Friday, August 26, 2011

Larkwhistle Part 2

There is a slick saying that I, as an artist, have always hated. "Do what you love and the money will follow." This sweeping statement suggests that acting on your passions in life will not only be self-fullilling, they will lead directly to that self-sustaining necessity called "money". 

But, there is not a hint of just how quick will that money follow if you, as an artist, quit your job and start painting away in your attic studio. The reality is that the money may never come. I can think of many an artist who died virtually penniless.

Everyone thinks they have talents. And they do more or less. The question is instead, is that gift for writing stories, taking photographs, painting pictures or singing songs exceptional?

Do really talented people know that they are truly gifted? 

I am not so sure confidence and talent necessarily go hand in hand. Certainly, there are many people who think they have talent where little or none exists. Just think of those sad creatures who turn up for auditions on shows like American Idol, fully believing that they are the next big singing sensation, when in reality they can barely carry a tune.

I believe that people who do great things, do so, not so because they believe acting on their passions will bring guaranteed rewards. They act on their passions because something inside compels them to take that huge leap of faith. The strength of their commitment is impervious to nagging doubts and the fear of failure that haunt the rest of us.

I know, you must be wondering what all this has to do with gardening? 

Well, years ago when Patrick Lima and John Scanlan decided to quietly follow their passion for gardening on vacant strip of land near the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, it was a tremendous leap of faith. Larkwhistle is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Winters on the Bruce were going be long and harsh. Everything including their home would have to be built from scratch, with little very money on hand. Plants would have to be gifts from friends or grown from seed. 

There was absolutely no guarantee that they could make a go of it, much less that "money would follow." I have no doubt, it took amazing courage and conviction for Patrick and John to act on their love of gardening. And I am sure that there were plenty of lean years before the money from the sale of their books began to roll in the door. 

That is courage you just have to admire.

In this second post on Larkwhistle garden, we will head into the center of the garden.

We will pass by a small shed where onions are drying on a table.

These are grapes growing up the side of the shed.

Fancy hybrid roses, like this one, seem to be in the minority at Larkwhistle. I noted more use of 
old fashioned shrub roses instead.

An educated guess that this is Phlox panicilata 'Franz Schubert'

One of the intriguing things about the layout of the property is that the vegetable garden is not a separate entity, but is incorporated right into the main flower garden. In this shot, you can see vegetables growing just beyond the phlox.

An apple tree creates the shade for the phlox at its feet.

There is no water tap or hose at Larwhistle with which to water the garden. The 
watering can at the edge of the pond is not purely decorative either.

It is not a great picture, but I want to call your attention to the tall purple flower on the middle left.

It was hard to get a great picture with the tiny flowers shifting in the breeze, but isn't this pretty?
It is Meadow Rue or Thalictrum delavayi. I have tried myself to grow this unsuccessfully. It likes moist soil, which I don't have. After seeing it here, I may have to give Meadow Rue one more go.

Finally, we will take a quick look at the "Quite Garden" where the color palette has been limited to calming whites.

On the left there is Black Snakeroot, Cimicifuga racemosa and on the right Lily of the Nile (another example of zonal denial. Lily of the Nile is native to South Africa.)

If you are thinking of making a visit to this quintessential Canadain garden, the good news is that Larkwhistle is open to the public. Admission is a nominal charge of $3. There are also cards with John Scanlan's photography and seeds for sale at the front gate. 

Check out this link for further information: Larkwhistle Garden. While you are in the area, be sure to check out some of the many other beautiful gardens on the Grey-Bruce Peninsula. To get a more information and a map of these rural gardens chick here.

Have a great weekend!

Today, I am going to link up to Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time. On Monday, I will link to the Creative ExchangeTo see other great posts please click the links.


  1. A picture is worth a thousand words and seeing your pictures a thousand ideas raced through my mind of plants to purchase and designs to try. thanks for this wonderful tour.

  2. Wonderful stroll thru this garden, mixing veggies in with flowers seems to make sense to me..Not that I needed pushing but you have made Larkwhistle a garden I will be visiting next summer.....

  3. Just such a beautiful garden. No hose? Just a watering can? That would be a joke here! Obviously, they get enough rain - or since you mentioned the moist soil conditions, they have a spring? It's just so dry here - I'm just amazed!

  4. Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos from Larkwhistle.


  5. Thank you,thank you,thank you! It is 'the lurker' again. I have been waiting for the second part and it did not disappoint. Next year for certain. The problem is when to leave my garden. I shall work it out.I also have Lost Horizons on my list. Maybe you and I could trade houses and gardens for a few weeks. Thank you,Jennifer from a happy but slightly homesick Nova Scotian.

