Beauty in simplicity, says garden expert

Environmentally friendly, practical and attractive — these are the keys to a good, natural garden, according to Patricia Landry.

As parks programming officer in the natural environment and horticulture section of Toronto’s parks, forestry and recreation department, Landry told the East York Garden Club’s October meeting that she’s learned a natural garden doesn’t have to be arduous.

 “A lot of people are overwhelmed by the idea of a natural garden,” Landry said. “They think it requires a lot of work and a lot of time. And they run from the idea right away — and it’s not that at all.”

Landry was a guest speaker at the club’s meeting on Oct. 15. She gave a presentation on how to have a naturalized garden, gave handouts with tips on the process and answered questions.

 “What I like to think of as a natural garden is something low-maintenance,” she said.

Landry said a natural garden should be environmentally responsible. It has to be free of pesticides or any other chemicals. It should use water resourcefully. Every plant should be disease-resistant, and each should have a purpose for being in the garden.

 “Use native plants and native plant material,” she explained. “However there are some non-native plants that are even more practical, like white clover.”

Landry said the key to having a green garden is always having the right plant in the right spot.

 “I think a lot of people run into trouble when they fall in love with a particular plant and they try to grow it in a particular spot when they really shouldn’t,” she said.

Lastly, Landry said a naturalized garden should be esthetically beautiful, and it should benefit the neighbourhood and broader environment.

Importantly, Landry said, plants must also attract insects that will help the garden to flourish.

Landry currently runs various educational programs on gardening, such as “Operation Sunflower” and “Lunch and Learn.” She also runs the city-wide garden contest and helps support local community greening efforts in both the parks and ravine systems. She is the parks and forestry representative for the local West Nile Virus Committee, and is the city-wide inspector for naturalized gardens.

The next East York Garden Club meeting is the annual general meeting and potluck on Nov. 15.