Archive for design

Floral Fantasy: Hydrangea

Who doesn’t love hydrangeas? When I was working in floral design, it seemed to be the one flower that customers and designers always wanted to include in arrangements. And with good reason, it is classic and elegant. I was staying with a dear friend for a few days and we decided to make a couple of flower arrangements.  I was surprised at how much I missed flexing my ‘design’ fingers.  After the coffee table arrangement was completed, her amazing garden was raided, and the Limelight hydrangea was just asking to be used.

 

After lining the crystal vase with blue hosta leaves, three chartreuse ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta leaves anchored the base, before it was filled with the Limelight hydrangeas.  A few fronds of ‘Ghost’ fern added more texture near the bottom.

I have always loved large arrangments in a front hall or a dining room sideboard, not only do I think they look dramatic, they are one of my favourite to design.

What do you think?

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A Toronto Garden

This is where my split personality comes in. As much as I love my friends garden and I wish it could be mine, then I see a new plant that I just have to have, and it throws the whole design out the window.

When I visited this Toronto garden with my friend Barry in the spring, I made a huge list of plants that I wanted.  And it was long. And then got longer.

The design of this garden is a typical one, long borders running along the side for the whole length. of the garden  But it is the plant material that makes it extraordinary.  And certainly the use of colour.   While the photos were taken at the same time of year as my friends garden, you can tell these photos were taken in the spring, while in the Rosedale garden, it could have been almost any time of year.

However this garden does have a lovely little topiary feature near the end of the garden, enticing you to go and take a closer look at it.

It also has the good fortune to back onto a ravine, who living in a city would not want this. Look no neighbours, only a lovely sylvan view.

I love this sculpture, perhaps I could DIY something with a similar feel.

A closer look at the topiary feature, but look at the glorious beauty of the Cornus behind it.

This glorious Cercis canadensis ‘Appalachian Red’  had me wanting to dig up Old Stumpy.

This Prunus came from Marion Jarvies garden and is a new variety named after her. Lovely colour.

Every where you looked there was colour. And it was not all from flowers, look at how many coloured foliages there are in this garden.

I shall certainly have to search out this trillium, isn’t she a beauty.

This Erythronium was given to the home owner by Keith Wiley, it is certainly a lot larger then my ‘White Beauty’.

When I saw Hosta ‘Fire Island’ I was blown away, made sure I purchased my own this spring.

And I wished I had asked for the variety of this Helleborus, what great foliage.

And I was happy when she told me this Arum seeds all over her garden. I purchased one a couple of years ago, and I would be a very happy girl if it did the same for me.

So what do you think of my last two garden visits? Do you perfer a calm, serene, low maintenance garden with lovely formal structure? Or a collectors garden, where every day is different?  I want them both!

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A Rosedale Garden

I know the Toronto Botanical Society’s Rosedale garden tour was a couple of months ago. I soooo wish I could have gone on it, but was flying back to Barbados that weekend.  But I wanted to share a garden with you that is gorgeous enough to be on it. It is also in Rosedale, and belongs to a friend of mine.  We met in Barbados through my neighbour, and immediately bonded over gardening. When I returned to Canada in May, I was invited for lunch and a garden tour. This garden was a true labour of love for my friend, thought about in great detail and it shows. We are both huge fans of structure in the garden, both hard and green, flowers while gorgeous are an accent to the space.

You enter through two massive beech hedges, kept softly in shape rather than firmly clipped.

This allows you to enjoy the movement of the hedge as the wind blows and allows dark then light to shine out from them.  These are accented with a clipped box hedge which in turn leads to a square box of roses sitting directly in front of the main entrance.  The paving laid in a diamond pattern directs you towards the door where two more beech hedges on either side of the door echo the ones at the sidewalk,

repetition at its finest.  A yew hedge separates the house from the sidewalk and encloses two more planting areas. 

