Garden Design: Wilding & Whimsy

In June when my sisters family was down I received a high compliment to my efforts. My nieces loved the front garden. When they weren’t either swimming or fishing (which they were 75% of the time), you would find them quietly poking around out front. Lots to see out front too. The collection of plants out front are shade tolarant, woodland natives and non-native perennials,  grasses and ornamental evergreens (2 kinds of Yews and several Cedars ‘Emerald Green’). This is also where we have the largest part of our “mossy rock” collection, plus many mossy sculptural cedar branches and such – including one that looks like a deer, and another a snail.  Both pieces were formed by nature and thus I think are quite special. Tim had a fantastic eye for that sort of stuff (like the Slipper Boat, see below). He was always seeing things in branches and sticks. We have a whole collection of them that lines the back of the perennial bed at the lake garden.

Front Garden – slipper boat was a “Tim find” aka some guy across the lake had it out front of his cottage w/ a “FREE” sign – had to take it and and the snowmobile trailer. Score ;) It even has a steering wheel.

The inspiration for my design was simple – whimsy. I wanted a Tolkien “Shire”-esque feel to the whole space.

Early Fall 2010
Plant in slipper boat is an indoor plant that comes out only in Summer – Clivia – common name: African Strap Lily, Kaffir lily and bush lily

Initially when Tim brought me here in the late winter/early spring of 2009 this front area only had gardens along the house, and a small bed of Daylilies with 2 spruce that had seen better days. After the foundation was put in the fall of 2009, that following early spring I went into high-gear and re-established the whole front area. All the hostas, ferns, yews & cedars went in – Eco-Chic – FORM. Then the paths in the area that lines the front fence were re-defined. Over the last 2 years we have continued to add new wilding treasures from our hikes in the bush, or new stock from a garage sale or nursery.

Summer 2012

One note about Wilding – only those who know what you are doing should even begin to go wilding – except in a “take only pictures, leave only footprints” sort of way. Digging up rare, native species is damaging to our ecosystem. Never, ever dig up trilliums or rare ferns, or anything you’ve only ever seen in that one spot…even if they are everywhere.

I am fortunate in that I live where I do. I have an area behind one of our 2 sheds that I let go a little wild. Its merrily turned into a wonderful little forests edge meadow that has served as a nursery area. I have found all sorts of neat stuff back there – like 1 giant “Jack-in-the-Pulpit”, which I left. These plants some would term “weeds”, but I prefer to call them “volunteers”. Some volunteers are more desirable of course then others. Yet if they look pretty, have interesting leaves and generally are well behaved, they can usually stay.

If you are looking for native species always try your local nurseries, or sometimes you’ll find some good stuff at garage sales. One online resource I’ve used often is Richters. They are much more then just Herbs now. This is where you can now find some lovely native plants for sale. They are a wonderful source. Heck, I even just love getting their new catalogue every year. Its like a gardeners IKEA catalogue.

“Gardens are Theatres; They are there to enchant, to exhilarate, to deceive and to captivate…” Mirabel Osler

Summer 2012 – Light was a “Tim find”

5 thoughts on “Garden Design: Wilding & Whimsy

    1. Thank you. Gardening definitely is something you have to be inspired to do. Although one good thing this year is this garden is low-maintenance, which was a blessing…so this year we were able to just enjoy it. Your last name just registered…..I have O’Donnells I’m researching that lived in Ingersol w/ my Dromgole family for awhile in the late 1800’s b4 they moved to London + my Dundas & Calvert family settled in North Oxford in Banner. Your with Oxford Tourism?


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