Posts tagged garden visits

Garden Visits: Garden House

The ‘Season’ has started in Barbados, and that is good for me and for our house guests. Until the end of April, there is lots and lots to see and do in Barbados. Between horse racing, polo, concerts, plays, National Trust open houses, etc., etc., Ian and I shall be very busy. Even better, the Barbados Horticultural Society has started their ‘Open Garden’ for the next two months. These are small private gardens that the owners are graciously opening for a small fee allowing the BHS to raise money.

For the first open garden it was the home of Mrs. Jean Robinson, in Constant, St. George.  She is the past president of the BHS and the Co-ordinator of the Barbados exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show from 1988, when the Society first began exhibiting, until her retirement last year. And we all know how Barbados cleans up at Chelsea,  15 Golds, 8 Silver-Gilt, and 1 Silver, quite the record. I got a chance to see a replica of their 2011 Gold winning exhibit when it was displayed at Limegrove Mall this summer.

The garden at Garden House, is over 2 acres of lawns divided by shrub borders. You enter via the poinsettia walk,

and through an opening in the wall.

A path takes you through the first garden room.

In the shrub borders that surround this first garden room there is a lovely combination of Dracaena marginata, Ixora and variegated Mahoe.

The variegated Mahoe up close and personal. We have this plant in my complex as well, and I love it.

The borders surround a beautiful 18th century Bajan house,

 and the vivid colours of the shrubs and trees, whether in flower or not, lend a sparkle to the garden



Bromeliad planter


Loved the Euphorbia lactea ‘White Ghost’, so striking against the dark  ivy backdrop. 

On one side of the house a lovely lily pool,

and a closeup of the dark tradescantia planted at the base.

Walking back towards the house, you pass this tree, wish I had been there when the orchids were in flower


I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that a lot of the material that is used at Chelsea came from this garden, there is so much beautiful foliage that would be perfect in a floral arrangement,

Variegated Heliconia


Red Leafed Banana


Variegated Banana

This is  a yellow leafed form of Crinium, love  it.

In the back 40, were a number of fruit trees and this huge bamboo.

a very handy plant for any floral designer, and you can cut your own canes for staking as well.

Although there is no formal design (and you know how I like that), I was amazed by the colour throughout the garden, and the huge number of plants that I had no idea what they were. (And some I recognized as house plants in Canada).

And how to end a perfect afternoon, but a lovely tea in the shade, how civilized...


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Top 11 of ’11

In case you were curious, I certainly was. These were the 11 posts written in 2011, that had the most page views. I was surprised that so many of them have to do with Barbados, not quite sure why I was surprised, I guess because I feel like my blog is about my garden, although now it feels more like about my life. And my life is now in Barbados, it least for the next two years. And I only like to write about personal things, not take a picture from the internet, and write a brief paragraph about it like some bloggers do. My blog has become a journal, a snapshot of what is happening in my life at this time, and that certainly includes Barbados.

1.  The Magnificent Seven

I was surprised this one was the number one post of 2011. I wrote 2 posts on my trip to Trinidad, but the post about the seven amazing houses was the most popular. It was certainly one of the most interesting things for me, I am sure you all know I love old houses, look at Kilbourne Grove.

2. Gardening in a Cold Climate

My visit to the amazing garden of Brian Bixley was sparked by reading a review of his book by Kathy Purdy on her website. Luckily I was in Canada for his first open garden of the year (you all know I love bulbs), and took a million photographs. Kathy was kind enough to post a link from her blog to mine, and she became my second largest referral site in 2011. Thanks Kathy.

3. Pride of Barbados

After gardening (and floral design) for soooo many years, it is disconcerting to live in a country where I only recognize 10% of the vegetation. It is fascinating for me (and I hope you) to discover new plants.

4. Gotta Have It: Bougainvillea

I have long loved bougs, and was super excited to find them in full flower when we moved here last December. The flowering seemed to go on and on and on. Luckily, I was given one for our terrace here, and have found it a super easy plant to grow, just wish they were hardy in Canada.