  6. Jennifer, this is such a magical looking garden. When I see how tightly packed everything is I am ready to go out and squeeze something else into my garden.


  7. Thank you for your comments everyone. As always, I enjoy hearing what you think. For those of you planning a visit to Larkwhistle, I am sure you will not be disappointed.

    Holly Garden, With regard to the watering situation at Larkwhistle, I can only speculate based on what I saw. There was no stream or river providing water for the garden. I am sure rainwater is collected and there is, more than likely, a well on the property.
    I have not seen rainfall reports for Grey-Bruce County, but I can tell you that, here in southern Ontario, it was unusually dry in July. August has been better. If Larkwhistle is lush and green, it is because Patrick Lima and John Scanlan lavish a lot of attention on their garden. I am sure the garden has benefited from more than just rainfall.

    Donna, Lost Horizons is a wonderful nursery and looks especially great early in spring and in August. We visited Larkwhistle previously in late August and this time, we went in mid-August. One of these days, I would like to get there is July. I am sure the garden looks completely different earlier in the summer.

  8. My jaw actually dropped a little when I read they don't have a built-in irrigation system!! This garden is what I want my garden to look like. I'd love to talk to the owners to find out the method behind the madness. I just have to remind myself that zone 4 is a different world than zone 7.

    I completely agree with you about the "money will follow" absurdity. If that were the case, the world would be filled with happy, rich people. I have a ton of respect for these guys now that I know how the garden was created. Thanks for this wonderful post! I'll have to check out their books. :o)

  9. Just a gorgeous garden. I love the tiny flowers of the Meadow Rue with the sun filtering behind them. Franz Schubert phlox is a favorite of mine in the garden this summer. The blooms last longer. Beautiful photography as always.

  10. What a beautiful garden! Thank you for your indepth study of this section. I am off to read the first part now.

  11. Love the Quite Garden. I always wanted a white garden. Your garden still looks beautiful.

  12. Beautiful! Thanks for the tour! What an incredible garden. I like how they integrated the fruit/ veggies in the garden. Beautiful.

  13. Jennifer, the first part of your post didn't half hit home as far as I am concerned. In my early thirties I changed direction and became a shopkeeper, certainly nothing I had an affinity with but for the rest of my working career it gave us a good living and more than enough money to enjoy our passion for gardening to the full. Now a close member of my family who got in to online selling for a living has made a hash of things solely because they would only sell items which they felt they either knew about or liked selling, ended up making peanuts, very annoyed with them. Anyway, sorry this is supposed to be about you, I love your pictures of Larkspur and so glad they made a success of it, oh, we have it in the garden it is definitely Franz Schubert'.

  14. Seeing your photos of this beautiful garden inspired me as well. Once, when beginning our garden, I had hoped to get to a time in our garden that resembled the exuberance of Larkwhistle.

    Your thoughts on artistry and confidence were well penned.

    Lily of the Nile, surviving in the garden...well I am impressed by that and the mix of flowers with vegetables,... this I enjoy very much.

    What a lovely day you had and thank you for sharing it, and the photos.

  15. I am totally loss at words on how to describe this place. It is a breathtaking place.

  16. Oh my goodness, what a place this must be!
    Your photographs of it are just beautiful, and I truly enjoyed reading this post.

    Thank you so much for sharing this at The Creative Exchange.

    Have a wonderful evening!


  17. Your photos are very nice!

  18. thank you for the tour of this magnificent garden. it takes a whole lot of hours tending to develop something this magnificent. it was a true pleasure to read about this and the photos you took really do capture the essence of their work. happy day to you.

  19. Absolutely wonderful!! Love that frog!

  20. What a lovely tour through Larkwhistle! It looks like a wonderful place to visit. I really like the tall hollyhocks bending over the path and the Quiet Garden - so peaceful.

  21. Thank you again for your comments everyone.

    I absolutely welcome diverse range of opinions.
    In this post. I am not sure I meant to advocate that throwing caution to the wind and following life's passions is the best course of action for everyone. Certainly, most of us try to balance the practicalities of making a living and the less lucrative vocation of acting on one's passions in life. Deciding to solely pursue one's life passions can so easily be foolish course of action. On the other hand, great things like masterpieces of art often spring from acting on a great passion. In my opinion, acting on a passion is one of the hardest roads to take and is not for everyone.

  22. You are going to have to take us there in the winter, because judging from these pictures of a lush full garden, it is hard to believe this is a harsh environment.

  23. Great posts on a fabulous garden. I have one of their first books on perennials and still refer to it now and then. It is amazing what you can plant in a garden with sunshine. The colours are superb.

  24. How beautiful. That Phlox really adds a punch of color ....on my list for next summer.
    Love that little frog.

  25. Such an absolutely gorgeous garden.


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