Thursday
Mar202014

Marjorie Mason - Beautiful and Delicious Gardening

March 31, 2014 meeting - click here to find out about our meeting time and location.

There was a time when Mason House (formerly Mason Hogue) Gardens and Marjorie Mason were synonymous with decorative and ornamental gardens. Those times are past.  The demonstration garden and nursery is still home to flowers and foliage plants, specializing in unusual species, but about a decade ago, Marjorie Mason began focusing on a different kind of plant material—the edible kind. And in many ways, she’s come full circle—Mason was raised on a market garden farm. Marjory Mason. Image from masonhousegardens.com

Mason spent many years concentrating on ornamental varieties of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs, and seeking out “unique and hard to find plants” to stock her nursery. She became a sought after speaker and was so well known and respected that a hemerocallis cultivar was named after her. Some ten years ago, however, the Toronto Botanical Garden, one of the places where she often spoke, asked her to teach a course on the potager garden. She set about quickly learning about potagers and hasn’t turned back. In fact, Mason considers growing edibles her favourite thing. Her first potager was, and still exists, beside the shed at the nursery and was introduced to our Hort a few years back.

After rooting herself in edible gardening, she was sought out by the Royal York Hotel’s then Executive Chef, David Garcelon, to work with him on the hotel’s revolutionary rooftop kitchen garden. A proponent of vegetable gardening, Mason believes we need every spot we can, to grow edible plants. Today, she considers the turn in horticulture to edible gardening to be its “most current and important phase”. In fact, she believes that growing food is “something we have to do or we’re going to be in big, big trouble”.

Despite sounding more like an activist than a woman used to leading garden tours to the United Kingdom, Mason has a much more holistic sensibility about edible gardening. She explains that vegetables have a much more interesting and compelling history than flowers, a discovery she owes to a book given to her by her son called, How Carrots Won the Trojan War by Rebecca Rupp. Moreover, she suggests that a garden patch with a red cabbage paired with a savoy and dill “is just beautiful”!

This month Marjorie Mason will share her experiences gardening with edible plants that are beautiful for the eyes and the palate.

Maria Nunes

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