How Does She Do It? The multitalented Marion Jarvie

Can you ever visit the same garden too many times? Not when they are as clever a garden designer as Marion Jarvie.  It is always interesting to see a garden at different seasons, you can pick up so many ideas for keeping a succession of bloom. She opens her garden four weekends a year, April, May, July and September. My last visit was to her garden in May 2009, you can read about it here. I had taken a course with Marion titled “Early Spring Bloomers” back in February, I wanted to see some of the plants that she mentioned in her lecture in real life. But spring is so advanced this year, they had all finished (always next year), but there was certainly lots to see.

Even with not a lot of flowers, there is so much colour here, a lesson for me to learn. Get more coloured foliage into the garden, not just green.

It seems like so much space between the plants, hard to believe it will be cheek to cheek later in the year.

Marion has quite a number of hellebores in the garden, some of which she was selling. I arrived early I thought, shortly after 10, and she was almost sold out at that time!

The long view towards the back of the garden. In the summer, you can hardly see this path.

Japanese maples are so colourful, she has a number of them in her garden, love this orange.

The long view on the opposite side of the garden, look at how much colour, but not a lot flowering, a great lesson.

This statue wasn’t there last year on my visit.

But this one was. Art in the garden really adds another dimension to it, any time of year.

This massive pot is in her front garden, she changes it a number of times during the year.

Out shopping and brought home some yummy plants, just drop them in some pots while you are waiting to plant them, an instant display like this euphorbia and phormium,



same plants, phormium and euphorbia, just another colour scheme.

Marian had hundreds of hellebore in flower but this one caught my eye.

I’m sure you wanted a closer look!

This plant also caught my eye, I know that I have seen it before, but do you think that I can remember the name. I am sure that someone will let me know, at least I hope so!

A well deserved award!

You can get another perspective on Marion’s garden by reading Barry’s post on his visit (and his photographs are a hundred times better then mine, so please visit him).

The next time her garden is open is the weekend of May 29/30 from 10 to 4, rain or shine.  The garden is located at 37 Thornheights Road, Thornhill, which is located near Yonge and the 407.  Be sure and bring some money, Marion and Alex sell some amazing plants, a lot of which are sourced in Quebec and not commonly available in Ontario.

45 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Deborah, I was so torn about which gardens to visit and what to do last weekend. An abundance of choice! We were at Barry’s garden on Sunday, and working in our community garden on Saturday, so sadly I had to give Marion’s a miss. Thanks for the tour. Yes, foliage colour! And trees. Lots of great lessons here.

  2. 3

    miss m said,

    Sure is fantastic being able to visit so many gardens through the blogworld portal. Lovely ! Thanks for the tour !

  3. 5

    Laurrie said,

    A lovely garden, even as it emerges in early spring. It must be spectacular all filled out in high summer. I’m just learning to use foliage for spring color — I just planted a Japanese maple Orange Dream, and already it pops in the garden as it leafs out, just like your photos in this post. Nice.

    • 6

      Laurrie, I was impressed with all the colour as it was leafing out, mine is so green. I shall have to look for some coloured foliage trees and shrubs, and especially that Orange Dream, sounds yummy!

  4. 7

    Thank you for this lovely tour Deborah! Gorgeous garden… I love the hellebores, Japanese Maples and the other small trees and shrubs now offering leaf or flower color and form to the garden’s beauty.

  5. 9

    Wow. So now you are on the hook to go in the summer. I want to see it!!! You have some amazing gardens where you live. thanks for sharing D, I really appreciate it. Her use of color is amazing. M

    • 10

      M, I have no problem checking it out in the summer, now that I have my orders, how could I do otherwise, lol. She really made me give more thought to some new trees/shrubs for my garden.

  6. 11

    turling said,

    Would love to see that garden cheek to cheek, as you say. Hopefully, you’ll be able to make it later in the season to share with us.

    • 12

      She is open again in May, July and September, I will try and get back in the summer, and (hopefully) take pictures from the same angles. Then you will get a really good idea of how crammed it is.

  7. 13

    Thanks for the wonderful tour, what an incredible garden. The massive pot is so striking, and the nameless flowers at the bottom of your post are beautiful.

  8. 15

    Oh Deborah what a beautiful garden to visit. I would have loved to have been there with you. Then there would have been 2 of us drooling over that most beautiful of hellebores – it is striking in its colouration isn’t it. You need one of those! I have quite a bit of foliage in my garden – I couldn’t do without it especially from Acers , Cotinus and my ever growing heuchera collection.

    Did she have any pulmonaria’s still flowering? maybe it was too late as that acer looks as if it has alot more leaves than ours over here. I love the pulmonarias for their foliage colour aswell.

    What names are your phormiums? my favourites are Jester and Yellow wave. The weekend is approaching – have a great time at Kilbourne 🙂 Rosie

    • 16

      Rosie, I want it!!! It is so gorgeous. Maybe when it bulks up, she will be selling divisions of it, I shall have to watch for it. She was selling quite a few different hellebores, but there was a bit of a feeding frenzy over them, and nothing left by the time I got to the front of the queue.
      She was surrounded by people asking questions, and Ian was waiting impatiently as we were on our way to KG, so I did not get the name of the phoriums, they are all so beautiful. I did not see any pulmonarias flowering, mine are flowering up north, so hers would be finished.

