A gardener’s garden

Friends in the garden

There’s nothing better than spending the lazy days of summer in the garden catching up with friends. One of my favourite days this past summer was doing just that – spending a sunny afternoon visiting my good friend and former colleague Aldona Satterthwaite in the sweet little back garden of her 30s-era home in downtown Toronto.

Aldona's front porch

Aldona’s front porch is a quiet, shadey spot to spend a lazy day with a cool drink and a good book. Photo by Aldona Satterthwaite.

I met Aldona several years ago when I had the pleasure of writing for her when she was the editor of Canadian Gardening. Today Aldona, a master gardener, is the executive director of Toronto Botanical Garden, a public 400-acre suburban garden that’s one of Toronto’s major attractions. For fans of the magazine you’ll remember Aldona’s great gardening articles and likely still follow her and the exciting work she’s doing at Toronto Botanical Garden.

Aldona Satterthwaite

Aldona serves up a scrumptious light lunch on the deck overlooking the garden. Photo by Karen Kirk

Things I love about Aldona’s garden

After catching up over a fabulous lunch of organic salmon, cold mint-pea soup and a refreshing glass…or two…of Prosecco, I took some snapshots of my favourite spots in the garden and am thrilled that Aldona is happy to have me share them with you here.

A stone pathway meanders to the back garden where blousy roses climb an arbour and create a gorgeous focal point. Photo by Aldona Satterthwaite

I love how Aldona created a charming, English cottage-style garden on her tiny plot in the backyard. Its wild, natural beauty suits the old-fashioned house so well. And I just adore the original weather-worn garage!

The weathered garage has loads of character and is the perfect backdrop for old-fashioned flowering vines. Love the charming window box!                                              Photo by Aldona Satterthwaite

 Aldona’s wise vine advice

Although they’re lovely, Aldona advises that you proceed with caution when choosing vines for your garden. Some can quickly become invasive nuisances. These “pretty but watch out” vines include trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), chocolate vine or five-leaf akebia (Akebia quintata), porcelain vine (Ampelosis brevipunculata) and bittersweet (Celastrus scandens). Aldona inherited the orange trumpet vine (above) when she bought the house and thinks it’s holding up the garage!

The clematis “Hagley Hybrid” and yellow honeysuckle growing through it, “Halliana” or Hall’s honeysuckle, climb the lattice along the fence. Photo by Aldona Satterthwaite

Hall’s Honeysuckle (above) is intensely fragrant but one of those “pretty but watch out” vines. Aldona had to whack it back to keep it from clambering through and smothering her flowering almond tree and invading the neighbour’s garage roof!

Aldona's Garden-lattice

A lattice panel for clematis and honeysuckle vines extends above the fence to create height, colour and privacy. Photo by Karen Kirk

Easy to grow, clematis (below) are available in many colours and sizes. They love to reach for the sun climbing up and over arbours, obelisks and latticed walls.

“Part Deux” clematis, one of Aldona many clematis growing in pots and beds around the garden.             Photo by Aldona Satterthwaite

Clever raised beds

Aldona’s raised beds are made of galvanized steel from Conquest Steel. Planted with everything from herbs to veggies and vines these easy-to-maintain container gardens are dotted around Aldona’s garden and driveway.

Raised beds with herbs, vines and marigolds.            Photo by Karen Kirk

I had an amazing day with Aldona and didn’t want to leave her peaceful garden, alive with twittering birds, fluttering butterflies and Aldona’s always fun and fascinating stories. Thanks Aldona!!

Don’t forget to support your local botanical garden. For a cross-Canada list of botanical gardens click here.

For more information about Toronto Botanical Garden and to get their latest Program Guide click here.