Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Little Blue House on the Corner, Part 1

If the vibrant blue color of the house on corner of Victoria Street doesn't grab your attention, the charming cottage garden certainly does. Bright annuals overflow the window boxes and flowers spill onto the sidewalk in front of the white picket fence. As a whole the exterior is so distinctive, you don't have to pass through the front arbor, smothered in Clematis vines, to know that someone creative lives there.

"Blue is my favourite, but the idea to paint the house a bright blue comes from trips to the East coast and Sweden, where they prefer vibrant colors over the boring, bland colors that we tend to use here in Ontario," homeowner Candace Carter says, "In the beginning there were reservations expressed by the neighbours on the blue, but now they seem to like it. I have had many compliments on the choice, especially from photographers, who like the vibrant color as a backdrop to the flowers."

The simple structure dates back to the 1860's and is one of the first homes built in Claremont, Ontario. Candace and her dad did most of the work to update the house for a modern family; adding an extension which now holds the kitchen and dining area. The garden, that surrounds the house on all sides, has been years in the making.

"I had a vision of the main layout and the types of plants I wanted to grow, but the garden evolved over time. I made 'upgrades' as my budget allowed," Candace says. 

"The first thing I did was remove the grass, which was the only thing here, besides the large birch trees, when I moved in. Then, I laid out the vegetable garden in the sunniest spot of the yard. Next, I tackled the shady area around the trees and the small 'river' pond. After I installed the white picket fence and two arbors, I added gardens at the front and side of the house." 

We'll begin our tour, by looking at garden along the front of the picket fence. Then we'll head in to the yard to see the shady area and pond tucked under the birch trees.

1. Allium 2. 'The Fairy' Rose 3. Ox-eye Sunflower, Heliopsis helianthoides 4. Yellow Magnolia 5. Smoke Bush, Cotinus 6. Jupiter's Beard, Red Valerian 7. Artemisia 'Silver King' (aggressive perennial) 8. Feverfew and Tansy 'Jack Pot'

* For color later in the summer, there is also Daylilies, Sedum, Coneflowers and Phlox along the front of the picket fence

This is the pair of Birch trees that shades the far corner of the garden where we are heading next.

Just inside the fence, a brick path that takes us to our first destination. 

The purple Clematis that you see crawling its way up a Smoke Bush, Cotinus is the first of many such vines we'll see along our way.

'Invincibelle Spirit' has small, delicate-looking rose flowers. The flower stems are a little fine for holding up such big flowers, but they generally don't require any extra support. Blooms appear mid-July and carry on into the fall with the flowers fading in color to beige as they age. 'Invincibelle Spirit' prefers full sun, but will tolerate part shade. It blooms on new wood, so prune in late winter/early spring. Height: 4-5ft inches. Spread: 4-5ft inches. USDA zones: 3-8.

At the far corner of the yard, the path turns and leads to a small pond and waterfall.

Plants on the water's edge include: Astilbe, Heuchera, Carex, Ligularia and Hosta

1. Climbing Hydrangea, hydrangea petiolaris 2. Solomon Seal, Polygonatum 3. Japanese Fern, Athyrium niponicum 4. Sweet Woodruff, Galium odoratum 5. Carex (grass-like perennial)

The area to the right of the pond includes a cool, quiet spot to unwind. Every gardener needs a place to relax after all that weeding!

Beyond a Japanese Maple, a chair beckons in the distance.

A carpet of Creeping Jenny sits under a pair of chairs.

Off a door at the side of the house, there is a raised wooden deck with a bench and a clay fireplace. In the righthand corner you can see the hydrangea featured in a photo coming up shortly.

Tucked into a corner of the deck is a table and chairs for outdoor dining.

Smooth Hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens 'Incrediball' has been bred as an improvement on Annabelle and has sturdier stems that don't flop. The flowers emerge lime green and age to creamy-white. Height: 4-5ft inches. Full sun. Spread: 4-5ft inches. USDA zones: 4-9.

Next we are going to head into the main part of the garden...

where "pretty" mixes with "practical".


  1. Absolutely gorgeous and that blue is so stunning! Beautiful home and garden!

  2. What a magical, beautiful, peaceful garden! I'm in love with everything here.... Just perfect!

  3. Wow! What a bold and magical place. I agree that the blue backdrop of the house really adds a pop of color and provides a wonderful structure to help show off all the beautiful plants. I love the clematis climbing up the smokebush. It creates a natural whimsical element to that space.

  4. Touring a beautiful garden (even a virtual one) is exactly what I need right now as I continue to look out at my own garden still partially snow covered. Thank you!

  5. Ah, truly a sight for sore eyes.

  6. This space is created wonderfully. Love the blue! It looks lovely with the green foliage partially covering the walls.

  7. Thanks everyone! I am sure Candace is touched by all the positive feedback.

  8. Oh, how I DO love that blue!
    And it is indeed the perfect canvas for these beautiful gardens.
    Thank you for sharing, Jennifer, and have a wonderful weekend.

  9. Hi everyone! Thanks for all the nice words! I have designed many gardens over the years, a new one each time I moved (7 I think) and this latest one is my favourite! I have had 14 years to work on it and hopefully this year 2017 will not be my last. One of the goals for this year is to improve my fruit bearing capacity. Some of the fruit trees I initially planted have not produces fruit for the last couple of years and I may need to remove them and plant other varieties, or find a new spot for them. I will open to the public May 1st, for tours (free) and plant sales (divisions and seedlings from my garden and green house.)

    1. I will put the details (hours of operation etc) for Candace's plant sales and garden tours in the next post .

  10. Very Beautiful but that will take years to create that depth. Those are all very established plantings.

    1. True enough. Candace has been working on her garden for almost 10 years.

  11. Lovely lovely garden, do you do garden tours as well? I think I could handle a stroll through this beauty and not get tired at all. How about opening a tea garden? I'd come for afternoon tea anytime. Where in Ontario is your place?

    1. If you click the link at the bottom of the post and go to part two there is information on the garden open times and location ( Candace lives in a small town not far from Uxbridge Ontario). Candace sells plants and is happy to have visitors wander through the garden.

  12. I noticed myself relaxing as I wandered farther and farther into the garden. Thanks for the much needed, instant retreat! I have bookmarked it to revisit :).

  13. This is the most beautiful garden!!! Controlled chaos, the very best kind. Relaxing and interesting at the same time.


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