  9. 17

    Meredith said,

    What a lovely garden, Deborah! Your photos are a delight — and now I’ve finally found a belle-epoque statue I really want: the pensive lady with the curl snaking down her neck. You’re right about it all filling in quickly; at the Botanical gardens, there are almost no spaces left, and yet at the time of the hellebore blossoming, it looked so bare.

  10. 19

    barry said,

    Hi Deborah,
    It was a great day for a visit wasn’t it. And thanks for the link to my post.
    The unidentified plant is Hacquetia epipactis and a variegated form called ‘Thor’.

    • 20

      Barry, I knew that you would know, thank you for that. Must catch up and hear all about your garden open. I heard that you had quite a few visitors, in spite of it being a wet day.

  11. 21

    Thank you for the tour of this wonderful garden Deborah – I have caught the Hellebore bug and am inspired to find spaces for a few more! The orange tinted Japanese maple is a stunner too…hmmm…do I have space for another non-native tree…

  12. 23

    What a wonderful tour. The foliage in the spring garden really is amazing! Btw, love your idea with the pots – lessens the guilt as well when I don’t plant them out right away. 🙂

  13. 25

    Joanne said,

    Lovely garden and photos I enjoyed the tour with you.

  14. 27

    fairegarden said,

    A perfect match, garden tour and plant sale to buy the plants shown in situ! That is a good time being had by all. Her gardens are amazing, love the pond plantings and the orange maple, Wow! 🙂

    • 28

      I actually got some snowdrops “in the green” from Marion, I was quite excited by that. I would have loved to buy more, but as we were on our way to KG, the car was already full, darn it!

  15. 29

    teza said,


    I see where B beat me to the punch in identifying your mystery plant. I know LH had it in their catalogue a few years back but it was god awful pricy! Of course, we hardly quibble about such trivial matters nowaday!

    I have had a few plesant conversations with MJ in the past, but never had the pleasure of touring her gardens. Definitely one to regale the importance of ‘bones’ in a garden setting, there is a wonderful array of woody materials on display from your wonderful photos. I was surprised though, expecting something much more woodlandish, or perhaps that is just my wishful thinking! I should like to see the same garden in the throes of Autumn, ablaze in its glory!

    • 30

      Teza, thank you for letting me know about the “mystery plant”, obviously I can’t afford it, lol.
      Marian has tons of woodies in her garden, she spends a lot of time pruning, and coppicing, so she can fit them all in. The west side is her woodland garden, the east her perennial and the south, the rock garden. She wants it all!

  16. 31

    Barbarapc said,

    I’ve always wanted to see her garden – your photos are the next bet thing. Just shows you can’t have enough Hellebores!

  17. 33

    Racquel said,

    Thanks for taking us along on another beautiful garden tour. I love those Hellebores, their speckled faces make me smile. 🙂

  18. 35

    Joy said,

    Deborah .. it has been a while since I have been to other blogs .. things are a bit INSANE here and the back garden with the stone work etc .. well it is going to take a wee bit longer than our guy Millar thought too ? LOL
    What a beautiful garden and your pictures are wonderful so don’t down rate yourself girl ! I love the hellebore and did you find out which one that is .. plus what was that other plant underneath that photo ? I would love to know too !
    I saw there was a cultivar of a Japanese Maple that had a proper “name” and PUMPKIN attached to it because it was so orange .. if I could grow it here ? Wow .. it would be in the ground as we speak !! LOL
    Love the post !

    • 36

      It is hard to get around this time of year isn’t Joy, crazy busy in the garden. I think that you need an orange Japanese maple to fit in with your Hallowe’en theme.

  19. 37

    Kathleen said,

    That looks like an incredible garden Deborah. I would visit often for inspiration! Definitely HAVE to add a Japanese Maple to my garden THIS year. I’ve done without for far too long.
    Happy weekend!!!

  20. 39

    Melissa said,

    Deborah, sorry I have been MIA checking in on your blog. That closeup of the burgundy-colored hellebore is outstanding! And isn’t it interesting to see how gardens change throughout the seasons.

  21. 41

    debsgarden said,

    What a gorgeous garden! I absolutely love that last hellebore! I don’t have any that color; must find it! You are so right about the importance of getting color into the garden through the foliage. This garden is an excellent example.

  22. 43

    I have a trip planned to Canada and MUST go to this garden! I’m going to skim your blog for other Canadian gardens in the Toronto area that I could visit…

    • 44

      Do visit Marions garden, she is well worth the visit. Also Barry Parker, I wrote a post about him titled hortus deliciarum. If you look at, Helen and Sarah might have some other recommendations. When are you visiting?

  23. 45

    […] know, I know. You are probably horribly bored of seeing Marion Jarvies garden over and over and over again. But I can’t help it, I love it. She is one of my plant gurus. Every time I […]

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