A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Carol and Wayne Shaw's Gardens Summer 2018

Wayne and Carol – The Garden

You may remember Wayne and Carol from my post “What A Project!” 

Blog Photo - Wayne Building

Wayne’s always building something, and my family is always intrigued with his projects. 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Kitchen ws

His latest ones were their new kitchen, and the exterior of  “The Coach House”, below, with plans to finish the interior next.

Blog Photo - Carol Garden coach house beautiful exterior

“Has Wayne completed The Coach House yet?” I asked Carol a few weeks ago.

“He will, but right now I’ve got him mulching the garden beds,” she replied.

Their garden in Warkworth, and others elsewhere in southern Ontario needed mulching this summer.  It’s been hot and dry.

Blog Photo - Carol garden delphiniums over fence - gorgeous

So while we wait for Wayne to return to the splendid Coach House, let’s take a photo tour of Carol’s garden, starting with the beautiful blue delphinium over the front fence.

Blog Photo - Carol garden glorious photo of delphinium over fence

Blog Photo - Carol garden delphinium over street

And lilies and daisies and other blooming stuff.

Blog Photo - Carol garden pink lilies and sign about flowers

Blog Photo - Carol Garden orange lilies - picket fence in bg

Blog Photo - Carol garden beautiful potted arrangement on front patio

Blog Photo - Carol garden at front with plants and house front

Blog Photo - Carol garden daisies etc

Moving along the side towards the back…

Blog Photo - Carol garden wide shot of fence and rocks and flowers from street

By way of the paths…

Blog Photo - Carol garden lovely side path and blooms

Blog Photo - Carol garden path from other view

We see mulched beds and flowers – the results of both Wayne’s and Carol’s hard work…

Blog Photo - Carol Garden from coach house view

Blog Photo - Carol garden with barometer over flower pot

Blog Photo - Carol garden bed well mulched

 beside and between the main house and Coach House.

Blog Photo - Carol garden lovely shot of the coach house and back of house and garden bed

And it’s all lovely, of course.  We expect nothing less.

We’ll check back in with Carol and Wayne when the Coach House is complete.

Blog Photo - Carol garden back garden bed

Meanwhile, I hope your summer goes well, unless you’re in the part of the world where it’s winter — in which case, I hope winter is short and spring is near.

Photos by Wayne and Carol Shaw

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A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Gardening, White gardens

Exterior Design – Gardening for Impact

 

I’m an amateur gardener. Many of you know more about gardening than I do.

But I’ve learned a few things over the years and I shared some in my previous post on affordable gardening. 

This post is about creating impact.

Blog Photo - Hosta green around tree

The first thing I’ve learned is that you can create impactful garden scenes with a fairly small range of plants – if that’s your preference. At the farmhouse, we had many kinds of plants. At this new garden, we have far fewer. So we use a lot of hosta, hydrangea, ferns, and boxwood throughout our garden.

Blog Photo - Hosta around tree

I’ve learned that structure matters. Plants of the same variety massed together in a circle or  semi-circle make a strong structural statement.

When we lived at the farmhouse, a neighbour was throwing out clumps of green-and-white hosta. We gladly took some.  We divided and planted them around this tree, below.  They formed a lush circle in just two gardening seasons.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea guest in garden

My husband created two circles, above – one with hosta and one with boxwood. Look closely and you’ll see a taller boxwood semi-circle too.

Boxwood is perfect for creating structure. We buy them small (aka inexpensive) and let them grow. These ones, curving along our present garden path, are now two years old and will be trimmed and shaped soon.

Blog Photo - Boxwood along path

Contrast is another way of creating impact. The hosta and Japanese forest grasses, below — planted along another curve in the path — make a nice contrast.

Blog Photo - Hosta and Forest Grass

 Meanwhile, ligularia’s dark leaves, below, contrast well with almost anything.

Blog Photo - Ligularia

It’s a backdrop for the light-green hosta. But notice the green-and-white grass, below left.  Alone, the shape and colour of its blades would contrast nicely with the leaves of that hosta too. 

Blog Photo - Hosta and contrast

Contrast can also be created using varieties of the same genus of plants. Note the different kinds of hosta used below.

Blog Photo - Hostas of different colours

While contrasts are striking, we also like the harmony that comes from repeating a single colour throughout the garden at certain times of the year.

The red blooms of bee balm, below, echo the red of the chairs.

Blog Photo - Red Bee Balm and Bird Bath

Blog Photo - Red Bee Balm and Red Chairs

And the white blooms of bridal wreath spirea reinforce the white-stained arbour, below.

Blog Photo - White garden Bridal Wreath and Arbour

Sticking with colour, let’s talk about single-colour gardens and borders. 

Blog Photo - White garden Hollyhock single

Blog Photo - White garden Daisies

The white hollyhocks and daisies (above) and Annabelle hydrangea, below, are striking when grown en masse.

Blog Photo - White garden Hydrangea CU

Blog Photo - White garden Hydrangea several

Fast-growing and easy to divide, they are popular in all-white gardens. (Vita Sackville-West’s white garden at Sissinghurst in the UK is most famous, but many gardens, both private and public, have these plants in their white borders.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Courtesy: Parkwood Estate, Oshawa, Ontario

Of course, we’ve also learned that a single plant can make a magnificent statement, as does this giant Sum and Substance hosta.

