Tuesday, June 23, 2015

That certain “je ne sais quoi”...

Last winter, out on a long walk, I passed a garden with several of my "trigger" plants. You know the ones, they’re unusual and typically a sign that you’ve stumbled upon a kindred spirit. I lifted my camera and tried to frame a shot. The Edgeworthia, with its fat buds. No, no it just wasn’t right. But that Manzanita! No. I couldn’t make it work. And on and on. They were all healthy, nicely grown, but the garden was just lacking. I walked away with a puzzle. How could there be so many cool plants, but no soul?

I’m still at a loss, but at least I remembered a phrase from my high school French classes. The garden was lacking a certain “je ne sais quoi”...it had all the right pieces but as a whole it just wasn't speaking to me. While touring through the many gardens on the Toronto Islands I came upon a garden that, for a reason I can't quite put my finger on, had that certain something. It was small, but I could have spent an hour exploring it.

At the "streetside" (do you call it a street when no cars travel on it?) entrance to the garden there was a group of rusty chairs supporting bright green foliage.

Overall the garden had an abundance of foliage and just a few blooms...

I should have asked for ID on this little guy. Anyone know what it is?

And that bright green conifer on the right! It manages to convey the look of a Foxtail Fern but of course is much hardier.


Just a very lightly traveled path to the front door.

It looked like most visitors knew to go around to the side of the house.

That's where I discovered this structure that I immediately wanted to emulate. I believe they're rusted metal wreath forms.

How wonderful for growing a vine on!

I'm on the hunt!

I didn't think to ask about the origins of that concrete box on which all of those plants were growing. I just thought it was fabulous.

Yes, there were Alliums.

And a matching Azalea, at least that's what I think it is.

That's a big bench for such a little fellow.

This is a very Pacific Northwest color scheme, don't you think?

Which reminds me...in the gardening section of the used bookstores we visited there were always books specifically about gardening in the Pacific Northwest. Titles I hadn't previously discovered. Curious, no?

I'd already fallen in love with the garden when I spied that spiky houseplant collection through the window.

A stand very much like this one (if not exactly like this one) stood on my grandparents back porch for years.

Because I am absolutely horrible with names I've forgotten this lady's name, she is the creator of this splendid garden. Also - this is a better view of the cement structure I should have asked about.

If this were in my garden I can't help but imagine plastic animals and and cowboys would show up here on occasion. Playing out some seen that originated in my husband's imagination.

I final look at the front of the garden an I was off to see more of the island. But was very happy to have stumbled upon this garden that really spoke to me...

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

53 comments:

  1. Love it! So many cool elements, textures, and colors without being gaudy. Is that a large yard for the island? Your previous post seemed to show houses quite close together.

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    1. I think it was pretty average for Algonquin Island, where the lots are a little larger. Glad you loved it!

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  2. Loree ... Take a look at the very last photo on this page
    http://janestrong.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-morning-stroll-on-june-21-summer.html

    If you think they are the same plant, it is Crassula perforata.

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    1. Close! Very close. But the leaf edges look pointed, or squared off, on the Crassula perforata. Where as this one was definitely round. Plus there's the hardiness issue. I think this one had been there awhile and thus must be hardy below 20/25F. I do like that Crassula though, thank you!

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  3. Thanks for sharing this garden! It definitely has a PNW vibe. Was it still too cold for those houseplants to be summering outside? Or do they not do that in Toronto? The rusty metal wreath forms are a cool touch.

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    1. I don't think it can be ruled out for Toronto as a whole, but this particular collection looked like they lived indoors (next to a nice big window) year round.

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  4. I loved that garden, too. There was just that special something that set it apart from the other lush, green gardens on the Islands. I totally missed the rusted wreath forms - thanks for pointing them out!

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  5. What a marvelous garden, love it

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    1. Wish you could have joined us in Toronto Deanne!

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  6. Loree, the owner told us the cement box had something to do with the septic system. I forget what exactly. It was such a peaceful place.

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    1. Now that makes sense, thanks Jean!

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  7. I was about to say that this garden seems very PNW, no wonder you found affinity for it :)

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    1. Although I have to admit to still not loving Japanese Maples I do love the color they bring to this garden.

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  8. The garden does look extra special with so much interest and care involved in the placement of plants and objects. Loved all those large spheres too. I have several of those wreath forms, that's a great idea for using them in the garden.

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  9. such a sweet property!

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  10. I'm thinking crassula for that little guy too.

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    1. As is tvojt below. Thanks Jenn.

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  11. Had to laugh at the image of a plastic posse ridin' that range. House colors are as wonderful as the garden.

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    1. They are! If I didn't hate painting so much I'd be out there adding a little green to our window and door frames.

