On our first full day in Toronto we headed out full steam ahead. The second set of gardens we toured were on two of the Toronto Islands. We boarded the ferry a few blocks from our Hotel and took the 15 minute ride across to the Islands. We were greeted by Anne Kotyk and Doryne Peace; both have lived on the islands for a long time, both share a passion for gardening and are trained Master Gardeners. Here on Ward Island we took our official Fling photo.Shortly after the photo op, were were handed maps marked with gardens that were open for us to tour. Later in the day there was an open garden tour for the public. Everyone we meet on the Islands was very friendly and peaceful. I think it is because life here is simpler and everyone walks or bikes to get around. No cars are allowed except those operated by the parks department. There is a interesting history behind the island and the residences there. They own their homes but lease the land; click to find out more about the arrangement. I did find out they can hand their homes down to their children. The homes are small cottages with lovely green spaces and gardens surrounding them. The word charming fits them to a T.
Photo Credit Cmglee – Own work – found on Wikipedia
Panorama of Toronto Islands viewed from the CN Tower.
“The islands were originally a 9 km peninsula or sand spit extending from the mainland. The islands are composed of alluvial deposits from the erosion of the Scarborough Bluffs. The flow from the Niagara River to the south across Lake Ontario causes a counter-clockwise east-to-west current which has, over time, deposited sediments at the south end of the harbor to form a sand spit. In 1852, a storm flooded sand pits on the peninsula, creating a channel east of Ward’s. The channel was widened and made permanent by a violent storm in 1858. The channel became known as the Eastern Gap. The peninsula to the west became known as the Toronto Islands. To the east of the Gap, the area of today’s Cherry Beach was known as “Fisherman’s Island”.” – Wikipedia
I was captivated by all the fun people here had with their gardens. Since originally the island was more of a sand bar and it has taken years to create these gardens and their soil profile.Everything that comes on or off the island is via the ferry. I can only imagine how this works in winter. Some residents do winter here. And there a times now and again when the lake Ontario freezes over and they can only get off the islands via airplane. I am not familiar with the names of many of the plants because it is too hot and humid to grow them here in Houston. Of course we all recognize the beautiful purple flowers of Alliums. The beautiful purple was echoed in the variegated lilac tree. I overheard they grow as shrubs or small trees depending on how they are trimmed. I had never smelled the flowers of a lilac before, it was lovely!We came across fun planting combinations. This home had a pristine garden and I am wondering if the delightful owner with her bright orange earnings is an artist! Here we bloggers have descended on her bright yellow cottage like bees to a flower. Shawn is there taking one of his close ups. Here is the photo he took. They are tiny delicate Lily of the Valley our birth month flower!Once inside the fence you find the front garden is taken up with a beautiful Japanese style pond. I couldn’t believe that the tulips were just blooming in June. And one more of the pond, I am considering putting a pond in our front garden, not this big but something to catch reflections and attract wildlife. To one side you find this charming little table and stool set made from and old tree trunk.And this has to be one of the cutest garden sheds I have ever seen. The bikes are ready and waiting!Further on we came to another cottage. I don’t think we had crossed the bridge to Algonquin yet. There was so much to take in and everything about these islands, the people, the homes, the gardens, the peacefulness was so captivating. I still can’t stop imagining live there!Cottage gardens really lend themselves to whimsical garden art. The little glass hovering dragonflies were just perfect over the hostas. I believe these are Variegated Siberian Bugloss, False Forget-Me-Not, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ aren’t they so sweet?We saw so many striking Japanese maples like the one below. The rhododendron were in full bloom reminding you how far north we are. I was actually trying to capture the light through the tulips and was oblivious to the construction in the background. There are building restrictions just like here in the Heights and if you keep the same foot print and some plumbing etc. you don’t have to adhere to current building codes. Looking back down the street we get another view of downtown Toronto. Tucked in here and there you find objects that have been turned into garden sculptures like this faded pink tricycle. Objects become iconic and remind us of times gone by!My favorite were these old rusted chairs. It seems they have been in other gardens around the island and were once owned by one of the resident’s mother. Here they are helping hold up the plants. If I ever find old chairs like this I am borrowing this idea!Here I can’t decide, is this art or just a quiet place to sit and watch the world go by.It started to rain as we were walking around the second island. It made everything so fresh!Some gardens were more wild than others. I like this little dry steam bed full of sedum and Hen and Chicks, Sempervivum then surrounded on the edge by low growing junipers. This garden with its wandering path made me feel at peace and I could have stayed much longer than we had time. The owner was a very gentle woman and had lived here a long time. I like the shelter with the statue of a Happy Buddha under a globe made of twigs. The different shades of red, blueish green and chartreuse were vibrant even on this dark cloudy afternoon. We noticed many items repurposed around the islands. I imagine that is in part because hauling it off would be difficult. I also got the feeling these people are quite resourceful with the limits imposed on them by island life. This garden could be called serenity!I am coming to the end of my photographs and there was so much more I could have taken pictures of but we also enjoyed walking and talking with fellow bloggers on our first day out and sharing this idyllic village. There were pops of color that I captured, like these azaleas. And this vignette. I will end with one of my favorite plants…that of course we don’t grow here in Houston. Solomon’s Seal (polygonatum biflorum) which is also know for its medicinal qualities and diverse healing properties. For more history on these island check out the Wikipedia link here. And to see the island from another point of view read Helen Yoest’s post titled Ward Island and the Post Apocalypse. I know you will enjoy it!