Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Little Inspiration

Private Garden in Forest Hill, Ontario

It is always nice to incorporate a spot in your garden where you can sip a drink or eat a meal. Here is a little inspiration to help you get started in creating that perfect place to sit and relax.

Private Garden in Mississauga, Ontario

Not everybody has a large yard, so here and in the next shot are two smaller gardens.

Private Garden in Forest Hill, Ontario

1. Raised flowerbeds surround this bistro-style table and chairs and frame 
the courtyard patio beautifully.

Private Garden in Forest Hill, Ontario

Glass is a table option that does not block to the view of the surrounding flowerbeds.

Private Garden in Rosedale, ON

2. A found object, in this case an old church steeple, gives this space a romantic feel. 

You probably won't want to go this grand, but even on a smaller scale a unique object or garden ornament can really help to set the mood.

Private Garden in Mississauga, Ontario

3. If you are thinking about adding a water feature this spring, why not place it right off the deck area where you will be sitting? 

That way you can watch the fish darting around and listen to the symphony of water noises, frogs and insects.

Private Garden in Mississauga, Ontario

4. If your backyard gets lots of sun, it might be an idea to incorporate a little manmade shade cover.

Private Garden in Forest Hill, Ontario

5. In this and the next shot we have a modern take on a courtyard seating area. A dining table and pair of casual chairs means this area does double duty.

Private Garden in Forest Hill, Ontario

Private Garden in Rosedale, ON

This more formal space also has a clean, contemporary feel to it.

Private Garden in Rosedale, ON

6. If you are lucky enough to have a large garden, you may want to create several different zones for a myriad of possible purposes: entertaining, outdoor meals or perhaps just sitting and reading the newspaper.

In this traditional garden a gravel pathway leads around the house to a raised terrace.

In the same garden, there is a second seating area overlooking a ravine.

Private Garden in Rosedale, ON

And at the front of the house, there is a set of chairs right outside a set of french doors.

A pond opposite the chairs adds some water music.

Private Garden in Forest Hill, Ontario

7. Wouldn't this fireplace be nice on a chilly evening?

This is my own very casual spot to unwind. 

8. A place to de-stress need not be fancy. 

All it needs to be is a space that makes you feel comfortable and at ease.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Before and Afters (with a little Photo Wizardry)

A view that's pretty enough...

Private Garden, near Port Dover ON

but has the possibility of being so much more! 

It is amazing the impact a few carefully chosen, well-placed objects can have. In this post, I look how simple design moves can really effect the way we experience a garden.

Here we have a nondescript corner of a country garden. Now add in a simple ceramic pot.

Private Garden, near Port Dover ON

Before you might have walked straight in, stood there a moment, glanced around quickly and then turned on your heels and left.

Now that a big pot has been added, I think you are much more likely to stroll in a circular fashion around the pot and slowly take in the plantings.

A second look at how a well-placed object can really add that little bit extra.

It is not a clutter of things, but a single ornament that makes the best place for the eye to rest.

In this shot, there is a lawn.

Private Garden, Mississauga, ON

In this version, there is a pathway and a clear invitation to come, sit and relax.

It is always nice to send visitors down a garden path with a destination; a place to sit 
and appreciate the journey.

Larkwhistle Garden, on the Bruce Peninsula 

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Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Word Prompt

I came across this word prompt format for a blog post and thought I would put it to the test. So here goes:

wondering: how it is possible that I can be blinded by sunlight here at my computer desk and yet it is
-33 degrees Celsius (with the wind chill factored in).

drinking: too much coffee

loving: the pot of daffodils on my kitchen windowsill.

wishing: there were more hours in a day

reading: Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingslover. Technically speaking, I am listening to it. I got the audio book out from the library after reading Rose's review.

watching: oh, my goodness a real mixed bag of shows off the internet. Over the holidays and into the new year: Season 4 of Downton Abbey, the first season of Masters of Sex and the first two seasons of Homeland. 

Are you a Downton Abbey fan? I am. Sad to say, I found that this season of Downton Abbey to be my least favourite. The plot lines ramble in all directions and seem to go nowhere significant. I'd still sign up to watch season 5 though...

If you like Mad Men, you would probably like Masters of Sex. Set in the 1950's, this Showtime series fictionalizes the lives of Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson who did pioneering research on the subject of human sexuality.

