Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ten Ideas to Steal for your Garden Next Spring



Located on a quiet, tree lined road near Campbellville, Ontario is a large country garden that has been twelve years in the making. The prospect of landscaping such a sizeable property might have intimidated many homeowners, but Mary-Anne Poole tackled the project bit by bit as time and money permitted. 

Under the tall evergreens at the front of the house, she planted shade loving hostas in a series of island beds. Along the arc of the driveway Mary-Anne created a part-shade garden using a mix of plants including Heuchera, Tiarella and Japanese Ferns.

In the sunny backyard, she designed a deep flowerbed that has grown in size over the years. It now runs the entire length of one side of the yard and across the back of the property. One of the nicest features of the wide, sunny border is a waterfall and pond framed by a rustic arbor.

Here are 10 great ideas from Mary-Anne's garden that can scaled down to be suit any sized property:


1. Hint to a hidden destination. From mystery springs curiosity. When an outdoor space is revealed in a single glance, you remove the element of surprise and the delight at discovery that inevitably follows. A degree of mystery draws visitors to explore a garden with the hidden promise of what lies ahead.

In case you are wondering, the purple flowers seen in the previous picture are Lupins.


2. Create an interesting border to accentuate the pleasing curves of your flowerbeds. To edge her garden, Mary-Anne laid down a ribbon of landscape cloth and covered it with beach pebbles and a line of grey boulders.

The blue flowers in the previous image are Campanula.

Succulents and Cactus mingle together here. 
Good drainage is key to getting these plants to overwinter.

3. Plant a conversation piece! Capture the interest of garden visitors with an unexpected or unusual plant. Most people are curious about the cactus in Mary-Anne's garden but, surprisingly enough, some varieties of cactus can overwinter here in Southern Ontario. 

Mary-Anne's collection of succulents and cacti are quite exposed to the harshness 
of the elements in an island bed in the centre of the lawn.

Succulents & cactus mixed together.

Ostrich Ferns, Matteuccia struthiopteris

4. Go Native! When you choose a plant native to your area, you increase the chances it will be successful in your garden.

The Ostrich Ferns that are incorporated into the plantings around Mary-Anne's pond are native to Southern Ontario. Not only is this fern beautiful in dappled shade, it is also well adapted to the growing conditions of her garden.

Ostrich Ferns, Matteuccia struthiopteris, by the pond.


5. Don't forget to consider the appeal of pleasant sounds. A great garden appeals to all the senses. One of the first things you notice about Mary-Anne's garden is the abundance of bird song. Birdhouses sit on top of tall posts, and feeders hang in almost every tree.


6. Don't leave visitors standing on the lawn admiring your garden from a polite distance. Invite them in to experience your garden more intimately by incorporating a pathway. If your yard isn't this large, use a short series of stepping stones tucked into one of the corners of the garden.


7. When it comes to adding color in shade or part-shade, think beyond flowers. If you have full shade, look for hostas that have an interesting variegation or leaf color. In the partly shaded flowerbed along the driveway, Mary-Anne has incorporated a mix of Heuchera and Tiarella to make the garden colorful.


The plants with the dark burgundy foliage are Heuchera. Tiarella have the green leaves with dark veining. In spring, Tiarella have the bonus of lovely, soft white flowers.


8. Play up texture with contrast. Here the chartreuse flowers of Lady's Mantle, Alchemilla seems all the more delicate with a backdrop of small grey rocks and pebbles.

Wisteria vines provide the leafy canopy that covers the rustic structure.

9. Accentuate a focal point or key feature by framing it with an arbor. Here, rough timber and driftwood have been used to create the arbor that leads visitors to a pond in the centre of the backyard garden. 


10. Install a pond! A garden should be a place to reconnect with nature and nothing attracts birds, frogs and other creatures to your garden like a pond!


I hope you have found a few ideas that will inspire your plans for next spring!


More Information and Links:



I originally wrote about Mary-Anne Poole's garden for the Niagara Escarpment Views Magazine. You can read the full  2016 spring issue online. The article on Mary-Anne's garden, along with additional pictures, is also available in pdf form here.

23 comments:

  1. Wonderful garden. You always find the most amazing gardens to share! Thanks for the inspiration cause I'm already counting the days til spring...

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    1. Thanks Anne, but it was actually the magazine's editor that discovered this garden. I had great fun photographing and writing about it.

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  2. Beautiful gorgeous photos!! Theres a Typo in your title.

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  3. Best quality photos. I’m so amazed this idea about gardens and also my friends in enterprise lévisienne. it's really amazing!

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  4. What a stunning garden--so many ideas to take away.

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    1. Yes, magazine editor Gloria Hildebrandt discovered a real gem of a garden. Owner Mary-Anne Poole has done amazing things with the property and does all of the work herself.

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  5. Stunning garden and photos, we could all be inspired by a garden like this!

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  6. Beautiful garden ♥ Getting me really inspired ♥

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  7. Beautiful garden! So much here to inspire any gardener, but I especially love the way she edged the borders with both rock and boulders.

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    1. It is a really nice feature, isn't it?

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  8. I did enjoy this wonderful garden, I especially liked the pebble border, just like a little brook running around the garden.xxx

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    1. The edging is a little like a dry river bed. It really accentuates the curves of the flowerbeds.

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  9. Wonderful ideas to add interest to the garden. I'm all about adding native plants. It increases the diversity of wildlife and they need all the help they can get.

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    1. I find I have an ever increasing interest in native plants as well Karin. They are too often overlooked.

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  10. What a fabulous gardens to perfectly illustrate your ideas! Truly inspirational. Thank you!

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    1. Mary-Anne's garden reminds me a little of your garden Deb. I think it is the way Mary-Anne has managed to make the garden sit so well in the landscape around it.

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  11. I love this posting, Jennifer, of such an original and artistic garden. Love the plant combinations, the wisteria arbor and the pond. Now I'm off to read your article. P. x

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    1. The article really tells the story. Thanks for checking it out Pam.

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  12. Hello Jennifer girl !
    I really love the ribbon of rocks bordering the plant islands .. my area is much smaller but already just reading this I have an idea for it .. so many great hints and tips with this posting, thank you !
    Joy : )

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    1. Glad you were able to find a few ideas to use in your own garden Joy!

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  13. I love the use of stone in the garden. I will be 'stealing' this idea as I have been looking for the perfect edgeing. Thanks so much for the ideas.

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