Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Garden of Duff and Donna Evers, Part 2: The Upper Terrace and Lakefront

Providing a privacy screen at the front of Duff and Donna Ever's house is a narrow band of trees and shrubs. Underneath the tall evergreens is a path that meanders through a woodland garden. On the outer edge of the woodland garden, there is a low stone wall that runs along the edge of the lawn. 

Donna tells me that: "The area along the walls get full sun. It is filled with spring blooming plants and bulbs- a lot of them ephemerals. Azaleas and low growing rhododendrons share this space. In mid-summer, the daylilies take over followed by asters in fall."

"Initially we planned only to garden along the stone wall, but once again, we got carried away. We made paths which twist and turn around the rocks and through the trees. We limbed-up the old native hemlocks to let in more light and then added Rhododendrons, Magnolias, Pieris, Viburnum and hydrangea. Lady slippers, Trilliums, Anemone and Arisaema are some of the perennials that share this space."

"We have planted some primulas in the damp pockets throughout this garden. A clump of Lilium canadensis is doing well, fingers crossed. Old stumps are left to become planting pockets for ferns."

"With the exception of a yearly mulch of shredded leaves, this garden requires little maintenance."

The soft mauve flower is Creeping Moss Phlox 'Emerald Blue'. The orange buds are an azalea which Donna tells me is a cross made by a friend.

Grey foliage and the black flower buds of a Dianthus contrast beautifully with 
the golden foliage of Barberry 'Golden Nugget'

Dwarf Crested Iris, Iris cristata 'Pale Blue'

Dwarf Crested Iris, Iris cristata: has pale mauve-blue flowers with gold-crested falls. In the right location, this iris will spread quickly to form a dense colony. Iris cristata prefers light shade and moist soil, but it can be grown in dry shade as well. If grown in a sunny spot, the soil needs to consistently moist for this iris to flourish. Height: 15-30 cm (6-12 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

Gentiana acaulis

Donna:" The blue color is electric. This is an easy to grow spring bloomer. I've been spreading little bits of it all over the gardens. It likes bright light and the moist, well-drained soil all the gardening books talk about;-)" 

Lady Slipper Orchid, Cypripedium 'Gisela'

Donna: "This plant came from Fraser's Thimble Farm. It is the case of "the wants" every time I look at their catalogue. We grow several Cypripediums and I am always happy to see their noses poking out of the ground in early spring."

Throughout Duff and Donna's garden, there are bird feeders and birdhouses. I asked Donna to tell me about their obvious love of birds:

"The birdhouses serve a double purpose. The chickadees nest in them and it is great fun watching them raise their little ones. We string wire from four corners of the birdhouse to the bottom of the post. This provides support for a clematis...."

Clematis macropetala 'Bluebird'

"You can always garden-up should you run out of room at ground level. The chickadees don't seem to mind. We feed the birds year round. We have hummers, nuthatches, a variety of finches, jays, woodpeckers, flickers and mourning doves. Nothing exotic, but the garden is always full of birds."

Clematis macropetala 'Bluebird': has nodding, bell-shaped, purply-blue semi-double flowers. This is a Group 1 Clematis that blooms in spring on the growth of the previous season. 'Bluebird' requires 4 to 6 hours of sun each day. Height: 8-10 ft.  USDA Zones: 4-8.

"Duff made the benches, the arbours, the obelisks, the birdhouse, the chairs, the fences, the deck, all the stone wall, the troughs and the patio. I have been asked if he can be cloned:-)"


"There are two yellow magnolias near the shed. The one closest to the shed is M. Yellow Lantern and the other one is M. Hattie Carthan."

"In spring this garden is full of Crocus, Chionodoxa, Hellebores, Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Along the front of the border is Geranium'Kashmeri White'. Then it is poppies and alliums. Summer blooms are lilies and dark-leafed Chocolate Eupatorium. Yes, we do have lily beetles, but I hand pick them off. I can't imagine the garden without lilies. Later it is Echinacea, Phlox and Purple Dome Aster."

"Duff made the chairs 20 years ago. They were unfinished cedar and for years they were a weathered shade of grey. The yellow paint has given them a few more years... The coffee cups tell it all. It is a great place to sit and watch the birds in the birdbath."

Cleo the cat surveys her kingdom

Donna says that she and Duff did not intend to garden along the lakeshore. They removed some of the more scruffy spruce and maples to open up a view to the lake and then called it a day.  

This woodland area became the spot that they dumped surplus plant material that resulted from plant division as well as plants that had for one reason or another fallen out of favour. When Donna and Duff finally ran out of room in the rest of the garden, they turned their attention to their "dumping ground".

Donna: "To date, we have not amended the soil. We have just planted among the roots and the rocks. We have a central path leading to the lake and this year Duff put in steps and two boardwalks so it is easier to walk around and enjoy this wild garden."

