hortus deliciarum

Anyone who lives within driving distance of Toronto, could be in for a real treat on Sunday, April 25th. That is the day that Barry Parker, plantsman extraordinaire, opens his garden for Gardens Open Toronto 2010.  Barry has the first garden (and the last) open for this organization, he wants to show people that gardening does not start on Victoria day and end Labour Day, and he really knows how to extend the season. 

He has an amazing garden, full of botanical treasures. Yet it is not a jumble like some plant collectors end up with. He has the eye of an artist, and understands how important strong structure is in a garden. 

At  the entrance, you walk past a circle of brick,

 surrounded by a garden full of horticultural treasures. Your attention drawn to  a lovely gate,you walk past a fabulous bamboo,

and enter a world of fragrance and charm.

The greenhouse,full of amazing species that he grew from seed, is a lovely hideaway in the winter, but you move past it and are astounded by the number of troughs and pots on his back porch. A carefully edited collection allows for a cohesive look, this is not a jumble, more like a magazine shoot.

A circular table by the back door is a carefully edited vignette.

Just past the gravel terrace, a circular lawn is bordered by curving box hedges.

 A number of pollarded trees live in these borders, underplanted with a large selection of bulbs.  I almost fainted when I saw the huge quantity of frittalaria meliagris, they self seed for him.

Through the giant beech obelisks, lies another garden room.

Earlier Witch Hazel “Diane” had been flowering, now under her a lovely primrose yellow Corylopsis has stolen her spotlight. 

At the back, a lovely gate tempts you else where, but this is just for show, adding  an air  of mystery to Barry’s garden. There is a small fee collection at all the gardens involved in the Open Gardens Toronto program, this money is collected for the Canadian Women’s Foundation. So come on out, visit Barry’s garden and help support a good cause at the same time.


42 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    fairegarden said,

    Oh my, Deborah, so many ideas here, thank goodness you took photos to remember them all! The trough garden is astounding, makes me want to get out the rubber gloves and make some more. The circle at the entrance is a lovely idea as well, slows down the visitor to better contemplate what lies ahead through the secret passageways. I am going to place round concrete balls at an entrance somewhere here, like he did with those hedges. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of thoughts stirred up by this post. Thanks! 🙂

    • 2

      Frances, there could have been many, many more pictures, there were so many interesting (and stealable) ideas. Barry actually taught some trough making workshops, that is why his are so beautiful (I want to copy those as well).

  2. 3

    Barry said,

    Hey Deborah,

    That is the nicest compliment. Always enjoy your visits. Thanks.

  3. 5

    Hi Deborah – Just yesterday I said to a friend that I wanted to make some troughs to plant a selection of succulents. And then you show us the master of trough gardening. How inspiring.

    • 6

      Heather if you are not busy on Sunday, this garden is worth the drive in from Oshawa. You could get a closer look at the troughs. Barry used to have trough making workshops, I am sure he could give you some tips.

  4. 7

    How fun!

    Those cement pots are fabulous!!

  5. 9

    Oh my…you lost me at Fritillaria meleagris…I’ve never seen so many in one place. How fabulous that they just multiply all on their own. I’d have almost fainted too if I’d seen those in person.

  6. 11

    Terra said,

    I love the entry with the promising gate. Thank you for sharing your garden visit, and I garden here in California.

  7. 13

    Laurrie said,

    I love how he uses old doors as garden gates in the fence. Neat idea. His garden is a treat!

  8. 15

    Jean said,

    Deborah, Since I don’t live close enough to visit Barry’s garden, I loved having this tour. Thanks.

  9. 17

    Deborah, I love Barry’s garden (and Barry!), but have only seen it in the fall. What a wonderful sneak preview. Hope I can make it over there on Saturday — or is it Sunday? Saturday’s the 24th. I’d better check the Open Gardens guide.

    • 18

      Helen, thank you so much for catching the date, I can’t believe I missed it. I changed the post to reflect Barrys open garden on Sunday, April 25th. I hope you can make it on Sunday, there is so much happening, especially in spring, the garden changes from day to day.

