Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Parkwood Estate

On the second day of the 2015 Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto we visited The Parkwood Estate: "an autobaron’s home of inspiration & innovation." An "autobaron"... really? Yes as it turns out... Parkwood is a National Historic Site and the former home to R.S. "Sam" McLaughlin of General Motors. Well okay then, an autobaron. We enjoyed a lovely lunch next to the pool and afterwards wandered the grounds. But first...

We arrived early, and were led into a sort of waiting room, where we waited. I believe we were waiting for the staff who wasn't quite ready for us. The wait wasn't entirely unwelcome, as some of us needed to unpack and don our headgear. You see prior Flings have had planned, and impromptu, "fascinator" breakouts. This year there was an actual challenge issued by Helen, of the Toronto planning committee. Here's Pam (you know Pam) proving she's a southern belle with her big magnolia flower fascinator...(just over her shoulder is Barbara Wise, I wish I would have gotten a better shot of her hat)

This fabulous floral chapeau belongs to Jane.

And yes, this is me and my Agave-based fascinator. I wish I would have gotten more photos of other "Flingers" there were many fabulous creations, but sadly not as many as I'd hoped for...

Waiting over, we were split into groups and toured through the historic home. Truth be told I do not do well on guided tours. It takes every single bit of willpower I have to stay inline and not run (screaming) into the forbidden area.

Ok, I will admit that while the group was ogling a perfectly wonderful deco-styled bedroom I split off and closely inspected the adjoining bathroom. It was fantastic. Have you ever seen glass tile? It was lovely. No photos allowed inside though, so I can't share it with you.

Finally, just about when I couldn't take anymore "guided" we were shown to the outdoors and pointed in the direction of lunch.

Lunch was that way...

We learned something about reason for the leaning shrubs but I'll be jiggered if I can remember what. There were many of them.

That little frog looks fairly pleased with himself, don't you think?

Lunch happened in between that last image and the next. But I didn't take any photos, I will say it was tasty. Door prizes were given away after we finished up, but I didn't win anything.

This is where I remind you that, (in addition to guided tours), I don't like formal gardens. However I will surprise you and say this one, it wasn't so bad. I think because there was such beautiful structure. And rather than mile after mile of formal bedding annuals planted out there was really a lot of green, just green. This ended up being a sort of blank slate upon which I was able to project my own version. How I would garden within the existing structure. It was a fun exercise.


Take this fountain for example. If it were my garden there would be papyrus and water lilies crammed in the upper and lower levels. The semi circle section would be full of pennies, tossed for wishes. Oh wait! They have no pennies in Canada. Nickels then. Five wishes per toss.

There would be some sort of trailing plant along the upper edge, growing downward and obscuring the hard lines.

The geese (ducks? swans?) would stay exactly like this however. I adore them.

Looking back towards the fountain as I climb up and into an entirely different section of the garden.

Interesting...

As was this. All that hard stone in the garden below and now I'm looking at a wooden arch.

Quite a sensory clash.

A former pool maybe, that had been filled in?

This is where I pay the price for letting several weeks elapse between experiencing and writing. I usually keep the brochures I am given, and if that fails look things up on the internet. Sadly I find no brochure (although I'm sure we were given a map, what did I do with it?), and the website is lacking in garden information. I do think this was a pool though, or it should have been.

Color! Wow, yes please. Love orange poppies.

This is maybe the kitchen garden? The walled garden? The Italian garden? I don't remember, although I do know there was a fellow working to plant out the patterned beds...

Kind of fun.

It was so early in the season, the water plants hadn't even begun to grow. I bet by now the water is covered.

So yes, here you see another photo of my fascinator (aka the "agavinator"). I wasn't sure the earlier image was going to turn out (the lighting in the waiting room was horrid) so I asked Shawn of Ravenscourt Gardens if he wouldn't snap an image or two.

I loved this thing. As soon as I read we were encouraged to create something I knew mine had to include an Agave pup. The green moss as a great way to anchor things to the hair comb without seeing the wire. The long thin foliage is from a Dyckia, the serrated foliage is from a Banksia and of course the yellow ball is a Craspedia Globosa. I'm indulging myself with extra coverage because upon going through customs on our way back into the U.S. the whole thing was confiscated. I figured it would happen, but that didn't stop me from hoping I'd return home with it. Really I guess I should just feel fortunate that I made it into Canada with it, since I'd created it at home and carried live (not rooted, no soil!) plant material into Canada.

