Monday, March 26, 2012

The Gosden/Wendell Garden

Cupflower, Silphium Perfoliatum

Why am I about to show you a late summer garden in early spring? 

Underlying the answer to this question is what makes gardening truly interesting. It may be work, but gardening is not mindless labor. It demands knowledge and creativity. Plant size, shape, color, texture, bloom time, and growing conditions are all factors to be weighed and considered.

To have a beautiful garden in the late summer and early fall, you simply must plan ahead in spring. 

Colin and Irene have shaped the garden I am about to show you over a period of about ten years. Colin tells me, "Gardening keeps me humble and creative."

Though he did most of the work removing the lawn, Irene is principally responsible for the garden at the front of the house. Colin sweetly characterizes Irene's role in their gardening partnership by saying, "She is my muse."

Together, these two gardener have gathered an interesting array of plant materials and have built a wonderful area for relaxation at the back of the house, that I know you are going to love. 

There are lots of pictures and so I suggest we head into the garden and take a look around.

The front garden overall

This is Cupid's Dart, Catananche caerulea. Cupid's Dart has tall, papery, purplish-blue flowers 
over a low clump of narrow grey-green leaves.

A few plant facts: Cupid's Dart likes full sun, and will grow in normal, sandy or clay soil, but requires good drainage. It is drought tolerant once established. While it is a short-lived perennial, Cupid's Dart  will often self-sow.

 If spent flowers are removed, Cupid's Dart will continue to bloom throughout the summer. 
Pollinators obviously love it!

Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa in the front garden. This native North American wildflower is the primary source of food for both adult and juvenile Monarch Butterflies. Plants form an upright clump of narrow green leaves, with showy clusters of flowers in mid to late summer. Butterfly weed needs full sun and sandy soil.

Northern Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium has green flower spikes that mature into a lovely bronze color in the fall. This native grass is tolerant in a wide range of soil and light conditions, 
but it happiest in moist soil with dappled shade.

Weeping Eastern Pine

Here is a real conversation piece. Walking Stick, Cholla Opuntia Imbricata is not necessarily something you'd expect to find in a Canadian garden! Despite our harsh winters, Colin tells me that he successfully overwinters it in the garden.

What is a late summer garden without Echinacea and Rudbeckia below?

Dolls Eyes, Actaea 'Alba' (above and below)

Dolls Eyes, Actaea 'Alba' is a native woodland perennial with finely cut foliage and white flowers that mature into black-tipped berries. It prefers moist soil and light to moderate shade.

Remember to consider foliage texture, as well as flowers, in your fall garden planning. Here a grasshopper enjoys the early morning sun on a soft, velvety textured leaf.

Throughout the front garden and along the driveway Colin and Irene have incorporated 
a range of grasses which also add texture. 

Just inside the back gate is this tall perennial. Ironweed, Crinta Mammuth is a North American native that has clouds of purple, aster-like flowers held aloft on 75-90 cm stems. Ironweed will grow almost anywhere in sun. Colin pinches his Ironweed back at a height of 3 ft to encourage branching.

Cupflower, Silphium Perfoliatum

Another interesting native, Cupflower derives its name from its 
cup-shaped leaves, which hold rainwater.

Pillar Clematis, 'Mrs. Robert Brydon'. The flower buds of this summer 
clematis almost look like berries.

A closer look at Pillar Clematis, 'Mrs. Robert Brydon'

Colin built the potting table/bar himself.

The pergolas and other structures in the garden are all Colin's design. "We wanted shade, but never liked patio umbrellas, so this pergola was designed with that in mind.", Colin tells me. 

A contractor was hired to do the grading and the interlock, but Colin did all the building himself.

As well as Trumpet Vine, Flamenco which you see pictured here, the pergola is covered with:
 Wisteria, 'Aunt Dee', Chocolate Vine, Akebia Quinata and Porcelain Vine, Ampelopsis gland. brevipedunculata

Colin picked up these great pot hooks at a garden show.

Colin's favourite perennial: Hostas
Irene's favourite perennial: Coral Bells

Perennial to be added to the garden this year: Bear's Breeches, Acanthus, very striking!

The garden they most want to visit: "The gardens of Italy. We saw a series about them on TVO           recently.", Colin says.

Favourite Gardening Book: "Anything by Patrick Lima, especially his Harrowsmith Perennial Garden."

Best advice for the novice gardener: "Don't be discouraged, you will lose lots of plant material. Start of simply, with easy growers like hosta, iris, etc..", advises Colin.

Further information and links:  

Colin and Irene are both members of the Creditvalley Horticultural Society and Colin is the club's President. The CVHS  is located in Mississauga, ON and holds a monthly meetings with a guest speaker on the second Wednesday of each month (except for the months of July and August) at 8pm. The society has a number of community projects, an annual plant sale and garden tour amongst its many activities.


  1. This is so inspirational. Spring is the time when my mind gets busy with our next outdoor project so this was perfect for ideas & inspiration :)

  2. Lovely garden and I really liked how you captured it in this post.

  3. I'm always amazed to see hosta doing so well in the full sun. And speaking of sun, really contrasty lighting, but excellent photos. I'm wondering when that last little piece of grass in the front garden will bite the dust? Great tour of really good 4-season Canadian garden.

  4. Fantastic post and beautiful garden you showed us. Thanks!!!
    Have a lovely week

  5. What a lovely garden. The Cupid's Darts are so pretty. I really like all the hostas in the containers. Just lovely.

  6. You are so right, the time to start planning for a super summer and autumn garden is now! What a lovely garden you have shown us, such an inspiration.

  7. Gorgeous! I love your garden.


  8. Jennifer, thanks for sharing this garden with us. What a great couple to put together such a peaceful place. I don't know Cupid's Dart, wonder if it would do well here in the hot humid south?

  9. It's hard to imagine that we need to start thinking about summer flowers now, but you're so right! LOVE the pergola! Just gorgeous. And those pot holders are unique and fantastic! Beautiful garden, and some great plant ideas here.

  10. What a beautiful series, Jennifer!
    This must have been a wonderful place to be with a camera.

  11. I love the photos of the flowers with the bees not that the other photos are not pretty but I do like the ones with the bees most........

  12. What a lovely garden. I can just imagine sitting under the pergola with a cool glass of wine after spending the day gardening. Have pinned the potting table - another project for my poor husband.

  13. Beautiful garden - thank you for the tour. I especially like the foliage on that actaea - that's not one I had seen before. I may just have to find a spot for it...

  14. A lovely garden with some interesting plants! I love the arbor for the shade. It looks like the perfect place to sit with a cool drink on a hot day.

  15. Lovely garden especially the patio area. Always like to read about lawn being removed.

  16. Wonderful garden, I particularly liked the plants growing through the rocks. and their pergola looks like a wonderful spot to relax on a hot day.

  17. Jennifer girl ! This is a beautiful post on a gorgeous garden .. I can only dream to have such a peaceful private Eden : )
    You took amazing pictures girl (I have taken the leap of faith and ordered a DSLR .. Nikon package with great telephoto lens .. now when it comes I have to drain my brain to figure out how to begin to use it ? LOL)
    I love all of their structures and plants here .. and YES ! having a green screen as shade is far more satisfying than any umbrella or "out door room" setting .. I want it all natural ! LOL

  18. Fabulous photos, just discovered your blog. It's absolutely wonderful.

  19. Thank you for the tour of this lovely place. My favorite part are the pergolas, gorgeous!

  20. Beautiful photos and so inspirational on such a blustery spring day!


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