A strolling garden
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.