We plantaholics seem to gravitate to one another. Perhaps Mother Nature has devised some hidden electromagnetic force field, or perhaps it is yet another unique layer of what some would call destiny. Irregardless, it was only a matter of time before my gardening path would cross with that of this month’s Gardener’s Spotlight – Julie Kron.
I remember discussing gardens most animatedly with a friendly woman not long after I had joined the ‘Digging in the Dirt’ committee two years ago. I had agreed to overseeing a narrow bed at the corner of St. Andrew and St. David streets, and it was Julie who filled me in on the fact that because of its central location, on the corner of the busiest intersection of town, replete with the winter snow and salt build up, not to mention the fact that the soil seemed to was itself out of the beds thanks to there not being an eave on the building that it flanks, it was probably going to be harder to maintain that it first appeared. Over the coming weeks I learned that within our society Julie is somewhat of a ‘guru’ when it comes to plants, their botanical Latin nomenclature [another Linnaean scholar!] and other horticultural trivia. She is also a devoted plantaholic.
Being given an opportunity to visit her property was an esteemed privilege I had been looking forward to, and when the day finally came I was twitching with anticipation. She and husband George live in a mid-central part of Fergus, and thanks to their deep and wide lot, have been able to create their own plot of peace and tranquility. Large mature trees grace both front and back areas of the property, allowing for privacy, while creating a wonderfully shaded paradise, dappled with areas of bright afternoon sunlight.
Julie attests to enjoying a challenge, having at one time designed and created 5 acres of landscaped gardens on a property in nearby Ennotville. I asked if she was saddened to make the move, and without hesitation she replies that ‘I’d done everything I could do there, and I was looking forward to a new challenge!’ I envy those gardener’s who are able to pry themselves away. While she admits to missing some of the plant materials of the Ennotville property, she says that the new property reflects a similar planting, but on a smaller scale! One needs to mention that the stonewall retaining walls present throughout the property were all hand laid by Julie and George.
Julie’s first recollection of gardening occurred when she was sixteen and had created an arch out of snowball bushes. It was at this same time that her love and fascination with roses began. Roses by the way are her favourite plant. I was curious to know her opinion on the recent decline in popularity that roses have experienced as a genera in people’s gardens. ‘If you love something strong enough, you are willing to accept the challenges that may present themselves. She admits that the hyrid tea roses are her favourites, with ‘Love’ and ‘Double Delight’ being two of her favourites. One must hesitate here to say that judging from the vast collection of plants that reside in her gardens, she has a love affair that spans far wider than just roses. Did you say you were looking for a special Heuchera? Look no further that Julie’s vast collection!
Julie has a keen eye for composition and detail whose gardens offer up a number of pleasant surprises to the first time visitor. A fellow Cypripedium aficionado, her mass planting of Cypripedium calceolus is enough to bring a man to his knees! A smashing double flowering Sanguinaria canadensis f. ‘Multiplex’ takes gorgeous to stunning new levels of excitement.
I was curious, from a purely inquisitive standpoint as that of a fellow plantaholic as to whether Julie followed any stringent guidelines when selecting plant materials. For me it has to love shade, enjoy sharing more than cramped quarters and should not be bright yellow, red or orange. ‘I’m willing to give anything a try so long as it pleases me! God help it if I don’t find it pleasing!’ Fair enough! I know plenty of fellow gardener’s who find themselves reevaluating their plant materials every few years, disillusioned that something underperformed or has simply fallen from favour.
For myself personally, it is the shaded areas of the property that cause my heart to beat fastest, but one would be remiss if they didn’t discuss the large rockery located in the front yard. It is here where dozens upon dozens of diminutive alpine plants reside in a delightful cacophony of texture and colour. Saxifraga, Gentiana, Androsace, Penstemon….. you name it, and you’re likely to find it happily nodding it’s diminutive flowers and foliage in your direction. A scree bed, with even smaller and more rare and choice selections abuts the sunroom in the back courtyard. On a separate note of interest, Julie is also an accomplished painter, whose acrylic paintings reveal yet another magnificent talent. A yellow rose looked so real I was tempted to smell it or touch it’s delicate petals, and her nature inspired paintings have the same genuine authenticity to them!
I enjoyed my first visit and intend to visit it again this year. Congrats to Julie upon her recently completed Master Gardener’s examination. Something tells me that it will be Julie teaching her fellow MG’s a thing or two about creating a delightful, bountiful botanical wonderland. It has been an absolute thrill to highlight this month’s garden!