Moving on...greenhouses! I do love me some greenhouses.

These were the old-deal with big fat pipes bringing hot water in to heat the plants. Well, when there were plants.

This one had plants! Blooming cactus even.

So beautiful, right?

And you know, there's always an Agave, if you look hard enough. Even at an autobaron's estate in Ontario, Canada! (and as it turns out...I didn't have to count the one on my head).

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

28 comments:

  1. I love reading your comments here. They make me laugh. Everything is not perfect and you tell it like it is.

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  2. Such a shame to lose the agavinator. It was inspired!

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    1. The customs person we dealt with was pretty cool, I thought for a moment she was going to let it pass. Sadly no...

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  3. They need more exotica in that fab greenhouse! So cool to have an agave fascinator, have yet to see anyone else do that. Loree ever the unique individual :) now I wonder, will anyone be daring enough to have an opuntia fascinator? I know I'm not...

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    1. Hmm...sounds like a challenge. If I start working on it now perhaps I'll have enough time to perfect it by the next fling...

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  4. I'm with you, I'm not really into formal gardens. I just can't connect with them on any level, let alone emotionally.

    The greenhouses were the most interesting part of this garden. But it looked like you weren't able to go inside?

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    1. Nope. No entry...(sad face here)

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  5. Maybe too formal for some tastes*, but it looked like it was a beautiful day, and that's the way to tour any type of garden!

    *mine too

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    1. It was a beautiful day. Add in the fact that I was on a 3 day garden touring binge with like minded friends and yes, very nice indeed.

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  6. Great coverage of the Parkwood Estates! I need to revisit my memories of the place. I'm new to the hat/fastenator phenomenon, but I love it! I'll try to be more creative next time. ;-)

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    1. Did you join in the fascinator festivities? See I wish I would have taken more pictures of the people!!! My memory is worthless since we were on sensory overload with all that we'd seen.

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  7. Guess this falls into the "something for everyone" category.

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  8. glad you managed to smuggle your agavinator into Canada, but so sad you couldn't smuggle it back out again. perchance an adjunct plant-based business in that gorgeous piece?

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    1. Smuggle? Well you make me sound down right criminal! It's all in how you interpret the questions on the customs forms.

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  9. Hmm. Well, I liked the Agavinator. The house and garden looked interesting from a historical perspective rather than a plant perspective. Trying to understand how June is "early in the season". Doesn't compute for a So Cal gal.

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    1. Well when you have a harsh winter, that goes on and on into the spring then June is like April in other parts of the world (my part that is).

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  10. Sounds like the house was interesting but, like you, I'd rather explore on my own and read interpretive signs than be herded around in a group.. Formal gardens are interesting to visit every now and then but we wouldn't want to live there.

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    1. But imagine what fun we'd have corrupting the formality with all our crazy plants!

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  11. They confiscated your agavinator! I'm incensed on your behalf. I notice that you said the short stacked stone wall around the roots of that tree was "interesting" - is that "interesting" as in the sense I used the word in referring to my black-hole sunflower?

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    1. Ha, great word-catch. No, I honestly meant it was interesting. As in it made me stop and really look at it. And be very aware that I'd moved into a different section of the garden.

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  12. The garden ornamentation is on high, and everything there is showing me Canada's closer ties to the UK than even the US has in many areas. Glad for Pam's and Jane's headgear...but I'm afraid your's wins...perfect, right to your outfit.

    Had I gone, mine could be a laurel of spiny oak leaves and a bold accent...just no toga.

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    1. Thank you for declaring mine the winner! Wish you had gone, that would have been fun.

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  13. Pretty sure that the area you speculated about as a former or should-be pool is just a sunken garden -- a feature in many early 20th century formal gardens.

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    1. Yes, I'm sure your right. I just wanted it to be a pool!

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  14. The camera loves you...you, who have always been camera-shy.

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  15. Your agavinator really won "hat's down" in the headgear department, Loree, both in spirit and form. Although there were some worthy competitors. That sunken lawn is for croquet, of course!

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