Thursday, August 6, 2015

Marion Jarvie’s Garden

This was the one private garden on the Toronto GB Fling for which we were given the go-ahead to name the owner, Marion Jarvie. It turns out she’s quite the advocate for gardening and is very active in the Toronto gardening community; lecturing and teaching at the Toronto Botanical Garden.

As you can see we bloggers immediately fanned out across her garden snapping photos.

There was a lot to focus on.

Fatsia japonica 'Spider's Web', one of the stand out plants from the 2014 (Portland) GB Fling…and now here it is in Toronto, where it's not hardy! This was my first indication that this garden was going to be a little different.

Sedum Sunsparkler® 'Firecracker' – I need to find this plant.

As we moved from the front garden into the back we passed by a rather lovely greenhouse.

What a set-up! A little jealous and a lot curious I wondered just exactly what she did with all that space.

Entering the back garden I was surprised to see Syneilesis aconitifolia, the shredded-umbrella plant. I don’t know why I was surprised exactly, after all it is hardy to USDA Zone 4 – not the slightest bit tropical even if it kind of looks that way.

And then I stepped out into the open, as you can see plenty of my fellow bloggers beat me there!

I’m still not entirely sure why but this was a fairly polarizing garden. I guess some of the group just didn’t get it. I got it, I loved it. This is a woman who loves plants and wants to be surrounded by all her favorites, in fact it says so right on her website: “The garden covers nearly half an acre in Thornhill, just north of Toronto, Ontario. It's a plantswoman's garden where an effort is made to grow and display plants of every description.”

Heck ya! Case in point, a trio of spiral Aloes, A. polyphylla.

Along with a striking Astelia in a classical container.

There were several plants throughout the garden that I was unfamiliar with, but loved. Like this splotchy variegated one.

And this one, which is familiar but I couldn't quite place it.

I have to admit that in some ways this garden had me thinking of the Butchart Gardens all way over on the west coast of Canada, in B.C. on Victoria Island. The way she mixes foliage in shades of green, blue, gold and burgundy on planted islands within a network of grass paths…

Well I couldn’t help but see this well-known image in my mind. Although Marion's garden is done on a much more human (relatable) scale and without all the annoying flowers. (Butchart Gardens photo credit to Robthepiper via Wikimedia Commons).
Back to Marion's garden...I'm a sucker for blooming water lilies...

And then if you go and throw in an Agave attenuata, well hello! Just call me at home.

And guess what? There were more Agaves!

Agave americana var. medio-picta 'Alba'

Echeveria

And a whole bunch of potted (tender) succulents. Now we know what she does with that fabulous greenhouse.

I was thrilled to see these here, thrilled. Agave 'Kissho Kan'

Agave 'Blue Glow'

Well, and then a reminder that we are in a cooler clime...

Acer pseudoplatanus 'Esk Sunset' (I think)...

Berberis 'Admiration' (I want)...

Oh! Another Agave americana var. medio-picta 'Alba'.

And Aeoniums, just blending in.

Well, as much as they can with their fabulous super-model like ways.

Pulsata vulgaris seed heads are even more photogenic when they're backed by a Yucca Bright Star.

I know so very little about Begonias, nothing really. Is this beauty hardy?

Abies concolor 'Glauca Compacta' (wow!)

Even after 40 minutes we're still all clicking away!

What a garden! Thanks Marion for sharing it with us...your dose of zonal-denial was just what this gardener needed to see.

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

47 comments:

  1. I've seen a few posts about this garden, but had no idea it was so fabulous! I would have loved to have seen this. You're absolutely right, it reminds me of the photos of Butchart that I've seen. I don't think that Begonia is hardy. It looks like one I grew last year that had big red flowers, and was basically being sold as a bedding annual. I'm really curious now to know what people could possibly have not liked about this garden?

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    1. I hesitated to include that statement, about some people not liking the garden, but in the end decided it was important. I, of course, was thrilled to be there. I relished seeing a plant lovers garden where she did everything she could to include all the plants she wanted to be surrounded by. I was surprised when I heard a few people felt it was "Disneyland-esque" I believe in reference to the different plants all squeezed into the space. Gawd I'm glad I didn't hear what those same people said (or would have said) about my garden! There were other gardens on the itinerary that left me cold, we all have different tastes and styles. I didn't get a chance to speak with the owner directly, but as we were leaving she made a point of getting on the bus and thanking us for coming, it was obvious she was thrilled to share what she had created, I was thrilled that she did!

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    2. Hah! Given I was recently at Disneyland, I think I can safely say this is way better.

