way that is visually mind-blowing.
I first met Uli when I visited the garden that she shares with her partner Paul Zammit on a Toronto Open Gardens day way back in 2010. I did not do any research on the gardens that I would be visiting on that day, and had no idea what to expect. But the moment we drove up to Uli and Paul’s, I knew I was in for something special.
My friend and fellow plant/collecting enthusiast Uli Havermann (you may remember her from this incredible succulent pot, this stunning blue sea holly, and these beautiful urns) is a member of a large community greenhouse here in Toronto. Last week she treated me to a glimpse inside. Like community gardens and allotments, community greenhouses are not all created equal. Each function in their own way to achieve varying goals. Years back I was a member of a small community greenhouse that functioned more like a collective in which each member had a particular job or role and worked to help care for each other’s plants.
The greenhouse I visited last week is much, much, much larger and functions more like an allotment garden in which members pay an annual fee for a large, multi-tiered wooden bench (I don’t recall the dimensions) on which to house their plants. Taking care of other members’ plants is not expected, and I would imagine, discouraged.
Regardless of the model, a greenhouse like this is an invaluable resource for city dwellers who don’t have the space in their own homes to overwinter beloved houseplants and start seedlings. I can also see its benefit as a green refuge to enjoy on days like today when the garden is buried in snow and the temperature is too cold for life. Within just an hour-long(ish) visit I was practically wobbling down the aisles drunk on the scent and sight of plant life. I left feeling reinvigorated and positively giddy about the approaching garden season.
As promised, a follow-up post of closeup shots taken at the Mount Goliath alpine garden. While I had to exclude hundreds of shots to keep this post within reason, I still managed to go overboard with over 30 images. As a result, I have embedded a slideshow so that those of you with a slow connection are not left trying to load this page for the next week.
I’ve identified as many plants as possible. If you’d like to know the names, click through to their Flickr page.
[Note: For some reason the images are compressed in the slideshow in a way that makes them look very low res. Until I can resolve the issue, I'd suggest taking a look at the original images as they look okay in that version. Sorry about that!]
As an alpine plant fan this was a big deal for me and I even planned the trip (in part) based on when a good number of the alpines would be blooming at that elevation. They did not disappoint.
Some Brief Stats: When we set out that morning, Denver was already a blazing 95°F or so and the altitude 5,280 feet above sea level. As the car climbed Mt. Evans on the way to Mt. Goliath, the temperature dipped below 60°F and the altitude was somewhere around 12,000 feet! We never did make it to the very top of Mt. Evans (14,240 feet), but we did get high enough to touch snow and it was cool enough to require a change into long sleeved shirts and socks.
This is the view at Summit Lake, a stop that is just below the peak. This panoramic is an amalgam of images that I took with my cellphone. I also brought a film panoramic camera… someday I will process that film and post them here. Some. Day. As I’ve said before, I’ve got a film backlog dating to 2008 (and countless trips) so I have no illusions about when they will see the light of day.