Thursday, April 5, 2018

An Asian-Inspired Garden, Part 1: The Pond-less Waterfall

"It was the 60+ year old English house I bought in 1982 that had an established though long neglected garden that started my love of gardening," says Carina Wong.

Originally from Malaysia, Carina had gone to England to study nursing and decided to stay on after she graduated. When she purchased her first house in March, she had no idea there was a large garden sleeping through the final days of winter. 

When spring brought the garden to life, Carina was at a loss how to handle the mature garden she'd inherited. At that time, she had no experience with gardening. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, she hired someone to help her in those early days. Then, slowly over the next seventeen years, the garden ended up teaching her how to be a gardener. 

A move to Canada saw a fresh set of gardening challenges. 

A visitor to the garden sits by the pond.

"I wanted an English-themed garden for the front of my new house," Carina recalls.

The property she bought in Mississauga had two large maple trees in the front yard that cast a tremendous amount of shade. Carina had one removed and limbed up the other to let in a little more sun for the roses she hoped to grow. Other than the two maples, the garden she inherited had a lawn and a narrow flowerbed that ran along the front of the house. 

"I had many lovely roses, but sadly the arrival of Japanese beetles nine or ten years back became too big a problem to keep under control. The roses were sad and any blooms were quickly decimated. In the end, I got rid of over 30 rose plants! How should I put it - gardening phases come and go with the gardeners' aging process!"

The idea of installing a pond in the front yard began as a solution for a grub problem in the lawn. On the advise of her local garden centre, Carina tried to treat the problem with a pesticide. The chemicals smelled horrible and they were expensive. Worst of all, the grub problem persisted even after a couple of treatments. So Carina decided to dig up the lawn and put in a pond.

Over the years the pond went through a number of phases. In its first incarnation, it was a small preformed plastic pond. Not satisfied with that, Carina hired someone to come in and create a larger pond. A number of years later the skimmer broke, and rather than replace it, Carina decided to replace the high maintenance pond with a pond-less waterfall that was a lot less work. 

The interlocking brick was another time saver. No more lawn tomow! 

The garden along the front of the house.

1. Bearded Iris with variegated foliage 2. Tall allium 'Purple Sensation' 3. Rhododendron 4. Stonecrop or Creeping Sedum 5. Allium 6. Thyme 7. Moss Phlox, Phlox subulata 'Emerald Cushion Blue'

A closer look at the Moss Phlox (left) and the Thyme (right)

Phlox subulata 'Emerald Cushion Blue' creates a low mound of green needle-like leaves. In the spring, it is covered with lavender-blue flowers. This is a clump-forming perennial and is not invasive. Good drainage is essential for over-wintering moss phlox. Once established this plant is quite drought tolerant. Height: 10-15 cm (4-6 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm(18-23 inches). USDA zones: 2-9.

"I have happy memories of sitting on the park bench under the Canadian Maple in the evenings and listening to as many as 13 pairs of frogs' croaking - is there a better way to describe the beautiful sounds they make? Sitting on that bench also offered me the perfect vantage point for improving the layout and making changes over the years as well as enjoying a glass of wine or two!", smiles Carina. 

A birdbath and one of the roses that still remain in the front garden.

In the part 2, we'll head into Carina's wonderful backyard.


  1. Beautiful yard. I can just imagine sitting out under the maple and enjoying nature. Especially as we have just had snow again...

    1. It would be a nice place to sit, wouldn't it? We've had snow here too. So depressing at this time of year!

  2. It is amazing how our gardens transition through the years as we "grow" as gardeners.
    Our wants and needs change as well and simplifying our gardens seems to be the best solution possible all round.
    This is a lovely way of doing just that .. so beautiful ! . I am very jealous of the frogs .. I would so love to hear that on a warm summer evening.
    This winter has just about driven us crazy .. the patio project started in the middle of rain,snow , hail and high winds .. I hope that isn't a bad omen ? LOL
    Spring where are YOU !

  3. These gardens are just beautiful!
    Carina did a wonderful job here.
    How special it would be to spend time here.
    As always, thank you so much for sharing here, Jennifer.
    Have a wonderful week ahead!

  4. I love this garden. It is so very peaceful!


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