Thursday, February 28, 2013

What's worse than a Snowstorm?

What's worse than a snowstorm? A snowstorm followed by rain and then more snow. 

Not that these guys are complaining!

A snowstorm struck overnight, and by dawn, it was pouring rain. The snow quickly became 
saturated with water, and as heavy as rock. 

The wooden handle of my snow shovel ended up snapping like a twig. 

Then last night, it snowed yet again. 

The boys are loving it though.

This isn't a great picture, but it says it all. That's the pack order from left to right. 

Who would have guessed that my daughter-in-law's little guy would become top dog? 

He may be small, but he is mighty... and a major troublemaker.

These two are best friends forever.

Although there still are the occasional territorial disputes. 

Like this tug-of-war.

The boys send their regards, and respectfully want to know when I will be done on the computer. 

It is a snow day after all!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tomatoes in the Front Garden? Hey, why not!

I am always on the lookout for gardens that are unique and original. 

Today, I want to share with you the garden of a local homeowner who has managed to use traditional boxwood hedges in an interesting and contemporary way.

In compliment to the clean, modern lines of the house, the sweeping curves of boxwood hedging frame the plantings and give them a pleasing sense of order.

Three statuesque bunches of Feather Reed Grass, Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'  
stand at the top of the front garden.

Here you can see the garden straight-on. On the garden's outer perimeter, a curved line of stone pavers delineates the flowerbed's outside edge and separates it from the lawn.

One great thing about boxwood hedging is that its evergreen. When the perennials die back to the ground in late fall, the green hedges will still add interest and structure throughout the long Canadian winter.

Plantings in the front garden include a range of geraniums, sedum, heuchera, stonecrop, poppy, spirea, alliums, and even some tomatoes. My picture isn't the best, but those are tomatoes to the left.

A passageway between the house and garage leads to the backyard. Here, there is a stone patio with an overhanging pergola.

Mature trees mean that there is more shade in the back garden: 
perfect for the mix of hostas that you see here (with a peony in behind them).

A standout feature of the back garden is this bench and pergola.

Here is the view of this little seating area and the garden in front of it 
as seen from the centre of the yard.

Again, a curved line of boxwood hedging is employed at the back of the house.

A path of stone pavers leads visitors to a shaded table and chairs.

What a nice place to sit on a hot summer's day!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Pretty Watergarden

Every year I try to do my small part to support garden themed events for worthy charitable causes.  One such garden tour is the annual Pond Tour for the Hospice, which raises much needed funds for the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice for Palliative Care in Hamilton. 

The hospice is a non-profit organization that provides supportive care to patients who are facing a life-threatening illness. A portion of the hospice's operating budget comes from the government, but the rest must be raised through special events like the annual pond tour.

Amber Downes of Clearwater Ponds, who helps to organize the tour each year for the hospice, emailed me the other day to let me know that they have set the dates for this year's tour. This summer the two day watergarden extravaganza will take place on Saturday, June 22nd and Sunday, June 23rd.

To coincide with this announcement, I thought that I would showcase one of the prettier ponds from last year's tour. 

I have already shown you a few sneak peaks of this terrific garden. Today, I will place them back in context and show you the full garden and pond.

Before we head into the back garden, we'll pause for just a quick second and admire the colorful container plantings at the front of the house.

Now let's go down the pathway leading to the backyard.

Beautiful blue-grey stones edge the stone path.

As we round the house, a mix of trees, shrubs and perennials partially obscures the view, 
making what comes next a bit of a surprise.

Looking back the way we came. 

If you like your garden to be neat and tidy at all times, this is a good example of what you might want to consider planting. 

Provided they are well watered and the slugs are kept at bay, this planting combination, which includes magenta astilbe, mixed hostas, pale pink spirea, pyramid-shaped boxwood, assorted hydrangeas and a Japanese Maple, are going to look great for the full gardening season.

As we round the corner, we get our first glimpse of the pond.

As you can now see, the pond is quite expansive and takes up a good portion of the back garden.

Amber Downes of Clearwater Ponds tell me that, "When Clearwater Ponds first met these clients, they had a brand new pond built by another contracter. Unfortunately, the pond was not functioning properly. The pond had good "bones", but not enough "muscle" to keep it functioning properly."

A stone patio runs along the back of the house and overlooks the pond.

To get the pond functioning properly, Clearwater Ponds increased the pond's filtration and improved the pond's circulation by adding an additional pump and a surface skimmer. They also reinstalled the existing filter properly.

Amber says, "The clients are so happy with the final result. Their pond is beautiful to look at and is always crystal clear."

The waterlilies in this pond are quite colorful.

One final project that Clearwater did was to redesign and rebuild the previously existing waterfall. The newly installed waterfall is much more natural looking and visually pleasing.

For those of you that live in the GTA, mark your calendars for this year's pond tour. It is a wonderful event for a great cause.

To see more ponds from last year's tour, be sure to check out this virtual Pond Tour for the Hospice on Facebook. There will be a different pond each day for the next few weeks.

Monday, February 18, 2013

An Old World Garden in the Heart of Rosedale, ON

More than majestic trees, beautiful flowers, elegant stonework or even deep pockets, you need vision to create a breathtaking garden. 

Today, I hope to inspire you with just such a garden. Though it is set in the center of a big Canadian city, this garden feels private and remote. 

The atmosphere is decidedly Old World. 

The mood is slightly melancholy and deeply romantic.

Here you see the vine covered side of the house which is set into a hillside.

There are gardens on either side of the front entrance.

To the left of the front door, there is small courtyard of pea gravel. Two contemporary metal spheres make a nice counterpoint to the more traditional elements in this part of the garden. 

Though it looks like it has been there for all time, the moss covered stonework was added just 5 years ago and includes many pieces salvaged from old Ontario buildings.

A closer look at the plantings that include a white rose, ivy, purple campanula, hosta, 
japanese grass, and ferns.

At the top of a short flight of stone steps, there is a small terrace. Wouldn't this be a perfect 
place to sit with your morning coffee or to enjoy a light summer lunch? 

To add the relaxing ambience of splashing water, there is a small circular pool 
with a tile mosaic at the bottom. 

Now, we will walk by the front of the house and turn to our right this time.

There is also an entrance right off the street into this part of the garden.

Did you notice the wrought iron lamp that overhangs the gate? It's a nice detail.

The stone pathway leads to the side door.

Just beyond the doorway, there is the gateway leading to the back garden.

Just beyond that gate, we can see one of the garden's more interesting and unique details.

The former spire of the Cathedral Church of St. James in downtown Toronto was taken apart and rebuilt on the property by stonemason Augustus Butterfield.

A low stone wall arches across the back of the property.

Directly behind the in-ground swimming pool, is the focal point of the back garden- a Grecian folly with two ancient-looking columns.

Stone steps lead up and into the faux ruins.

Plantings here include English yews, junipers, ferns, Lady's Mantle, and purple allium.

Outside the garden gates a fast-paced modern world rushes by, but on the inside this quiet cocoon, it feels as though the world has stood still for all time.

More Information and Links:

Stonework: Augustus Butterfield