Open Garden: Croeso i Parkdale

We don’t usually show people pix, but this one tells a story. From left to right, Barry Parker, Sarah, You Grow Girl Gayla Trail, Helen.

Through crosshatched lines on our mum’s side, Welsh blood flows in our veins. So we were doubly delighted to be invited to visit the Parkdale garden of Welsh-born Torontonian Barry Parker by YouGrowGirl girl (and Barry aficionado) Gayla Trail. Barry’s croeso mat was laid on Sunday as part of Open Gardens Toronto 2009.

Where to begin, where to begin? What can I write that hasn’t been written by Gayla at different times or wasn’t touched on in this Gardening Life article [update: link is no longer active] by Marjorie Harris?

This garden is designed with the eye of an artist and the devotion of an experienced plantsman. Barry has created a formal framework for the specimens he collects and propagates, and the result is unstuffy and fun, with lots of little surprises.

In the back, a circle of velvety lawn, a good portion of which is clover, is contained by very healthy clipped box (Buxus) curving to two tall obelisks of beech (Fagus).

We love the way he piled dry stone to create these entry pillars. Barry’s eye for a good find is evident everywhere. Ordinary, garden-centre concrete disks stacked to form a column capped by a large, smooth stone, or marble balls from a dollar store massed in a pot are just two of the fruits of his imagination.

From the beech trees, you step through to a wilder woodland garden. On one side, Barry inserted a bog garden into his sandy soil by burying a pool and filling it with statuesque moisture lovers such as Rodgersia pinnata. Must remember this trick.

An array of ferns, silvery Brunnera, and varieties of Geranium mix here with rarer specimens and his seed-grown, hardy Cyclamen hederifolium and C. coum.

Looking back towards the house gives you the long view of another of his passions: rock garden plants, Agave and succulents artfully grouped in troughs and containers.

This glowing Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is but one of the show-stoppers arranged here.

Barry’s garden is as lovely as Barry himself. He welcomed us so warmly and generously, you know he deserves every carefully crafted inch of his creation. I can’t wait to be back for Open Gardens Toronto 2010.


  1. That was simply divine ! It gives me hope that as I see other gardens such as this pretty one that I will grow and open my style to others such as this and create a more pleasing design to mine .. I get a little frantic thinking "what can I do to make this more like the styles I love in other gardens I see" .. so this is another one I want to keep in mind .. thank you !
    Joy : )

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