The Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society's annual garden tour was the perfect excuse to take a weekend off. Not that we really needed much of an excuse to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake! It has to be one of the prettiest towns in all of southern Ontario. No wonder tourist's flock to its quaint, but pricy shops, restaurants and hotels.
Grandiflora rose 'Gold Metal'
The weather on the weekend was absolutely perfect: not a cloud in the bluest of skies, sunny and hot, but not humid, with the most refreshing of breezes blowing off Lake Ontario.
The first of the tour gardens were all tiny courtyard style spaces in the same townhouse complex.
These were a group of gardeners, who offered by way of example, an abundance of great ideas for making the most of every square inch of outdoor space.
Technically this first garden wasn't on the tour, but I got permission to photograph it anyway.
The "Bay Street" sign clearly demonstrates these homeowners, leading a quiet life in Niagara-on-the-Lake, have a sense of humour. (Bay Street is the Canadian equivalent of "Wall Street" and is the location of the stock exchange in downtown Toronto.)
This version of "Bay Street" has comfortable seating and a cozy cabin atmosphere.
Tip: Hanging baskets don't eat up precious space at ground level in a small garden.
And there are lots of great ways to hang flowers:
A metal bracket holds a standard wrought iron hook in place on this fence.
This next townhouse garden was the tiniest one we saw, but managed to be just marvellous. Creating a dramatic entrance to the garden was this red Rosa 'Amadeus'.
Rosa 'Amadeus': a good modern climber with trusses of deep red flowers that have a light, spicy scent. Height 8' to 10'. Disease resistant and a repeat bloomer.
Design Tip: Think about how you want to use your outdoor space.
Most of the townhouse gardens in Niagara-on-the-Lake had a table with chairs for outdoor meals as well as a separate seating area for entertaining and unwinding.
Idea: Create a pleasant ambience using sound.
The gentle sound of water and the sing-song of a set of chimes is not only relaxing, it helps to mask street noises and the chatter of your neighbours just a fence away.
Idea: When you run out of space at ground level, grow upwards with vines like clematis, ivy or climbing roses.
Not only do vines offer a nice backdrop of greenery and flowers, they hide fencing and blur the boundaries of a garden making it feel larger.
Idea: Installing a light by the garage door means there is less fumbling with keys in the dark.
In the next townhouse garden, there were muted shades of mauve, pink and grey in a large seating area.
Plantings along the shady side of the garage.
In a small place where you will see the same plants everyday and at close quarters, choose perennials and shrubs that will look neat and attractive through as many seasons as possible.
This euonymus shrub (on the right) will look great 365 days a year.
Tip: Annuals provide the best continuous color in the least amount of space.
It is nice to know that any type of garden can be scaled down and adapted to a small outdoor space. The final garden for today is a rose garden.
There was a beautiful wrought iron gate at the entrance to this garden.
Rosa 'Lady of Shallot': A coral colored David Austin rose that reaches a height of 3' to 6'. This is a repeat bloomer that is disease resistant.
Rosa 'Jasmina': A climbing rose with long-lasting pastel pink roses that deepen to mauve in the centre. This rose has disease resistant foliage and can reach a height of around 8'.
Idea: Again, climbing roses make use of vertical space.
Just off the back door was a small table set for tea.
More small space ideas coming up soon!
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