Kylemore Abbey and Victorian walled garden, Ireland

Closing time seems to be my siren call. Especially when it comes to gardens. We were in Galway, Ireland, one afternoon when we impulsively decided to drive 90 minutes northwest to see Kylemore Abbey. Once a stately home, it’s now a Benedictine abbey, still famous for its postcard-pretty setting and restored Victorian walled garden. There are only […]

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And now, June Blake’s Garden, Blessington

After our wet, wild, wonderful day at Jimi Blake’s garden on our Irish holiday, we tore ourselves off to visit the garden of his sister June Blake, about five minutes away. It was almost closing, and our visit was cut decisively short by a sudden, intense deluge, a theme for the day. The siblings share an exuberant […]

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Jimi Blake’s Hunting Brook Gardens, Ireland

As giddy as a schoolboy. (Picture Alastair Sim skipping around as Scrooge on Christmas morning.) That’s how my husband described me when we finally arrived at Hunting Brook Gardens on Lamb Hill near Bellington in the Wicklow mountain foothills. It had been a long time coming. Four years ago, I’d tried, tried hard, to persuade my travelling buds in Ireland […]

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Near-sighted camera meets colorblind gardener

A weird thing happened on my recent visit to this exuberant Buffalo garden. Almost every picture (almost every one!) was out of focus. But only in this one garden, out of 15 that day! It’s as if my camera knew that the man who’d created this particular garden had a vision impairment, and it was fuzzing out in sympathy. Ha. In fact, the fuzzy […]

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Using black and brown in a garden

Sometimes, I feel bad about filtering the experience of being in a garden through a camera lens. Am I like one of those people who walk around seeing the whole world through the screen of their iPads? But the magic of photography can turn a frantic, 45-minute garden visit into hours of contemplation at home – letting me zoom in, identify hidden treasures, and […]

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You’ve been seen, ultramarine

Since visiting the garden of Linda Hostetler in The Plains, Virginia, I’ve spent a long time trying to feel blue. I mean feel it – to understand the science behind why gardeners love this eye-popping blue called ultramarine (and sometimes Majorelle blue, after the painter and his garden). As my camera and I slowly explored Hostetler’s interesting […]

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30 years, 30 gardens, Through the Garden Gate 2017

I was (regretfully) away for the 2017 preview of Through the Garden Gate. So I (regretfully) can’t show sneak peeks into the 30+ (yes, that’s thirty-plus!) gardens selected for the 30th anniversary of the Toronto Botanical Garden‘s annual garden tour, this weekend June 10 & 11. But I can tell you a few facts: It happens in North Rosedale […]

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A garden is no place for ageism

The garden is about every passage of life. Youth, adolescence, old age. Even death. ~ Princess Peggy Abkhazi Today’s weather has chilled, but the sudden heat of the past two days put a definite frizzle in my long display of tulips. Before the forecast wind and rain (that never came), I went out last night to deadhead […]

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Win tickets to see The Gardener documentary

Did you know? Canada is home to one of North America’s most spectacular private gardens. We’ve written twice about Les Quatre Vents, near La Malbaie, Quebec (here and here) and at last I have an excuse to write about it again. Because it, and its creator Francis Cabot, is now the subject of a feature documentary, The Gardener, playing May 18 […]

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Lessons from the Danger Garden

Since my earliest days with the long-lost, late-lamented Blotanical, I’ve been a reader of Loree Bohl’s The Danger Garden. With a focus on her passion for spiky plants, Loree has been a regular and prolific blogger since 2009. Get to know her through this interview. Now the growing conditions in Portland (USDA Z8) and Toronto (USDA Z5/Canadian Z6) […]

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What Toronto needs is a Chinese garden

Google “classical Chinese garden Toronto” and here’s what you’ll discover: we have a lot of Chinese restaurants with “garden” in their name. Digging deeper might get you this link to the lost Chinese garden once-upon-a-time on Spadina Avenue. But do we have an actual, gardeny Chinese garden in T.O.? Not yet. And I wish we did. Classical Chinese […]

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Crevice gardens, natural and crafted

We’d spent 20+ years clambering over Nature’s crevice gardens, had we only known it. The natural rock formations below near our former summer home on Ile d’Orléans in the St. Lawrence River near Québec City held exactly the eroded vertical spaces that crevice gardens try to mimic. As they were also naturally photogenic, I have pictures to show you, […]

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