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    2. I got a kick out of that visual too. :)

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  12. I had a feeling this might be your one special garden. One of my faves, too. The concrete box was the old septic tank. The high water table on the Islands probably required above-ground placement.

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    1. Of course! Well she certainly put it to good use.

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  13. Check out Crassula rupestris marnieriana Hottentot for that succulent. Perhaps she had just planted it out? It doesn't resemble anything hardy with which I am familiar. That is a great garden. Those rusted chairs are genius. I'm curious to know what is growing through them.

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    1. Yep, that's got to be it. Thanks! I was really hoping it was something hardy...

      I'll let you know if I find out the ID on that "chair plant" - of course the owner told me and then I promptly forgot.

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  14. This was my favorite garden on the Island, I believe the woman's name is Brenda and she did tell us she believed the table was part of the old septic tank and pointed to a similar one in the neighbors yard that wasn't quiet so high. I love the idea of a little scene with animals and cowboys. This garden could totally be in the PNW. My favorite part was the chairs!

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    1. Yay, glad you loved it to Laurin!

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  15. It was my favorite garden, too, and the owner was as welcoming as the garden. I could have stayed there for the rest of the time on the island, but, a cup of tea called me.

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    1. I was hearing a glass of wine calling out to me. That back garden would have been the perfect place to enjoy it!

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  16. Great garden and great bookstore tip. I will now look for Midwestern garden books when I go east to visit family. Clearly no one else living there is buying them.

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    1. On a trip to the desert SW I was really eager to visit used bookstores and score all kinds of books on my beloved desert plants. Instead they were all cottage gardening books. I think people retired to the SW and then got rid of all the books on things they couldn't grow any longer. You just never know what you're going to find!

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  17. The garden seems to call the viewer in and then envelops her (in a good way!). It didn't appear stuffy or staged despite all the unique touches. I love the restrained use of color (if only I had that discipline!) and the color echoes, as well as all the rusty metal elements, which I think helped tie the garden together.

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    1. You're right the rusty elements were definitely a uniting theme.

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  18. Oh, yes, this was one of my favorites, too. I took a few photos of the concrete box garden, which really caught my eye. Interestingly (embarrassed), I didn't notice the rusty chairs in the foliage, but I know several other people mentioned them, too. Such a creative touch. This was a very welcoming, yet ecclectic garden.

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    1. There was so much to see in that garden (and the islands as a whole) I can see how you might have missed a detail like those chairs!

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  19. I second the wanting to know what plant is growing up through the chairs in the first photos. Is it some sort of anemone?

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    1. I've got a request for ID out to the group...hopefully an answer will happen.

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    2. I wonder if it could be Angelica archangelica? Kinda looks like it, but I'm not sure if they don't at some point become way taller... Just a guess - they are very cool looking plants.

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  20. This garden does look like it could be in the PNW right down to the Hedera helix. (Beautiful in places like this garden where it's not invasive!) Lots of cool stuff here!

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    1. And on that topic I was shocked at the amount of Bishop's Weed I saw in Toronto!

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  21. That was one of my two favorites on the islands, too. I think we were all captivated by Brenda's use of the septic cover.

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    1. It certainly made me want to have one in my garden!

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  22. Wow beautiful garden. So much to pick out.
    I am pleased to hear that it is not only in my garden that people place out little figures and animals as joke.

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  23. This garden had so many quirky art forms in it. I didn't know the greenery coming out of the rusty chairs, but what a great way to frame your garden.

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  24. Ups, I thought I had commented here...but I forgot to press the button publish, hehe.
    It is a charming garden!! like if it came from a magical world.

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  25. I was also enchanted by this garden, especially the beautiful old septic tank! A wonderful leafy space filled with surprising treasures.

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  26. Lovely home with lovely garden. I love the way the window trim is painted. Takes a lot of skill to make something on first glance very casual and thrown together--but it obviously isn't. I enjoyed your visit.

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  27. It manages to be calm but full of eclectic interest at the same time. I could easily imagine this garden in the PNW, near the beach or around Puget Sound, or maybe up in the mountains. The wreath forms would look great with a vine growing over them. Personally, I'm picturing a dainty, bell-flowered clematis.

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  28. I think the difference between this garden and the one you saw at home is that this is a garden that has no interest in being landscaping as opposed to landscaping pretending to be a garden. One has a soul and one doesn't. I loved that garden, too. :o)

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  29. I love your segue from 'je ne sais quoi' of an unnamed garden to praise for a garden with lots of 'quoi.' Sorry I missed this garden -- I really like the way you showed and wrote about it.

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  30. So late to this, but wanted to say that I've been scrolling through these photos for days, loving on this wonderful garden. Great post.

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