New home garden — a blank canvass
This spring will mark almost half-a-year since I moved into my restored heritage home in Bonavista. Much like the home’s interior, an almost blank canvas is present throughout the grounds, a gardener’s dream … or nightmare, depending on how you look at things.
I have no mature trees or shrubs to anchor my property but at the same time I can now have the freedom to select exactly what species I want. Still, I would have liked to have had a mature tree as a base from which to start, but you cannot have what wasn’t there to begin with.
The old heritage property I have moved into was a farm, so most all open spaces, outside the footprints of the barn, shed, root cellar and house, were grounds used for subsistence living. A grand ash tree or mature chestnut really did not serve any purpose, so it was unfortunately never planted!
In every corner of the habitable world, a garden is luxury available on any scale, from classical gardens sprawling over a Tuscan villa hilltop to a window box outside a one bedroom city apartment. Somewhere in between would be my future garden in Bonavista!
The creation of a home garden and the maintenance that goes along with it not only requires imagination, but a lasting will, since a garden is a lifelong commitment … if all goes to plan! A garden, like a person’s home, expresses a particular concept or theme, with variations based on personal likes and dislikes, architectural reflections, climate and geography, and local traditions.
In the white picket fenced yard of a 1880’s French style cottage with farm outbuildings one would expect a cottage feel with understat- ed elegance through the injection of cast iron urns or a stone figure and rock walls.
When it comes to plant materials I think traditional cottage style would be a stretch! I plan on a more foliage-heavy green garden since my loves lay with the many varieties of Hosta, Lily, Fern, Primrose, Ivy, Rhododendron, Monkshood, and other shade to part sun species. It is in fact very practical that my love for predominantly shade species is strong since much of our available gardening space lies in relatively dark and shel- tered corners.
For the few spaces open to significant sunlight I will be selecting flowers which bloom in shades of blue, white, and yellow, carrying the colours found in the brilliant variegated leaves of my hostas, and blooms of my primroses and lilies.
I will however have some locales with hints of burgundy since I have always wanted a dwarf Japanese Maple and now I have just the protected corner to put it!
I think it is going to be an exciting summer/fall. Planning and executing a new garden is always fun, but unlike a painter with canvas, a gardener’s project will never be 100 per cent finished. There is always some small blemish to change, error in judgment to correct and our breed, the gardeners, always look forward to these little errors for these constant changes make gardening a lifelong dynamic hobby.
— John Norman lives and grows plants in Bonavista. He can be reached by email at the following: email@example.com