Friday, August 9, 2013

A few ideas from the Griesser's Mid-Summer Garden

This is a garden that I happened upon when I got lost one Saturday morning. 

Baffled by the weird progression of house numbers on this particular street, I had pulled the car to the side of the road to get my bearings. 

I glanced across the street and this is what I saw:

Isn't that a nice garden, I thought to myself. I love the soft curves of those front flowerbeds. 

Could this be the "Open Garden" I was looking for? I dug out the scrap of paper on which I had hastily jotted down the address for the Open Garden. 

No! The house number was definitely wrong...but I reasoned, if there was anyone in the neighbourhood capable of giving me directions to the garden I was actually looking for, surely it would be another gardener. I boldly resolved to go to the front door, get directions... and maybe even work in a request to take a few pictures. Shameless I know!

As luck would have it, I didn't even make it all the way up the front path when Patricia Griesser happened out her front door. Gracious and kind, as most gardeners I come across are, Patricia gave me a tour of the lovely garden she and her husband Loren created a few minutes later.

As we chatted away, Patricia shared a number of really great ideas. Here are just a few of them.

1. Turn problem features into assets. What would you do if there was an open drainage ditch for rainwater at the front of your property? 

Most of the other homeowners on the same street had just ignored it and left if as a grassy incline. Instead Patricia has used it as an excuse to create a very nice rock garden. In doing so, she has turned a less than ideal feature into a very nice asset.

2. Plant herbs for great foliage without the bug and slug holes. Here Patricia has incorporated Purple Sage in amongst her flowers.

3. Place pots of brightly colored annuals right into your perennial borders. As we all know, perennial flowers come and go leaving sections of any garden without any color at least some of the time. To add a bit of interest, Patricia places container plantings of colorful annuals right into her flowerbeds.

4. To save money and to guarantee a nice mid-summer display, pot up your annuals as early you dare. That way they can fill in nicely by July. Because they were given lots of time to mature, it took only three of these pretty purple and white Scaevola plants to fill a good sized flower pot.

This tropical Caladium is one of Patricia's favourite plants in the garden at the moment. "I love the foliage. It will grow in complete shade and really adds a bright pop of color to a shady corner." 

5. Don't think of annuals as just "flowers" or as plants you only use in pots. Here Patricia has planted two different varieties of Licorice plants as a groundcover at the front of her perennial border. They look great and are untouched by slugs.

Yellow tiger lily

As we pass along the fence, there are a number of lilies adding to the show of
mid-summer blooms.


Unknown Daylily (possibly 'Frans Hals')

Oriental Lily

6. Don't let a lack of sun or space limit the kinds of plants you grow. The Griesser's backyard is fairly shady and less than ideal for growing vegetables. Instead Patricia grows tomatoes right in with the flowers along the front fence. She also has them growing in pots by the sunny side doorway.

On the right there is a picture of a blackberry which she has espaliered along the fence.

We will head into the back garden next.

Interesting to note that tomato cages were used to prevent these 'Annabelle' hydrangea from flopping.

A pretty patch of Japanese Grass opposite the 'Annabelle' hydrangea.

Did you notice the nice circular motif in the stonework under the gate? 
This motif continues along the pathway into the backyard.

Here we are just inside the back gate. To the right is a pondless waterfall. Patricia had someone help with the installation of this water feature, but did all of the planting herself.

This is Tigger, a 16 year old Tabby who knows just how to make a dramatic entrance.

Photograph ME! I am the true beauty, not that silly garden!

I would be remiss if I didn't also introduce you the other family pets. Harvey is the blonde and Patricia describes George on the right as "our little general".

Mature trees cast most of the back garden into dappled shade.

If you could be a kid again, wouldn't you just LOVE to have a castle like this in your backyard?

Patricia tells me, "The castle play house was built by my husband 20 years ago when the boys were 2 and 4. It was converted to a folly about 6 years ago..."