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    3. Surprised by the Disneyland comments, actually. I don't suppose everyone is familiar with their horticultural program (and the designers and nurseryfolk, over the years, they've trained).

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    4. And the arborists and interior plantfolk, obviously. It is pretty unimaginative corporate work (it would have to be, to fit in with the Disney vibe), but the technical teams are very good at what they do, particularly when much of the work is performed on a miserable graveyard shift.

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    5. Alison did share some of her photos from Disneyland, of the plants, and they were wonderful. But I think the comments were meant to evoke the park as a whole entertainment venue, rather then the gardens specifically. At least that was my read on it.

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  2. Hooray for a plants woman's garden, and with a liking for some exotica too! Quite refreshing to see her include exotic plants in her planting scheme. And with plants, more is more ;)

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  3. This looks like a fantastic garden. I love how she mixes succulents with everything else; that's what I was wishing Butchart Gardens would do.

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    1. Maybe they'll hear you after all?

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  4. Now that is a collector's garden! All those succulents look right at home! The splotchy variegated shrub may be Viburnum lantana 'Variegata'. Now I want one! The one after that looks like a Sophora, like 'Sun King'. Was it in the ground or in a container? The begonia looks like tuberous type, the kind you see growing in baskets with big double flowers. I've always liked the ones with leaves like that. I love Abies concolor! Such a gorgeous conifer, and so widely adapted. I think I need several.

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    1. Yes I think you're right about the Viburnum, and sadly I can't remember if the small leaved plant was in a container or not. It does have 'Sun King' looks - although on mine the leaves are further apart, more open spacing. Re: the Abies, yes...I see several in your future.

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  5. As I began reading your post I wondered if this was the same garden I had seen on other blogs. It's all in your point of view and I like your take on this one quite a lot.

    Begonias are available in an astonishing array of colors, patterns and textures, pink flowers optional. They are not hardy and require overwintering indoors but still worth it for the summer show. I think Peter the Outlaw grows them.

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    1. That's so true, it is all in your point of view, glad you enjoyed mine. Indeed Peter is a begonia mad-man (in a good way), I think I'll keep my begonia interests to the hard side of things though...I don't need another plant type to haul in and out with the seasons!

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  6. My greenhouse envy has just scaled new heights! What is so great is that this lady is overwintering her much-loved plants there (and what healthy looking plants they are); and then sharing her enthusiasm and her garden with so many people. I agree with the comment above - Abies concolor is a star.

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    1. It's a pretty excellent set-up isn't it? Oh how much I would love to have it here.

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  7. In close-ups, each plant looks wonderfully well-grown and happy, which is an achievement by itself with so many different kinds of plants. In small vignettes, there are a number of pleasing combinations.

    But as a whole, to me it's jarringly gaudy; no rest for the eye anywhere. The brilliant midday sun on the day of your visit must have intensified that effect. Hence the different reactions.

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    1. Several folks mentioned the mid-day sun as being an issue with how the overall garden looked, so I think you're on to something there. After reading your comment yesterday I found myself thinking about it throughout the day, and then comparing these photos to my own garden. I think because I've surrounded myself with many of the same colors she has - and we've had LOTS of glaring sun here - I'm used to seeing those jarring colors so my minds eye translates them to what they would look like in less harsh lighting. Does that make sense? And perhaps in a different light would the green lawn paths give your eye a place to rest?

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  8. LUST worthy garden, indeed. Wow. Thank you, Loree! I love it. I get it. She's a plant person and collector with some amazing plants by the look of your photos. That sedum is stunning! If you find one, let us know!

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    1. I will Tamara, and you too please!

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  9. You're going to have to start adding envy ratings or warnings to your posts -- a fabulous large greenhouse PLUS shredded umbrella plant? Ack! Looks like a garden I'd love to see in person.

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    1. Didn't you end up buying some S.U.P.? Or am I confusing you with someone else?

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  10. An amazing garden and great plant collection!

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  11. My favorite Toronto garden of the ones you've shared so far! But then you and I share that zonal denial collector bug. The colors, shapes, textures work together so well and it looks like there are a lot of plants for winter interest as well. That greenhouse is fab but I shudder to think of the heating bill in a Toronto winter!

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    1. I wonder if the greenhouse isn't helped through the winter with the brick wall radiating some heat? But yes, I can't imagine what the cost of keeping it warm must be.

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  12. I "got it and loved it" too. Fabulous garden; fabulous gardener. Your photos are superb, especially considering the unfavorable light.

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  13. Great to see tender and hardy plants used in such an natural way, especially in such a harsh climate.

