Monday, June 6, 2011

Wherein I Discuss the Merits of Wealth (With Pretty Photos)

For those of you who've been reading this blog for years (yes, it has been that long), you may recall posts of the Parkdale-Toronto Horticultural Society walking tours I've attended on a few occasions. This unbelievable voyeur-fest, status-anxiety provoking charming annual event is a fantastic opportunity to observe rich people in their natural habitats well-loved gardens in some delightful Toronto west-end neighbourhoods. In truth, most owners are not available during the tour, which is staffed by hort society volunteers. Most owners are off at their zillion dollar waterfront cottages on Lake Rosseau. Cuz that's how wealthy Torontonians roll.

In truth, I've never understood how people can invest so much time and money on urban (albeit bordering on suburban) gardening only to ditch it all on the couple of days of the week (over the couple of months of the year) they can actually enjoy it with martinis. Mind you, undoubtedly most of these gardeners benefit from the assistance of professionals. Both here and up north.

As we wandered (skip down if this chatter bores you, there are some good photos ahead), Nicole and I discussed the utter embarrassment of luxury amidst which we walked. In our downtown 'hoods, any one of the insanely beautiful birches grafted with cherry or unusual willows (which generally only grow in zone 7) would have caused stop-in-your-tracks transfixion. In Baby Point (peeps, it's pronounced Bobby Point), we were practically dismissive by the end of it.

I don't know what my point is. Is it fortunate to live amongst ugly urban grit because one's tiny garden will then function that much more relevantly as a fantastic oasis? Have my brain cells been realigned by the drugginess of the old-boy, high-WASP experience?

You be the judge:

Yes, that is bamboo...

This willow almost died last year due to hot, dry summer. Massive pruning and this year's deluge of rain brought it back.

I know, this garden is just ridiculous. I counted and you could seat 30 people without even making a dent on the space. Oh, and it's on a ravine.

Scott loathes that visor I'm wearing. He says I remind him of a retiree. Might I remind you I'm on a horticultural tour on my 41st birthday?? Besides, I feel I look "tennis".

The Italianate aspects of this place were a bit mind-blowing.

Nicole looking all cute and summery... Thanks for spending such a great day with me N!


  1. Glad you had fun on your birthday. Wishing you a FABULOUS year.

  2. You do look very tennis.

    I'm of two minds regarding tours of this nature, as our own local version is coming up next Saturday. On the one hand, it is over the top, on the other the gardens and homes are drop dead gorgeous and I enjoy taking in the beauty.

    Not much help I know.

  3. Sounds like a fun birthday experience. :-) And it looks like you got some beautiful pictures too! I would love to do the same in some very old established neighborhood full of restored Victorians or Gothic Revivals. 'Course, I would be much more interested in the architecture than the gardens, but hey, what can I say?

    My word verification is "unvice", that makes me laugh.

  4. I tend to be of two minds about these kinds of things too, and most of the ones I have attended have been over the top and have left me with a combined sense of overwhelming lust and abject insecurity. Two of my friends are private gardeners and they have been busting their bottoms making sure that their employers' properties were in tip-top, awe-inspiring form for garden tours in the affluent parts of the county last weekend.

    However, I've never been to our local garden tour and I am planning on attending this coming weekend so we'll see how it turns out.

  5. Very tennis indeed. Happy birthday!

  6. Beautiful gardens. Million dollar bet that sometimes makes the people in those houses feel the same way.

  7. You absolutely look tennis. Happy birthday ... gorgeous pictures, I now want to live like the other half lives. At least a little.

  8. Happy belated birthday!

    Sadly, I am immune to the charms of gardens. I have a black thumb and don't know one plant from another. I just go, "Oh pretty!" and wander off in boredom.

    I also grew up around a lot of privileged people, and yes, they do take all that for granted. Their whole lives are surrounded by the sartorially pleasant, so they only notice when it's missing.

  9. I recognize all the mixed lust and admiration and resentment and sheer awe at viewing that economic disparity we know about but don't usually have to confront so obviously. Can't help think about what Bubbles said on one of my favourite series ever, The Wire, "This shit ain't right, MacNulty, this shit ain't right" . . . but at least the folks who own the places are generous enough to allow their viewing. And meanwhile, sadly, there are way too many people who envy what you and I have. . .

  10. THank you everyone!

    CGC - I would love to see the houses at the same time!

    Mardel: How was your tour?

    F: You are SO right. I always have to flip things around when I find myself getting ridiculous...