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6 landscaping inspirations from local gardens

I’m excited to share six landscaping inspirations from visits to local gardens that made an impression on my gardening experience. These insights, gleaned from the heart of these curated spaces, transcend the boundaries of space and size, proving that, however small or big a garden is, there is always something to discover and details that can be inspiring.

For the last 2 years, my garden has been part of our local private gardens association, Association des petits jardins du Québec. I’m also an active member of our local peony society, Société québécoise de la pivoine. As part of their respective programs, week-end visits of members’ private gardens represent for me highlights of the summer. With these groups, I had the pleasure of visiting some charming gardens, each a testament to the passion and creativity of their dedicated caretakers.

As an extra layer of anticipation, stay tuned for the exciting projects I have envisioned to incorporate some of these ideas into my own garden this upcoming summer. So, let’s wander through the pathways of inspiration and uncover the secrets that make these small gardens mighty in their impact. Welcome to a celebration of local horticultural artistry and the boundless inspiration it holds.

1. A brick terrace for my secret garden’s sitting area

Last summer’s project: nestled behind the dappled willows in the peony garden, I fashioned a cozy seating nook. Perfect for a shady retreat during gardening or for unwinding with a good book on hot summer days.

Though I love my green bistro set and flower-filled pots (shown here), it’s time to give this spot a sturdy foundation!

After some consideration, I found the perfect solution in a small garden: a circle of gray and mossy bricks. Now, all that’s left is to gather a pile of yellow recycled bricks from a friend who offered them to me… and evidently, proceed to their installation — a great project to tackle this upcoming spring. I even found the expected result on Pinterest (below!).

2. An enchanting border of phloxes

Phloxes are sturdy perennials, and recent cultivars are now available that exhibit improved resistance to fungal diseases. The ugly mildewed foliage of older varieties in late summer has previously deterred me from growing them more extensively in my gardens even if I may already have a dozen or so specimens at the moment. Recently, while visiting a private garden on the edge of an agricultural field, I was captivated by a wavy border bursting with the vibrant colors of phloxes. It was truly enchanting!

Border of phlox in a private garden
Ph;ox in front of a perch fence

In another garden, a lavender phlox was positioned in front of a gray picket fence. It created an adorable vignette!

Although I haven’t decided on the location for a dedicated phlox border in my garden yet, it’s already on my to-do list!

3. More daylily love

Oh, how I adore daylilies! I’ve previously shared my affection for them in a post. My collection of daylilies is extensive; I have them interspersed among perennials in the peony garden, along the islands of the backyard garden, and even encircling the sunny sides of the house. Yet, my desire for more continues unabated. During a visit to the same garden featuring the phlox border, I was inspired by the owner’s grouping of daylilies on mounds, which added height and structure to an otherwise flat section of her garden. The result has ignited a desire in me to expand upon this idea by creating a new elevated border, perhaps extending from the existing islands. Only time will tell!

4. Flowing river of coneflowers

Few can resist the allure of coneflowers. With their vibrant colors, enduring blooms, and knack for attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies, coneflowers are beloved by many garden enthusiasts. At my friends Jocelyn and Joanne’s home in the Eastern Townships, coneflowers cascade gracefully alongside a long staircase, leading from the house to the garden below. While I may not have the same landscape gradient in my garden, their collective beauty is simply mesmerizing, demonstrating once more that clustering similar plants can create a visual spectacle worthy of admiration.

Coneflowers - Echinacea purpurea cascading in a private garden

5. Pergolas, arches

I must admit, there’s no pergola gracing my garden just yet. Instead, a clematis winds its way along one side of the house with mitigated success, while another spills over a stand in the dahlias border. It feels like the perfect time to introduce some architectural elements into the landscape. Perhaps nestled among the peony borders would be ideal? Arches and pergolas can be used to define specific areas within the landscape, such as entryways, pathways, or outdoor living spaces. By framing these areas, they create a sense of enclosure and delineate boundaries, enhancing the overall organization and flow of the landscape.

Pergolas and arches exude the quintessential charm of a cottage garden, and I’ve been inspired by the splendid examples I’ve seen in private gardens in the last few years. These structures add vertical interest to the garden, creating visual contrast with the surrounding vegetation. My eyes and heart are always drawn to them when covered with climbing plants. While climbing roses may not thrive in my garden, the array of options—from hydrangeas to honeysuckles—is abundant. I have a feeling that 2024 will be the year to bring this vision to life!

6. Bringing fun in the garden

Perhaps I’ve been too focused on the serious aspects of gardening lately! While I consider myself a plant collector at heart, I’m starting to realize that there’s more to my gardening journey than just harmoniously assembling plants. It’s about discovering the joy of adding fun and creative objects to my garden and seeking inspiration from private gardens where unique features abound. Imagine stumbling upon a wall adorned with painted pans inscribed with reflective sentences, or coming across a set of whimsical watering cans. And who wouldn’t be charmed by a bird bath surrounded by a frog orchestra or a fence adorned with decorated pickets? 2024 calls for injecting some playfulness and creativity into my garden oasis! Where should I start?

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