Posts tagged yew

The Allee: Part I

Who doesn’t love long weekends! And finally a perfect one, sunny and not too hot, perfect working conditions in the garden.

And my garden needed it! The grass has not been cut since August 8th, and that was only the area immediately around the house (just so the neighbours realize that we still live there). Between the weather, and personal commitments the rest of the garden was last cut on July 19th. Yikes! So it took a bit longer then normal. After all, I was spending a lot of time on each spot, first I would have to do a wheelie with the lawnmower, so the blades were high up, and then slowly lower it down over the grass. This did a satisfactory job, but I would really like to be able to cut it on a more regular basis.

At last, I could get to the fun stuff.  I have decided to plant an allee, stretching from the Lime Walk to the Kitchen Garden. I have been mulling over in my mind  for a long time, what kind of tree I should use for the allee. I didn’t want as formal a look as the Lime Walk, but I still love my straight lines.  Something flowering would be nice, and it is a shady area, as there is 6 large maples and ash trees,  whose canopy overhangs it. So it would need to be an early flowerer, who is mostly finished by the time the trees leaf out. I wanted something multistemed, because I want to have a bit of a tunnel effect. I think (and I could be wrong) that this will give me more of a closed in feeling.


So we laid out the beds for it, they are 20 feet long and 6 feet wide (at the moment).  I took the opportunity to empty the three plastic compost bins that were at the house when we purchased it.  Some of the compost was still quite rough, so it went on the bottom and the more finished went on top.  This created quite a hump in the middle, that will break down and settle over the winter. I created it using the “lasagna: method, of laying newspaper and cardboard directly on top of the grass, then my rough compost and then a layer of finished. I topped all this with a layer of bark chips from my tree (that blew down a couple of weeks ago).

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I started by pounding in a post next to each bed of the Kitchen Garden. (Forgive me the pictures, I was working in the middle of the day, so it is very shadowy).

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And then I did the same thing at the Lime Walk. As this is only a secondary path through the Lime Walk, it is only 3 feet wide. The Kitchen Garden path is 5 feet wide. So the path narrows as it approaches the Lime Walk. I hope that when you are standing in the Kitchen Garden, looking east towards the Lime Walk, it will seem even further away, due to the optical illusion of the path narrowing. The easiest way to get this straight is to tie a rope between the posts.

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Once I had my straight lines, I began. Newspaper underneath and bricks to outline.

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It went fairly fast. This is how I have laid out all my beds at Kilbourne Grove.  You can see how much more sun I have in this area now, after losing our huge, old maple.  I hope the hydrangea in the Lime Walk  will be able to cope.

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Here we are starting to fill the bed with the rough compost from our bins. You can see in the background a bit of our garden. The yew hedge is directly north of this bed and it is the same length. This allows for a 4 1/2 foot wide path from running south along the Flora Glade.

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Finished the first bed, starting the second. I won’t bore you with any more pictures of this  (especially as the beer didn’t allow me to finish the second), it’s just more of the same. Got the bark mulch on, so no weeds (ha), and I will  plan what to plant here.

By the time the beds settle, it will be spring, and I will be able to plant. I also have approx 12 helleborus in the Kitchen Garden, waiting to be transplanted here.

I stopped the beds at 20 feet, in line with the yew hedge. This gives me a square garden, aprox 25feet, between the allee and the Kitchen Garden, I am not sure if I want something different here, or if I will continue the allee all the way to the Kitchen Garden. So I am leaving it for now, I can always extend it in the spring.

I am thinking of serviceberry  for the allee, but does any one else have any other ideas? Owen Sound is Zone 5B, if that helps.


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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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To Yew, or not to Yew, that is the question

Our big project this weekend was planting a yew hedge.  All  of the hedges that we put in at Kilbourne Grove have been cedar, I think that it is white cedar, but it is what ever grows wild in southern Ontario.  The first ones that we planted were dug up on my brothers property in Durham, but as we got older and lazier, we started buying them bare root at the Keady market early in the spring. 

I have planted a privacy hedge along the property line on the south side of the garden and have also backed my linden trees with cedar in the Lime Walk, but I also wanted some different hedges as well.  I am going for evergreen as Owen Sound seems to be buried under snow for 5+ months of the year, and I like to see something when I look outside.

Loblaws had a clearance on their garden centre plants and I went and purchased 16 very small Hicks yews.  Everyone says not to plant yew, it grows so slowly, but I will not be living full time in this house for at least 10 years, so I have the time.  I am trying to get the “bones” of the design in, so they can grow while I live in Toronto.  Hopefully, by the time I move to Owen Sound, they will have put on a lot of growth.

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 It is very important to get them in a straight line, fortunately, I was not the one doing that (I have problems with straight lines). That is why I turned to Ian and whined, “you only have to set up the string for me, I can do the rest”.  Of course, I had my fingers crossed at the time. ( He dug the holes for me too.)  Good thing that I got him to do that, I never would have thought to measure it to the house to keep it in line.

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I do not know where all the bricks came from on our property, but it seems everytime I dig a hole near the south property line, I unearth bricks. They even come in handy. Since I like a formal. linear garden, I use them to out line all the beds first, this also allows me to raise the planting level slightly.  I lay newspaper between the plants to smother the grass, rather then digging it all up.  Then cover it with topsoil and mulch.


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You can see the finished hedge here and just in the background, the hedge on the other side of what will be a garden room. I have not decided what I will use this for yet, but while I do, the hedges will grow and enclose the space.  This will give us three hedges, 2 yew and one cedar, between us and  the house behind us, hopefully this will give us the illusion that we are completely private.


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