Saturday, May 30, 2020

A Beautiful Tapestry: The Garden of Heather Bradley

There are so many new followers to the blog, I thought it would be nice to repeat a favourite garden that some readers may not have had the opportunity to enjoy. 

Gardeners often focus on growing flowers, but great gardens are about more than pretty flowers in bloom.

In her lovely garden, Heather Bradley has woven together a rich tapestry using shape, color and texture. Flowers are not the focus. They are just one of the many elements. 

There is always some color throughout the summer from flowering groundcovers, perennials and varied foliage, but the primary palette is green. Does that make the garden less interesting? No, not in the slightest! If anything the carefully considered and selective palette makes the garden seem tranquil and serene. You literally find yourself slowing down to take in the interesting play of color, texture and shape.

As you will see, the garden is beautifully laid out. Moss covered paths meander throughout. Mature trees form the backdrop and allow just enough sunlight through for the evergreens and a wide range of perennials to flourish. The plantings include Japanese Maples, Brunnera, Jack-in-the-Pulpits, Clematis, Trilliums, hosta and a variety of ferns. 

Let's head right into the back garden and take a walk around.

"Without exception, people say when they walk into the backyard that it is calming and peaceful just like a retreat", says Heather Bradley.

The interesting combination of a lime-coloured hosta and a Japanese Painted Fern

Fresh lime green buds accent this Weeping Hemlock.

A moss-covered pathway leads further into the garden.

Here you see a nice mix of perennials, evergreens and groundcovers including a Dwarf Hinoki False Cypress in the foreground right, a Dwarf Nest Spruce (middle of the back row) and a Cotton Easter (in the back row on the right).

On the left: Pachysandra with European Ginger on the right-hand side. On the right: In the foreground, there are the tiny star-shaped leaves of Sweet Woodruff. On the left, there are the larger leaves of Lady's Mantel. In the background, you can see a Blue Juniper, Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'. 

Heather's patches of Sweet Woodruff were not in bloom on the day of my visit, but this is what it looks like in bloom. The flowers have a lovely vanilla scent. Sweet Woodruff spreads quickly and so you will want to plant it in an area where its creeping expansion will not be a problem.

The interesting combination of European Ginger top left and a Euonymus 
Japonicus Aureomarginatus in the foreground.

This small mounded planting includes a varied carpet of fragrant thymes.

A dwarf campanula makes for a bright patch of purple.

The tall tree with deep burgundy leaves in the middle foreground right is a weeping Copper Beach. A lacy Japanese Maple and a Mugho Pine make add to this interesting grouping. (They can be seen just in front of the Copper Beach.)

A hosta with a long tapered leaf and a Japanese Ghost Fern.

Stonecrop covers the foreground. On the middle left there is Box, a Japanese 
Maple with a Mugho Pine just behind it. 

Playing with foliage color, shape and texture is an art that can be learned with practice and experimentation.  In these crazy times, a serene and restful place is well worth cultivating.


  1. What a beautiful space! I can see why visitors to this garden would get a feeling of calm, I did too just looking at the photos. Any idea what the name of the fern is beside the photo of the dwarf campanula?

    1. I believe it is a variety of Maidenhair fern. This is a fern that would like moist shade and rich soil.

  2. Now this is what I am aiming for .. funny though, I work so hard at trying to get missions of taming and yet encouraging certain plants .. I take my eye off the prize way too often .. crawl into the house exhausted from working too hard, and I don't stop to enjoy the fruits of my labors often enough .. yet for those few moments each week that I sneak out in the morning to take pictures .. I am so excited to see how things have progressed and developed .. I have to make a point of doing that MORE often.
    Love this garden .. especially the weeping hemlock .. I would love one of those !

  3. Love this. I often use the dwarf campanula around statues in my work, I love the color contrast. Great post


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