A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Canadian life, Family Stories, Flowers, Gardens, Homes, Inspiration, Japanese Maples, Trees, Tropical Gardening in Canada

A Family’s Labour of Love

Photos by Hamlin Grange

One of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen grows behind a very modern house not far from Toronto’s downtown.Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Long shot from lower level

A lush, hidden garden in a world of its own.

A place where tall trees loom into the sky, water flows peacefully, plants thrive and a discovery waits around every corner.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Steps and Trees

The garden is the ‘labour of love’ of Mary and Bob and their family. (Mary is on the right, below.)

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Mary and CR

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Cat

While there’s no doubt that Mary provides the driving passion behind the garden (and loves nothing better than working in it) Bob and daughter Adrianne also play central roles.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden structure 1

“Bob built the arbor and pergola and has been so supportive of my passion,” Mary says.

Bob, right, shows a visitor the garden
Bob, right, shows a visitor the garden

“My Adrianne has been a big part of the creation. She is an incredible artist and we love when her time permits for us to work together on the garden.”

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Japanese forest grass and hosta

Mary describes the garden as “a canvas on which we have the privilege of unleashing our creativity”.

And what a work of art.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden right side

Japanese maples of different kinds – more than two hundred of them – weave through the garden, as do Japanese forest grass, hosta and other interesting plants.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Japanese forest grass

Their foliage and colour contribute to the texture of the garden from spring to fall.

Hundreds of tropical plants thrive in the pool area, seeming completely at home.

Blog Photo - mary's Garden Visitors

Water features add to the feeling of peace here.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden stream

There are ponds.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden water lilies and fish


Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Waterfall 2

And a water wall.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden with waterfall and Japanese maples

It is surprising to find a garden of this size and kind so close to downtown Toronto. Equally surprising: this garden is less than 6 years old.

The family was fortunate to have very large trees and more than an acre of land, but they had to start the garden from scratch.

Under the shade of the trees, and in many sunny spaces, the garden changed and evolved over those years.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Pool and Grounds

You can see it many times and still find something new to admire every time.

New plants, new trees, new structures.

Which may explain why friends beg to tour the garden every time they visit.

And gardening magazines love producing features about it.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden begonia

Mary talks about her family’s creation with a gardener’s passion. There’s wonder and delight in her voice and on her face when she stops to look at a new development.

A late-season rose.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Single Rose

A passion-flower, giving one of its first blooms near the end of summer.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Passion flower

The fragrance of a gardenia.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden White flower

“I love this garden!” Mary says. “It comes from our family’s heart.”


Dedicated to the artist in all of us.

112 thoughts on “A Family’s Labour of Love”

      1. I have finished A Good Home! But …..now I am sad…..are you sure there isn’t a sequel? I have only one complaint. At the end of the book, you didn’t mention what a great blogger you are!

      2. Thank you for sticking with it!
        I only recently became a blogger, remember? Just over a year ago.

        I started writing the sequel, then decided to boldly write about what PTSD is like for me – and that experience stopped me in my tracks. I hope to get back to the sequel, because it is at least as interesting as book 1.

        Did you enjoy the book?

      3. Ah yes, that is true. I forgot that the book would have been out before you began blogging. There is a sequel coming? Excellent. Did I enjoy the book? You bet I did. Spellbound. Truly lovely. ( I am planning to write a review for Amazon). For a short time I was a reader/writer/amanuensis for a couple of students with brain injuries. They were incredible young adults. But I always sad that their fellow students and lecturers often seemed to think they were using me to gain an advantage. They simply didn’t understand the struggles these students went through each and every day.

  1. Beautiful, beautiful gardens. As usual, your appreciation for the creativity and passion puts us right there among those well-tended paths. Truly a labour of love. Hamilin’s photographs are spectacular!

  2. I love that there are these incredible gardens tucked quietly behind homes throughout Toronto, including some of the most unassuming. I think I may have been to this garden on a tour years ago, so familiar, so beautiful.

  3. That is one of the coolest looking gardens I have seen in a long time and, WOW, really can’t believe it’s only six years old. Absolutely loved this post, Cynthia.

  4. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    We had a couple of acres at our home in Ireland. The people who had built the house both had parents in the plant nursery business and we inherited over 200 trees and bushes that made the garden a picture year round. Here on the mountain in Spain the only time the lawn is green is in the late autumn through to June when the heat sucks the colour out of the grass. We do have pots of various flowers that add colour and magnolia trees, roses and lilies that flower at different times. I do however have garden envy and in this post from Cynthia Reyes I am definitely seeing Green!!! What a fantastic garden and house – absolutely must have taken a labour of love.

  5. wow, how beautiful is that!! Love all the plants, hostas, ferns, Japanese maples, ground cover, water features..,etc. When I first looked at the picture of yall sitting on the couch I thought I saw a raccoon jumping up on the couch, haha….not sure where my mind was. Mary, Bob and the family sure are dedicated, it takes a lot of work and love to manage a garden that large.

  6. What a beautiful garden – a place to wander and dream in and be refreshed by. And wonder at. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  7. Oh, I am so in awe! This is simply breathtaking! And Japanese maples are one of my favorite trees! Thank you so much for sharing these lovely pictures and the delightful written tour! 🙂

    1. We saw Mary a few weeks ago and she is every bit as passionate about her garden, and working hard. More than 250 Japanese maples on the property — can you believe that?

  8. Lovely to hear about a family that tends and loves a garden and how a garden can be an expression of familial love. It reminds me of my parents and their garden. The impression I get from your pictures is that the garden is a shady, tranquil place. Thanks Cynthia.

    1. It is a somewhat shady place, but the trees are very tall and lower branches gone, so there is also a good deal of sunshine. I’ve never seen a private garden of its calibre in the city of Toronto.

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