A sweet spot of summer
This garden paradise evolved over 30 years and features an apricot tree and a covered deck for hosting dinner parties
Garden offers space to lounge the day away in peace and quiet
Friends come for an hour and they stay for the day or the night.
They lounge on the deck or the covered patio; the chaise longue is popular and so is the spot under the apricot tree.
The minute you walk into Tracey Shockaert’s garden, you see that she has captured the sweet spot of summer.
A garden like this doesn’t happen in a rush; in fact, it’s taken 30 years. When she and her husband moved into the house on Herkimer, in West Hamilton, they thought it would be temporary. Then the neighbour with the English garden shared some plants and the apricot tree started to grow and a garden evolved that would prove hard to leave.
“I didn’t have a vision, or specific inspiration, the garden just evolved,” she says as we step inside the garden gate.
Landing zone No. 1 is here: a two-tiered deck with ample and amiable seating under patio umbrellas. A silver lace vine covering the fence is just starting to bloom and the expanse of wood decking and stone pavers is softened by pots filled with flowers, herbs and vegetables. This is a favourite lounging spot. Last week a group of friends arrived mid-afternoon and were still there at midnight as the twinkle lights illuminated the far corners of the garden.
For 36 years Shockaert managed a dental office in Burlington. When the dentist retired, Shockaert tried that too but quickly got bored, so she started working at Holland Park Garden Gallery in Dundas. It was a match made in heaven.
“Every week I walk out with a new plant and they always ask me where I’m going to put it.”
It’s obvious where she puts it — in a pot. There are pots everywhere; when it’s time to water, she’s at it for an hour and a half.
One of Shockaert’s favourite places to sit is the covered deck attached to the house. Two patio doors lead to the space and obscure the divide between indoors and out.
This is the place for big dinners, for the two wedding feasts held here, wine tastings and even a glass of champagne in the winter, with an outdoor heater taking the chill off. On this summer day hanging lanterns tangled with clematis wave in the breeze as glass wind chimes add their distant music.
The garden fans out from a sculptural apricot tree in the middle of the lawn that Shockaert adores. It’s pruned gingerly, watered and fed so that it can spread its beautiful branches over the garden for many years to come.
It does a poetic job of framing a lovely garden she has planted along the back wall of the garage. Here Shockaert has recreated the magic of her summers at the family cottage on Turkey Point. A garden just like this with hostas and ferns, and flowers spilling from a window box, was a favourite spot at the cottage. When the cottage was sold, she got her favourite memento: the sign with the family name, and hung it beneath the window of her garage.
“This garden turned into my away place where I come to find quiet,” she says.
And a place where the sweetness of summer seems like it will never end.
The sculptural apricot tree acts as an anchor for the whole backyard. A covered deck attached to the house is used for big dinners, parties and even wine tastings. The patio doors help blur the lines between indoors and out.
The potting bench is one of the busiest places in the garden.
Tracey Shockaert recreated her cottage garden in the city.
The family cottage was sold but she got to keep the sign.
A two-level deck, top, has plenty of room for the many potted plants in the garden including tropicals, herbs and vegetables.
The apricot tree, above, provides a shady place to read.
There are always flowers on the table, at left.