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These photographs were taken in the October of 2010.

The title is a reference to how Urban Planning students are encouraged to “Make Love to your City”, which implies observing and appreciating it from different perspectives both physically as well as emotionally, intellectually and historically-well at least that’s my own definition.

It may be that this sorta behaviour is what led me to a Graduate program in Urban Planning, to begin with. Cities are fascinating, yet manufactured.

This Garden was photographed for a Design Course assignment.


“This delightful garden — a reflection in landscape of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1007 — was designed by internationally renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma and landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy, in collaboration with landscape architects from the City of Toronto’s Parks and Recreation department.

Two Canadian artists created special features for the Music Garden: Tom Tollefson, architectural blacksmith, fabricated the Music Pavilion; and Anne Roberts, Feir Mill Design Inc., designed the Maypole.”

The Garden’s Design

Hearing the Toronto Music Garden

Each dance movement within Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1007 corresponds to a different section of the Toronto Music Garden:


An undulating river scape with curves and bends

The first movement of the suite imparts the feeling of a flowing river through which the visitor can stroll. Granite boulders from the southern edge of the Canadian Shield are placed to represent a stream bed with low-growing plants softening its banks. The whole is overtopped by an alley of native Hackberry trees (Celtis occidentalis), whose straight trunks and regular spacing suggest measures of music.


A forest grove of wandering trails

The allemande is an ancient German dance. Interpreted here as a Birch forest, the movement invites the visitor to swirl inward to various contemplative sitting areas, that move higher and higher up the hillside, culminating in a rocky vantage point that looks over the harbour through a circle of Dawn Redwood trees.


A swirling path through a wildflower meadow

Originally an Italian and French dance form, the couranteis an exuberant movement that is interpreted here as a huge, upward-spiralling swirl through a lush field of grasses and brightly-coloured perennials that attract birds and butterflies. At the top, a Maypole spins in the wind.


A conifer grove in the shape of an arc

This movement is based on an ancient Spanish dance form. Its contemplative quality is interpreted here as an inward-arcing circle that is enclosed by tall needle-leaf evergreen trees. Envisioned as a poet’s corner, the garden’s centerpiece is a huge stone that acts as a stage for readings, and holds a small pool with water that reflects the sky.


A formal flower parterre

This French dance was contemporary to Bach’s time. Its formality and grace are reflected in the symmetry and geometry of this movement’s design. Hand-crafted with ornamental steel, a circular pavilion is designed to shelter small musical ensembles or dance groups.


Giant grass steps that dance you down to the outside world

The gigue, or “jog”, is an English dance, whose jaunty, rollicking music is interpreted here as a series of giant grass steps that offer views onto the harbour. The steps form a curved amphitheatre that focus on a stone stage set under a weeping willow tree; a place for informal performances. Shrubs and perennials act as large, enclosing arms, framing views out onto the harbour.


Julie Moir Messervy, landscape designer and creator of inspirational gardens walks through the Toronto Music Garden.



2 thoughts on “[PHOTOGRAPHY] Making Love To Toronto — Part Four: THE TORONTO MUSIC GARDEN

  1. Hi, I am very impressed by your photos of the Toronto Music Garden. I’m planning to come up to Toronto (from Ft. Lauderdale) in the next week or so to do a photo-shoot of the Garden. I would like to come when there are still plenty of oranges, reds and yellows. Have the leaves in the garden changed? I don’t want to be too early or too late for the color.

    I would appreciate any advice you might give me.


    • Hi–I haven’t been down there in a bit, but in my part of the downtown the leaves are sure changing colours. I think you’ll be right on time. Have fun! I think I’ll go down there this weekend.

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