Getting personal at Keppel Croft Gardens, Ontario

In my previous post, I tried to describe Keppel Croft Gardens, the unique gardening experience created by Bill and Dawn Loney near Big Bay on the Bruce Peninsula in Southern Ontario. If pictures really are worth a thousand words then, when it comes to Keppel Croft, I still needed a lot of photos to describe this garden because it is so different. This post focuses a little more on ways the Loneys have made their garden utterly personal. And then there’s the henge, the analemmatic sundial and a huge ceramic tile mosaic that traces the sun’s elliptical progress across the sky during the course of a year. (I told you Keppel Croft Gardens was different.)

Plant identification tags, messages, sayings, memorials and signs are sprinkled throughout the gardens. Each is handmade and so charming. Even the conventional “keep out” sign is lighthearted in the hands of the Loneys. I love the plant tags with added bits of information, all hand written, to bring context to what you’re seeing. Small memorials to personal events and lost friends quietly bring a strong sense of family and community.

(Click on any photo to see a larger image, get more details and start the slideshow.)

The Loneys have taken recycling to a whole new level in their gardens, rethinking everything from garden seating to planting containers to artwork to mulch.

Though Keppel Croft Gardens in its entirety is quite big, large proportions don’t seem to be the point. Some of the spaces are surprisingly small, like this tiny zen garden. But even though it’s small, it still compels you to stop and take it all in. And knowing that Bill Loney got the idea for the garden when he discovered the concrete floor of an old pig barn under the topsoil kind of makes it extra special.

Zen garden

The diminutive zen garden feels just right.

Garden sculptures and art installations seem to be around every corner of these gardens and each can be appreciated whether you’re a culture connoisseur or a kid. Even the public facilities, an outhouse, has been transformed into a work of art.

The gardens’ decor has themes within themes but spheres, in particular, stand out.

The Keppel Henge, made from local limestone and granite, and the Analemmatic Sundial are the real deal. The henge accurately tracks the solstices. The sundial really does tell the time by the shadow cast by your own body. (I tested the sundial.) Please follow the henge and sundial links to the Keppel Croft Gardens website pages showing more photos and explaining how these remarkable works of art and engineering were created by Bill Loney and friends. How they figured out and made all of this is astounding and a fun lesson in astronomy.

Do you want to create a backdrop for a flower bed or more intimacy in a larger garden? My next and final post about Keppel Croft Gardens is devoted to how the Loneys use walls to make the most amazing spaces within spaces in their magical gardens.

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