The Artist’s Garden
Once upon a time this was a nice garden bed…
…but limited time and ability had reduced the homeowners capacity to care for it for a number of years. An overabundance of perennial spiderwort from multiple splitting and random maple saplings made it unattractive while crowding out pretty cone flower and a lovely magnolia shrub.
The bed had not been edged or mulched for some time allowing grass to grow into it and weeds to outnumber ornamental nursery plants.
The design incorporated specimen shrubs (including purple smoke bush, varigated leaf pink weigela, white bobo hydrangea and azalea), repeated perennials (including more long lasting wild berry coneflower, soft pink peony, raspberry butterfly bush, purple Russian sage, white iris and brilliant lime variegated ornamental grass).
Lush with texture and a lovely color theme, the shrubs will fill in and provide a beautiful garden that balances the mature, dwarf magnolia.
The bed was emptied and all the perennials set out on a tarp for the crew to identify and assess the health and ornamental value of each one. The most striking of the perennials was the wild berry coneflower and brilliant lime sedum. With consideration to the rest of the gardens and in discussion with the client, these two perennials were used to develop a planting theme of pink, purple, lime green and white. Plants that would not be included in the new design were potted up in recycled nursery pots for use in the garden at the family cottage.
The homeowner is both artist and art collector. We were drawn to a metal sculpture by Cape Breton artist Gordon Kennedy (www.ironart.ca) that welcomed us inside the front foyer. Intended as an outdoor piece, the family asked if we would site the piece as part of the garden design.
We consider gardens to be a living art form and were thrilled with the opportunity to design a planting that would frame this striking familial sculpture.
For THE SHE SHED’s senior landscape gardener and designer Amy MacInnes, this was particularly interesting design project since she is also a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design’s metalsmithing program.
Amy’s design incorporated a brilliant white bobo hydrangea flanked by white lights azalea and variegated-leaf weigela toward the front of the bed. Closer to the center of the bed a sweeping stand of white arching gooseneck loosestrife will pull the viewers eye back to rest on the sculpture.
The front lawn of the home is quite large and the narrow swaths of grass around the bed made mowing more difficult and messy as clippings landed on walkways and the driveway. We removed the grass and extended the beds to the sidewalk on both sides.
We redesigned the bed and removed the grass so that the walkway is nestled in stunning floral garden borders and the garden connects with the front foundation boxwood hedge.
The gardens on either side of the walkway were only a few feet apart yet one is full sun and the other shady. We married lime-leafed hosta and variegated leaf, evergreen leucothoe on the shady left with zebra grass on the sunny right for a bright lush look.
The pink and purple theme of the right bed continues on the back side of the magnolia with a corkscrew hazel and 10-inch spiked raspberry-toned trusses from a Prince Charming butterfly bush that will draw bees to this vibrant, artful garden.
The beautiful boxwood hedge was crowded and nearly hidden by masses of big leaf coltsfoot weeds.
On the left, massive shade-loving hosta were baking in full sun. We removed and split the hosta so they could be transplanted to shadier spots on the property.
The boxwood hedge is healthy and beautiful after being pruned and the view from the deck chairs is much improved! The garden was planted in August so the full effect of this planting of trees, shrubs and perennials will be seen next year.
Transplanted iris and new nursery plants including dogwood, twisty baby locust and anemone will bring texture and pink, purple, white and lime shades that will be repeated on the right garden bed for a cohesive landscape garden design.
The newly expanded garden bed put these artful glass and concrete stepping stones to work as a short cut from the entrance to the left lawn area.
Gardens with plants, paths, stones and natural ornaments are artistic and turn a walk into an experience and maybe an adventure. We so admired this homeowners collection of garden statuary including a number of pieces by stone mason Heather Lawson who grew up with Colleen in a small Nova Scotia town. Stone sculptor, perennial gardener and animal lover, Heather’s work ranged from wave scribed plinths to tiny bird baths. Her sculptures were both timeless and modern…with transcendent qualities that allow the piece to seem at home no matter where it was found.
We didn’t take pictures of Heather’s pieces and regrettably she passed away a few weeks after we completed this garden. We invite you to stir your soul by viewing this award-winning Ben Proudfoot video about Heather’s life and work.
Location: Purcell’s Cove, Halifax
Price: $5,000 - $7,500
Client Goals: Garden Renovation
“I need some weeding done…its been a few years since I’ve been able to do it”, said the voice on the phone.
From a “few weeds” to a full-on garden renovation, we loved working with this artist and her family!
An abundance of mature perennials, shrubs and trees had lost their way. We weeded, edited, moving things around and removed healthy plants that didn’t fit and prepared them for planting at the family cottage. Then we bought an amazing twisty baby locust tree and a corkscrew hazel shrub and worked till dusk for a few days.
“…and we have this great outdoor sculpture by Cape Breton artist Gordon Kennedy that we’d love to have sited too”.
How did they know we love art as much as we love gardens? That we consider a garden a form of living art?
Sometimes we find the garden…and sometimes the garden finds us.
“We are so happy with what THE SHE SHED team has done with our gardens. You have transformed the look and feel of our house and we are over the moon with the final outcome.
Thank you to Colleen and Amy for connecting so well with our aesthetic and to everyone, Rhaea, Joy, and Helen, for slogging through so many weeds, so much dirt and sod, working through the rain and humidity and making it happen all within the time you had hoped for”.