Posts tagged perennials

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,

kingston2009 162


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


  Read the rest of this entry »


Comments (13) »

Free Plants Are Great, Part 4

When I was at Kilbourne Grove a couple of weeks ago, I took these pictures, that is why the Black Eyed Susans are not yet in flower.

As I have mentioned in previous posts here, here and here,  I am lucky enough to receive the “unsalables” at the flower shop where I work. Sometimes they are not my favourite flower or colour, but I take them anyway.  My garden, when we moved in, was a “tabula rasa”, or blank slate. So I have a lot of ground to fill.

I placed these plants at the front of the house. There is a few large rocks sticking out of the soil and a blue spruce had been planted in the middle (not my favourite, I am still deciding if I should keep it or rip it out).  Around this I have planted:


gardenAug09 124


Sedum “Autumn Joy”,  zebra grass or Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’   and the blackeyed susan,  Rudbeckia fulgida  ‘Goldstrum’.

Just before this picture was taken, the last of the yellow lilys (also from work) finished flowering.  That is all that is in this bed, except for a few yellow tulips that my Mum first brought me when we moved in.


gardenAug09 125


Do you like the special effect on the picture?  It was really easy, pick a rainy day and stand inside and take it from your window.

Leave a comment »

Garden Visits: Larkspur Lane


When I was in Kingston over the past weekend, I was fortunate enough to visit a wonderful garden called “Larkspur Lane.

The Centre

The Centre

Started on a family farm in 1980, Janus Belanger laid it out using a classic quadrant design, divided by pea gravel paths.  It was amazing what she has accomplished on the heavy clay of the family farm.  As with everyone, she didn’t have much time to devote to the garden when her children were young, but has made up for it since.

The South Garden

The South Garden

Sum abd Substance

Sum and Substance




Pots in the South Garden

Pots in the South Garden



The Cedar Arch

The Cedar Arch

Windswept fields, still cause a problem with her garden, actually lowering it a zone, leaving magnolia only marginally hardy.  Her husband refuses to plant a windbreak for the garden as it takes away the use of good farm land. Not to mention, the “magnificent” view (of more farmland).


The Vegetable Garden

The Vegetable Garden


  The vegetable garden is actually a mix of vegetable, herbs and cutting flowers.  She also uses this area as a “nursery”. This is where she lines out plants that she has started from seed, giving them time to grow before subjecting them to the “thugs” in the border.  As I know from personal experience, any new perennial she buys must have more than one crown. When she gets home, these are immediately divided and allowed to bulk up in the vegetable garden, before they are planted in the main garden.


She uses a  plastic kids paddling pool to water all the pots that she hasn’t got in the ground yet. Does the expression, “eyes to big for your stomach” ring any bells! (Of course, I am the same way, never met a plant that I didn’t want!)


On The Porch

On The Porch




lovely porch and pots

kingston2009 070

 Here Allium christophii seedheads are drying, Janus will scatter the seeds around her garden and in a few years will have flowering plants. She puts any new  perennials she buys in pots along with some annuals to fill them for the summer, then plants them  in the fall.

 kingston2009 071

Janus also has a light set up in her cellar for tender plants and the storage of dahlias over the winter.  She will also start seeds there as well.

kingston2009 072



The South Porch

The South Porch


A Colour Echo

A Colour Echo


Comments (3) »

Do Tell

What a relief!gardenjune09 060


When you buy a plant on sale at the end of the  season, you have no idea whether or not it is incorrectly tagged.  This peony was marked “Do Tell” but it was long out of flower and I was taking a big chance.  Had someone moved the tag from another peony.  I love all peonies, but I didn’t want to pay that much(even on sale) if it wasn’t the original. 

Luckily, it wasn’t incorrectly named.  I have had that problem in the past.  You work out a careful colour scheme, all white and black flowers and the tulips that you bought had a couple of red in amongst them.

Or worse, you spend a ton of money on a magnolia and wait a few years for it to flower only to find out that it is “Leonard Messel” not “Merrill”.

This wouldn’t happen to me if I wasn’t so cheap.  I blame my Scottish mother.  I could pay full price and get them when they are in flower, making sure that they are the right colour.  And I know that I could have spoken/or returned the magnolia to the nursery and they probably would have done something about the mislabelling (of course, only if I had bought at full retail, when it is on sale it is buyer beware). But then I would have less plants in my garden.  And sometimes it is a happy accident.  But I am still relieved that Do Tell is actually Do Tell!

Comments (2) »

Hello Beautiful!!!!


Tree Peony

Tree Peony

A year after my mum died, my father decided to sell the house.  I really wanted something from my mothers garden as a ‘living memorial’, but the house was closing in March.  This really limited what I could choose. Most of the perennials were not showing.  But the snowdrops that my mum had originally got from my grandmothers garden were in flower and I could see where the tree peonys were.  Even though it was really early in the season, I decided to dig them up.  I figured that I was losing  them anyway, so if they didn’t make it , I was losing them anyway. 
So, I dug them up as well as a vast quantityof snowdrops and helped move my father.  The next day, I had to plant them in the ground.  My parents had been living in Niagara (the banana belt) and my house is in Owen Sound.  In order to plant the peonys and snowdrops. I had to remove 6″ of snow off the raised garden beds.  Luckily, the soil was really soft under its fluffy, white blanket and I proceeded to plant.
Things went well, they flowered a month later and were a lovely light and dark striped pink.  Unfortunately, that fall, I ran out of time and did not have a chance to move them into a garden bed.
This year, you can see what happened.   I now have a scarlet hussy living in my garden.  I do not know what happened, if this is from the graft of the tree peony, or if my mother is playing a joke on me, but she is luscious, like scarlet silk.
But, I definitely have to move her this fall, and we will see what she decides she wants to be next year.

Leave a comment »