We are driving down a rough gravel road in what feels like the middle of nowhere, even though in reality, we are not far from the town of Uxbridge, Ontario.
This is prime farm country, but on this particular stretch of road, trees press in on either side. The only indication that there is a house, let alone a garden, is a roadside address marker and the mouth of a driveway.
The driveway is a long winding one through the trees. There are hints along the edges of the forest that this is a cultivated space, but the view of what is to come is somewhat obstructed.
Suddenly, it seems, the driveway opens into a large clearing. In front of you there is a house sitting high on a gentle slope.
And all around you there is a spectacular garden. The descriptive "park-like" springs immediately to mind.
Immediately on your right, there is the grand sweeps of a large perennial flower garden.
As you look to your left there is a pond.
A long path takes you by the pond to a shade garden.
(We'll take a better look at the pond and shade garden in an upcoming post. )
And if you aren't impressed enough already, there is another large garden that awaits
you at the back of the house.
I asked Carole what first attracted her and her husband to this particular piece of property:
"We liked the mixture of woods and pond, sun and shade, the abundance of water available to water the gardens, and of course, the house."
This enormous garden must have been a tremendous undertaking. I asked Carole to tell me a little bit about its creation:
"The garden is 12 years old. There were no gardens when we arrived, as a matter of fact, we had to bulldoze the front yard just to see what it looked like."
"I brought in 1000 perennial plants with me in 2 gallon pots as I had been collecting perennials for over 30 years. We made a hosta bed in the front yard for the shade plants and a sun garden in the backyard for sun plants. Both gardens required 50 yards of top soil to prepare them."
As with most gardens, Carole's plans evolved over time:
"When we brought the property I envisioned the hosta bed and the pond garden. Most of the other gardens were installed within the past 5 years."
Carole tells me that, with the exception of the driveway, the area around the culverts and the large rock in the parking area, she and her husband did all the landscaping themselves.
Now you may not have a large garden like Carole's, but there is lots of ideas here
which can be an inspiration for any sized garden.
Carole has spaced her plants expertly, giving each plant just enough breathing room that it is not crowded by its neighbours.
This sounds like it something that is easy enough to do, but it is really tempting to overcrowd a bed when your plants are young and small. Stronger plants will inevitably overtake weaker neighbours. Lack of air good circulation also means that tightly packed plants are also more likely to be susceptible to disease.
In these front beds, Carole has a lovely array of perennials. Let's take a look at a few:
This daisy-like flower makes me think of a shaggy dog!
Carole tells me that it is an Inula of somekind. Poking around on the internet leads me to conclude that it is an Inula magnifica. Can anyone confirm this?
Inula magnifica: belongs to the Asteraceae (Aster family) and is a fast-growing perennial that can reach a height of 2 metres (6 feet). The leaves of this plant are arranged opposite one another along a stems that have a reddish-brown mark. Inula magnifica blooms July to August. Full sun.
Blanket flowers, Gaillardia
Carole wasn't sure of the particular cultivar of Penstemon, but I am going to make an educated guess that it is Penstemon 'Elfin Pink'. Carole tells me that she has found it to be very hardy in her Zone 5 garden.
Penstemon 'Elfin Pink': This hybrid Penstemon was developed in Nebraska and chosen for its hardiness and ease of growth. The plant forms a low clump of green foliage and has flowers mid-June in Carole's garden. Its flower is attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. Full sun and average to dry soil. Height: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches), Spread 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). USDA Zones 3-9.
I love the combination centred around the vivid orange Butterfly Weed in the foreground:
Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa: This is a native North American wildflower and the primary source of food for Monarch butterflies. Plants form an upright clump of narrow green leaves with orange or gold flowers in mid-summer. Butterfly weed need dry, well-drained sandy soil and full sun. Remove seed heads if you want to limit its spread. Height: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches), Spread 30-45 cm (12-18 inches) Hardy USDA Zones 4-9.
To the right of the orange Butterfly Weed (1) is a bright chartreuse colored foliage plant: Spirea, Orgon 'Mellow Yellow' (2).
Directly behind the Spirea is a daisy Leucanthemum x superbum 'Broadway Lights' (3).
In the foreground is a low mounded Weigela with pink and green foliage that is named 'My Monet' (4).
Meadowsweet or Queen of the Prairie, Filipendula purpurea Elegans: Plants form a bushy clump with soft pink flowers in early summer. This plant does best in moist, humusy soil in sun with some afternoon shade. Trim flowers after they bloom. Height 75-120 cm (1.5' to 2'), Spread: 75-120 cm (1.5' to 2').USDA Zones: 3-8
More of Carole's garden coming in an upcoming post!