Coming home from a tour of English gardens I felt a short, sharp shock. Everything in my garden looked inadequate, not up to the standard I had come to expect. I moped. I complained. Why can’t I grow the hundreds of plants I saw and admired? Some of them must surely suit my climate. So why don’t the garden centres around Glen Villa stock them?
Then I faced the facts. My garden will never match the perfection of an English estate that employs six or seven full time gardeners. The garden centres will never stock the rarities — with such a small market, it’s not a paying proposition. Plants I grow will never match the size they reach in England, not as long as I live where I do, where winter temperatures drop regularly to -25 or -30C.
And since I have no desire to live anywhere else, I had to quit complaining. I gave myself a good talking to. Instead of accepting your limitations, I told myself, embrace them. And I have. I do. My garden no longer looks inadequate, it looks splendid. I am enthusiastic about what I can grow, and even more enthusiastic about what grows here naturally.
I mean, just look at it. Can any English country scene be more beautiful than our old farm field bursting with buttercups?
And what about the lupins that are dancing their way across the meadow? I’m happy to see them, and to see this year for the first time a brighter-than-average pink that I hope will spread and become even brighter.
My heart sings when I see the lupins blooming amid buttercups and ragged robin, especially when set off by the citrus green of Aralia ‘Sun King’ behind them.
I take no credit for these wildflowers. Each year they appear on their own, this year more floriferous than last. The shrub border in the Upper Field is a different matter, and it gives me pleasure of a different sort. I chose the shrubs and thanks to the fence I designed to protect them from the deer, they are blooming like they’ve never bloomed before.
The shrub border is doing all I hoped it would, and more. I wanted some privacy in the Upper Field, and the shrubs are big enough now to shield our view of cars driving past. I wanted the privacy screen to be truly appealing, so I’d walk up the hill to see it. And that has worked. The vibrant blossoms and foliage add colour and excitement, and draw me like a magnet to see how each plant changes, day to day.
The blossoms on the Ninebark ‘Coppertina’ for instance. They start as tight pin pricks, then open to resemble tiny berries, then become as fluffy as dandelion heads, all in a matter of a week or two.
All around the garden, blooms are bursting. At the Skating Pond the yellow flag iris are shining in the distance …
… elsewhere, single white peonies gleam …
… and camassias growing more abundant year by year.
Seeds I gathered from an acquilegia in Australia are blooming quietly on a rocky outcrop, retaining their original colour and refusing, I’m glad to say, to affect the colour of the wild Canadian ones that grow nearby.
But the wildflowers capture my heart most of all. The yellow flower that is blooming in a field next to a tall grass…
… the delicate pink daisy-like flowers that appear everywhere….
Why should I be envious of an English garden when I am surrounded by such natural beauty? Even the grass is glorious.
Do you have garden envy? And are you doing anything about it?