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    1. Inspiration for your non-spiky plantings ahead?

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  14. I agree that the harsh light did the long shots no favors but...THE PLANTS! How can you not love a garden that includes so many drool-worthy treasures. My Berberis 'Gold Ring' soon stopped displaying the distinctive chartreuse edge to its burgundy leaves. Looks like 'Admiration' would be a worthy substitute. Too many others grabbed my attention to even go into it.

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    1. It kind of shocks me that I'm considering adding a Berberis to the garden but with leaves like that!

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  15. Put me in the "love" category--what a fabulous plant lover's garden. The Abies--oooooh!

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    1. The powder blue is amazing isn't it?

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  16. So glad to read your perspective on this one, because I'm feeling very defensive for / about Jarvie. This is a collector's garden (beautifully maintained, designed for vignettes, very similar to a botanical garden, and an interesting and mostly climate-appropriate selection), not a landscape. Huge difference, and you captured in photographs and articulated that difference quite well.

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    1. Thank you Saurs, you make a great distinction. I thought about describing it as a personal botanical garden.

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  17. It is damn hard to pull off a collectors garden and have it look even somewhat cohesive..you do it splendidly Loree , and it appears to me Ms. Jarvis has managed this as well. I guess we can be thankful that every garden does not speak to every gardener -that is what results in landscape diversity. I think I would have enjoyed this garden.

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    1. I think you would have too. It would have been so wonderful to have you along on this Fling adventure!

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  18. Saurs: :: beautifully maintained, designed for vignettes ::

    That it is, and Loree's photos convey both well. Many people, though, cannot help but experience the garden as a whole, and that perspective isn't as enjoyable to some gardeners (possibly a minority, but not an insignificant one).

    It's definitely a garden best enjoyed by moving along the series of islands with eyes fixed on the area before you, provoking one "ooh, ooh, OOH!" after another. Marion Jarvie must be a wealth of information on how to grow almost anything to its best, and Torontonians are lucky that she's sharing it freely.

    Just sayin': If I could grow ?Trollius that looked as magnificent as that last picture, I'd have sweeps of them...

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    1. Nice to hear, Nell!

      The sheer vigorous health of such disparate material -- very impressive. Torontonians are lucky to have her.

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    2. I'm curious, have either of you been there - in person? Some of your comments make me wonder. You really seem to "get it" (although I do dislike that phrase, it's so divisive...I "get it" you don't, etc...).

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    3. I haven't been there, but have seen pictures in books and magazines (mostly Canadian) over the last twenty years or so. Your photos are among the most appealing I've seen, partly because of the focus on individual plants.

      Of the images in the post, the Astelia pot shot is the most riveting to me, because in it the exuberant contrasts of plant variety are balanced by just enough structure and negative space: the dark green clipped hedge, pergola posts, the pot and its stone staging area, the lawn.

      Agree about the off-putting potential of the phrase "get it"; "appreciate" might be a more useful term. But it's perfectly possible to "get" a garden (understand the intentions, admire the skill and effort) and still not really like it.

      Multiple island beds filled with strong contrasts make me a little queasy, no matter how fabulous the plants within. They make me crave more unity, harmony, repetition, and long views. But islands make it easier to maintain a high horticultural standard (plants can be grouped by soil and water needs, each plant is more accessible for care, more light and air is available than in a backed border), and they certainly enable more plants to be grown and studied closely, by vastly multiplying the amount of edge.

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  19. I admired this garden, and was mainly drawn to the variety of flowers - especially the Trollius and non-vining Clematis. You had to appreciate this garden for what it was: a collector's garden. I thought the amazing variety of plants were beautifully combined.

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  20. I think it's beautiful. And your comparison is spot on, it's just like a mini Butchart. I hope the gardener has been shielded from the negative comments floating around the internet, that were mentioned above.

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  21. Her use of succulents, among others, saves it from looking too much like a small Butchart (which suits me fine, since photos of the Butchart Gardens make my eyes bleed just a little bit). I love it tons -- a wonderful garden.

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  22. I love this garden. I wish I could have seen it in person. And met the owner. I bet she was a dear.

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  23. Glad to see Marion get props from a fan, Loree. Yes, she's a plantswoman and collector. But what I love about her is her absolute, no-nonsense attitude about collecting. If it doesn't work or doesn't fit, boom, out it goes. There were a few plants that I can imagine were turfed shortly after our visit -- and I saw a few ladies in waiting in pots ready to be planted. I need to be better at emulating Marion's ruthlessness.

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