A Lo­cal gar­den: Easy on the eyes

Manitoba Gardener Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Tania Mof­fat

Not all gar­dens re­quire beds over­flow­ing with colour­ful flow­ers. In fact, some­times that absence can cre­ate a feel­ing of seren­ity and peace. Sophia Munro says visi­tors of­ten com­ment on the tran­quil­ity of her yard, and while she agrees she couldn’t quite put her finger on it, un­til now. It’s easy on the eyes, a place where you can just re­lax and soak in the am­biance.

Sophia got hooked on gar­den­ing slowly, de­vel­op­ing a pas­sion for it over the years. “I had a lit­tle veg­etable gar­den in my first house. I was self-taught and re­lied on the ad­vice of others when I started. I didn’t have a back­ground in gar­den­ing or grow up do­ing it or any­thing like that,” she says.

When she moved into her cur­rent home, 38 years ago, the half acre had many ma­ture trees with rows of plants on the edges. She be­gan rip­ping up the lawn, and due to pil­ing the sod, a cou­ple of hills re­sulted. “I re­al­ized then that I needed a plan,” Sophia ad­mits. I reached out to land­scape ar­chi­tect, Ian Corne, for some ideas,” she re­calls. To­gether they de­cided to put back a river of grass, a curved path through the mid­dle and add in another hill for bal­ance.

Ian never did de­sign a fi­nal plan for her but over a cou­ple of vis­its he was able to help her de­cide what would work best for her and look beautiful too. “He taught me that struc­ture is more im­por­tant than the plants. It’s the bones of the gar­den you see in win­ter and if you have a solid struc­ture it is eas­ier to plan around that. He may have not given me a spe­cific plan but the yard evolved from our col­lab­o­ra­tion,” she re­calls.

Rocky land­scape

It was Ian’s idea to make the twin tama­racks the fo­cus of the yard, curv­ing ev­ery­thing around them – the lime­stone rocks, the river of grass and the wood chip paths. He also found her a gor­geous slab of lime­stone that added to the gar­den. From there Sophia took over in­cor­po­rat­ing what she had learned with her own style.

As she con­tin­ued work­ing on her de­sign, Sophia and her hus­band found an un­usu­ally beautiful rock while wan­der­ing through a quarry. Sophia refers to it as the sit­ting rock, and this mas­sive stone is the rea­son she has such im­pres­sive rock sur­faces through­out the gar­den. While the cost of the boul- der was rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive the ship­ping was not. The com­pany rec­om­mended she fill the truck to jus­tify the cost of the ship­ping. So, she did! She or­dered an ex­tra 20 tons of rocks for her path­ways just to get her sit­ting rock.

De­tails of De­sign

Sophia pur­posely did not add an­nu­als to her gar­den in part due to the shade. “In the be­gin­ning, I had im­pa­tiens but it didn’t take me long to re­al­ize that I couldn’t be both­ered wa­ter­ing them,” she says. In­stead she stuck to peren­ni­als and added colour­ful flow­ers to pots sur­round­ing the house.

Hav­ing taught her class­room how to com­post as a teacher, she has car­ried on her re­duce, re­cy­cle, re­use phi­los­o­phy in her yard. There are five rain bar­rels sit­u­ated through­out the prop­erty, ver­mi­com­post­ing in­doors and a mas­sive com­post pile that she tends to. “It sup­plies my gar­den with such beautiful rich soil and can take less than a year to break­down if you are us­ing grass clip­pings. I col­lect com­post from triathlons and get raked leaves and grass clip­pings from my neigh­bours. By con­tin­u­ously adding al­ter­nat­ing lay­ers of dry leaves and green grass the tem­per­a­ture rises nat­u­rally, brew­ing up a highly nu­tri­tious com­post,” she shares.

In ad­di­tion to tend­ing to her gar­dens and a small veg­etable patch at home, Sophia also main­tains a com­mu­nity veg­etable plot and is an ac­tive mem­ber of the Charleswood Gar­den Club.

Sophia loves so many parts of her gar­den it is hard to pin down a favourite she tells us. “Some of my favourite plants in­clude the wild ginger, berge­nia, Solomon seal, hostas, joe pye and milk­weed, but just be­ing in the gar­den in­stills a sense of joy.”

She has learned to ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty of her gar­den in a truly bril­liant way. "I take my cof­fee or wine and walk through the gar­den and look at ev­ery­thing that doesn’t have to be done. I make a con­scious de­ci­sion to de­light in the parts that are look­ing great in­stead of wor­ry­ing about the lit­tle jobs I still need to do. It has made a huge change in my en­joy­ment of the gar­den,” Sophia says. Great ad­vice for all of us.

Sophia Munro has cre­ated a tran­quil sanc­tu­ary in her own back­yard.

Sophia Munro.

Sophia's front yard looks beautiful even though she in­sists it is just a deer buf­fet.

Dif­fer­ent leaf shapes, colours and tex­tures add to the beauty of the gar­den.

There are 20 tons of rock on these path­ways.

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