If you didn’t go on the Over the Hedge garden tour organized by the Ottawa Botanical Garden Society this past weekend, their only fund-raiser this year, then you really missed out! This tour was organized by the volunteers on the Board, specifically the dynamo Vice-Chair Monique Oaks. A vast contingent of volunteers was helping out over the two days, greeting visitors to each garden, selling aprons and t-shirts, offering flavoured ice water and generally providing smiling and enthusiastic faces all along the way.
There were twelve gardens on the tour and I’m embarrassed to say we only made it to half of them. This was because I insisted on having a leisurely Sunday brunch at mid-day (the outing was my birthday present from my good friend who just happens to be a professional gardener as well, Patti Allen) and we did so at the amazing Heirloom Cafe Bistro in Almonte. If we had gone out on Saturday as well, it would have been a breeze to see them all (but I was busy having a pedicure and then dinner with other girlfriends!)
The first garden we visited was a small, corner property in Pakenham belonging to Judy and John McGrath. Judy is a gardener and photographer and the garden is personal, quirky and feels very private. With beguiling entrances and seating areas, curving beds and miniature water features, this garden reflects a relaxed and friendly sensibility.
Next we moved across the street to the property where Paddye Mann lives and works, joined by her daughter in the neighbouring home, the homes and studio linked by an Asian inspired garden.
What I liked about this garden was the way in which the paths and plantings complemented the existing topography.
River-washed stone, timbers and naturalized plantings all echo the relaxed character of this garden, where a dry stream bed meanders alongside ancient granite bedrock.
An Asian-inspired cedar boardwalk is elevated above the garden, allowing the visitor an easy stroll and accommodating the pre-existing evergreens.
Daylilies, hostas, perennial geraniums, dogwood, coral bells — all these plants have been placed under the canopy of white pines and here, a metal sculpture that mimics the effect of wind rustling grasses gives the finishing touch.
The working studio affords a view into the peaceful garden — a beautiful still-life from outside as well as inside.
The last Pakenham property belongs to the Bean family and has a lovely view of the Mississippi River. The garden surrounds the expansive grounds of the stone heritage home called `Glenbeancragge`, referencing the limestone outcroppings that embrace the property and provide a natural home for a vast planting of specimen hostas, or —
— creeping sedums.
Stay tuned: more to come…