Archive for design

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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The Story Behind the Name

I love a good story. And when Monica from Garden Faerie Musings asked how we came up with our names, I was eager to comply. Some of you will already know my story, I hope you will bear with me when I tell it again.

 As I have mentioned before, we have a name for our garden.  It is Kilbourne Grove.  The Kilbourne Family built our house back in 1880 and they passed it on through the family until the 1940’s, when a doctor and his family bought it.   They lived there until 2005. The doctor died and his wife moved to a nursing home.  It sat vacant for a year, while the architect/property developer who bought it made some changes.  We bought it from her and moved in in May 2006.

When we lived in England, we lived in Notting Hill.  But even that is further divided into smaller sections, and we were in Westbourne Grove.  It was a very trendy and expensive street with a lot of high end antique and clothing shops, trendy bars and restaurants.

When we were thinking of a name, we wanted to pay tribute to the original family and give a nod to our years in London.

Having read too many books, both English historical and gardening, it seemed like everyone named their house/garden and not only that, parts in the garden as well.  Think of Rosemary Vereys “Laburnum Walk”, Sir Roy Strongs “Silver Jubilee Garden” and Sissinghursts “Lime Walk” and “The Rondel”. 

It was a way for us to pay tribute to the historic tradition of English gardens.

As Linda said, it is a great way of your better half finding you.  At the moment, our hedges are too small, and Ian usually can see me when I am out in the garden, but give it a few years.

So far, I have divided my garden into 6 sections at the back.  I have a Lime Walk.  I had to have one of those.  Everywhere we went in England, there was pleached trees and I love the look.  That whole formal straight line thing.

The Kitchen Garden  or Potager was the first thing that we put in, it gave us a place to heel in any plants that we were given or had purchased, while we were preparing a space for them.

Next, came the Flora Glade.  I stole this name from “The Laskett”,  my favourite garden in England (at least I think so now, not having seen them all, who ever could, talk about a life’s work).  This was an area behind our garage that had a few maple trees, and it is (so far) the only garden without straight lines.

We have just planted two yew hedges, running from the Flora Glade to the Lime Walk, giving us another 30 foot square garden (I am now calling it the Yew Garden, until I can decide what to do with it).

Our huge lawn on the south/east side goes by the name  “Croquet Lawn” as it is the only open spot when we want to play croquet or bocce.

I also have a Lilac Dell,  just a huge clump of very old lilacs by the street, with 2 paths running through them.  One day, I plan to limb up the lilacs and underplant them. 

But all plans change, and change frequently.  That is the beauty of life, and of gardening.

I was so unknowledgable about blogging that when I came up with the name ‘Green Theatre’ for the blog, I did not realize my user name would be the one most people would recognize me by. You can read about that here. But if you want to know how I came up with the name Green Theatre, you can read about that here.

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Two Steps Forward…

One step back.

Ian got annoyed with me again.

So totally my fault. I love symmetry in my garden, and do not always think about how I am going to get it when designing a new space. Actually the problem arises when I add a new garden beside an established one.

The first arose when I decided the vista from the Flora Glade through the Lime Walk into the Croquet Lawn had to be in the middle of the Yew Garden, not at the bottom where it currently was. This would divide the Yew Garden in half, and when I am ready to design and plant it (one day), it is a pleasing (to my mind) shape. This was fairly easy as it was only a couple of years after planting, so move a few things and done.

You can see that it is not quite finished yet. Every spring I say I have to move those hydrangeas, and then get busy with other things, 2012 it is going to happen! I did get the cedars behind them moved this September, yay.

But of course, I had to turn my attention to the path leading from the Flora Glade to the Allee. When I designed the Allee, I hadn’t originally planned on extending it all the way to the Kitchen Garden, I had thoughts of another garden in between, but decided bigger was better. I extended it so it ran all the way to the Kitchen Garden with just a five foot wide strip allowing you to walk to either the north or south. If you walk to the south, you can walk up some stone steps Ian built, and through the hedge on top of the berm, but if you walked to the north, you just hit the cedar hedge enclosing the Flora Glade.

 The entrance to it through the hedge was 10 feet to the east.

