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My early days in Leaside were filled with mystery each year during June when lawn signs popped up announcing a garden tour. Groups of people, usually wearing straw hats and carrying maps, were seen walking the streets, chatting and pointing out various plants and trees.

I eventually realized that this wasn’t some kind of exclusive event. Anyone, in fact, can purchase a “passport”, giving them access to eight gardens in the community. Yes, it means you have permission to snoop, take photos, even talk with the gardeners themselves. I was hooked.

Garden tours are well worth it, even if you have a disaster garden (or no garden at all). First of all, the whole experience is a delightful way to spend a Saturday, touring with friendly people to look at lovely gardens all weeded, cleaned up and looking their best. Secondly, you can actually learn something, such as what grows well in a neighbourhood or how to cover that ugly fence beside you.

But most of all, the whole experience is a breath of creative fresh air. Urban tours like the one offered each year by the Leaside Garden Society is a chance to see what can be done in often a small space, literally blocks from a busy city street (or beside a busy street!) This is what city living is all about. We can’t always eliminate the noise, or the bustle, or even an ugly building behind us. But gardeners do what gardeners do best—they use their inventive instincts combined with mother nature to turn even the homeliest spaces into oases of charm and inspiration

And the results…. the result are simply magical! Check out this year’s tour, with fountains, wrought iron, secret garden pathways, even a golf green!

Check out the tour this June 21, 11 am to 4 pm.

For ticket info. see www.leasidegardens.org

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