9 August 2011

jennie's masterpiece

Kind of embarrassed to say that I live 5 minutes away from the world-famous Butchart Gardens and had never been there (that I can remember) before this weekend!  It is truly a magical place and it seemed to transport me to a different country for the entire afternoon.  Maybe that was because of the numerous languages being spoken or the different themed gardens at each and every turn, but I am definitely excited to go back next season and check out the new plantings!  It is amazing to see what 50 full-time gardeners can do with 55 acres...

After walking through a coastal rainforest filled with massive cedar trees, Maidenhair ferns and shade-loving Sorrel, you round the corner to see the breathtaking "Sunken Garden" which was once a limestone quarry more than a hundred years ago.  After Robert Butchart had exhausted the quarry, his wife Jennie brought in hundreds of tons of top soil by horse and cart from the nearby farmland.  Her plantings eventually started drawings throngs of crowds to see her creations, which include a Japanese, Italian, and Rose Garden.  The rest is pretty much history.

This visit made for some great inspiration for my own garden.  Now that the fence project is finished, I have a fairly large space to work with and plan on creating some new borders this fall.  I arrived at Butchart's wanting to find out just what exactly it is that makes everything "work".  Well for starters, great soil, fertilizer, and an extensive in-ground sprinkler systems.   But a technique that repeatedly seems to work throughout is MASS PLANTINGS.  None of this little fuddy-duddy 3 grasses here and one shrub here and 10 bulbs there.  We're talking a HUNDRED annuals in one single bed to create a mass focal point.

I also noticed a lot of repetition throughout each garden.  Minimal plant variety makes for a very streamlined landscape.

The dahlias were one of my favorites.  Lots of different species that completely enveloped the cobblestone pathway.  Mine are almost blooming but not even comparable to the ones seen here!

I'd also like to visit Glendale Gardens and the Government House Gardens before the end of the summer to see what other kind of motivation I can drum up.

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