Blog Photo - Hosta Giant Sum and Substance

And this equally striking goatsbeard.

Size, form, texture, contrast and colour: all can make a strong impact in your garden.

A Good Home, Author Interviews, Author's Homes, Gardening, Hilary Custance Green, Sculptor

At Home with Hilary Custance Green

Hilary Custance Green has many roles. She’s a daughter, wife, mother, author, sculptor, blogger and gardener.

It’s the gardener role that first caught my eye.

More specifically, it was her Japanese maple seedlings that caught my interest.

Blog Photo - Hilary Maple Seedlings in Pots

Hilary had written a blog post about growing Japanese maples from seed. Being a gardener ( and having failed to grow Japanese maples from seed),  I was impressed.

Hilary Custance Green

Hilary loves gardening, of course.  She brings both art and science to the task. (Did I mention she also has a doctorate in brain science?) 

She even had a knot garden, which I know from experience is not an easy thing to create. 

Blog Photo - Hilary Knot Garden 2

“I love all the phases of project work, creation, engineering, labour, completion and peer review. I am never happier than working to exhaustion on a big 3D piece of work, or weeding for hours in the garden.”

“As a teenager I dreamt of becoming Rodin or Michelangelo. It was not to be, but I spent twenty (mostly happy) years making large semi abstract sculptures and also, to earn a penny or two, portrait heads.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 2

“In both sculpture and writing, it is the crossfire of unrelated elements that makes the story.

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 1

“So this sculpture developed out of The Song of Hiawatha (Longfellow) and the sad time in my twenties when my boyfriend was drowned.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 3 boat

One of the recurring themes in all Hilary’s books is this question: What gives individuals strength in adversity?

By the time I met her through her blog, Hilary had already written three novels — Border Line, A Small Rain, Unseen Unsung — and was working on a special non-fiction book.

Each novel explores the question above, with themes of “love, grief, adventure, disability and both good and bad luck.”

Unseen Unsung by [Custance Green, Hilary]

“I hope to give readers something positive to take away as well as a hefty dash of the music and poetry I love so much.”

Blog Photo - Hilary workroom 2 and piano

Family and home are important parts of Hilary’s life.

“Home is where I have the wondrous fortune to be loved and feel safe,” she says.

“My husband Edwin and I both had parents with jobs that moved around. To give us a good education they sent us to boarding schools far from our homes.

“When we found this house, and had our two girls, we never wanted to move again and our children walked to school in the village.

Blog Photo - HCG Children

“When we outgrew the space, we built an extension (or two or three!).”

Blog Photo - Hilary Home

Hilary’s parents, Barry and Phyllis, went through great adversity during the second world war, and in  2016, she published a book about their experience. 

Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoirs and Letters from Home  is that book. Both acclaimed and very successful, it may well be her signature work so far.

Blog Photo - Hilary Book Cover Death Railway

“It includes the 68 men captured with Barry and their families back home in Britain, who kept in touch with Phyllis throughout the war. The real story is the amazing support these ordinary men and women gave each other in horrific and testing times.”

~~

Today, Hilary and Edwin’s daughters — Eleanor and Amy — are grown up with partners and lives of their own in other cities.  

Blog Photo - Hilary two daughters

Hilary too has been busy.

She has done many author presentations for her latest book, and is working on yet another. The work-in-progress is about “a brilliant, crazy woman, her concert pianist mother, their young, troubled and disabled biographer and a prickly young jazz pianist.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Workroom 1 with window

She and Edwin are also redesigning the garden.

Blog Photo - Hilary Garden in progress1

Blog Photo - Hilary Garden in progress2

Like everything else Hilary creates, one senses the finished products — book and garden — will be intriguing, powerful and beautiful.

Brava, Hilary!

A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Flowers

A Bloomin’ Miracle

 

European explorers didn’t call Canada the “land of ice and snow” for nothing!

It’s usually cold now. So why are the plants outside blooming and reblooming in late September?

Take this miniature rose. A gift from my husband in late June (after the ankle-break), it’s flourishing outside. Again.

Blog Photo - Rose late summer 2017

And this cyclamen, also a gift — from our neighbour.

Blog Photo - Begonia late summer 2017

Now, you may recall that I consider myself an expert on getting amaryllis to rebloom.

People ask: “Cynthia, how do I store my amaryllis bulbs during the fall so they’ll rebloom at Christmas?”

I immediately get puffed up with self-importance!  You see, I’m famously bad at the domestic arts, but I’m good at this. I know about reblooming amaryllis.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms 4 - July 2017

“Stop all watering in mid-August,” I say with great authority.  “Come September, pluck off the dried-up leaves, shake off the dried-up soil, and store the bulb in the cold cellar.  It’s had months outside, feeding on water, soil and sun, and now it’s time for beddy-bye, aka hibernation, until late November. It will be ready to rebloom at Christmas.”

So I took my own advice. Stopped watering this amaryllis on schedule, the leaves turned a dying yellow and….

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Wideshot late 2917

The darned thing bloomed!

It’s a delightful but humbling moment.  Seems I don’t know amaryllis. 

Blog Photo - Amaryllis CU late 2017

It’s like the goddess of amaryllis punctured my pride with her hatpin.

More worrisome things are happening in the world, I know.  But I’ve now decided to see the reblooming as a miracle. If there’s a botanical explanation, don’t tell me.

It’s a bloomin’ miracle, and that’s that.