A Local garden: Easy on the eyes
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.
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'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.