"The metal bunnies are made from recycled materials by Dog Bite Steel, an Uxbridge Ontario metal artist. I love his whimsical creations."

The generously proportioned deck off the back of the house is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the garden. 

Just at the top of the stairs is another one of Patricia's favourite plants this summer: Begonia, 'Million Kisses'.

Begonia, 'Million Kisses'

Many thanks to both Patricia and Loren for allowing me to share their delightful garden.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Update: Many people have remarked on the rock garden/rainwater drainage ditch. I asked Patricia a bit more about it and here is what she had to say:
"Typically with heavy rain, only 20% of the ditch floods. But it does drain quickly. The top part of the ditch is planted with several different sedums: Angelina, Dragon's Blood, Sedum Acre (this one is extremely hardy and spreads like wildfire). At the bottom of the ditch there is Vinca, Creeping mint, variegated Ajuga, self-seeding Violas, Perilla and Candy Tuft.
In total there are probably 10 different Sedums, 3 different Creeping Junipers, several Thymes, 5-6 different creeping Phlox, Creeping Jenny, Rock Rose, Lamium, Hens and Chicks, and Creeping Veronica. There are also crocus and miniature daffodils for lots of spring color."


  1. Really stunning garden, I love it ! Breathtaking pictures, especially Hydrangea and the gate half open !

  2. They had a ton of excellent ideas and thank you as well for having an eye out for these outstanding gardens! I love the circular motifs in the walkways and the water feature. It is all just wonderful!

  3. It is not bad to get lost on a Saturday morning and find such an interesting beautiful garden. Very good ideas, funny is that I have the tropical Caladiums to brighten up my greenhouse in summer. You showed us beautiful pictures of all the highlights including the pets.

  4. Hate to say this, but so glad the house numbers "messed you up!"
    What a gorgeous garden this is, and the kitty is a bonus!

  5. I just love winged begonias...and Million Kisses looks stunning. Thanks for taking me on this adventure. What a treasure of a garden and from the first of the photos I muttered aloud...'look at that', as one does when seeing a garden so well loved and vibrant.

  6. Now how serendipitous is this!!! There garden is spectacular! I love how they took advantage of their drain ditch and made it into a rock garden! The curving lines of this space are magical! As is your falling upon this garden in the first place! Thanks for sharing...pinning some of these great ideas!

  7. That is an incredibly beautiful garden, and how very generous of Patricia to show you around. Aren't gardeners great!

  8. Thank you for sharing this amazing lovely and such good ideas. Very inspiring.

  9. The Griesser garden sure looked camera ready! Jennifer, are you certain this was an incorrect address? How gracious and generous of them to offer you a wonderful tour anyway!
    Patricia had a lot of great ideas and tips. I too plan to replace dried out, ugly annuals with the contents of cheap marked-down hanging baskets. I'm going to pop the annuals out and plant them into all the spots that are now empty.
    Patricia and Loren had so many gorgeous flowers and shrubs - a truly beautiful property.

  10. Invitation - In
    I'm Brazilian.
    Spent reading here, and visit his blog.
    I also have one, only much simpler.
    I'm inviting you to visit me, and if possible follow together for them and with them. I always liked to write, expose and share my ideas with people, regardless of class Social, Religious Creed, the Sexual Orientation, or, of Ethnicity.
    To me, what will interest is our exchange of ideas, and, thoughts.
    I'm there in my space Simpleton, waiting for you.
    And I'm already following your blog.
    Strength, Peace, Friendship and Happiness
    For you, a hug from Brazil.

  11. What a stunning garden! I'm shocked it wasn't on the garden tour. It was a bit hard to see from the photos what she planted in the "ditch" garden. I have a similar spot and I'd love to know what she used.

    1. Hi Sarah, I have added a list of plant suggestions for the drainage ditch that Pauline gave me. Please see the notes in my update.

  12. How beautiful....and it wasn't on the tour???
    I loved the drainage ditch solution and the tomato cages for the Annabelles. Thanks for such a lovely tour.

