Posts tagged boxwood

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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Walk This Way

Please, please, walk this way Mr.Plumber. See the path, Mr. Electrician? Do not go to the back door, you might see a scary, overweight lady, standing in her knickers, making a cup of tea.

One of the annoying things about the way the house is laid out on the lot is “people” coming to the back door, the kitchen door to be more precise. And it is glass!!!

When Kilbourne Grove was originally built in the late 1800’s the road that runs beside the house was the driveway to the stable, behind the house, and the front door, faced the street, 250 feet away. Over the years, the front yard was sold off piece by piece, until there is only 20 feet separating our front door form the side of the neighbours house.  When people pull into our driveway, it is logical for them to go to the back door.

This had to change!!!

When I took my garden design course last winter, we had to come up with a client and design a garden for them. I decided to pick myself (after all, I am a very easy customer), I was taking this course for my own benefit, not to change my career. Since it was a very short course, and I have a large garden (not as large as some, but I intend to landscape every square inch), I had to choose an area to focus on. I chose to work on the side yard.

This is the area that would bring visitors from the driveway to the front door. I need to block off the view of the kitchen and back door, and a fence will be built linking house and garage.

Then a path, leading from the driveway, along the side of the house, turning south at the end to the front door.

This is the plan that I drew for my teacher. None of gardens south of the house are on, this part took forever to draw!

Ok, I should have taken a picture of the legend, but I can walk you through it.

 You enter from the driveway (left on the diagram), through an arbour, and walk along a pea gravel path. On your left (top of the diagram) is a row of Emerald cedars (B), underplanted  by European ginger(L). On your fight, a row of Limelight hydrangea(C), with a boxwood hedge(K), this is also underplanted with ginger. You walk to the end and make a sharp turn to the right. I am thinking about having another arbour here. I also am adding a bench here, for those of you to tired from the long walk to the front door. The rows of Emerald cedars and hydrangea continue all the way to the front door.

N on the diagram was the blue spruce that Ian and I moved. Its story is here.

The rectangular box near the entrance arbour is another small garden. As the house is indented here, but I wanted the path to stay straight, this gave me room for a planting bed. It will also be edged with box, and a specimen tree(A) will be planted here. A magnolia, redbud or perhaps a dogwood.

There is a picket fence running from the house, north towards the street, along the path to the property line on the east, with a gate at the front sidewalk.

You might notice a gap between the fence(J) attaching the house and garage and the picket fence. This is where the greenhouse will be built. (One day).

We have already started on this project.

The line of Emerald cedars on the north or street  side of the garden. The tulips were there when we purchased the house. The developer had sodded over them. I was very surprised when they came up in the spring.

Here you can see the indent, where the old kitchen wing is narrower than the main house.

There is nothing between these cedars and the street, hopefully they will give us the illusion of privacy.

A planting plan is always fluid and open to change. When we were planting these, I changed it slightly. The cedars had been so cheap ($20 each) that I decided to make a bit of a niche, bumping it out to match the bay window in the library. This can be used for a bench, or perhaps some container planting.

This is where the second arbour would go. Right behind those grasses, and in line with that white trailer. That is not ours, it is our next door neighbours, we are storing it in our driveway for the winter, in exchange for him snow blowing the drive, yay! Sorry, Edith, about the rocks, they were there when we purchased, and have not been moved yet. Talk about someone just lining them up! I am hoping to have a stacked stone retaining wall built in the future.

Seen from the other side. That big rock is natural, it would have to stay.

And from the street. See how the line of Emerald cedars marches along the side of the house. The retaining wall would start at the left at the sidewalk and follow the curve of those lined up rocks and end at the big buried rock.

Next, would be digging out all those very old, and very large shrubs beside the house, so the hydrangea and the other row of cedars can go in. I can feel my back ache already.

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And So To Bed

We put the garden to bed this weekend. Well, as much as I actually do. All I do is put a thick layer of bark chips (will they never end) on it.  And do a lot (a lot) of raking.  I don’t cut back my perennials, I like to see something, (at least until the snow covers them) in the garden.

The Lime Walk. looking north from the Deliverance house towards our house. Looking at this picture, I find the boxwoods look unbalanced. My idea was to have them on either side of a path, that runs east and west through the Lime Walk, from the Yew Garden to the Croquet Lawn. The path has not been made yet, (mostly because I moved the original path I made, isn’t changing your mind frequently, a womans prerogative?). I will make it in the spring, perhaps then the boxwood will look like they were placed there for a reason, instead of looking like I lost two. I am also toying with the idea of cedar buttresses, marking the east/west path. (I have so many ideas whirling through my head, poor Ian is terrified, more work for him).

