Jan designs and maintains gardens in the Ottawa area, and like all of those who work in the field, shrudders when you suggest you would like to photograph her own garden. "Give me a few days - I haven't had any time to work on it in the past few weeks". For many, however, the "neglect" is invisible in the profusion of happy healthy plants.
The garden, which is her little sanctuary, is full of challenges. While the front of the property enjoys most of the available southern and western light, the back garden is long, narrow, and is surrounded by a high cedar hedge on the south, a neighbor's black walnut on the east and a garage on the north, and her own house on the west. What she ends up with is a shade garden which has areas which receive a few hours of direct sunlight, especially in the weeks surrounding the summer solstice, when the sun is highest in the sky.
With a very similar micro-environment in our first garden on Bruyère, I understand both the challenges and the advantages she faces in designing a garden with these light conditions. A wide variety of flowering shrubs, perennials and annuals do in fact thrive in such an environment - however, unless you stress the annuals, you do have accept you largely have a shade garden and place the greatest emphasis on a plant's leaf colour, shape and texture. Jan has, I think, been very successful in developing just such a visually interesting shade garden.
She has used two main "elements" to pull the garden together visually. The first, hardscape in nature is the use of wrought iron and stone; the second, vegetative, is the creation of 'green" walls in nearly every direction. Vines are a narrow garden's best friend - they provide luxurious visual interest, while taking up very little square footage.
The following photographs document Jan's garden in a walking progression from the front yard to the back, and from the entrance gate to the reflective, private space for she and her family at the back of the garden. Each photo is accompanied with additional text.
|In June, Jan's front gardens are ablaze in rose blooms for all the street to enjoy!|
|The Back Gardens - A Sun-streaked Shade Garden!|
|Lush Perennial Beds Line the Narrow Center of the Garden|
|A Private Space is Tucked Away in the Back|