Garden Photo of the Day

Naturalizing an Urban Garden

Making habitat in Toronto

natural lawn

Today we’re visiting Karyn Koski’s garden in Toronto.

I would really like to share my garden adventure. I’m a Canadian environmental leader in Toronto who embarked on a mission to naturalize my city yard. I don’t have all native plants, but I’m working toward it. It’s a flurry of pollinators! And simply a joy.

purple bee balm in a gardenMaking a city yard into a rich habitat is all about adding plants. This beautiful purple bee balm (Monarda didyma, Zones 4–8) is a great nectar source.

mix of shrubs and perennialsDiversity is the name of the game. Combining different shrubs and perennials creates niches for many different insects and birds to thrive.

Brown-eyed SusanBrown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba, Zones 4–8) is native to much of the eastern half of North America and is a durable, beautiful addition to any garden.

Joe Pye weed getting ready to bloomThis Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum, Zones 4–9) is getting ready to bloom. Notice that there are holes in some leaves. The caterpillars of several moths feed on the leaves of this plant, and it is so vigorous it will still thrive even with some bits taken out of it.

natural lawnKaryn’s natural lawn.

small backyard gardenYou can see that the garden space isn’t large, but even small gardens can be great habitats for insects, and the tall plantings (like this plume poppy, Macleaya cordata, Zones 4–10) can add a measure of privacy.

side garden full of greeneryThe side garden is so full and green you’d never guess this was right in Toronto, the most populous city in Canada.

garden along the front of a homeThe front garden is green, with a pop of floral color from Hibiscus syriacus (Zones 5–8).

garden and path leading to side of homeLooking at the front garden from the other direction, the purple leaves in front are shiso (Perilla frutescens, annual), which is beautiful and also traditionally used as an herb in Japanese cuisine.

veggie garden with rusted steel plantersAnd there is room for a veggie garden too! I love those beautiful rusted steel planters.


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View Comments


  1. runfortheroses 07/26/2021

    Well done! Great garden paths and the rusted steel planters rule! Nice job with the natives!

  2. gardendevas 07/26/2021

    Bravo! A lovely habitat for the pollinators - and you!

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 07/26/2021

    Congratulations on moving to naturalize your garden area. Every bit helps.

  4. Rebeccazone7 07/26/2021

    I love the imperfection of it all. It's so refreshing to me to see people leaning toward more natural settings. IMHO it helps people with limited budgets and who can't afford expensive landscapers not feel so intimidated when they are just beginning with an interest in gardening. Thank you.

  5. katherine_8 07/26/2021

    Hello from next door in Mississauga, Karyn :)
    I absolutely love your garden. I'm not into perfectly manicured yards with their overabundance of Impatiens and Petunias. Yours is so natural and free looking. I love the dry creek bed and your imperfect paving stones/slabs, and the natural lawn. In fact, I love everything about your garden. Enjoy :)

  6. User avater
    simplesue 07/26/2021

    I love your house and garden- so woodsy and natural which is my favorite garden style being nature/wildlife friendly.
    I really love what you've done!

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