Monday, July 30, 2012

The Edible Gardens Learning Tour

Mary Sadeghi under her pear trees.

This past weekend, my husband and I went on a garden tour with a bit of a twist. The first distinction was the timing; unlike most garden tours, which take place in June, this one was at the end of July. 

The second and more perhaps more significant twist was the fact that this was an "Edible Gardens and Learning Tour".

Above: Shirley Jeffers and roses growing on her backyard fence. Shirley's vegetable patch.

Organized by the Richmond Hill Horticultural Society, there were 8 gardens on the tour each featuring a wide range of edible foods and methods for growing them. 

I must say, that you would be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic bunch of gardeners! Everyone was out front and center in their gardens greeting visitors, volunteering information on the food they grow and the environmentally friendly practices they follow.

In sharp contrast to the high-end garden tour that I took about month ago, these gardens were nothing fancy. In fact, I distinctly remember stepping around a clothesline on my way into one of the backyards. There was no self-concious landscape design here! These were just plain, honest-to-goodness gardens.

Joe Celebre's blackberries

This is not to say that there were not moments of pure beauty.

Even everyday, ordinary of things caught my eye as having a beauty all of there own.

 The tomatoes in Joe Celebre's greenhouse.

There were even curiosities, like this intriguing method for getting water
right to a plant's root system.

The arbor leading into Mary's Sadeghi's garden.

The pathway through Mary's garden.

Mixing fruits, vegetables and flowers is not a new concept, but seeing the idea embraced so fully was an inspiration for me. 

I honestly don't know why it hasn't accrued to me to mix things up a bit more.

Tomatoes, grapes growing steps away from roses, I mean, why not?

Linda Lynott's garden.

At least one gardener had gone so far as to plant her edibles right into the flowerbeds. And again, why not? 

Vegetables often benefit from the society of flowers. 

The tomatoes in the Platt's garden.

Even most novice gardeners know that marigolds are a tomato plant's best friend.

Mary Sadeghi 's seating area under the pear trees.

Mary's garden

A few other things on the tour impressed me as well, one of them being how much these gardeners had packed into relatively small spaces. 

Instead of having just a seating area, Mary Hassan made the space multifunctional by incorporating pear trees as shade cover (see above). 

Plantings were layered, fruit growing up and flowers growing out underneath them.

Joe Celebre's figs

Another thing that surprised me was the wide range of edibles.  Figs are not hardy here in Canada, but Joe Celebre had a number of fig trees in his garden. Every winter he digs a long trench in his greenhouse and buries them underground well out of the reach of killing frosts.

The kiwi vine growing in the Platt's backyard garden.

Barb and Bob Platt were growing kiwi. In Canada! Apparently, this new variety of kiwi vine which they acquired from a grower in the Niagara Region, is hardy here in Southern Ontario(zone 5-6). The kiwi is smaller than the standard fruit and lacks the beige, furry exterior, but has the same strawberry-like taste as ordinary kiwi. You just pop them into your mouth and eat them like a berry.

Hope you had a nice weekend too! I'll put a few more highlights up in a second post.


  1. Wonderful! These are the sort of gardens I really enjoy. I like the formal ones very much, but they just haven't the same interest value for me. I really do like it when edible plants are mixed in with the flowers.

  2. Jennifer, thank you for sharing this tout to the gardens! How Joe ought to love fig trees for to lay them in the trenches every autumn.

  3. I so enjoyed this post because as you compared it to the last garden tour you took (which was beautiful) this garden tour had a sense of depth and soul! Unlike the last tour it just felt more hands on and real!!! Rock on! Love this post!

  4. What a terrific idea for a tour - and frankly it's nice that someone realized that they don't have to all be jammed together in June just because the roses are blooming. What fun to be able to talk to the gardeners to get good tips - and doesn't that kale look stunning in the middle of the flower bed.

  5. These are my kind of gardens beautiful and edible too what more could a girl wish for - and I am so envious of those pears - my tree has never produced a single one.

  6. Edible gardens are my very favourite ones to visit. Thanks for the tour and the lovely photos.

  7. How wonderful...I love this type of garden, so charming and full of great things to look at and to use. Thank you for showing this to us.

