Can You Dig It

Urban Secret Gardens explores spaces, ideas, tips and inspirations.

Law Office's Haven for Butterflies and Bees

Marija Main - Thursday, July 21, 2016

The property that Leanne Rapley's Law Office is now situated upon was previously ridden with unruly weeds and not tended to for many years. When Leanne set to move her office to this visible corner lot in The Beach, she set out to make significant changes to both the interior and exterior spaces. Her dedication has completely transformed this part of Queen Street. Clients, pedestrians, dog-walkers and tourists are treated to a show-stopping and breathtaking corner garden in full summer bloom.

The gardens are planted with milkweed, echinacea, sunflowers, bee balm, butterfly bush and other bee and butterfly-loving plants. I was lucky to catch a few dozen busy bees and a couple of varieties of butterflies luxuriating amidst the flowers.

In speaking to Leanne and her staff, I discovered that a deer had surprised her staff by strolling the rose-lined path directly outside their main office window! It is obvious that the garden is attracting wildlife beyond just the butterflies and the bees.

It is such a pleasure to stroll past this garden or admire it while I wait for the streetcar. More commercial properties need to follow suit and make our urban environments more green, more healthy and more inspiring!

Thank you to Rapley & Company for making The Beach a that much prettier and a better place to live:
Share other awesome commercial urban gardens with us. To enjoy the full garden tour please click the following link:  

Tour a Renovated Dream Urban Backyard

Marija Main - Sunday, July 17, 2016

Earlier this week, I was thrilled to get a personal tour of my neighbour's recently completed full backyard renovation. After weeks of watching truckloads of dirt, stone, wood, trees and plants shuffled in and out of their property, I see the final result which is nothing short of show-stopping! The transformation reveals an ideal urban yard which suits everyone including the parents, kids and the family dog. 

The new backyard design perfectly compliments the lush gardens surrounding the historic Toronto home. The new yard actually does not appear "new" which makes for even a better renovation outcome. The backyard combines structure, seating areas, quiet reflection nooks and play areas across multi-level platforms.

The significant design decision was to forgo a real lawn and install artificial grass in the backyard. This solution has proved to be a huge improvement allowing their family dog and children to play, run and stomp to their heart's content!

Every usable nook and cranny is optimized and serves a purpose for storage, entertainment or visual interest. An overlooked area against the wall of the house serves as a perfect potting area.

 This home shows us that it is possible to design an outdoor space keeping all family members in mind and finding the perfect balance between formal elegance and casual charm.

For a full garden tour of both the front yard and newly renovated backyard, please click on the link below:

Share your recent urban outdoor renovation and inspire us with urban outdoor lifestyles.


Welcome to Urban Secret Garden's Blog "Can You Dig It"

Marija Main - Thursday, June 09, 2016

My name is Marija Bacic Main (pronounced Maria) welcoming you to Urban Secret Gardens' blog. The objective is simple: to share stories, information and tips about urban gardens. However, my personal goal is to get you hooked on gardening, experience its pleasure, gratification and help you overcome the frustrations that plague every urban gardener.        

The fact that I am the only "devoted" gardener in our family hasn't stopped me from engaging my two teenage daughters and husband in helping me with various gardening chores at home or at our allotment plot at the Leslie Street Community Garden in Toronto.

Over the years, a genuine interest in growing flowers and edibles has emerged amongst our family. Every winter, my daughters become more inquisitive about what I plan on planting in the upcoming season. Jackie attacks a weeding session with great determination, Fiona ensures the garden looks visually pleasing and my husband fenced my entire plot at the end of last season.

While at our garden last June, a photographer from The Star came by and asked to take photos of our family working our plot. Fiona's photo was chosen as one of the lead photos for an article by Mark Cullen about Urban Gardening:

I was pleased about being part of an article that promoted urban gardening and proud that Fiona and my salmon poppies were featured. The article captures why I love gardening in a community setting:

"The exchange of cultural information as it relates to the plants that you are growing is just as important as the exchange of greetings early in the morning. We connect with each other on a very special level when we share our interests with like minded individuals".

This time last year, as we were preparing our girls to head to camp for a month, Jackie surprised me with her request to go to the allotment garden the night before she was to leave for camp. Jackie wanted to see the "before and after" changes that were going to happen while she was away. Though it was already getting dark, we rushed to our plot to take note of how our tomatoes, beans and dahlias were coming along. I was thrilled that Jackie made a personal connection with gardening as she chose to spend time at the garden over hanging out with her friends or watching Netflix the night before leaving for camp.

This is the ultimate goal of Urban Secret Gardens and of this blog – to inspire urban dwellers to make a connection with gardening and feel compelled to dig in and plant a garden!