Hedges with no intention of hedging. Garden beds built for sidewalks. A swimming pool that takes a plunge into the woods.
These ideas and more were on display at this year’s Toronto Botanical Gardens Through The Garden Gate tour, this time featuring private home gardens in the Lawrence Park area. Here are my favourites:
1. THE ANTI-HEDGE HEDGE
This street view of a modern home with staggered hedges planted parallel to each other shows how you can buck tradition and still create an elegant garden. The front yard was wide (flanking a very large house) but not deep. A regular hedge running along the length of it would’ve only emphasized the garden’s narrowness. These hedges make the most of the situation, giving the illusion of more space than there actually is.
2. THE GARDEN THAT THINKS IT’S IN THE TROPICS
Yes, there’s the usual sprinkling of hot-coloured geraniums and New Guinea impatiens–standard issue in many suburban gardens. But the bright red and yellow Bromeliads, sprouting in happy abandon as if they’re in the tropics instead of Toronto, are what turn this shady garden bed into an eye-catching feature.
3. THE VERY FINITE INFINITY POOL
Most infinity pools that I’ve seen have a dropped edge that lines up with a long view of a large body of water. The idea is that when you look out over the dropped edge, particularly if you’re in the pool, you get the sense that the pool stretches out, well, forever, or at least a very long way. But this infinity pool is different. There’s no vast vista here. Instead, swimmers might get the sense that if they went over the edge they’d be dropped into a wooded ravine. You wouldn’t. There’s a nice safe ledge hidden from view. But a conventional pool, collared by a patio and railing, wouldn’t have taken advantage of this forested setting or drawn your eye to it nearly as well.
4. THE ROUNDED CORNER FENCE
Such a simple idea–trading a 45 degree angle for a curve–took this fence from good-looking to great-looking.
5. HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT, PART ONE
Right behind that hedge in the background is a sidewalk and street but this corner of an L-shaped garden takes full advantage of its pool of sunshine. The focal point of this pocket paradise is a bubbling fountain built low to the ground that makes you look down, rather than up at the buildings across the street.
6. HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT, PART TWO
When you’re surrounded by neighbours with towering homes, you can still chill on the patio without half the world watching. And this bed/lounge takes chilling to a whole new level. Love the adjustable side panels, too.
7. A ROCKGARDEN JUST FOR PASSERSBY
Left as is, there’s probably not a lot that would’ve grown under the shade and between the roots of this big tree on a sloping lawn right next to a sidewalk. But this rock garden takes full advantage of the angled location, the dryness and the never-ending supply of appreciative pedestrians.