PLANT: roof garden at Nathan Phillips Square
Rooftop garden atop the podium at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto. Once the acme of Brasilia-like windswept concrete pavers named open space in the plan, the top of the podium is now a garden of sedums of various hues and heights. Sedums store water in their leaves and are primitive fat-leaved clustering plants that one can imagine were chums of horsetails and such plants trampled by dinosaurs. They are also known as Stonecrops, succulents and sempervivums – all Crassulaceae of various genuses. Sempervivums (which means live forever) have a curious hermaphroditic reproductive cycle, and some species were used medicinally in ancient Greece. They are also called houseleeks in some places, especially those with slate roofs on which they can live. Good luck evidently.
The podium garden will be a sturdy garden, frost resistant, drought tolerant and beautifully coloured. The garden opened this week, pictures are on Plant's website.
Other things on this website include a really great 20' x 70' back yard in Cabbagetown: a minimal masterpiece which goes up a hill to a terrace at the very back walled by brick-filled gabions. No grass, just deck, gravel and a folded metal plate stair that makes a path through precisely planted bands of plants chosen for seasonal colour and texture. The planting pattern doesn't show in the photos, but on the plan one can see everything is planted in rows.
The garden at the Schindler House comes to mind, reconstructed supposedly to Schindler's original plans where the ground was pushed about in strips: a ditch, a berm the shape of a speed bump, a flat bit: each condition planted with something different – what ever grew well in ditches went there for example, or specific grasses on the overly-drained berm. There was a romantic relationship between the rigorous organisation of the garden and the willfulness of plants all shaggy and blowing about, and all of this with the concrete house walls as background.
Plant's Wellesley Cottages garden has this same simplicity and the same uncompromising severity. It is amusing, this fierce kind of organisation of the near-unorganisable. It just looks so brave and so wonderful.