Backyard Oasis: Toronto shade garden offers peace, tranquility amid hard times

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WATCH ABOVE: As our series "Backyard Oasis" continues, Melanie Zettler visits an east-end Toronto shade garden that provides peace and comfort during stressful times. – Jul 7, 2020

Good things come to those to who wait.

This old proverb is especially true with planting and nurturing a shade garden.

When Beaches homeowner Patricia Russell needed help to execute her garden oasis vision, she enlisted certified landscape designer and master gardener Kim Price to lay the groundwork.

The garden partnership between Price and Russell began ten years ago and that timeline illustrates two things: the fact that it takes plants longer to grow in shade and gardens are a constant work in progress – particularly one this large.

Read more: Backyard Oasis: Showcasing beautiful backyards in the GTA

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“This is not a low maintenance garden. One of my crew is here four days a week, five hours a week…her name is Cathy McCartney…she’s a master gardener like myself and the garden wouldn’t be like this without her,” said Price.

One of the reasons for the great shade is the collection of 100-year-old oak trees which grace the property – standing almost as giant protectors.

“You feel the strength, the energy sitting here,” said Russell referencing the trees.

Two artificial ponds with varying rock faces are other main features and their creation pays homage to Russell’s understanding of the history of the area:

“I felt that this garden had originally been an old river bed – an ancient river bed heading down to Lake Ontario so, my goal was to make it natural, encourage bees, animals, birds to come into the garden,” said Russell.

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Between the nine different types of fern, varying hostas and foiliage showstoppers like Rodgersia and Ligularia Desdemona, Price combines tried and true shade favourites with hits of something unusual.

Backyard Oasis. Melanie Zettler/Global News

“We’re dealing with leaf shape and leaf texture and form and colour,” said Price.

The woodland feel offers Russell the tranquility and comfort she said she is even more grateful for these days with social distancing.

“It’s so hard when you can’t touch and feel and hug other people – makes me really sad so, the garden is really joyful.”

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