Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Little Stonehouse Garden, Part 2

Fate does not always smile upon old houses. With modern urban development, a quiet, country setting can sometimes completely change its character. A place where two country roads meet can evolve into a busy city intersection. And not everyone is willing to take on the demands of an older home. They need patience, vision and tons of hard work.

The home of Carrie and David Brandow is older than Canada itself. What began as a rural stone house is now a home on the outskirts of the city of Guelph. Despite the city's expansion, the house retains much of its original charm. The door and trim on the front entrance is Kelly green– a fitting choice for the home of an avid gardener.

"The house was built in 1854 (according to the date on the side of the house). I have heard differing stories about this house," says Carrie, "I've heard it was a farmhouse, or more often, it was a rooming house for people traveling between Guelph and Cambridge. It is not very big inside, so they would not have had many people staying at one time."

"We love the old charm, the deep windowsills and the location– it is half way between Dave's and my work. It's also close to the city, but still in the country."

Over the years, Carrie and David have done a number of renovations.

"The only thing that is the same about the property, from when we got it 21 years ago, is the original part of the house (we built the addition) and the greenhouse/shed– we have not got around to taking them down. We had to change everything else; upgrade the septic, build the garage etc. Which actually meant I would put in the gardens only to have them destroyed by one major construction project or another. The garden in place are now 3-5 years old."

It is amazing to think that the garden I am about to show you is only three to five years old! It looks like the it has always been there.

 Giant Fleeceflower, Persicaria polymorpha (tall, white flowering perennial), Salvia guarantica 'Black & Bloom' (blue flowering annual) and Wax Begonia, Semperflorens (red flowering annual).

For those of you that might have missed the first post, Carrie Brandow has a career in the wholesale nursery trade. Some of the plants she grows for the family business come home with her to fill her summer planters and enhance her garden's flowerbeds. 

The huge container planting (above) began with an old water trough that Carrie and David discovered on the property when they bought the house. The bottom was rusted through, so as a container for annuals, it certainly offered lots of good drainage! 

1. Dwarf Egyptian Papyrus, 'Graceful Grasses King Tut' 2. Coleus 'Redhead' 3. Petunia 'African Sunset' (seed spreading variety) 4. Petunia 'Tidal Wave Velour Red' 5. Petunia 'Littletunia Purple Blue'

A closeup of the big container planting.

Another one of other Carrie's containers that I missed showing in the last post.

1. Coleus 'Redhead' 2. Fuchsia 3. Mimulus 'Magic Mix' 4. Nemesia Nesia 'Sunshine' 

This is the garden's main flowerbed. Annuals edge the bed and are dotted in among the perennials. Carrie sees a number of advantages in this planting style:

"The perennials create a base and change the colour interest throughout the season. Annuals add continuous colour."

"Annuals can also be changed year to year, so the garden is not the same every year. One year the main color is orange, the next year the main colour might be pink. The perennials get a different look simply by changing the colour of the annuals."

1. Delphinium 2. Maidenhair Grass, Miscanthus 3. Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow' 4. Perilla Tricolor 5. False Indigo, Baptisia 6. Echinacea 'Strawberry Shortcake' 7. Bergenia 8. Bearded Iris 9. Giant Lamb's Ears, Stachys byzantina 'Helen von Stein' 10. Annual Marigold 'Durango Mix'.

Perilla Magilla Tricolor (left) and Giant Lamb's Ears, Stachys byzantina 'Helen von Stein' (right)

Two foliage plants from the big flowerbed seen above:

Perilla Magilla Tricolor (annual) has burgundy foliage with bright pink centres. It is performs well in both sun and shade. Deer resistant. Height: 60 cm (24 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-24 inches). Hardiness:10,11.

Giant Lamb's Ears, Stachys byzantina 'Helen von Stein' (perennial) has large, fuzzy grey-green leaves. This is a non-blooming type of Lamb's Ears. Full sun. Height:30-45 cm (12-18 inches), Spread: 45-60 (18-24 inches). Hardiness: 4-9.

Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow' forms an upright clump of narrow green leaves with clusters of yellow flowers. Green seedpods follow that can be dried for arrangements. Attractive to butterflies. This plant requires well-drained, somewhat sandy soil. Full sun. Height: 40-50 cm(16-20 inches), Spread: 50-60 cm (20-23 inches). USDA zones 4-9.

The tall spikes of Delphinium, an orange-red Echinacea 'Hot Papaya' and the pink spires of Mountain Fleeceflower, Persicaria.

Echinacea 'Strawberry Shortcake' is double flowered Echinacea with white petals and a pompom that starts off white and darkens into rose-pink. Full sun. Height: 65-75 cm(26-28 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-24 inches). USDA zones 4-9.

A group of annuals: Salvia (blue flowers), Gomphera (magenta flowers) and Melampodium divaricatum (yellow daisy).

Butter daisy, Melampodium divaricatum is an annual that likes hot, humid locations. Full sun. Height: 1-2 ft (there are both tall and shorter varieties).

The same flowerbed from a different vantage point.

