I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but my interest in oddities from the Euphorbiaceae family seems to be growing. To be fair, it is an attractive family of plants with incredible diversity. Euphorbias can be succulents, trees, bushes, or herbaceous plants. From your seasonal poinsettias to colourful and spiny crown of thorns, and a few thousand utterly wacked out, alien-like plants in between, it’s a family that constantly takes me by surprise.
I like all sorts of gardens, no matter where they are made. Here are a few gardens, including a few edible plants, tucked into crumbling concrete crevices in a local alleyway (around Niagara St and Tecumseth in Toronto).
Photos taken by Davin Risk.
I am terribly behind. We took a short leisure trip to Montreal about a month ago, I took pictures with the full intention of posting about it, but then I didn’t. But now I am. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it and then I’m gonna hit publish rather than starting it and then letting it sit in the drafts folder.
This is just a short examination of little plantish things I discovered while wandering around town. They’re all taken with my convenient pocket-sized “documenting camera”, which are just nice words for “piece of crap” so please bear with the poor quality. I took other pictures too, but will post those separately. Or something will come up and I’ll never get around to it and it will be like we never had this conversation.
Here we go:
They have nicer planter boxes than we do here in Toronto. I found this one walking west along Rue Sherbrooke.
Here it is from another angle highlighting that GIGANTIC taro. That taro eats babies.
Here’s a close-up.
As we continued walking west, we came upon Montreal’s version of the flora clock in front of the Westmount City Hall. Say what you will about the cheese but that is some hardcore landscaping.
And close-up. Obsessive compulsive weeding or herbicides? Ummmm…
And continuing on our epic journey westward, this sign, which in all honesty isn’t that exciting except that it is in French.
First sighting of my new favourite botanically inclined graffiti, Green Thumb. Until this moment, my running favourite was the PESTO tags that showed up around my neighbourhood years back.
Just when I thought I might die of heat and thirst (we arrived at the start of a heat wave) we entered the village of Westmount where I discovered a delicious ice creamery/gelato bar called Bilboquet that served a dizzying array of flavours. I had cassis. Davin had rum raisin.
We finally arrived at our destination and guess who was waiting for us…
The next day we went to the Atwater Market. Tons of begonias… meh. But look at that artichoke/cardoon (not sure) and kale! It’s been a killer year for kale, non?
It’s not really planty, but if you saw how much canning I am doing this year… In fact, a batch of pears are processing in the canner as I write this. My apartment is growing close to resembling this market stall, minus the nice shelf display and charm.
This place made me very happy.
It’s at the corner of Parc and Bernard if you’d like to go see it in person. Stop by the Drawn & Quarterly store while you’re there. Caffe in Gamba makes really good coffee if you are as picky about espresso-based coffee beverages as I am. Which is to say, A-1 snob. They have pretty good taste in music too.
I like this planter more than the planting itself, but really, it’s a street planter, what can you expect. The fact that it is so well kept and respected is a marvel in itself.
We managed to make it to the Jean Talon Market just a few hours before departure time.
Everyone said it and I do agree that it is the superior market. Atwater is more expensive and sanitized, while the Jean Talon is the sort of place I would enjoy doing my shopping. In fact, I DID enjoy shopping there. You’d be surprised what I will bring home when I don’t have to worry about customs regulations and airport security. I think Davin might have been most resentful about lugging home that big bag of crab apples. In all fairness it was worth it since they were/are the nicest crab apples I have seen all summer. Absolutely perfect with hardly any pitting or bruising.
I love this sign. For eating and for planting.
I grow my own yet (a month later) I still regret not bringing some of these home. I wish farmers at my local market would sell zucchini with the flowers still on. They’re just so pleasing to the eye like this. And the flowers are absolutely delicious in their own right. Don’t forget to eat your flowers! They’re the best reason for growing your own zucchini.
Last, but not least, a very resilient (and dangerous) corn stalk I found growing in an alley.
I came across this rogue cornstalk about a month ago while biking down a Montreal alley. It was growing right in front of the gate, which means no one is coming out alive! Well, at least through this exit anyway.
I think this method is called, “Using Whatever’s Available.” It seems to work. I think it’s kind of interesting and matches the hodge-podge style of the space although I don’t think it would score points for curbside appeal with The Better Homes and Gardens crowd. It’s the kind of look I will miss dearly once the whole neighborhood becomes gentrified and scrubbed clean.
On a practical level I suspect that having the plants pushed so closely together like that will cause air circulation problems and possible disease at some point down the line. We’ve had a lot of rain this season causing tomato plants to grow very lush and bushy. Every local gardener I know has started pulling out leaves and branches to improve air flow.
Oddly enough this is not the first time I have seen this plastic orange mesh employed as a tomato staking method.
Here’s the full garden in case you’re interested. They have more edibles growing in the side yard.