  8. Now these are what I call REAL gardens. Not contrived or design conscious but rather an abundant expression of their owners enthusiasm. I feel right at home.

  9. What a great idea - an Edible Garden tour.
    could have picked those blackberries right off my computer screen and eaten them, they looked so yummy!! And that old door…..sigh……

  10. Mary ,mary.......WOW how does you garden grow!!!!luscious

  11. Well wasn't the Garden of Eden filled with it all? Beautiful.

  12. Why not indeed? Love the interplantings veggies and ornamentals. I keep thinking about planting some fig trees. I know I need to find a good sunny spot....though figs are hardy here, so I wouldn't have to do any winter prep like this one!

  13. What a great idea! I hope more and more garden tours will incorporate edible gardens in them - that is something I think a lot of people would be interested in. These are gorgeous gardens, too. I love the way they have incorporated ornamental flowers in with the vegetables.

  14. Fantastic, these are the sort of gardens I can relate to. So many ideas that can be borrowed. The pear trees as shade are wonderful, lovely to see the edibles alongside the ornamentals.

  15. These are really gardens of Eden. I love this way of gardening and I saw a new idea cabages in combination with Phloxes. You had a fine gardentour and thank you for the many beautiful pictures.
    Have a nice week.

  16. I love the idea of a garden tour in the midst of the summer heat. One can really get ideas that work by seeing gardens during the stress of summer. Edible gardens are fab and I love how these gardeners incorporated edibles into their landscapes.

  17. What a nice post! Love your header, too.

  18. I love the mixxing of edibles with flowers and this was certainly a tour that showed how to do it. The pear trees are wonderful.


  19. Now there's a garden tour I can get down with. Every veggie gardener seems to have a million tricks up their sleeve to get their produce just so, I'm sure you could pick up a lot of ideas on a tour like that. And darn pretty too!

  20. What a fabulous edible garden! :)
    Thanks for the tour.

    1. Beautiful tour...
      Exactly what I have in mind for my garden.

      Those tree fruit suggest to me that these are well established gardens.

      I looked for some indication in your post of how long these people have been working these parcels... couldn't find any dates...

      Keep up the good work!

  21. Mary's garden was really beautiful. I loved her path and billowing beds. The edibles are a nice touch in any garden.

  22. Mary's garden looks wonderful. Love the seating next to the pear trees!

  23. Beautiful photographs, fantastic garden. I am greeting

  24. Lovely gardens and very inspirational. I love potagers. Beautiful examples in your post.

  25. What a great tour with so many wonderful ideas! I love the seating area under the pear trees. And of course I have planted marigolds around the perimeter of my veggie garden, but next year I am going to do like the Platts and put them right next to the tomatoes!

  26. You are great about going on tours Jennifer! I am lucky to get one tour in a year but I'd love to do more. I should try harder, right? The seating area under the pear trees is very inviting. I mixed an artichoke & tomatoes in my flower beds this year but not sure I'm lovin' it ~ the tomatoes are taking over the whole bed! Maybe I just need to plan their placement better? Great tour. These kind of gardens are just as inspiring to me as the professionally designed ones.

  27. What incredible gardens!! I never see advertisements for tours like this in my area. I only see them in spring. Real gardens like these are so inspirational, especially because they weren't created by professionals. The gardener who buries his figs every fall is amazing! What a ton of work!

  28. Sounds like such an extraordinary day. I'm so sorry I missed it...but will definitely save the date for the next one! The blog was fantastic with gorgeous photos...a gem in itself.

    Thank you for letting me take the tour vicariously.

  29. That just sounds like a great day! And your images are beautiful, as always. I'm missing blogging and reading blogs, but I have not had time for it this summer. I'll be back in the winter, when the garden is buried in snow!


  30. what a wonderful tour that was Jennifer. Much better than the big landscaped gardens for getting ideas and inspiration. I love the photos, including the door with the peeling paint and the wires hanging up. So much beauty. thanks for great post.

  31. Two of my favorite things....eating and gardening. Now I can eat while I garden!

  32. Wonderful and inspirational pictures and gardening ideas! Thanks for taking us along with you on your tour.

  33. Thanks for taking me on the tour...You do show us bloggers some lovely gardens.

  34. Most enjoyable, Mary's garden did stand out though.


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