 Another enclosure of clipped box is a frame for peonies and sedum, both plants that look good all year. A serviceberry accents one corner, allowing for early season blooms.

On the other side, directly under the window is a box parterre. This is accented seasonally with a colourful annual, this year a dark coleus was planted. I love the structure and shapes in the front garden. Even if you did not have any flowering plants in it, the different colours of green and textures make it interesting.

I took this photo from the third floor so you could get a good look at the overall design of the back yard. The back yard is divided into three main areas.  A lovely brick garage has been accented with trellis-work, breaking up the expanse and allowing roses and clematis to climb. Beside it is the dining area, bordered by box, heuchera and carex.

Two steps down and you arrive at a small sitting area where you can admire the pool with its infinity edge. Water pours out of four opening into the pool allowing the sound to mask any city noise. The copper beech hedge looks dark and mysterious against the light stonework of the pool.

This provides a lovely backdrop in the third area, which is the main sitting area.

Two identical small buildings are joined by columns, roof and backed by a large mirror. This not only hides the neighbours beside them, but the mirror doubles the size of the garden, you can see the pool (and me) reflected in it.The overturned pot on the pedestal is planted up by now, usually with grass, which is also reflected.

Changing the flooring material sets off the sitting area beside the pool, the brick looking like a carpet.

 Four laburnum trees are also enclosed in diamond shaped box, that is also underplanted with coleus for colour later in the season. Box hedges edge the garden here as well and act as a frame for the hydrangea, fern and hostas that are planted behind them. The japanese maple beside the pool is the only remaining plant from the original garden. It was dug up and saved off site while the hard landscaping was going on. Then it was returned and replanted, and it certainly adds to the overall scheme with its size and colour.

Love it against the blue of the pool.

Although there are not a lot of perennials in this garden, there is colour all year.  This garden was designed to be low maintenance (although I am sure you do not believe it). The hedges are cut a couple of times each year, and the rest is really just a few varieties of easy care perennials. And if you did not want any colour, you could remove all the perennials and between the trees, hedges and ground covers, you still have an exciting and dynamic garden.  I LOVE it!

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The Walled Kitchen Garden at Spindletree Gardens

Some of you may know that I already have a Kitchen Garden. It was the very first garden that we built at Kilbourne Grove.

It looked quite lonely in its sea of lawn. But it is the best thing I have ever did (gardening wise of course). Any time I get a plant I do not know what to do with, in it goes. Want to bulk up a perennial, in it goes. Cuttings?, in they go. Oh yeah, and I had herbs, and vegetables in it as well. (Notice the word had.)

I searched through all the photos I took this spring, this is the only one I can find of the Kitchen Garden, tell you anything?

But it is small, and certainly not as sunny as it used to be. Funny how trees keep growing, and as they do, more and more sun gets blocked out.  Right now, it is not to much of a problem, but once we are living at Kilbourne Grove full time, it will be. I want to grow a lot of fruit, veg and herbs, oh, and a few flowers for cutting as well. And it will not be big enough, or certainly sunny enough.

There are only three sunny areas in the whole garden. One is right behind the house. The last summer we were there I had my tomato towers set up, best tomatoes ever.

The second is the drive, can’t do much about that.

And the third, is what we call the Croquet Lawn.

This is the spot that I had earmarked in my mind for a pool. Sunny, flat, it would be perfect. Except, now we are talking about a sailboat, and perhaps a cottage. Not as much need for a pool if you have those.  So what else could I put in here?  What about a Kitchen Garden.

And this time, it would be done right, right from the start. No building boxes on the grass, and then trying to get rid of it. Strip the grass off right at the start, nice paths and raised beds.

So when I was at Spindletree Gardens in the spring, I took lots of photos of their lovely space.  It is beautiful, and surrounded by brick walls. 

 I certainly can’t afford that, but I could use,

box to edge the beds,

love how this looks,

pea gravel and brick for paths,

and obelisks for height.

How about a lovely decorative tool shed,

this one is built right into the fence, I am sure Ian could do that.

