Many people feel the summer gardening season starts with Victoria Day. For me, summer truly begins when gracious homeowners open up their gardens to the public for annual garden tours.
Strolling slowly through these gardens lets you see the work of gifted landscape professionals and talented gardeners. Garden tours are a great source of inspiration. You can find interesting plants, fresh colour combinations, different landscape styles and unusual materials to spark ideas for your own garden.
The Toronto Botanical Garden’s Through the Garden Gate tour highlights gardens in Forest Hill and South Hill this year. There are 19 gardens full of original and challenging ideas. I want to share a few striking design details that caught my eye during a preview tour.
An Arts and Crafts style house is surrounded by a distinctive black metal fence with matching trellis and entry arbour. The design of the iron work perfectly complements the style of the house. Used consistently throughout the garden, the wrought- iron ties the different areas together. A beautiful iron-framed greenhouse with a brick floor and two built-in cold frames is also in the Arts and Crafts style. A pea gravel path provides good drainage (and keeps the family’s dog from muddy paws) as well as a pleasing texture and sound.
I always pay attention to colour combinations when I visit gardens. In another Forest Hill property chartreuse foliage is echoed in the shade garden. Look for this striking green on the leaves of spiderwort (Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’) and the hosta and heucherella across the path. This repetition of colour directs your eye along the path as it helps to brighten a shady part of the garden.
At yet another stop on the tour a sublime three-season woodland garden grows along the sidewalk. A very clever eye-catching fence made from steel rods keeps dogs out of the garden without blocking the view. This garden also has a lovely raised planter fashioned from an old bird bath. As it has no drainage holes, it is filled with moisture-loving plants. The problem of raccoons getting into the water feature in the front garden has been elegantly solved with decorative frames placed over the surface of the water.
Details, even if they are small, can add the perfect touch to any garden. Through the Garden Gate: Forest Hill (June 8 & 9, 2013) will give you lots of inspiration to try something new in yours.