East York gardens garner awards

Sometimes hard work gets the recognition it deserves. For more than 40 years, Gloria Lippert has lived and worked out of the Lippert Music Centre on Pape Avenue. Her husband, Joseph Lippert Junior, ran the business from 1957 until retiring in 1996. Now,  their daughter, Charleen Beard, is in charge.

Some of the centre’s current students are the grandchildren of the original ones. All the while, Gloria Lippert has worked behind the scenes.

“(My mom) keeps us organized,” Beard said. “She makes sure the place stays presentable inside and out.”

Since her husband retired, Lippert has paid extra attention to the front garden. There are  snapdragons and hostas still doing well this fall. One could say her work created one of the best gardens in the city. Proof is that Lippert just won a 2010 City of Toronto Garden award for a commercial property.

“I was quite overwhelmed,” Lippert she said. “It was very thrilling.”

East York gardens won two of the four prizes awarded by the city this year. The Governor’s Manor condominium on Douglas Crescent won in the community category, which recognizes outstanding volunteer work done on a garden.

Landscape architect and resident Kent Ford spent five years planning the garden on the property’s common element.

“It occurred to me that the garden needed something to respond to the architecture, and that’s where the thrust of the design came from,” Ford said.

Although a commercial property, the garden in front of Lippert Music Centre is small. Some of the centre’s 400 students play hopscotch on the pathway that runs in the middle of the garden.

“They do not disturb my garden,” Lippert said. “And the parents will ask, do ‘Do you mind?’ And I say, ‘Oh no, it’s wonderful.’”

It’s been a different type of experience for Ford. At Governor’s Manor, two teams of workers maintain the large property.

During the planning stages, Ford converted the garden from mostly annuals to perennials, which bloom at different times of the year. Spring starts out with white and blue colours. In late June, the roses start coming in white, red, yellow and pink. In the summer there’s more white with Asiatic and oriental lilies, and blue blooms from butterfly bushes and blue mist shrubs. The roses have a second bloom in the fall.

It’s also safe to say that residents of Governor’s Manor appreciate more than just the beauty of their communal space.

“We save $5,000 dollars a year on not planting annuals,” Ford said. “A lot of the plants are draught-tolerant. Others are not. They were chosen for (their) long bloom period and for suitability for the theme.”

Lippert has also learned some cost-saving measures. For example, in the past a lot of her plants were stolen.

“I used to grow dahlias, gladiolas and zinnias,” she said. “My dahlias, we’d see a whole root in the ground, they’d take the entire thing. And nobody has done that in recent years.”