Alpine Betony, Stachys monieri is a perennial that forms a low mound of green leaves with mauve or pink flower spikes mid-summer. This plant is happy in average garden soil and likes average to moist growing conditions. Full sun, but will tolerate part-shade. Height: 30-60 cm (12-23 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones 4-8.

This flowerbed sits toward the back of the property adjacent to the garage. Under the small tree, there is a nice grouping of hosta (see below). There is also has a little pond and more container plantings.

Hostas with a nice mix of color and texture.

A container planting next to the garage.

1. Salvia 'Patio Blue' (annual) 2. Geranium 'Mrs Pollack' 3. Nemisa 'Nesia Burgundy'  4. Mercardonia ( yellow annual) 5. Coleus 'Stained Glassworks Burgundy Wedding Train' 

Coleus 'Stained Glassworks Burgundy Wedding Train' trails nicely over the edge of a container. It has burgundy foliage edged in lime green. Height: 30-46 cm (12-18 inches), Spread: 46-60 cm (18-24 inches. 

The other side of the flowerbed that runs along the length of the garage.

1. Evening Primrose or Sundrops, Oenothera fruticosa 2. Crimson Scabious, Knautia  macedonica 3. Lysimachia punctata 'Golden Alexander' 4. Salvia 'Patio Blue' (annual) 5. Coleus 'Defiance'

Two of the perennials in detail:

Crimson Scabious, Knautia macedonica is a short-lived perennial that forms a low, rounded clump of grey-green leaves. Wiry upright stems carry maroon flowers throughout the summer and into the fall. This plant likes somewhat dry conditions and is happy in average garden soil. Full sun.  Height: 60-90 cm (23-35 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones 4-9.

Lysimachia punctata 'Golden Alexander' has variegated green leaves with a cream margin. Spikes of starry yellow flowers appear in summer. Unlike some loosestrife, this cultivar will supposedly spread moderately to form a small patch. Height: 45-60 cm(18-23 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones 4-9.

There is a row of trees at the back of the property that provide privacy and shade. Here Carrie and David have a small fire pit and a couple of comfortable chairs.

The garden that runs along the side of the yard continues with a mix of annuals and perennials. Among the perennials are lilies, phlox and dahlias.

In the hot, dry area at the centre of the yard, Carrie has a metal basket and a couple of blue ceramic pots filled with succulents.


Silver Spurflower, Plectranthus argentatus 'Silver Shield' (perennial– can be used as an annual-depending on your zone) is a spreading, sub-shrub native to Australia. It is primarily grown for its attractive, fuzzy, grey-green foliage. It has upright flower spikes with bluish-white flowers. Grow it in part shade in rich, well-drained soil. Height (as an annual foliage plant): 60 cm (24 inches), Spread: 60cm (24 inches). USDA zones: 10-11.

1. Paddle Plant, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora 'Desert Rose' 2. Echeveria 'Ruffles' 3. Sedum spurium 'Voodoo' 4. Mother of Thousands, Kalanchoe daigremontiana 

One final corner of the garden to explore. A soft pathway of wood mulch leads from the house down to the garage.

The garden in the early morning light.

And later in the day.

In the back row: Coleus 'Wasabi' and Coleus 'Saturn' In the front row: Begonia boliviensis 'Bossa Nova Red', Pansy 'Cool Blue Wave', Fuchsia 'Autumnale' and Fuchsia 'Marinka' at the sides of the box (not shown).

Unless you have a greenhouse where you can give seedlings an early start each spring, planting large areas with annuals, as Carrie has done, may not be an affordable option for everyone. But what you can take away from this planting style are design tips that can be adapted to suit any garden on whatever budget:

• Pick a key, high traffic area and use annuals to give you continuous color from summer into fall.

• Consider using annuals to edge a perennial bed. At the front of a large flower border, they won't get lost in a crowd.

• Mass annuals together for a display that has a big impact. 

• Choose large or oversized containers that have a wow-factor rather than lots of little pots.

• As Carrie suggested in the first post, remember that even with annuals, foliage color is a constant. Flowers come and go. If you want to keep your container plantings looking their best all season, keep the different foliage colours in mind. 

I love Carrie's idea to vary the look of your garden each year by changing the type and color of the annuals you choose. It's refreshing to have a new look every once in a while. And it's an easy update with a minimum of fuss! Who doesn't love that?


  1. Gorgeous! Love the house, love the garden!

  2. My kind of gardens - not to pretentious, and a good mix of annuals and perennials. It's all so gorgeous and I enjoyed both parts of the tour.

    1. Thanks Joanna, glad you liked the post and Carrie's garden.

  3. Such a wonderful house and garden, love the combination of perennials and annuals and look at those containers, they really look gorgeous with the variety of plants.

    1. Thanks Janneke. She's created a really nice garden, hasn't she?

  4. These gardens are gorgeous, Jennifer, and the house?
    Oh my goodness, it is so beautiful. I love that stone.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thanks Lisa. Hope you had a nice weekend too.


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