I have designed gardens over 21 years, in a number of houses for myself, as well as a couple for friends and neighbors who have asked. Although a number of these gardens were on small city lots, the more recent ones are expansive, sweeping gardens integrated into estate properties.
My approach to garden design is to integrate house and property in a single vision with their surroundings. Although my own home is a traditional style, with flower-filled English gardens, I have also endeavoured to blend very modern homes with their natural, country settings for homeowners who favour the lush style of my gardens. In other words, I believe I have successfully blended garden styles suited to modern houses with the homeowners’ desire for more texture and flowers.
The garden in the foreground, under the trees in the picture below was planted last
summer to go with a very modern house. The homeowners prefer a lush garden with flowers, rather than the grasses and spiky shapes often paired with modern. I designed a very natural style of garden that would suit a modern house while giving the owners their flowers and foliage. Please click on the photo for a much better look.
In my garden designs there are several features I strive to focus on. First of all, most gardens look fairly lovely in June; a really well-designed garden has co-ordinated vignettes throughout the year, that begin as the snow melts in early spring, then transform continuously through spring and summer, and into late fall. However, a garden is not finished its job when the ground freezes and the snow falls. It must provide shape, form, entertainment, privacy and a complement to your home all winter, especially in Ontario.
The garden shown at top left was planted about three years ago as a privacy screen so that people could eat and lounge on the patio alongside the house while enjoying the view outward, yet have privacy from the road and neighbors. Below left, the garden features berries and interesting-shaped trees and shrubs in the snowy months. With the growth since planting, now when all the leaves are on, it is virtually impossible for passersby to see people enjoying the patio.
This brings me to the point that a good garden is functional and not just pretty. It protects a house from winter wind on the north side, shades specific areas from the heat of summer on the south, can provide some security, may add privacy where needed, and so on. You can even use some of it in your salad, if you like! In short, it should meet the specific needs and wishes of those living there.
In addition, it should be beautiful and have character, so that it soothes and satisfies. This is accomplished by carefully integrating principles of art and design, by balancing the visual weights of different plants and features, carefully chosen colours of foliage and flowers and, perhaps most stunningly, the different shapes and textures of the foliage.
In the homeowner’s discretion, it should integrate existing features. For example, the larger trees in my property had been there for many decades. They provided a guide and inspiration to the gardens, which were designed around them–trees that size are hard to come by in Southern Ontario. They provided the “bones” of the design, so to speak.
I take it as a challenge to deal with obstacles in the setting in creative ways. For example, one enormous challenge in my garden is my neighbor’s line of toxic black walnut trees which overhang my yard and try to dominate the landscape by killing anything nearby. It has been a challenge to develop lush plantings that would thrive in these conditions but through research, trial and error I have done so for about twelve years now.
Please click on any photo for a larger view.
If you think that I can design a garden for you in the Greater Toronto Area or beyond, please “contact” me through the contact page on this website to discuss your ideas. Winter is a great time to work out a plan that can be implemented when the ground thaws.