My garden starts at the front of my house, continues along one side, and then into the back. There is no grass! (Except for the little bit of twitch that makes its ugly appearance here and there, through our various mulches.) Starting at the front walkway of lovely cream-coloured Sudbury Ontario granite (from Allstone Quarries, Schomberg, Ontario) on the left we look up toward the front door where there various groups of tulips. The pink/red flowers that appear to be up against the white door are actually those of the crab apple ‘Maypole’ one of the Colonnade Collection. 

On the right the shot is taken a little off the doorway, looking at the kitchen window with dried flowers in a clay container on the inside windowsill. The patch of pink is the delightfully fragrant rose daphne (Daphne cneorum). Immediately below these two pictures is one of Yves Geolier checking out the tulips. Note the pine needle mulch used throughout most of the garden.

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Below on the left here is Camassia, a lovely Dutch bulb, usually in white or blue, but occasionally of doubtful hardi-ness. On the right a general view of the entrance with the wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) in full bloom in May, 1999 and the ivy (Hedera helix ‘Baltica’) ground cover thriving. Immediately below these two a vertical shot of the wisteria, again in 1999. 

In the next two rows are three May, 2001 shots. On the left is the area near the kitchen window with the globe blue spruces (Picea pungens ‘Globosa’) just ready to put out their new needles. The window boxes are a mix of pansies, ‘Summer Wave Blue’ Torenia, and Australian fan flower, (Scaevola aemula) [not yet evident]. At the bottom of the same picture are rose Daphne (Daphne cneorum) and grape hyacinths at their best. The fragrance from about 16 plants of the former is overwhelming! Just visible at the far right is foliage of the three pyramidal English oaks (Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’) which reach to the top of the house and at the right, the slightly burned foliage of my southern [or evergreen] magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Edith Bogue’) that was just planted in October 2000. This was its first winter and it had no protection. It was an experiment, along with a Cedrus, both of which came from Cannor Nurseries in British Columbia, and came through with flying colours.

To the right, the next shot shows the front garden a little closer to the street. The dominant yellow colour is my Warminster broom (Cytisus x praecox ‘Allgold’) that has done well here for a full decade. In the centre is the interesting bark of my ever-so-well-written-about Heptacodium tree (some foliage is seen too) and at the far left, the newly emerged needles of the weeping larch (Larix decidua ‘Pendula’). The English ivy groundcover, rose Daphne and many bulbs may also be seen. 

Finally, the vertical shot is of the Wisteria this May. I did not have an opportunity to get it at its absolute best this year, as I was in London at the Chelsea Flower Show when it was at it’s height. This shot was taken on the day I left, May 19 early in the morning, hence the “hot” spots from the sun. ‘Edith Bogue’ magnolia is in full evidence here beside the lily-flowered tulips.

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Walk down the driveway (also of the cream-coloured Sudbury granite that cleans itself of tire marks each time it rains) on the south and you come to the small side garden, basically shaded, and virtually totally of ericaceous plants. Below are two shots of that part of the garden, on the left as we approach it showing the trellis arbour into the main back garden, and on the right a shot from the deck, again showing the trellis, with the neighbour’s garage in the background.

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Below these are two more pictures which show, on the left, the red deciduous azalea (over 1.5 metres tall) against the lattice work that encompasses the back deck; and on the right the rhododendrons there in their full glory. This right-hand shot also shows the blue spruce we moved from the front of the house a way back in 1987 (quite an effort), the cement steps and gate within the arbour.

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Through the gate (just designed to keep the two--now one--miniature pinscher in the back garden) is my not-so-large back garden. The first shot, on the left below, is of the south side (shaded until after the noon hour) in early spring with the reddish-pink saucer magnolia (Magnolia soulangiana) in full bloom. It was in bloom a relatively short two weeks this year and is just finishing on May 13. 

To the right is a shot taken two days later, May 15 this year, showing the last magnolia flowers, but what is more interesting, I think is the leatherleaf viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophylloides) in the upper centre of the shot, with its huge clusters of white flowers. This plant is evergreen with us and is worthy of much more use. A newer cultivar ‘Al-leghany’ is now available, and both are hardy to zone 5.

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In this next row, on the left is a delightful group of fern-leaf peonies (Paeonia tenuifolia) in full bloom in mid-May this year. To the right is the ornamental pool just a few weeks earlier. Yves Geolier is in cleaning it up after the winter. It is 5.2 by 1.2 metres (17 x 4’) and only 44 cm (17”) deep. The hardy water lilies, iris, grasses and pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata) all over-winter at the bottom of the pond. 

The pond has four rows of roses (mixed hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, English garden and landscape types) on each side. The rose beds are mulched with cocoa bean shells. Even though I “preach” the necessity of hilling rose bushes each winter, we do NOT hill up for the winter. There were no losses this past winter! I consider this garden a microclimate of its own.

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Below on the left is a slightly later shot of the pool last year, with the various Iris (mainly Siberian) in full bloom, along with at least one red water lily. Note the roses are only in bud. The white daisies are in the small urns at each corner of the surrounding concrete stone border. Note the small brass boy figurine “pissing” into the water. I have two of these, the one in view behind the urn at the lower left is bronze and came from a radio listener years ago when she gave up her garden. The other one, farther down the far side of the pool, is a concrete replica of the “oldest citizen of Brussels, Belgium--in 1619”--the Manneken-Pis. Note too the variegated iris (Iris pallida ‘Alba-variegata’) to the left of the statue.

To the right, the close-up photo shows the vigorous growth of water lilies, the variegated iris and ornamental grasses that we get. We fertilize all plants in the water garden with Vigoro’s tablet Water Garden Plant Food (14-3-3) pushed into the soil so as to minimize algae formation.

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My deck is an entire topic of its own, and basically it’s divided into two parts, a narrow one-metre-wide section about 8 metres (28’) long that is totally shaded along the south, and the main portion that is 8 by 4.5 metres (20 x 15’) at the back (west) of the house. Each year we change the container plantings here, but always the feature attraction is my begonia barrel, made up for me annually by Humber Nurseries. I’ve had this for 16 years now! It is over a metre high, and when the plants are well developed, it has a diameter of about 75 cm (30”). It is watered only every few days through an internal perforated plastic pipe. At my request, Humber Nurseries plants it up each year with two different cultivars of fibrous begonias (Begonia semperflorens) in a spiral pattern. 

The first year we were in this house, we had no back deck, and we placed the begonia barrel at the front of the house. Many people driving by stopped to admire it, and some even thought it was a “revolving barber’s pole” because of the dramatic spiral effect accentuated by the movement of one’s car passing! 

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Finally, two shots of the back garden later in the summer. On the left a late June picture with just a few of my astilbes in full bloom. I think the various astilbes are just about the best herbaceous perennial for a shaded or partly shaded garden. You can have bloom from the different types over at least a two-month period. And on the right, taken from the rose bed on the north side of the pool (note there are rose standards amid the bushes in each rose bed) looking across the pool to the rose bed on the south and the south side (where the astilbes are) and back (west) perennial borders. From the back of the west perennial border the garden slopes down into the quiet Moore Park Ravine.

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