5. It’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to


What I left behind!


This post was a bit of a moan for me, sorry about that. At the time I was feeling a bit unhappy, leaving my friends, family, job, home and garden, to live in Barbados. When we moved to London, I was beyond excited, but that was LONDON, I could work, travel to Europe, and I am a bit of a city girl at heart. However, after spending most of the spring and fall in Canada, when I wanted to be there, and spending the winter in Barbados (who wouldn’t), I have adjusted.

6. St. Nicholas Abbey

Back to point number one, I love old houses. And Barbados has 2 of the 3 Jacobean houses in the Western hemisphere. St. Nicholas Abbey was sooo gorgeous.

7. Drax Hall

Funny that the second Jacobean house in Barbados was the next most popular post. This one is not open to the public, so we were only able to see the grounds.

8. Ah, Life!

For some reason, some of you wanted to know a little bit more about me, so I gave you a lot more, more than you asked for, sorry about that, I do like to ramble. Here is the story of my thoughts about moving to Barbados.

9. Pots, Pots, Pots!

Frank Kershaw was my garden design teacher at George Brown College and he opened his garden to the public. There was so much to see, I had to break it down into a couple of posts, but his pots were the most popular.

10. Porters Great House

Barbados has its own National Trust, and during the ‘season’ a number of homes opened to raise money for it. This was the only home I visited in 2011, but hope to visit more this year. I was surprised more people did not read Part 2, where I talk about the garden, that is where my true love lies.

11. I’m going home

Not sure why this one was so popular, unless you were happy to see me head back to my ‘forever’ home.  I certainly was.

There you have it, my most popular posts in 2011, what will 2012 hold…

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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.

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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.

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Garden Visits: Toronto Botanical Gardens

Three weeks ago, , I took a garden course at the Toronto Botanical Gardens or TBG. I had to take a bus as I do not have a car, and I wasn’t sure how long it would take.  I got there a few minutes early and I walked around and took a few pictures before my course started. The sun was just starting to set, so some of the pictures may be a bit dark.  The plants were all marked with their name, but I didn’t have time to stop and write them down, if there is something you really want to know the name of, I might be able to get back.

The TBG was redesigned a few years ago. It is now 12 award-winning, themed gardens, encompassing almost 4 acres.  The main building is a glass pavilion and features a “green” roof.

TBG 001

Walking from the bus stop, you walk through the Entry Garden Walk, which is a “sophisticated Meadow” and inspired by Piet Oudolf. A mix of perennials and grasses, I think that it is at its best this time of year. See if you agree.

TBG 002


I wish I knew what the name of everything was.TBG 003

 Not that I have the space for it in my own garden.

TBG 004

 But they are very beautiful.

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At keast, I know these, hakonechloa (my fav) grass and japanese anemones.

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You then arrive in the Arrival Courtyard, (if you drive, you arrive directly here). Sculptural hedges made up of cornus mas and beech are being trained inside of a metal cage.


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There you can find a map of the garden.

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From here you can go into the different gardens a number of ways. Lets go into the Garden Hall Courtyard.

TBG 028

This area features a sunken courtyard with a diverse mix of trees, shrubs and perennials, and features a large selection of Japanese Maples.

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I believe these were the full moon japanese maple. They are underplanted with hakonechloa  grass again and with euphorbia myrsinites.  Love that chartreuse and blue together.

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From here I went into the President’s Choice show garden. This is made up of two sections, one featuring evergreens and small trees and shrubs suitable for a small urban garden and a trial garden area.

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Tigers Eye sumac is a great contrast against the blue.

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 Echinacea with  a paniculata hydrangea, heuchera, grass and a dwarf cleome.TBG 038 From the other end, this was a great combination, all that pink reminds me of Grace. Here at the end is a petunia and variegated pokeweed.

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A closer look, not sure what the pale butter, yellow flower is, but I like the contrast to the pink.

There are many more garden areas at the TBG, including the Herb garden, Kitchen garden, Knot garden, Teaching garden, Spiral Mound, the Terrace garden and the Woodland walk.



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