A strolling gar­den

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - CONTENTS - Story by Ta­nia Mof­fat, pho­tos by Veron­ica Sliva

The ma­jes­tic beauty of Bri­tish Columbia’s conif­er­ous forests can in­spire any­one. Tall lodge­pole pines, En­gel­mann spruce, alpine fir and west­ern larch are stun­ning when placed against the back­drop of the Rock­ies. Th­ese forests and the Botan­i­cal Gar­den of Tofino’s net­work of walk­ing paths in­spired John Bash and El­iz­a­beth Ruther­ford, so much so that they com­pletely trans­formed their On­tario gar­den.

Fif­teen years ago the ren­o­va­tions be­gan

The gar­den, which was once filled with the heady scent of roses and dainty climb­ing clema­tis mor­phed into a for­est with over 100 trees. To­day, it is an ever­green paradise with wind­ing paths that will trans­port you from the cen­tre of a mega-metropo­lis into a se­cluded wooded glen.

Trees and ev­er­greens, mostly pyra­mi­dal cedars, were planted through­out the prop­erty. The min­i­mal­ist front yard con­sists of trees planted in a repet­i­tive pat­tern while the back­yard is filled with wind­ing paths edged by man­i­cured cedar, lilies and other stun­ning trees and shrubs.

This is not your typ­i­cal gar­den

The gar­den is set up much like the Ja­panese strolling gar­dens. Tra­di­tion­ally th­ese gar­dens fea­ture a path, that should be walked in a clock­wise di­rec­tion, and of­ten use a “hide and re­veal” tech­nique called mie­gakure. Mie­gakure uses the an­gles of the paths, build­ings, fences and trees to shield the vis­i­tor from a scene un­til they ap­proach it at

a key point along the trail, pro­vid­ing pleas­ant sur­prises along the jour­ney.

The Bash/Ruther­ford gar­den em­ploys many of th­ese same tech­niques. As the paths wrap and wind them­selves around the yard, vis­i­tors are led by stat­ues on dis­play against group­ings of nat­u­ral rocks, or in­ter­est­ing shrubs such as the golden elder whose bril­liant yel­low fo­liage is a stark con­trast to the sur­round­ing green­ery. Paths con­verge on a ma­jes­tic three-tiered foun­tain. Another path of­fers vis­i­tors a choice be­tween two arch­ways as they con­tinue to fol­low paths on a cir­cu­lar tour of the side gar­den. Here, more stat­ues, foun­tains and even a weath­ered pic­nic ta­ble, which fits the rugged “woodsy” feel, of­fer vis­ual ap­peal at ev­ery turn. This is a gar­den that en­tices the vis­i­tor to con­tinue to ex­plore.

Per­haps one of the most in­ter­est­ing as­pects of this gar­den, be­sides its beauty, is its re­duced main­te­nance. The paths are lined with cob­ble­stones, flag­stones, asphalt and mulch re­mov­ing the need to mow grass. The con­tin­ual use of leaves to com­post the soil un­der the trees not only adds to the woodsy feel of the yard, it also elim­i­nates the need for till­ing. Es­tab­lished trees gen­er­ally re­quire no ad­di­tional wa­ter­ing nearly elim­i­nat­ing another com­mon gar­den chore. In fact, the only part of the gar­den that re­quires con­stant wa­ter­ing are the pot­ted plants that line the drive­way.

What a won­der­ful get­away from the stresses of ev­ery­day life. Imag­ine be­ing able to take a quiet stroll, the re­fresh­ing scent of cedar in the air, af­ter a long day at work. Here, the home­own­ers can find peace and tran­quil­ity in their own back­yard for­est, lo­cated in the mid­dle of the city.

The foun­tain is a fo­cal point at this four way cross­ing.

The foun­tain from another view­point.

Even the fenc­ing is clev­erly hid­den by fo­liage to keep the for­est-like feel.

Vis­i­tors can choose which path to me­an­der along.

A state­ment tree.

Large boul­ders add to the “woodsy” feel.

One of the stat­ues hid­den along a bend in the paths.

The rus­tic pic­nic ta­ble is an ideal fit to this back­yard for­est.

A wind­ing cob­ble­stone path adds depth to the back­yard.

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