  10. 19

    Helen at Summerhouseart said,

    Really like the little groupings potted plants. I do like the garden gates or should I say doors? Love that look.

  11. 21

    Thank you so much for the tour Deborah! The circlular brick is such a beautiful enhancement, the non jumbled pots are truly lovely, the curved line of the hedge is SO MUCH nicer than straight line (how will I reconfigure mine?) and the last picture of the gate to nowhere is an incredible touch. Amazing garden space!

    • 22

      Rebecca, I looked at that hedge and thought the same thing, why isn’t mine curved, lol. Barry is an amazing designer, and knows all the Latin names of plants. I can’t even keep up!

  12. 23

    Ahh, wouldn’t it be nice to have enough space to plan garden “rooms.” Your thoughtful pictures invited us to see how he framed each one, love the door idea. I’ll have to drive up to Open Gardens Toronto one year from Boston to see it in person.

    • 24

      Lisa, do drive up, it would be a lot of fun! I should have asked Barry how big his garden is, it is an inner city so the lot is not that big. I am guessing, 25 x 125? not that big. I think dividing a small garden makes it look larger.

  13. 25

    Every time I see a trough garden, I want to make one! I have thought about it every year for ages but never done it. This is it! I’m going to do it! This is a lovely garden with great ideas. Thanks for the post!

  14. 27

    teza said,

    Barry’s is one of my favourite weblogs and it was a thrill to get to know his garden on a more personal and intimate level….. thanks so much for the tour!

    • 28

      Teza, if you are not working on Sunday, you should come into Toronto. Barrys garden is downtown, easy to get there from Union Station or the bus terminal. You could spend hours looking at his vast collection, and I didn’t even show a picture of the greenhouse, drool!

  15. 29

    Racquel said,

    What a pretty and well tended garden. Thanks for the tour. 🙂

  16. 31

    Barry’s garden is lovely and is so inspirational. I have just collected 3 fishboxes and will be making my own troughs with a special mixture thanks to the scottish rock garden forum – I wonder what Barry’s recipe is for making his Deborah.

  17. 33

    Hi D, his garden is amazing. He’s got a great eye for design and I love the faux door. I’m envious of his frittalaria. I just scattered some seeds in my yard today. I hope they come up as well as his. Thanks for sharing D, it was a well needed boost after a tiring week! M

    • 34

      M, I hope you get your frits, I am planning on going to his garden in the dead of night and digging up a huge, huge clump, lol. Then maybe I would have a start! Hope you have a great weekend.

  18. 35

    kate said,

    Just read Helen’s post at Toronto Gardens and had to come over to peek at yours. I’m so glad that I did. What a lovely post with beautiful photos. The Fritillaria meleagris are gorgeous. I love the serene quality to this garden. It must be wonderful to experience in person.

  19. 37

    What great photos – I love the idea of extending the season – and I know you guys need it. Thanks for the post and for visiting my “fancy” garden. 🙂

  20. 38

    barry said,

    Hi Deborah,
    May respond to Kelly@Life outdoors?
    Kelly What do you mean by you guys need it??? We also garden in zone 6b. ( this is of course after the icebergs have melted and we can safely remove our mukluks).

  21. 39

    Joy said,

    Deborah .. is there a cat fight going on over there ? hehehe
    Hey .. this almost makes me want to come to Toronto to see that fabulous garden .. you are so right about every little detail is perfect !
    Those amazing bulbs self seed ? and the Beech trees !! .. it is all stunning with how beautiful it is .. from plants to containers .. awesome !

  22. 41

    Melissa said,

    Self-seeding fritillaria? Heaven. Thanks for sharing this “open garden” – I’m delighted to know Toronto has this tradition also, and that there are gardeners who don’t think “Oh, it’s too early to show my garden, there’s nothing in it.” I just returned from a New Jersey garden that will be open again in September and it’s wonderful to anticipate how different it will be at that point – beautiful in both seasons.

    • 42

      Melissa, I am looking forward to seeing Barrys garden in the fall as well, ok, and the summer too, lol. There are not nearly enough gardens open on the “Open Garden” program, but hopefully, more will start every year.

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