I published this post last summer, long after these photos were taken. However, with spring a few days away and North American gardens beginning to wake up, I keep thinking of them. The post seems far more relevant and topical now, so I am re-publishing it for spring inspiration.
My mother’s large and ever-evolving garden is tucked between mountains in the “supernatural” paradise of Vancouver Island. Climatic conditions allow for a wide range of vegetation compared to that in Southern Ontario. Soil is moist, full of organic material and rain is prolific at times; however, summers are dry and constant watering is a challenge.
The garden blends seamlessly with its natural setting, and rhododendrons often grow to the size of small trees in the rainforest setting.
I have always loved my mum’s sense of humour in her garden–she is not constrained by the same unrelenting seriousness that sometimes prevents a less-exerienced gardener from his or her full self-expression.
A close-up of this vignette, with the fountain, hollowed-out stone and sculptures:
Below, a newer area with rustic trellises and screens designed by my mother. Something more traditional would be out of place with the strength of this natural backdrop.
A water feature coaxed out of the natural features of the property, and planted to enhance, rather than compete with, the setting.
Another view of the textured hillside along the pond, with its rich mix of foliage:
A glimpse of the contemporary house in its garden setting, also designed in keeping with the organic sensibility once so well expressed, “No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.”
What moves me about this garden is the strength of self-expression that it reflects, while balanced seamlessly with the majesty of nature on the Island.
While every garden should ideally be created after careful reflection of its context, it can be difficult for even the most skilled gardener to respect the context down to the finest details. I feel that I am constantly striving to achieve this, though I am unlikely to come up against a setting with such a powerful voice of its own as the one in these photos.
Many gardens have inspired my own pursuits, but as I’m sure is obvious, none nearly so much as my mother’s unique piece of paradise.
What garden has inspired you? Please share your inspirations in the comments below.