Donna: "Just when you think spring will never arrive Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigolds) fill the bogs. The bees are even happier than I am to see the yellow flowers. The blossoms hum with bees."

"Primulas have also done well. We started with three Primula Japonica, gifts from a gardening friend, and now there are three hundred or more- all self-seeded. They fill my heart with joy."

Lysichiton (Skunk cabbage) both white and the yellow form also like the moist conditions found here. Siberian iris, Sweet Woodruff, Filipendula and Darmera peltata all grow well in this area."

Marsh Marigold (left) and Candelabra Primula, Primula japonica (right)

Marsh Marigold, Caltha palustris: is a North American native wildflower that can be found on the banks of streams and in other boggy locations. It grows best in moist, fertile soil. Marsh Marigold has rounded leaves and yellow buttercup-like flowers in spring. It sometimes goes dormant in the heat of summer. Full sun or part shade. Height:15-30 cm (6-12 inches),  Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 2-9

In the foreground left is a rhododendron, in a curve sweeping to the right is a line of Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum. Behind the Solomon's Seal is pink Candelabra Primula, Primula japonica.

Here's a link to Part 3.
Missed part 1? Here's a link.


  1. What a wonderful post! I think Duff and Donna's garden is one of the most beautiful and diverse gardens in Nova Scotia. Thanks so much for profiling this! Niki

    1. Thanks Niki. I agree that their garden is outstanding.

  2. This is a garden of a gardener's dreams, lush, eloquent, uncluttered but filled with love and light, green and growing. I'm enraptured by it's native beauty. And it's in Nova Scotia...just one more reason for me to have it on my list of must visit provinces, it has a real British Columbia feel with a certain dash of something extra beautiful to it.

    Tell me that those photos are not from this spring...please! Or I am packing up and moving back East as fast as I can. We are no where near as lush here yet.


    1. Don't pack your bags just yet Jen! The folks in Nova Scotia have actually had a very tough, very long winter Jen. When I last talked to my Dad there was still a bit of snow on the ground (last week).
      These pictures were taken last year in early June. On the whole, I would say B.C. is still milder than Nova Scotia.

  3. They are such wonderful gardeners and people. It is nice to see such beautiful pictures of their garden. We really should visit more often

  4. This is stunningly beautiful. So inspirational. Thanks for posting this. I would be so lucky to see this some day.

  5. So beautiful. So much of my own gardening is in woodland, so this post made my heart smile. I would love to have those yellow chairs and their view!

  6. I seriously am going to have to look back over this post again! My goodness there woodland garden is stunning! And they have given me some ideas for the basketball hoop that just went up in the middle of my garden bed! Wishing you an outstanding week Jennifer!!! Such an amazing garden! Nicole xo

  7. Jennifer
    The lakefront garden is stunning and surely the best garden you have ever shown us. This is the garden of my dreams and it saddens me that I will never own anything as beautiful as this.

  8. What a fantastic garden, it would be fantastic anywhere, but so far north, it's amazing!

  9. Stunning! There are so many things here to adore - but I think my favourite is the candelabra primroses. I used to have some in a previous garden that I had tucked away in my carry-on after visiting the UBC gardens. I cherished them.

  10. I agree with Niki, Donna and Duff's garden is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. You were there at the perfect time. My garden is sandy quick draining so many of Donna's plants don't survive here so visiting their Nova Scotia garden is always a special gift of kindness and learning. Great post Jennifer. The photos are magnificent, especially the a watercolor.

  11. Oh my, Jennifer, you visit the most amazing gardens! I think I could sit in those yellow chairs for hours and just enjoy the view:) I absolutely love the birdhouses, especially with the clematis climbing up each one. This garden reminds me somewhat of a garden we visited in North Carolina three years ago. It, too, was on a slope, and the owners, who did all the work themselves, were in their 70's but could have been in ads for a gym or some anti-aging miracle drug!

    1. Donna and Duff are in their seventies as well and could well be candidates for the same ads for anti-aging miracle drugs. I think Donna and Duff would say that gardening keeps them young at heart.

  12. What a lovely border along the wall, how beautiful it looks against those mature trees.
    I did enjoy the planting, especially the Lady Slipper Orchid and the wild garden. Wow to those bird houses and structures, how I wish I could have Duff for a few months!xxx

    1. Donna relays Duff's reply: "If Snowbird is a really good cook or a young Sophia Loren a few months might be negotiated."
      As Snowbird is happily married, perhaps the Sophia Loren angle might not work out, but I do imagine she is a very good cook. You never know...something might be arranged.

  13. What an absolutely stunning garden. Your pictures show it to perfection and I just love the one with the cat sitting looking at the borders ... wonder what she/he has seen ...amazing.

    All the best Jan

  14. Lovely birdhouses and clematis there, Jennifer. I liked the "kingdom of Cleo"!

  15. what a gorgeous garden! Love the backdrop too!


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