Sorry for the delay. I’d promised you this third and last post in the OMG Summer Tour series sooner but, well, life sort of happened. But I do apologize for any confusion. This post covers the last two gardens we visited during the extraordinary tour presented by the Toronto Botanical Gardens and hosted by the incomparable Frank Kershaw. Stick with me, if only to catch a glimpse of the baby elephant masquerading as a weeping conifer.
Now we’re deep in Southern Ontario equestrian country. We passed many a pasture peppered with well-loved horses. In fact, we were very close to the site of the Pan Am Games riding events. This part of Ontario may have many farms but growing things isn’t easy. Typical of land scraped mercilessly by glaciers during the last Ice Age, there’s only a thin layer of topsoil here, spread over rocks of every size. For a gardener, this can be hugely frustrating or an opportunity to get real creative. (Scroll over or click on any photo for more details.)
Rocks are celebrated in this garden (shown below). There are several stone sculptures, including the one seen at the foot of the stone front steps. There are also a couple of large wooden sculptures, too, including this surprising eagle.
Behind the house, a huge rock garden is nearing completion. Rock beds and dry creeks have been formed to mimic the silhouette of a giant plant, complete with leaves and a root ball. The pattern is so large that you’d probably only be able to see the whole thing (once the garden is complete) if you were suspended high up in the air. No matter. The garden is an amazing example of taking full advantage of a site.
Many striking plants have been cleverly positioned to play up their colours or texture.
The last garden on the tour included sweeping lawns at the front and back of the house with beds complementing the undulating terrain. But I use the word “lawn” creatively, here. A cushiony thyme “lawn” was tucked into the space directly in front of the L-shaped home.
A cascading waterfall tumbled down a rock garden at the side of the house. If you were to turn your back on this fabulous water feature, you’d be looking at a dense forest in which the owners stroll down bark mulched paths they’ve made. A simple log bench deep in the woods offered a cool resting place on a hot summer’s day.
The dark forest made a fantastic backdrop for the collection of specimen trees the owners are nurturing. I couldn’t help thinking that a small tree at the edge of this area looked exactly like a baby elephant. To get to the baby elephant, erm, weeping conifer, you need to stroll past or through a large maze shaped by mowed grasses. A twenty-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture of a praying mantis presided at its centre.
Every garden on this tour was a singular expression of its owner(s). And though most of them had the luxury of huge spaces to grow their visions, they all had plenty of ideas anyone could steal for their own patch of paradise. What was your favourite idea?