New home gar­den — a blank can­vass

The Compass - - THE COMPASS -

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: john­nor­

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