While the majority of people welcome summer with its promise of warm weather and vacation days, a Sudbury woman who has become an avid gardener prefers spring, when the smell of earth, the sprouting of life and the sounds of birds are heaven to her winter-weary soul.
She took up gardening to spend more time outdoors and to improve the curb appeal of her property. But in the past three years, the hobby has turned into a passion that is fuelled all winter long by gardening magazines and websites.
The gardener found her property in New Sudbury was a challenge because it had no personality. The backyard had grass on top of sand, bordered by a fence that separated the garden from the green space behind it. Sitting in the middle of the garden was an over-sized shed, with a garage door. It took quite a bit of imagination to visualize a makeover, which included a swimming pool, shaped garden beds, a new deck, trees, seating areas and a sense of structure and serenity.
“It took a lot of sweat, and yes, sometimes tears, to bring the barren backyard to the calming retreat it is today,” she says.
It is still a work in progress. Each spring brings an opportunity to incorporate another new idea.
This garden did not cost a fortune. It is the result of lots of reading and discussions with neighbours about what grows best in what area.
“And, of course, a lot of trial and error,” the gardener jokes. “I believe I pulled up three Clematis before I finally realized they were not weeds.”
She is surprised by the results of the past couple of years, because when she started she could barely keep house plants alive.
“This proves anyone can garden if they really want to,” she says.
Today the garden boasts several distinct seating areas, including a curved bench under a French lilac tree, a gliding bench facing the pool, an aged wooden bench sitting in front of a fire pit and a seating area by the shade garden leading to a pathway to the front of the property. A bistro set hovers by the side of the pool.
The flower beds have been organized to take advantage of the curvaceous structure of the pool and the octagon shaped deck as well as the bordering fences. For example, the main garden faces east with a lot of morning southern sun. Sun-loving plants such as phlox, roses, coneflowers, Russian sage, peonies, delphiniums, and shasta daisies mix well with dependable annuals such as geraniums and petunias.
The north facing garden is home to a variety of hostas, astilbe, fernleaf bleeding heart, and bugleweed. Mix in some tuberous begonia and impatiens, and the shade garden has a personality of its own.
She planted a rhododendron four years ago that was not recommended as a winter-hardy plant for this zone, but it has survived three winters. Each spring it rewards her with a massive display of raspberry blooms.
The gardener is constantly looking for new things to add to her garden. She cannot pass a grocery store with an outside gardening centre without stopping. She visits the Botanix Azilda Greenhouses weekly at the beginning of the growing season and again at the end of it, looking for a unique plant, garden ornament or an idea to incorporate into her own design.
“Many people save their money for Christmas or a vacation,” she laughs. “I save my money for spring.”
This article appeared in the Spring 2009 edition of Sudbury Living.