On the eastern shore of the Bruce Peninsula in Southern Ontario, Bill and Dawn Loney’s very personal garden is equal parts labyrinth, zen oasis and trip down a variety of magic rabbit holes. Thank goodness they open it to the public during the summer. Though untrained in any formal sense, both gardeners have created a masterwork of garden design at Keppel Croft Gardens. This month (July, 2015) I visited Keppel Croft for the first time. I was so smitten by the beckoning pathways, the surprises around every turn, the quirky garden sculptures, and the thoughtful touches that made this very large garden (or rather gardens within a garden) seem so very intimate, that I had to come back the very next day and explore the whole thing again.
Here’s just some of what awaits at Keppel Croft. I took so many photos that I’ve broken them up into a series of consecutive posts. Scroll over or click on any photo for more details.
Quirky sculptures at the entrance to Keppel Croft hint at what’s to come.
At the welcome area, inside is outside. There are plants for sale, too.
A small gazebo complete with chandelier serves as a gateway to a small garden at Keppel Croft.
Inside the little gazebo, a surprise awaits. Surprises are to be expected at Keppel Croft.
If there is a formal part to the garden it’s the front area which incorporates a long, dry creek bed and a terraced rock garden. Keppel Croft is a beautiful example of xeriscaping. Most of the plants have been chosen to do well without additional watering. They just have the normal amount of rainfall to rely on. In Southern Ontario, where summers can be long, hot and dry, this is an impressive achievement.
A view of the dry creek bed at Keppel Croft.
Garden beds blend into rockeries which blend into lawns. Note the swirls cut into the grass.
Here’s another view of the dry creek bed.
If you live on the Bruce Peninsula where winters are very harsh, visiting Keppel Croft is great for finding out about shrubs and perennials that last and thrive.
Follow along the dry creek bed to a terraced rock garden. Here you have to slow your walk to take in the fascinating details.
The terraced end of the formal(ish) garden has a ‘patio’ of river rock.
Ground covers of thyme, moss and heathers form a colourful patchwork at one side.
The containers in the rockery seem to glow in the hot summer sun.
Hand made stepping stones are individually decorated with pebbles, lettering and pieces of vintage metal trim.
This hand made stepping stone has a piece of metal filigree pressed into it.
Containers in the rockery sprout other rocks as well as plants.
On the opposite side of the front driveway from the garden you just saw is a shadier series of small gardens with a slightly wilder feel.
In the shadier part of the front area, country garden flowers grow rampant.
This part looks like a formal garden from the distant past.
Here’s another view of the shady front garden.
Everywhere within these gardens, pathways lure you into forest and fields where there are even more gardens.
A bridge over a small pond leads you into a tiny woods beyond which is probably the worlds smallest zen rock garden.
Many of the paths at Keppel Croft Gardens are brilliant at building anticipation.
In the hot sun, this path winding through beds of thyme and lavender leads you through wafts of heady scents.
At the far end of the thyme and lavender garden, a shady path leads to more paths cut through sunlit fields.
This path leads to jaw-dropping art installations. But you have to get past the wild guineafowl first.
This path connects the far side of the more formal gardens with art installations surrounded by grassy fields.
In my next post, I’ll show you some of the details that make Keppel Croft Gardens so fascinating. Jawbones and stone birds’ nests, anyone?