Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – April 26, 2004
A Trip To The Garden Centre
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – April 26, 2004 – I look forward to my first trip to the garden centre every spring. I haven’t decided yet when I’m going, but it will be soon. The weather just needs to be a smidge warmer, so I can wear jeans and a tee-shirt. I’ve been going to Bill’s Garden Centre on Pape Avenue for twenty years or more.
When I bought my current house, the landscaping was minimal at best. The previous owners had three small children and daisies, tulips and shrubs were not a priority. I decided early on that I didn’t want any grass in my gardens, so I spent a week digging up weeds and twitch grass from my front garden, levelling the land and adding rich, black top soil. Then the real fun began as I created a green shrubbery garden in front of my home. I wanted a variety of shades in green, some colour, ground cover and three or four decorative trees that would help to define the space I had to work with.
I chose a beautifully shaped five foot tall Weeping False Cyprus as the pivotal tree for the south side of the garden. It is now fifteen feet tall and counting, and it has kept its shape as it has grown. On the north side of the walkway I planted a Weeping Caragana. It is gnarled and knotty and has beautiful yellow blossoms in early June. A Weeping Mulberry stands next to the fence. Its inclination is to grow wild and crazy in all directions, and I have to keep a careful eye on it and have the pruning shears at the ready a few times during the summer.
With all these ‘weeping” trees you might think I was depressed when I planted my garden, but au contraire, it was quite the opposite. I simply love the appearance of these trees and they have thrived beautifully in my garden. I added a holly for its deep green leaves, golden privet for its colour, sand cherry to introduce a rich burgundy colour into the garden, spreading juniper for its colour and texture, variegated Weigela for its beautiful spring and mid-summer blossoms, a dwarf Alberta Spruce for its year round contribution to greenery and ground cover of Pachysandra, spreading Cotoneaster, Periwinkle, Baltic ivy and a number of types of Euonymous for their colour.
My front garden is now twelve years old and it seems as if it’s been a part of the house forever. It has far exceeded my expectations, maturing into a beautiful green garden that is low maintenance and no nonsense. It needs a good cleaning and pruning in the spring and a few nips and tucks during the summer. It has a distinct personality during every season and since I planted it, has been a constant source of compliments from neighbours and strangers walking by.
I had the old, broken concrete walkway replaced with huge slabs of limestone about five years ago and a stone retaining wall built across the front of my lot at the same time. I wouldn’t change a thing about the garden – it’s perfect just as is grows.
My back yard is a private, city garden with a two tiered deck and a stone patio. The fences are topped with lattice and covered with a wonderful grape ivy. The fence walls are covered in climbing hydrangea and the shrubbery beds are planted with standard and spreading Hicks Yews, variegated Euonymous, Hosta, ferns, Baltic ivy and clematis. The anchor trees are my wonderful Hornbeam, a flowering Dogwood and a magnificent Weeping Birch. I have a little water fountain in one corner and a fabulous garden gate with a wrought iron insert. Big pots of Impatiens and geraniums sit on the deck during the summer, and Arthur my garden gargoyle stands watch – ready to smite any wayward intruder.
My gardens were featured in the Riverdale Garden Tour in 1998 and I was thrilled to share them with the public. I’m especially proud of them because I planned and planted them myself. It was creative labour of love, and every year they bring me an incredible measure of joy. So, all this to say that it’s spring again, and I’ll soon be off to the garden centre to pick my flowering annuals for the summer.
I love wandering down the aisles at the nursery looking at the hanging baskets and the beautiful shrubs, all waiting to adorn someone’s garden. If you need help with your garden plans, just ask the staff at the nursery where you shop and be willing to pay a bit extra for strong, healthy plants and shrubs. The reputable centres usually have a one year winter survival warranty.
The “lure of the garden” is irresistible and I putter there whenever life is getting on my last nerve. It always soothes the jagged edges. You don’t have to be a horticultural expert to create an amazing garden – you just need a vision for the final product, a wonderful sense of adventure and a great garden centre close by. If you do a lot of the work yourself, you have the added bonus of feeling like a garden “artiste”. But whether you plant your garden yourself or hire a landscaping contractor, be prepared to create an oasis that will bring you years of enjoyment – guaranteed!