Hillary Kent discovered her passion for working with glass when she was selected for an apprenticeship at Sheridan College. Then for a number of years she ran Red Hill Art Glass Studio a small shop in Streetsville, Ontario, which did work on commission, offered classes and sold glass supplies to hobbyists. Then three years ago, she closed the business hoping to devote more time to her own work (though she still teaches occasional classes).
When Hillary saw the towering maple tree in the backyard of an older home for sale in Huttonville, Ontario, she was sold on the place, without even seeing the inside of the house. Built in the early part of the last century, the house had remained in the ownership of one family for many years. Though small, it had a roomy front porch and plenty of character.
When she moved in, there was little in the back garden except the tall maple. Slowly, over the last twenty years she has managed to create a very unique garden.
Hillary's Spirea is spectacular in spring
Hillary is not one to simply yank something out of her garden because it didn't come with a fancy plastic nursery identification tag. When some unexpected plant pops up in the garden, she gives the interloper a chance to impress her first.
She is not one to be tempted into to spending tons of money on the latest echinacea incarnations. On the contrary, she is resourceful and finds bargains at nursery clearance sales or takes cuttings from friends and neighbors.
Hillary is also way less up tight about her garden, than I am about mine. Sometimes when I am out stressing over the latest crop of weeds in my own garden, I often question my own sanity when it crosses my mind that her backyard next door looks every bit as nice as mine, with half the grey hairs!
Hillary has a love/hate relationship with her Boston Ivy. While it looks great and provides the front porch some privacy, it grows so rampantly that it often threatens to smother nearby shrubs with a covering of vines. You can often find Hillary in her garden mid-summer tugging at the Boston Ivy and cutting the vines back to rein it in.
Colorado the cat guards the front steps.
In the front garden, an unknown variety of clematis covers a twig arbor.
A Globe Thistle from the side garden.
A vintage sign marks the entrance to the back yard.
Bee Balm is a magnet for hummingbirds. Hillary laughs and says she would love to pull up and comfortable chair and watch hummingbirds visit the flowers all day.
A double decker flower.
Hillary scatters found objects that she has collected from flea markets and garage sales throughout the garden. These special objects reveal themselves as you stroll through the yard. Here an old candle stick finds a home in a bed of goutweed. (Gardener's note: If you have a place where you can control the spread of goutweed, it can look nice. If not, don't plant goutweed!)
When the warmer seasons have passed, the garden's object's continue to add interest throughout the cold winter months. Here whimsy plays a hand in the artful combination of an old birdcage and a gargoyle.
An antique Humane Society collection box decorates the front porch.
My favorite of Hillary's garden ornaments is this weathered statue of St Francis, patron saint of animals. Standing resolutely under the maple that first attracted her to the property, he keeps watch over the garden and the birds that visit it.