The leaves are all, either raked onto garden beds, wheelbarrowed into a leaf composter, or mulched with the lawn mower.

The Serviceberry Allee is all neat and tidy.  Here you are looking west, towards the Kitchen Garden. However my helleborus seem to think that spring has arrived, and they are sending up buds. I covered them with a fluffy duvet of leaves hoping they will get the idea that it is winter. I have decided to extend the Allee, all the way and meet the Kitchen Garden. Another project for the spring.

 Here you can see the north side of the Serviceberry Allee and the south side of the Yew Garden. There is a 6 foot wide space between them, I am still up in the air about what I will do with this space. (not leave it empty of course!)

 Now, I am already for the snow to arrive, actually I am seriously hoping for spring to be right around the corner and another season to begin!

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Garden Visits: Spindletree Gardens

One Word-AMAZING!!!!!!

Wow, Susan Meisner and Tom Brown have made an magnificent garden, the culmination of their lifes work. I am sure that it has to be one of the largest, private gardens to be developed in the last few years.

Tom, a retired architect from Toronto, led us on the garden tour. There is 80 acres, of which 5 is gardened, and they started their garden in 1996.  They both have a huge work ethic, they must have, the progress they have made in the past 13 years is immense. Tom says that he moved 400 tons of stone by himself, building all the stones walls and paths. The garden is called Spindletree, due to the number of Euonymous europaeus, that were on the property when they bought it.

When we visited, there was a few garden features that were not on the garden map.  A  300 foot  locust allee has been planted, with the Victorian Well Cover as the focal point at one end. On the other end, Tom and Susan are planning on a huge glasshouse. A cedar maze had just been planted, and was due for its first haircut. And there are  more plans for the future, including a fern grotto.

 I hope that I don’t bore you with so many pictures, but I was blown away by their garden.  It has a European sensibility, which is rare in Canada, formal gardens are unusual in the country.  The combination of formal, very structured garden near the house, moving into an English park like setting was magnificent. They have developed 5 acres of amazing garden, divided into a series of gardenrooms, all with their own theme.

Tom took us on an hour and a half tour, full of interesting stories and helpful tips.  From the tan pea gravel imported from Montana, to the wooden croquet hoops, built to look like landmarks in England, there was so much to see.


You start of the tour near the house,

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Lovely statuary!  This is Kwan Yin, the compassionate goddess of the garden.


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Dirt Simple by Deborah Silver

I just found the most amazing garden design blog.  Deborah Silver is a very talented garden designer.   She says its “Dirt Simple”, but I would have to disagree. Every garden she designed I loved, but I especially loved hers.  The fountain that is in her header is in her own garden and it is lovely.  I can just imagine coming home after a hard day at work and sticking my feet in. And if someone is pouring the drinks, even better!


I took a garden design course at George Brown College, last fall, and my project was to design a new walkway to my front door.  When our house was originally built the front lawn went all the way to 4th Av W., and a laneway ran on the north side of the house to the stables behind. Over the years, the laneway became a street and the owners sold off bits and pieces of the land, including the portion in front that went down to the street. This means my front door is facing my neighbour with the garage behind the house.  Everyone that visits comes to the glass back door.  It is quite disconcerting to be standing in your knickers and hear a knock on the door, (and not only for me!).

I need to make an inviting path that will lead all the way from the driveway, along the side of the house, to the front door, and make an uninviting and unnoticeable entrance to the back door.

Our one day path

Our one day path

In my garden plan at college, I designed a peagravel path, edged with a boxwood hedge.  There were Emerald cedars spaced rhythmically along the path, and between them was Annabelle hydrangeas.  I chose the Annabelles, as there were 4 or 5 already planted beside the house and they were quite happy.  That is until I read an entry on Dirt Simple.  Deborah had a similar hydrangea and boxwood lined path, but she used Limelight hydrangea instead of the Annabelles.  It look amazing!!!

I actually went to the food terminal in Toronto today, and bought 2 shrubs. I am going to plant them against the house and trial them for a year, Deborah says they are very easy to grow. We have already planted some of the Emerald cedars on the north side of the path.  The south side still had the original shrubs in it, 10 foot tall mockorange, the Annabelles, a struggling forsythia, and some spirea.  These will be a battle to dig out as they have been planted longer then I have been alive.  Hopefully, next summer I will have made some progress on this and will be able to share it.

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