Looking south to the Allee.

Well that was not going to be allowed, and I had better take care of it before Ian arrived from Barbados, I did not want to listen to ‘what are you doing nows’.

So I moved the cedars, filled in the old path from the huge pile of top soil that had been sitting on our drive from last fall, (I am sure the neighbours were happy to see the blue tarped pile go), and of course had to purchase a couple of new shrubs to go into that spot. I mean, it was the fall, sales were on all over, I did have to help the nurseries stay in business.

Of course, dummy that I am, I forgot to take a photo of the new entrance. In the spring, after the bulbs are moved, I’ll update you.

Just need to fix the curve in the path, ran out of soil. You can see the new opening in the cedars, just behind the red Japanese Maple.

Now, in the spring, after moving any bulbs that are lurking where the new path is to be, I can finish it, or leave it half done like the other one…

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Oh, It’s a very good year

After my huge disappointment last year with my hydrangea, I was fully prepared to return to Kilbourne Grove and find horrible and wilty hydrangea. I had been reading people’s blogs, and they were all talking about how hot and dry the summer had been. No one is watering my garden while I am away (no one had been watering it when I lived in Toronto either), I am a firm believer in the sink or swim method. As a weekend gardener (and now long, long distance gardener),  I cannot afford to coddle plants. So I was very prepared.

And very pleasantly surprised.

My ‘free’ hydrangeas are really settling into their space and starting to fill out.

Hard to believe that these were all ‘blue’ hydrangea at one time. I was a bit of a hydrangea snob, would not take the bright pink ones. Now they are all various shades of pink, and purple, not a blue to be seen. I now that you need acidic soil to keep them blue, which we do not have in Ontario, and I am actually starting to prefer these colours.

I love how the Allium christophii seed heads look with the hydrangea. I wish I had been there when they flowered, very curious how it looked.

You can also see some seed heads of Allium ‘Purple Sensation’, these have been planted a number of years, but I wanted to extend the Allium season by planting the christophii.

The Hakonechloa ‘Aureola’ is just one of the variety of plants that I am testing at the base of the hydrangea. As you know, I have muscari planted there and when it finishes flowering I find it a bit tatty. Along with the Hakonechloa  I am testing Nepeta, Hosta and Geranium ‘Rozanne’. The geranium was the first to go, I dug it up and moved the plants to the Allee in September. I love the plant, and it certainly flowers heavily, weaving its way through the hydrangea. Unfortunately it also weaves its way onto the path, and I prefer something a bit more tailored looking in this section of the garden. You can also see at the top of the photo the nepeta. Looking at at here, I am not feeling it, but I think I should give it another couple of years before I make a decision. See how messy the muscari seedheads get, must hide them.  We shall see how the other plants make out over the next few years.

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Stony Ground

Yes, we finally did it. Last autumn we raked up all the mulch from the paths in the Flora Glade. I have long wanted to have pea gravel paths, but as we had a ton of wood chips, curtesy of a tree that blew down in a storm, decided to start with that, after all, they were free. So a couple of years ago, we took up all the grass, and put down the bark.

Then last year, it came up, and a base of limestone screening was put down. What a difference, firm underfoot, dry, I loved it.

 The only thing I did not love was the colour, waaay to white.  But Mother Nature took care of that quickly (with a bit of help from some worms), and the colour dulled down.This spring, (during the short time we were back in Canada), we had some pea gravel delivered.  And working as the fabulous team that we are, Ian and I started to spread it. 

We had pea gravel paths when we lived in Kingston (and they were a very handy warning system when a burglar was trying to break in, but that is another story), but we had laid the gravel to thick.

It was very hard to walk on, so we learned our lesson this time. We only put down one or two inches on top of the limestone. And it worked beautifully, instantly firm and lovely to walk on. And it really finished off the Flora Glade,and made it look much more polished.

Now, I am debating what to do about the Kitchen Garden. A couple of years ago, we took up the grass paths and laid the rest of our bark mulch.

 

I would like to change that was well, but would it be too  much to continue the pea gravel from the Flora Glade? Should there not be a different medium underfoot? What do you think?

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