Sunday, April 29, 2018

10+ Ideas to Borrow for your Garden This Spring (Keppel Croft Garden Part 2)

Visiting other gardens has become one of my great passions. My resources for travel are limited, but I don't need to travel to distant shores to just see stunning gardens. They are right in my own backyard so to speak. It never ceases to amaze me what other gardeners have managed to create.

There is nothing like seeing a plant in a garden setting to give you a true sense of how it grows, what shape it takes and how it mixes in with other plants. And you're bound to come home from your visit with lots of ideas and projects in mind. I certainly came home from our trip to Bill and Dawn's garden on the Bruce Peninsula with lots of ideas, many of which I'd love to share with you today.

Idea 1: Make your own artwork. 

You don't have to be an 'artist'. A little creativity is all you need. 

Throughout Keppel Croft, you'll find examples of Bill's handiwork. "Not wanting to waste extra concrete, I poured it into waxed juice containers. When I peeled off the wax cardboard, I noticed a neat folded design on the bottom of the concrete blocks. Then I had a 'light bulb idea' to make the blocks into a miniature sculpture by setting them into fine, local beach gravel," says Bill.

The tall sculpture you see on the right was inspired by travels to Asia.

"This sculpture celebrates a week my daughter and I spent touring South Korea a few years back. We admired all the pagodas there. I bought a book on Korean culture in a folk museum in Seoul," Bill recounts.

"The finial represents a lotus blossom, which in turn represents the Buddha. It sits in a prominent spot in the rock garden. The tier overhangs make perfect sheltered nest bases for wasps."

Idea 2: Frame a view. 

Here the path directs the eye, while two upright shapes (Bill's sculpture and the tall, columnar evergreen) create a frame that funnels your attention toward the distant view. There is a hint of what is to come, but plantings on either side obscure a complete understanding of what lies ahead. 

A sense of mystery is always a great draw for the curious garden visitor.

Bill and Dawn have a large country property, but you can use this design trick in any sized garden.  Find an existing frame and make use of it or create a brand new one. Here's an example of using an existing frame:

Open the gate to your backyard. Think of the gate as the sides of your frame. Now take in the view. What is at the centre of your line of site? If it's not something interesting, make a change. Add a bench or an attractive object like an urn filled with flowers.  

And here's an example of how you might go about creating a brand new frame:

Create a doorway from one area of your garden to another with a wooden arbour. 

The pathway channels your attention while the sides of the wooden arbour frame the view you see. 
Here the plantings and the two teal pots partly obscure the full landscape and create that all-important sense of mystery. 

Idea 3: Repeat a color without using the exact same plant.

Blue-green is a color seen both in the low evergreen in the foreground and the blue spruce trees in the distance. The type of plant is different, but the color is the same. 

Red is also repeated in the Barberry shrub in the middle foreground on the right and also in the distance. The shrub is the same, but the cultivars are different.

Repetition helps unify the garden into a cohesive whole.

Idea 4: Start a collection. 

As any collector will tell you, it's fun to have a focus and a mission when you're shopping. To start a collection choose a plant that speaks to you. It could be absolutely anything you love: miniature hostas, roses, clematis, heuchera, native plants or maybe even different types of iris. Search out and grow all the examples of that plant you can possibly find.

Over the years Bill and Dawn have gathered a terrific collection of peonies that they have scattered throughout their country property. The use of a single plant unifies a big space. And when all those peonies are all in bloom, they make a dramatic statement.

A nice play of texture and leaf color.

Idea 5: Play up the contrast of color and texture. 

As any experienced gardener will tell you, flowers come and go, but the foliage is around for the long haul. This spring, make a point of choosing at least one plant for its foliage and not its flower.

Idea 6: Make use of found metal machine parts and decorate metal objects. 

Here an old machine part is hung on a wall and a metal butterfly has been set into a concrete stepping stone. 

You may remember the notes on Bill's unique way to edge his flowerbeds from part 1. He's used that same basic technique to do something fun in a nondescript expanse of lawn.

Idea 7: Make a swirl in the grass.

Again Bill's made use of concrete and stones to create this swirl in the lawn. If you don't want to go to the bother of laying forms and mixing concrete, you could use a simple line of bricks or small pavers to create something similar.

Idea 8: Make your own stepping stones.

"These stepping stones were formed from an old piece of lawn edging in the shape of a circle. Bits and pieces were set in the concrete and stamps were used for letters," says Bill.

 Here's a link to one of the many Youtube how-to stepping stone videos. Be sure to wear gloves and use safety glasses and a dust mask when working with concrete.

Idea 9: Make a hypertufa plant pot.

"The planted (landscaped) pots are placed about the garden in strategic spots to create focal points.
This particular trough was made using a hypertufa mixture over a huge soup pot which someone donated to the cause. It has been used several times and was reinforced with hardware cloth during construction," says Bill 

Hypertufa is a mix of peat moss, perlite and Portland cement (do not use pre-mixed concrete or mortar). Here's a link for a full how-to from Fine Gardening magazine

Idea 10: Take advantage of unique and interesting natural objects you found in your garden or in your travels.

"The troughs are a wonderful place to showcase 'special' rocks. This rock has a hole in it", says Bill, "Some have crevices in them which hold tiny rock plants such as Sempervivums, Sedum and Draba."

Idea 11: Create a grouping of plant curiosities. 

Hardy succulents and textural groundcovers can be so odd and intriguing! Display them in a container where they'll get noticed or elevate them up closer to eye level in a birdbath planter. 

Here's a link to making a birdbath planter.

Idea 12: Make an inukshuk or an inunnguaq.

In the snow-covered regions of northern Canada, everything can look the same. Inukshuks served many purposes. They were used as a point of reference for navigation and as a signpost to mark good hunting or fishing spots. Inukshuks often marked a cache of food and were sometimes used as animal blinds when hunting for caribou. Women would case caribou toward the inukshuks where the hunters lay hidden with bows and arrows.

In its simplest form, an inukshuk can be an upright stone. Balance was key to making these stone markers. No mortar or glue hold the stacked stones together. Each stone supports the one above and below it. 

Stones piled up to look like a human figure are called inunnguaq and have a more spiritual significance. After they were married, Bill and Dawn spent a number of years living in the Eastern Arctic. An inunnguaq now stands on the edge of their garden and looks out onto a field of wildflowers and grasses and the forest beyond.

I hope you have enjoyed these two posts on Keppel Croft Garden. 

If your lucky enough to find yourself exploring the Bruce Peninsula this summer, I am sure Bill and Dawn would be happy to welcome you to their garden.

You might even want to buy a little souvenir of your visit. I know I did.

For directions, hours of operation and other details check out the garden's listing on the Rural Gardens of Grey-Bruce website. You can also visit the garden's website for more information.

Bookmark this post with a PIN. 


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