  13. Hi Jennifer,
    Patricia's garden is truly lovely and I am SO glad you happened upon it!

  14. What a fabulous property and a good solution for the front ditch. The woman was very kind to show you around and allow photos of the gardens. My Annabelle is so big, a tomato cage wouldn't help but I should create something similar to keep it upright.

  15. How wonderful to chance upon such a beautiful garden and with such wonderful pets too.

    Some great tips there, I especially love the waterfall.xxxx

  16. Ok love the post- beautiful photos. Love the kitty and dogs too. =0)
    Wonderful gardens/ beds. That last Begonia looks just like the one we grow called 'Bonfire'. How funny. I love it- I have it right now in a big pot paired with Dianella and Black Scallop Ajuga and something else I can't remember... haha. But I love it. Everything looks so nice and pretty- oh to have weather like that in August.... it is so hot here!!! Beautiful post!!

  17. Jennifer what a fabulous discovery....I adore the garden and the gardener's ideas.

  18. this garden is to die for..very envious...of tigger

    I am grinning here cheek to cheek over this post : ) You did a fantastic job capturing the atmosphere of this delightful garden !
    Yes ! that day lily is Frans Hals .. one of my oldest and most favorite !
    This garden and all that is incorporated in it for art and artistry is simply wonderful .. I so love the converted folly and if I had had it as a child ? I would never have left it.
    I too incorporate herbs with my perennials .. especially the roses to ward off bugs .. I don't know why more gardeners don't do that!
    This was such a treat ... thank you for this post girl !
    Joy : )

  20. Fantastic garden, mine only ever looks this neat and tidy when I'm expecting visitors! How fortunate you stumbled across it, did you ever find the other garden?

    1. Hi Pauline, I had planned to visit two gardens that day. Not only did I get lost looking for the first one, I mixed up the Open Garden hours. The garden I originally planned to visit was open in the afternoon only. By the time I visited to second garden, I ran out of time to revisit the first. Oh well, another time maybe.

  21. Thank you for being so cheeky on our behalf - what a beautiful garden - so well tended, great ideas, and just full of colour, a real joy. B.

  22. It's always a joy for the eyes visiting your blog, Jennifer!
    So much beauty and so many great ideas! Thanks! xo

  23. Jennifer I expect Patricias garden outshone the one on your list which you were looking for.

  24. How lucky that you got lost - and that the lady of the house was generous enough to spare you some time - but then most gardeners are really nice people aren't they. Great tips that you were given - one or two of which I will definitely put into practice. Thanks for a great post as usual.

  25. Wow, what an enchanting and creative garden. Lots of ideas to think about - I have tried a few, like putting pots of annuals into the perennial borders, but most are new to me. Interesting that they use the drainage ditch for a rock garden when you would think the first option would be a rain garden.

  26. It seems like your part of Canada is bursting with gorgeous gardens. Gardens are ignored here and I can't figure out where all the plants that are purchased at garden centers are planted because I so rarely see a garden or meet other gardeners. That begonia is stunning. I need to move to Canada.

  27. Jennifer, what an amazing garden you happened upon. The colorful plantings and curving landscaping are very attractive. Every photo is another awe inspiring moment. Thank you for taking us along on your adventure.

  28. What a delight, see knocking on strangers doors does pay off. Some great garden hints in this post, I am going to incorporate more then a few of them.


  29. How lucky that you got a tour of this fantastic garden!! Your pictures are wonderful. I can only dream to have a place like this someday, but in the meantime I'll just reference your blog :)

  30. What a great serendipitous event. Love that Begonia too! I really like her Annabelle, so full of blooms!

  31. I can understand why that one glance at the Griesser's lawn had you thinking that it was the open garden you were looking for. It was so nice of Patricia to take you for a tour and share some valuable tips too. The trick with the Annabelle hydrangeas was genius! -Bethel @ Sollecito


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