Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Onto each Garden Writers Association event, some rain must fall....

Some, or perhaps the equivalent of several weeks all in one day.

In spite of rain, it was wonderful to meet up with fellow garden writers in Bracebridge, Ontario (2.5 or so hours north of Toronto).  With so few of us in this area going to California this year, it was a perfect opportunity to say hello, and see what we were all up to in an informal setting.  Marnie Wright hosted us mid-afternoon with drinks and nibbles in her gorgeous garden where she's created this paradise for 34 years now.  With quiet determination she has taken this rocky and wet (swampy until the end of May) property and transformed it into something absolutely gorgeous.  To those of you who ever say, "Well, I can't, I just don't have the perfect situation to grow, XYZ."  I give you her garden as an exhibit of what can be done with barren sad soil, hard work, time, compost, determination and an absolute knack with seed starting and growing plants into perfect specimens.

This is just a wee segment above - note how small the normal-sized human appears in the centre of the photo.

And when the rain got really heavy - you could just peer down and see what little surprises she put at our feet.  I can assure you, unlike so many of the rocks in our gardens that are trucked in - these are all indigenous.

Even the rotting logs are working hard:

The Hemerocallis were wonderful - they adore the wet:

Marnie had done these Veronicastum 'Fascination' from seed - looks like someone has taken a flat iron to the tips:

She had so many different types of Verbascum.

Throughout the garden there were those corridors separating the more refined sections from those that eased their way into the forest.

Marnie couldn't remember exactly, but thought this one might have been from Botanus.

I asked if I could take her photo with her favourite plant - and as we all do, "Well it changes, but I guess this one is it for now."  It is Diphylleia grayi has flowers that go completely transparent in the rain and if that wasn't enough of a party trick, they provide lovely blue coloured berries in the fall.

Her shade section was full of treasures - large and small:

Marnie took us for a tour of one of her greenhouses - her tomatoes are grown inside away from the deer & cold spring temperatures - they had a killing frost May 29th.  Here is Dan Cooper, me and Marnie poking through the tomato jungle.

Had to tuck this in as well - this is a Trachelium with dark purple leaves.  Apparently the local greenhouse grows some special items for Marnie - she's in line at 8:30 a.m. the day they open to pick them up.  They have to be started in January in order to be at this size mid-summer.  Even with her 2 greenhouses & light stands throughout her workshop, there simply isn't room to start everything she wants.

At 6:30 it was off to Peter and Kathy Wood's home for a lovely salad supper.  Again more rain, and another wonderful garden in downtown Bracebridge.  The benches have been designed by Peter and are sensible raised gardens.  Unlike those others that are like petting a puppy, this garden is the Great Dane of the raised garden world.  The plastic containers were originally for mixing concrete.  In his next version the containers will be larger for bigger root systems.

It's definitely Hosta season in Ontario right now.

This is from a pretty sitting area looking back into the garden.

And here are 2/3 of our splendid hosts - Marnie, Kathy, photobomb Dan and I lovely lady I said hello to, but did not catch her name.  Peter was outside working on the BBQ.

Such a great event - and so nice to be able to catch up with everyone.  And, when I look at my own garden since I've come back, I'm thinking there's a lot more room and potential for lots of wonderful new plants and ideas.


Kathy said...

The first garden, that you said was swampy, and also grew a lot of verbascums? I thought verbascums needed freely draining soil. Were hers in a raised bed?

Barbarapc said...

Hi Kathy,
The area is so very rocky that once the water is out of there in the late spring, the conditions are ideal. It is a really unique growing situation - I'm thinking that the plants are pretty well dormant (and frozen) during the mucky period - I've certainly lost the crowns of mine when they start to grow, then freeze. But you I'm thinking, I'll ask Marnie too! So nice to know the gardener. B.

Barbarapc said...

Marnie responds:

They are not in raised beds and Kathy is correct that they like good drainage. The bed where I have the most verbascum has a ditch behind it that helps with the poor drainage in my garden. I have found though that they seed themselves with such abandon that a few always find dry spots here and there around the garden.

Jennifer said...

I had such a nice time too. I love the shot of you and Marnie peaking through her tomatoes. I never did make it over to the greenhouse somehow.
We got up on Saturday and spent a couple of hours at Marnie's. Then we went to the Famer's Market (a bit sad) and had lunch in downtown Bracebridge. In the afternoon, we went to the craft show. Didn't buy much, but it is always fun to look.
I never did make it back to Kathy and Peter's to take any pictures or to the Artful Garden. Sunday was spent with Harold's sister in Barrie. All in all we had a wonderful weekend.
Off home to Nova Scotia in a week to check on my folks. Can hardly wait!

Barbarapc said...

Looking forward to seeing your Atlantic province garden photos Jennifer! Hope all is well with your family and that this lovely dry warm spell follows you to the coast. Take good care. B.