Garden Photo of the Day

An English-Style Garden in Toronto

Cottage garden perennials fill this garden with color

Today we’re heading to Toronto to see the garden of Lucile Yates.

About seven years ago, I got rid of most of the lawn in the front garden and planted low-growing, drought-tolerant plants in the front 20 feet. I left the original bed of taller perennials behind them and planted a shade garden of hostas and hydrangeas under the tree. In the spring there are hundreds of bulbs of all kinds. I especially like species tulips, as they are deer resistant. One of the focal points in the spring is the redbud tree (Cercis canadensis, Zones 5–9).

The back garden has several perennial beds, with one devoted mostly to peonies and another to irises.

My garden backs onto Lake Ontario on the Scarborough Bluffs, so there is a microclimate that is slightly more moderate than in many parts of Toronto.

I’ve been gardening for more than 25 years. I try to grow lots of plants that attract pollinators. I love the traditional English cottage garden plants, and I like to try unusual plants as well. The tall part of the front garden has a magnificent meadow rue that grows 10 feet tall and has a mist of small lavender flowers. It’s called lavender mist (Thalictrum rochebruneanum, Zones 4–7), of course.

In 2018 some kind person who admired the garden nominated the front garden for the Toronto gardens awards. It took first place in the Environmental garden category.

English-style gardenAn English-style perennial planting around the lawn. I’d love to sit back in those lounge chairs and enjoy the view.

redbud treeA large redbud tree is a high point of the spring garden display, backed up by numerous spring bulbs.

Bright color on the walkway to the front yard, focused on yellow and blue.

lavender mist meadow rueA naturalistic mixture of perennials, with lavender mist meadow rue living up to its name.

California poppiesBright California poppies (Eschscholzia californica, annual) are living sunshine.

GroundcoversGround covers making a beautiful carpet.

purple coneflowerNative perennials such as purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 4–9) ensure that pollinators have lots of food.

Densely planted beds with lots of color and interest from both foliage and flowers.


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 01/27/2020

    Good morning fellow Torontonian. I truly loved looking at the pictures of your garden which is spectacular. I will walk the Scarborough Bluffs area in the spring in hopes of spotting the Redbud tree. Thank you for sharing your garden.

  2. garden1953 01/27/2020

    I love your gardens and your garden style. They are truly beautiful! Hope you will share more photos soon, and thank you for sharing these.

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/27/2020

    Love that redbud! You have done such a great job of mixing and mingling it all. Just gorgeous!

  4. Maggieat11 01/27/2020

    Congratulations on your Garden Award! Well deserved! Your gardens are lovely, as is your home. The redbud is spectacular. Thank you for sharing.✨?✨

  5. paiya 01/27/2020

    Your gardens are so beautiful, colorful and harmonious. Like other readers, I am overwhelmed by the redbud, which we have not been able to grow - what is the secret of growing it successfully?

  6. coastalgardener 01/27/2020

    WOW! DOUBLE WOW! What a spectacular garden...and the epitome of cottage style. It was most certainly deserving of an award. I'm also absolutely in love with your redbud tree, and I hope you'll continue to post photos in various seasons.

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/27/2020

    Not only are your gardens areas captivating but the architecture and color palette of your home is delightful. I love all the charming touches of your window framing woodwork. You are obviously a person who know how to pay attention to the big picture as well as to the super pleasing small details.

  8. nwphillygardener 01/27/2020

    Great job, Lucile! I love seeing well designed beds using low ground covers and perennials. The front yard bed with sky blue forget-me-nots, what looks like dwarf golden yellow iris, and yellow sedum('Angelina'?) is unusual and striking.

  9. btucker9675 01/27/2020

    Be still my heart - what a charmingly beautiful example you have made of my favorite style of garden. That redbud is magnificent! I am sneakily whittling away at the grass in my front yard as well... eventually it will be mostly garden with grass only as pathways. I don't think anyone will object!

  10. carolineyoungwilliams 01/27/2020

    Lucile, I see why you won. Your garden is absolutely beautiful. I'm in love with your Cottage garden. Your choice of colors, plants and design are spectacular. Kudos on a job well done. Thank you so much for sharing your blessings. Thank you for the inspiration. I look forward to seeing more photos of your garden.

  11. User avater
    simplesue 01/27/2020

    That's so cool that a "kind stranger" nominated your garden for the Toronto Garden Awards! What a progressive city Toronto is to have such a thing!
    I know if I lived there I would have nominated you too!
    That's a super garden you put in.
    I'm growing a Lavender Mist Meadow Rue also, so I'm happy to see what a mature one is capable of doing.
    Again- what a super garden! Thanks for sharing your photos here on Fine Gardening Photo of the Day for all of us to enjoy!

  12. Musette1 01/27/2020

    both front and back gardens are gorgeous - but I'm especially intrigued by the front garden, as I hope to get rid of a lot of my lawn and do something similar. Thanks so much for sharing these beauties with us!

  13. Cenepk10 01/27/2020

    Lovely Lovely !!!!!

  14. darylsavage 01/27/2020

    Fantastic. You are making me think about where I could site that 'Lavender Mist.' It reminds me of a grass with its main feature being its see-throughness. Redbuds are very common here in Northern New Jersey, and we love them, especially 'Forest Pansy'.

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