November 27, 2009

The Toronto Music Garden Book Launch

November 18, 2009

The Toronto Music Garden was officially opened to the public in the summer of 1999. It is the most exciting and beautiful public park in the city. To celebrate it's 10th anniversary, a new book has been produced to outline how it all came about.

I was fortunate to be invited to the book launch.

It was about 4:40 when I arrived at Harbourfront Centre. The event, which was starting at 5, was being held at the York Quay Centre. The sun was just starting to descend below the horizon so I figure I had a few moments to take some photographs outside. It's hard to tell from the photo, but roses were still in bloom just outside the main entrance.

Harbourfront Centre

We have had a very warm November. It was so warm that I was quite comfortable in my suit jacket all the way out at the end of the pier. The York Quay Centre is the white structure to the right of the pier. They have ice-skating there now, and you can see a great photo of it from their twitter page and from their blog, UPFRONT.

Harbourfront Centre

When I finally did enter the building, I sort of skulked around the lobby for a while hoping to run into someone familiar. I guess I was kind of nervous about going in. I have no idea why that was. Perhaps, it was that feeling of entering unfamiliar waters?

As I entered the Marilyn Brewer Community Space, I couldn't have been made to feel more welcome. Someone immediately came up to me, introduced themselves and then introduced me to Cary Mignault, Publicist, Media Relations. He then in turn introduced me to Leslie Coates, (Manager, Parks Renaissance & Special Projects, Parks, Forestry & Recreation.)

Harbourfront Centre

Julie Moir Messervy, landscape designer and author, was busy toward the back of the hall, signing her book. Julie worked to interpret famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma's idea, to create a garden inspired by the music of Bach.

Harbourfront Centre

Here she is shaking hands with Sonia Leslie, tour guide for the Music Garden and member of the Toronto Botanical Gardens.

Harbourfront Centre

In a quite moment, while people assembled next door to listen to a wonderful cellist playing Bach, I photographed Julie with her book. If you are shopping from America (as 50% of my visitors are) you can buy the book from Julie on

Harbourfront Centre
Harbourfront Centre

The party moved next door to BOUNTY, the Harbourfront Centre store. There were speeches and “thank yous” made. There was wine and great hors d'oeuvres like crab cakes, spring rolls and pastries, and with my mouth watering I had to say “no, thank you,” for fear of putting greasy fingers on my camera.

Adrian Holmes is the photographer responsible for most of the artistic pictures in the book. His photos were taken during sunrise or sunset.

Harbourfront Centre

Here we can see William J.S. Boyle ↓ , Chief Executive Officer, Harbourfront Centre, with Jim Fleck, the host for the evening. It was mainly because of Jim's participation and enthusiasm that the Toronto Music Garden was built.

Harbourfront Centre

Here you can see Jim Fleck, with my good friend Marjorie Harris and her husband, Jack Batten. (Marjorie's new book Thrifty: Living the Frugal Life with Style is now available from

Harbourfront Centre

There was the obvious joy in the reuniting of old friends. David Campbell, major donor for the Toronto Music Garden, and Julie couldn't conceal their happiness.

Harbourfront Centre

The reality is I actually knew quite a few people that were there. Below you can see, from left to right, Sara Katz, Jenny Rhodenizer, Barbara Hall, Lorraine Flanigan, and Stephanie Chiang, Director of Developement for the Toronto Botanical Gardens. Barbara Hall was the Mayor at the time when the Music Garden was still in the planning stage. When Julie and Yo-Yo Ma approached her about the music garden, Yo-Yo Ma played his cello for her in her office to illustrate some of their ideas. She revealed that the meeting was the best she had ever had during her time at City Hall.

Harbourfront Centre

Before I knew it, the event was over. There were two other people that I knew there that evening, one was the prolific garden writer, Lorraine Johnson, and the other was garden writer and columnist, Sonia Day. Unfortunately, I had missed my opportunity to photograph them. You can read Sonia's article about the event in her Toronto Star column.

I think there are two kinds of people who would be interested in this new book.

1) Anyone who visits the garden would love to have it. It is so clearly a wonderful souvenir of this miraculous place.

2) If you are a student of landscape design, this garden is one you should see and this book illustrates this project from concept to creation. But this book is also an excellent lesson on the kinds of political and financial efforts that are involved in the creation of such a civic project.

I highly recommend it.

The Toronto Music Garden

If you are hosting a garden related event in the GTA and would like it covered in or would like to place an e-poster about it on our Events Calendar, just contact me. I am always delighted to promote anything gardening in Toronto.


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Julie Moir Messervy lecture for WGBH Boston on Landscaping and the Toronto Music Garden

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