An arbour for growing cucumbers, beans, anything your heart desires.

No brick wall to espalier fruit tress, but what about step overs, or some kind of free standing espalier, I could do that.

But, I couldn’t duplicate this lovely walled view, but perhaps I could grow a hedge and cut a window into it.

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A Birds Eye View 2012

Are you all addicted to seeing me in high places? Do you like the idea of me on my roof, bracing myself against the wind? Come on, want the truth here.

The third most popular post ever, (about my garden) is this one. My first is this, makes sense, people want to get ideas for Christmas, who better to come to then a florist. This one, I was a bit surprised about, I think it is just starting to get popular, however I have had mine for a couple of years, and just love it. But number three, lucky number three. This is the one where I climb up on the roof, and risk life and limb to show you (and me) a bird’s eye view of the garden. Of course, the best time to do so is in early spring. I have a lot of big, old trees around the house and garden, when the leaves are out they really screen it. But now, you can see every detail.  For me, it is a great way to plan out my garden, does something look wrong or out-of-place or scale from the roof. I am always surprised how small the garden areas look from the roof, when I am in them they seem enormous. Take the Kitchen garden for example. Looks tiny doesn’t it. The space actually measures 20 feet x 20 feet, that is actually larger than our whole backyard when we lived in our first house.

I had really hoped by now, (this is the 6th spring for us in Kilbourne Grove), there would be more accomplished.  I guess it is not too bad, after all we have never lived in the house full-time, only weekends for the first 4 years and then the last two, in Barbados. How much can you really accomplish, not actually living there, all the weeding and lawn cutting to take care of, never mind life and relaxation, (after all it is the weekend). My father kept cautioning me, (every spring), don’t make so many gardens that you can’t maintain them all, and I had no intention of listening to him, lol. However, a job transfer accomplished what parental advise never could. There has been no time to design anything new, although certainly in my mind’s eye I have.

So this is where it stands this spring, our 6th,

Front Garden

Not many changes in the front garden, although I did add a Cornus ‘Golden Shadows’ to the top right hand corner. This Cornus becomes a tiered beauty of chartreuse and green variegated leaves, and should add a lovely light look against the dark green of the cedar hedge. You can hardly see the Daybreak and Magic Fire here, they will have to get a lot larger to be seen from the roof at this time of year.

Front Garden

Can you see the dark dirt spot, just under the maple leaves, that is where Golden Shadows is planted? I can’t see it either, the darn program cut off the end of my photo and I can’t figure out how to change it, trust me, it is there!

Lime Walk

Lime Walk April 2010

Lime Walk

Lime Walk 2012

The muscari in the Lime Walk  are even thicker this year, although they are just about finished, what a difference an early spring makes. . On the right, the path will lead into the Yew Garden, on the left, I still need to move the plants to create a path to the croquet Lawn. I love seeing these two photos together, just when I feel like my hedges are not growing, here is some hard evidence that they are.

The Serviceberry Allee

The Serviceberry Allee 2010

The Serviceberry Allee

This is the hardest one to see, hidden at the back of the garden, and a huge maple branch in the way.

The Serviceberry Allee at the top of the photo, leads into the Kitchen Garden.  I finally added the last two serviceberry to the Allee, for a total of 11.  Now, it is finished, except for the growing part, tee hee.

The Flora Glade and The Kitchen Garden

Here you can see the Flora Glade and Kitchen Garden.

Flora Glade 2010

Flora Glade 2011

Flora Glade 2012

Except for the plants (hopefully) getting larger nothing was changed here. Although I am in the process of moving the path, filled it in on the left hand side, and slowly changing it on the right. Moved the perennials last fall, and in the process of moving the bulbs after they flower. Hopefully I will be able to finish it in the fall. The stone paths and the pedestals certainly make a difference in the way it looks just 2 years ago. If you want to read about me (Ian) building the pedestals, you can here.

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