"It's hopeless," I thought to myself as I fished a dollar store umbrella out of my purse, "There is no way I am ever going to blend in to my posh surroundings."
A light rain had begun to fall as I stood in line for the shuttle bus to take me from the subway station to garden tour headquarters at Rosedale Junior Public School. This was not just any old garden tour I was about to embark on. The forty dollar admission price made that clear enough. No, my red discount store umbrella and I were about to get a peak into the private gardens of multi-million dollar homes in a very prestigious area in the heart of downtown Toronto.
At tour headquarters I was given a paper wrist band, rather like the ones that are issued to hospital patients, and a little paper gift bag containing a few hand cream samples, a tour guide and a free magazine issue. I should have been grateful for the giveaways, but instead I grumbled inwardly about having to carry my gifts around with me all day when I was already burdened with a purse, umbrella and camera.
I started to wonder, "If I won the lottery or came into money (sadly both are about as likely as being struck by lightening), how would that effect the way I garden? Would I still want to go out there and muck about in the dirt or would I have people to do that for me?"
At first I scoffed at the idea that money could influence something I felt so passionate about, but then, I wondered if it would really be so bad to hire someone to take care of that horrible patch of goutweed that I have been avoiding all spring. I think that I could easily give that hard work up to someone else.
Perhaps it was the ice cream vendor's cart, but it struck me that there was something downright theatrical about the whole event as I stepped to the end of the fifty person queue at the second garden on my tour. It was like we were standing in line to see a show, or worse yet, preparing to see the habitats of some exotic animal in a natural history museum. Certainly some tour patrons took liberties. I saw a few people gawking rudely into open windows; their noses pressed to the glass.
At the front of the line, we received the first of strict instructions, "Do not step on the grass." Even without this edict one intuitively sensed there was something precious and very expensive involved. The lawn was so finely manicured it would put the average golf course to shame. One could almost imagine trip wires and alarms that would sound if an errant foot happened to stray from the path.
The garden that I am about to show you was probably the most grand of the ones I managed to visit that day. Two long rectangular ponds stretched out on either side of the front entrance like a pair of wings. My photograph does not do justice to the effect of the massed blue-grey stones at the bottom of the shallow pools. There was just enough water movement on the glassy surface to prevent the ponds from becoming mosquito breeding ponds. It was so elegant and restrained that it was quite breathtaking.
My first thought was that anyone could replicate this, but then it dawned on me what makes this water feature high-end. It is not the pool, but rather the upkeep. You'll note that there is not even the tiniest bit of debris at the bottom. I bet those stones must be lifted and the pools thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. This upkeep must cost the homeowner a pretty penny.
If you pass the blue-grey ponds and turn to the left a pathway leads you to a small courtyard and then down a long garden allee.
This is the garden equivalent of the little black dress: classic and stylish.
I wonder if there might be drifts of daffodils here in the spring?
If we head back to the front of the house and then to our right, we pass through a wrought iron gate and find ourselves in a small courtyard.
A pathway leads you to the large courtyard you see in the next image.
Stretching out from the back of the house is a large swimming pool.
Each of the two pool houses had more square feet than an entire floor of my house.
It is interesting that this area is half grass and half pea gravel.
On either side of the courtyard there were lovely beds of roses.
So what about you? If you won the lottery or came into money, how would that effect the way you garden?
P.S. As a counterpoint to all this opulence, I have put a humble wildflower in my header today.