Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Garden of Glass Artist Hillary Kent, Huttonville Ontario

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.

The pompoms of soft lime colored flowers of an Annabelle Hydrangea at the end of June.

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.


  1. Nice lush garden. I bet she doesn't have clay soil to contend with.

  2. What a lovely garden. I love the found objects, it's a wonderful personal touch. Her garden is an inspiration to the rest of us to not take gardening so seriously. Plants in any shape or form add beauty and it's the process that we should enjoy.

  3. Gorgeous garden!! I love all the art pieces. I agree completely with Melanie!! I don't think she has clay soil or hot hot hot summers!!

  4. How lovely to be able to see Hillary's garden throughout the garden seasons - a real treat. So often you see a beautiful garden, but only as it was that day. How grand to rub elbows with someone who enjoys the plants and the garden - a good reminder to put the weeder down and just look at the wonder around us.

  5. Wow Jennifer
    Thank you for making my garden look so wonderful....and of course for avoiding all the weeds. I am inspired by you and your garden, and I would be thrilled if mine could look half as good as yours.
    I must confess I am blessed with good soil, great neighbors who share advice, plants, and their photography skills.
    Colorado Low looks great on his guard porch too!

  6. Hi Jennifer: You've delighted us with another beautiful garden. You're photography is brilliant. I recognize this garden as well, from the front, so I'm happy to have had a peek into the back.

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  8. From one Jennifer to another, your photography is excellent! Beautiful pictures, great eye! I stumbled across you actually looking for Hillary I am guessing, and, after having emailed you first,(and once you read my email you will see, lol), I checked out your wonderful site, read your page on Hillarys glass work, and then realized that you are not from Red Hill Glass co. but rather it was about them. Sorry, sometimes I'm a little slow. lol. But I am thrilled to have viewed your pics, and will now follow your blogs :) Oh and if you could pass my email on to Hillary that would be appreciated too.. Thanks!


  9. My mom and aunt used to be students at Red Hill Art Glass and I remember as a child climbing up the stairs to see their projects. We still have the stained glass windows my mom made. When I drive by the studio it always brings back fond memories! Found this blog from a Google search! I showed this to my mom and she was so surprised!


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