Monday, September 18, 2017

The Garden of Wayne & Carolyn Luke

Wayne and Carolyn Luke always loved to poke around in gift shops, attend local auctions and antique shows. Their collection of antiques grew and eventually the couple decided to open their own store. They started small, but the business quickly grew and expanded into two stores, one in Port Perry and the other in Oshawa.

Then, after thirty years in retail, Wayne and Carolyn decided it was time to retire.  

A vintage plant stand at the front of the house.

A metal urn filled with annuals sits adjacent to the front door.

Petunias and white and mauve trailing Verbena. 

The front of the tiny shop.

They sold the business, but Carolyn and Wayne didn't retire from retail altogether. Instead they set up a little shop at the end of their driveway. The commute to work took mere minutes and the little store was the perfect spot to continue to sell garden ornaments and an ever increasing array of Wayne's handiwork. 

Birdhouses were among Wayne's earliest creations. His unique designs were expressions of his love of old architecture and sometimes included birds that Wayne carved himself. Over the years he handcrafted many of these whimsical birdhouses and they always sold well. 

After a time, Wayne began to wonder what else he might make. Yard sales and auctions became a ready source of raw materials for his artistry. He began to work with rolls of barbed wire, wooden finials and staircase spindles. Repurposing and transforming these found objects in imaginative ways became a passion.

The shop's wares spill into the adjacent garden. The large copper stepping stones were created using parts from old farm equipment.

 A container planting at the side of the house.

To one side of the shop is a little gravel courtyard. The contents of the hanging baskets and container plantings change from year to year. This summer Carolyn is growing tomatoes using 
Wayne's homemade metal cages.

There was no master plan for their country property. Instead, Carolyn and Wayne's garden has evolved over the past twenty-five years. 

Even now, there are changes– roses are a recent addition and the Luke's find that they are slowly moving away from growing their own vegetables. Now in their seventies, vegetables seem to demand too much labor and fresh local produce can be easily sourced.

The wooden arbors in the garden were designed and made by Wayne.

Beautiful urns, decorative plant stands and metal topiary forms that the Luke's have collected over the years are scattered throughout the garden. 

In amongst these traditional flourishes are humble objects that Wayne has repurposed. The decorative metal discs that form stepping stones in the gravel pathway are a perfect example. 

Two layers of landscape cloth were laid down to form the foundation of the gravel pathway. Any weeds that dare to pop up are sprayed.

The building visible in the near distance began as a treehouse for the grandkids, but one night a black bear visited the backyard and the terrified grandkids refused to sleep there ever again. 

So Wayne closed in the lower level of the treehouse and the little building functions as a shed these days.

Placing an urn filled with annuals right into a flowerbed is a great idea. Not only do the flowers add a bit of color, the urn elevates that color up to eye level.


The roses were Carolyn's idea. This summer Wayne fed them with chopped banana peels and the roses really flourished. 

Banana peels are a great source of potassium, phosphorus, calcium and other minerals that roses (and other plants) need. 

There are a number of ways to use banana peels in the garden. You can chop the them into small segments (1/4 inch pieces are good) and bury them in the soil around the perimeter of your plants. As the peels decompose, they add valuable nutrients to the soil. 

You can also dry banana peels and grind them into fertilizer. To dry the peels, cut them into long strips and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Put your oven on its lowest setting and leave the door ajar. Leave the peels in the oven until they are dry (about 8 hours). Grind the peels using a small food processor, coffee or spice grinder. Sprinkle the ground fertilizer on the surface of the soil or gently incorporate it into the dirt.

A vintage urn and stand filled with Canna Lilies and ivy.

A small arbor leads to an open grassy area.

As trees planted in the garden's early days have grown and matured, the backyard has become quite shady in spots. Initially Wayne filled these shady corners with a variety of hosta, but these days he is experimenting with ferns and other more unusual plants.  

The Limelight hydrangeas, that you see above, have become one of his favourite shrubs for some of the part-shade areas.

A detail of the garden ornament shown in the last image.

One of Wayne's birdhouses.

As well as working with wood, Wayne likes to create with metal. This clean-lined bird feeder is one of his more contemporary designs.

Ivy spills from the basket of a cherub at the centre of the gravel pathway. 

A mix of different hosta planted along the perimeter of the back of the house.

In business and their home life, Carolyn and Wayne have always worked closely together. Their garden reflects a little bit of each of them. Their creativity and a keen eye for beautiful antiques has combined to make a terrific garden.


  1. What a beautiful garden, full of lovely antiques and handmade art. I love all the urns, birdhouses, personal details! What a treat to see this garden.

    1. It was a treat to visit. I came home with a birdhouse that now hangs on the front porch.

  2. Truly, everyone should be so fortunate as to be able to retire this way.
    Simply ideal!!
    Everything here is so beautiful, Jennifer. I especially love all of the planters full of flowers.
    Thank you so much for sharing here.
    Have a wonderful week!

    1. It does seem like a gentle way to ease into retirement, doesn't it?

  3. A very splendid garden. I love that they have built so many of the structures in their garden. The modern bird feeder is just my cup of tea. Thanks for the tour!

    1. I like that modern bird feeder too. The design is really unique and well executed.

  4. I had noticed, even in those first several images, how they use urns to elevate colour and plantings -- such a great idea with a beautiful effect. I love how clever he was using the farm equipment (the copper) -- that looks spectacular. My mom taught me about banana peels for roses and epsom salts too. A truly great post -- thank you!

    1. Wayne certainly has a gift for seeing the potential in found objects. I am going to keep my eyes out for similar metal pieces. I'd love to have some stepping stones in the garden at the side of the house.


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