Homeland is an older television series that we missed initially (I think they are in Season 4 now). We went back to watch most of the first two seasons.  The show's premise in a sentence: "When Marine Nicolas Brody returns after eight years of captivity in Iraq, CIA operative Carrie Mathison is the only one who suspects he has been "turned"by the enemy." The television series centres around an ongoing threat to national security that I, as a Canadian, can't fully identify with, but every episode ends with a cliff hanger that keeps you hooked and watching. 

Will Brody get assassinated at the end of the second season? Don't tell me! We still have one more episode in season 2 to watch.

listening to: the CBC radio. We have great public radio here in Canada. I am embarrassed to admit that I have listened to this podcast interview with Fran Lebowitz at least 3 times. She is such an amazing character! I also really enjoyed this interview with Malcolm Gladwell author of the newly released book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants

longing to: escape to somewhere warm... at least in the movies. Movies set in sunny Italy are my cure-all for the Canadian winter blues. A favourite? My House in Umbria with the superb Maggie Smith in the lead role. I love the big, white house, the walled garden and the golden hues that seem to pervade every scene. Oh to have an evening meal on a garden terrace just like the one in the film!

thinking: I should make some cookies.

needing: more exercise...hmm maybe I shouldn't make those cookies.

feeling: restless. Dare I brave a walk outside in the cold?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

While away a Wintery Afternoon with Fork to Fork Videos

Fork to Fork is a British gardening series made a little over 10 years ago. Monty looks a good deal younger and appears in the series along with his wife Sarah and their three children.

Though there are some elements about the series that feel a bit dated, growing things organically, bringing the food you grow into the home kitchen and preparing simple, delicious meals is still very timely.

Here is what Monty Don says in his introduction:

"I am definitely a morning person; always the first one up in our house. I can't wait to get outside into the garden. Being in the open air feels like liberation. I feel like a child let out of school: rain or shine. I get a sense of what the weather has in store; taking in the quality of the light and the mood of the sky.

Accepting what nature throws at you is part of the whole organic thing. It's about going with the flow, following your instincts and doing what seems right for you. And that's what this series is all about. Over the next six weeks Fork to Fork will show you how to grow organic ingredients and turn them into some of the best food you have ever eaten."

To fill a wintery afternoon, here are the first three shows in the series:

Fork to Fork: Episode 1 
Potatoes, Carrots, Beetroot and Parsnips

Fork to Fork: Episode 2 
Tomatoes, Onions and Garlic

Fork to Fork: Episode 3 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Poolside Garden in Forest Hill, Ontario

Swimming pools are a wonderful luxury in summer, but in terms of garden design, they can really become a big, hulking presence that can dominate a backyard- and not necessarily in a good way. 

It is possible however, to combine a swimming pool with a garden and do it tastefully. Here is just one example.

Flowerbeds dress up the stone-colored perimeter fencing in this Rosedale, Ontario garden greatly adding to the home's curb appeal.

In the half-shade, there are peonies, hosta, foxglove (above) and a number of varieties of salvia (below).

The clipped box hedging means that the public face of this garden is always tidy and presentable.

On the left, we see the entrance to the garden. (I believe these are two Weeping Copper Beech on either side of the walkway to the backyard, but please correct me if I am wrong.)

On the right, we are just inside the back gate. 

Inside the fence, the garden feels like a secluded oasis. 

Boxwood hedges flow seamlessly in from the property's exterior and keep the area around the pool looking neat and tidy. 

The backyard has quite a bit of tree cover and shade lovers like hosta (below, top left), brunnera (below, bottom left) purple colored Meadow Rue, Thalictrum (bottom right) and this Japanese Fern (above) have been incorporated into the plantings.

This flower-filled urn adds an extra punch of bright color and an interesting variance in 
height to the formal planting.

The boxwood hedge frames this little seating area beautifully.

The greenery also helps to soften the hard edge of the pavers around the pool. (Even if you don't have a pool, this might be a nice way to treat a patio area.)

Set above the pool is a large, vine covered pergola. 

Now, wouldn't this be the perfect spot to relax on a lazy summer afternoon? (Even if the pool area were just plain grass, this pergola would work just as nicely into a garden's design.)

The Wisteria was just starting to fade when I took these pictures.

Hanging baskets of flowers and potted plants are used for summer-long color.

Every area has been considered including this spot on the far side of the pool. 

You will note there is always just enough decorative touches to be pleasing, but not so many things that a space might become cluttered. 

Even if, like me, the only swimming pool you can afford is one of those blow-up kiddie pools, there are still lots of great ideas to take away from this superb garden.