Friday, June 7, 2013

A Weekend Trip to the Islands, Part 2

Recently a commenter asked why I liked to show gardens other than my own on this blog. There are lots of reasons; chief among them is keeping things interesting for both myself and for blog visitors.  And I learn so much from other gardeners! 

Take this garden for instance.

The gate to the backyard was closed, and as we peered over the top of it, my husband and I found ourselves wondering if only the front garden was included in the Toronto Islands Garden Tour. We were about to turn away when a middle aged woman poked her head out the front door, and apologizing profusely that the wind off the lake had accidentally closed the back gate, invited us in to see her garden.

It was getting towards the end of the afternoon and the visitors to the gardens on the tour had thinned out considerably making it easy to strike up a conversation. The gardener and I got to talking about plants and the challenges on gardening on an island-sized sandbar. 

An attractive umbrella-shaped leaf in a flowerbed by the back door caught my attention and I asked her about it. I was totally surprised when she told me it was a Hellebore. The leaf in front of me was nothing like the leathery leaves of the two young Hellebores in my own garden. 

The island gardener ushered me to the other side of the garden where she showed yet another Hellebore whose leaf bore no resemblance to either the one I had just admired or the ones I had at home. Obviously I still have something to learn about Hellebores.

I like using alliums as a bridge between tulips and summer perennials, but they are rather like mums in the fall: you see them absolutely everywhere and possibly to the point of overkill. I thought these Camassia bulbs, which I saw in a number of gardens on the island, were a nice alternative.

They also come in a darker, purply-blue color and white. 
These are definitely going on my fall wish list.

This is another garden in the afternoon part of our island tour. 

I have this very primrose in my garden, but I have never thought to mass it in exactly the same way. I tend to think of primroses as English cottage garden flowers and yet here they are used in combination with a Japanese garden ornament. Oddly it works.

The use of texture in this garden was not a lesson; just a gentle reminder of how beautiful a mix of foliage and flowers can be. 

My own garden feels wild and a bit chaotic in comparison. This feels calm and serene. 

A flagstone path leads to the entrance of the back garden.

 A closer view of the plantings around the garden's back shed.

Like the front garden, the backyard has Japanese influences, but isn't a Japanese garden.


This was our final stop on the tour. You can see from this picture that the shadows are long and the afternoon sunlight is fading. 

By this point in our wanderings on Ward Island, we were pretty beat. We plunked ourselves down on the steps that you can see on the upper left with the convenient excuse that they provided the perfect vantage point from which to admire the large Asian inspired pond. 


Seeing and photographing other gardens keeps things fresh for me. I almost always come away feeling inspired and that it what I hope to pass on to you.

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. What a beautiful garden! I rarely hear about garden tours like these here. They're always early spring tours when not much is blooming. It seems like such a weird time for a tour. This garden is so beautiful. It has a tranquil feel but I like that it's Japanese influenced without embracing it as a theme. It feels more authentic. :o)

  2. What a spectacular garden ~ the colors are all so vivid. Thank you for taking us there with you.

  3. I really appreciate your garden tours. I get so many wonderful ideas or at the very least get to see a lot of beautiful gardens, thanks!

  4. Thanks for the tour--it must have been a lot of fun, if tiring.

    I really enjoyed seeing the lushness of your climate--everything so green and moisture rich. All the Asian touches are nice, without being imitations.

  5. I´m full of envy, this is how I´d love my garden but I have no clue of how to create it - I´ll just continue to look at your lovely pics and stay envious..! :-)

  6. I think I need to go on this garden tour next year. I've enjoyed both posts on it. I wouldn't mind seeing the houses as well!

    Have a lovely weekend.


  7. I am always interested in the gardens you show us, including your nice comments. Good thing to mention the Camassias, they are so pretty but in my garden already gone for a few weeks.

  8. I must definitely get some Camassias I love their spikiness. That pond is fantastic I can just imagine sitting on the wooden bridges and watching the fish - very relaxing. Really enjoyed part 2

  9. There must have been a kind of chemistry between you and the owner of the garden. The pond is so beautiful. We have a pond but we have the problem that there is a leak somewhere in the pond but where? We thought we found the leak yesterday and my husband Willem thought he solved the problem. But helas the waterlevel has been sinking down last night again. I hope we don't have to start over again. If you are thinking of buying Camassia find a place where she can lean on other plants and she needs a little bit moisty place. They are beautiful I can tell and will bring you a lot of joy in the first begin of te spring.
    Have a wonderful weekend Jennifer.

  10. That pond is exceptionally beautiful, I really like all the marginal and aquatic plants. The Camassia are very attractive, they are rarely seen in my area.

  11. What a beautiful experience. The aquatic treatments were inspiring. Need to learn more about the casmassia as well.

  12. I love that you share other gardens too. I'm sure your garden is gorgeous and you have lots to share with us, but seeing other gardens also inspires us. I would never have thought to use Camassia in a garden like alliums. I would never have learned that if you hadn't shared this garden with us. Thanks.

  13. I think you saved the best till last! What a stunning garden, it looks so peaceful and tranquil and a lovely reminder of how to have interest apart from flowers. We all learn from other gardens and we keep on learning because we will never know it all. My camassias seen to go over very quickly, maybe I need to move them to a more moist spot.

  14. What a great tour...such beauty. I also added both white and purple Camassia bulbs of varying sizes this past fall. I really like them.

  15. I love that you take us on all the garden tours. This garden is just fabulous!!

  16. Another fabulous garden that makes me want to move there (well, maybe not in the winter). There is something about northern gardens in the springtime that always seems much more beautiful than southern gardens - I am not sure why. In the meantime, I must find out if Camassia will grow well in the heat.

  17. I certainly feel inspired reading about the gardens you visit.

    I loved the water pics and adored the Camassia. xxxx

  18. You are right about the primroses they look perfectly at home next to the Japanese lantern. It just takes thinking outside of the box sometimes I guess. Another lovely tour.

  19. It is the only way to pun intended!! What an inspiration! The soft textures in this garden reminds me that I need to add more winter interest in my beds. Thank you for always teaching and showing us something new!

  20. Jenifer girl ! I totally agree with you about seeing these other gardens in many lights .. not only the beautiful pictures that you take of them .. but the influence that they have on your ideas for your own gardens .. plus we get to see what you see and I love that .. I don't go on tours, I am not sure that there are any here in Kingston as it is ? haha
    I too love the Japanese influence .. I think that is why I became obsessed with collecting Japanese Maples .. the whole relaxed serene atmosphere that they exude is what I look for.
    We had to split our landscaping projects up into two years (finally had to make that decision) .. the stone pathways come first because it is a matter of being able to enjoy my many many walks back and forth to each section of the garden .. so fingers crossed what we propose as a budget will come through with this company !
    Joy : )
    Gorgeous pictures girl !

  21. I, too, learn so much from garden tours and always come away with some great ideas, so I enjoy seeing the other gardens you feature here, Jennifer. The last one you've shown with its Japanese influences is beautiful--even a zigzag bridge, it looks like. I've seen camassia featured on other blogs, too, but I've never planted any in my own garden. Must remember to add this to my fall bulb list!

  22. Interesting tour! I love the photo of dark-red leaved maple, violas and herbs. Beautiful composition!
    Have a nice week, Jennifer!

  23. This certainly was a lovely tour, Jennifer. The Camassia was lovely and massing the primroses was brilliant. Her Japanese maple was a treat as was the whole garden. Sure glad she poked her head around the corner and let you through her gate!

  24. I think its a great idea to show other peoples gardens. Something I am keen to do myself.


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