Jearld Frederick Moldenhauer – Photographer, Bookseller, Naturalist

Beaty Gardens

Introduction to Beaty Gardens

Photos from my garden at 32 Beaty Avenue in Toronto.

In the years immediately following the closing of Glad Day (Boston), I devoted a good deal of time to developing gardens in the yard(s) at the house on Beaty Avenue. There were successes and failures.

Indeed, there were plenty of failures at first … since I knew little about the lives of individual plant species. Gradually, I started to understand their needs and their relationships and, for a few years, things consistently improved. However, with the exception of one of our boarders, no one really seemed to appreciate what I was attempting to do, thus no one offered assistance. Ultimately, the task simply overwhelmed me and, with no additional work support or reinforcement, I gradually gave up in my attempt to transform the huge yard(s) into a unique and spectacular garden. (For a few years I did have a paid assistant, but even with that help, it was simply impossible to achieve what I wanted to accomplish.) Ironically, now that I know so much more now about plants and their requirements, their competitiveness, their vulnerabilities, their breeding habits, etc., I just might stand a chance if only there were time and energy to start over again.

By far, the outstanding achievement of the gardens are the spectacular tree peony varieties which are found both in the front and back yards. Tree peonies take about a decade to start showing their splendor. As they grow, the woody stems splay, taking up a large area and creating an ever more magnificent mound of flowers during the month of May. Individual flowers vary in size, with the largest ones measuring about ten inches across. The show lasts about three weeks since varieties bloom at slightly different times. They peak after 3-4 days, which is when I take photos. Our oldest specimen is probably close to 20 years old now and has splayed dramatically over the years to occupy about 4 square yards. Flower numbers on older plants could be 50 or more.