24 Jul 2014

My Home Away from Home: Cedar Spring Nursery

I thought it was a precipitous time to let readers of my blog know where it is that I work. I have been employed at Cedar Spring Nursery in Elora for the past two years. After six years in the industry I was ready and looking for a change! My current employers have allowed for my passion for all things perennial to shimmer to the surface once again, and in these past two years, I have been able to assist in the creation of a number of new display gardens. I am a firm believer that if a potential customer [gardener] is able to see what a plant will look like, and more importantly, how it will perform in a garden placement, it will make it easier for them to decide exactly what form of garden it is that they would like to create. The nursery is blessed with both sunny and shaded dispositions, allowing for us to offer our clients a number of exciting garden vignettes to offer inspiration as well as to occasionally toss the expectation of 'what is a garden' on its ear!

We have two water features on the property, one being a two tiered pond, as well as a meandering stream that culminates in a second pool. It is this second water feature, and its surrounding gardens that have drawn visitors to the nursery like moths to the proverbial flame. Jon [one half of my employers] wanted to create something big..... I think the word Jurassic was tossed around, and as such, I could not help but suggest that perhaps the plants might range from our grow zone up until, oh maybe Z 8-9! We were going to become the Kings of Zonal Denial!

 There is everything one could ever imagine growing: Agapanthus, Brugmansia, Albizia 'Summer Chocolate', a truly funky Bismarkii palm, as well as a monstrous Cycas revoluta, a number of Alocasia and Colocasia.... and you will also find my trusted septentine Blue Atlas Cedar! Its definitely a case in point of expect the unexpected. I love watching first time visitors as they spot any one of the above numbered plants and then scurry over and stand in amazement! I do have to say it has totally surpassed any expectation I might have possessed when we were first contemplating such an endeavour. Lucky for us, we have an empty heated hoop house wherein we store all of the more tender hearted selections - which, not surprisingly, seem to increase with each passing year! 

At the end of the Jurassic Border is our bumble bee and butterfly garden. Its residents are more commonly grown here, and includes a rather stunning Salvia sclarea var. Turkestanica which has caused more than one motorist to slam on the brakes, turn round and come back for a second glance!

One might come to the conclusion that this border, our shaded woodland is my personal favourite. It is here where Sasha [boss numero dos] and I have created a magical space between a pair of majestic Crimson Kings. Its chock full of many of my favourite woodland gems, and includes a sublime dwarf form of the prehistoric Gingko biloba. There are four Japanese Maples [Hana Matoi, Mikawa yatsubusa, Villa Taranto and Shishigashira] which help to lend an Oriental atmosphere. If I am not to be found in the retail space, you need only look out yonder beyond the fence! 

Hydrangea 'Twist n Shout' is one of the signature plants that always translate into my having to reorder, especially when it is blooming like it has been this year! This garden consists of Compost Plus - nothing more, nothing less, and as such, its acidic content results in these staggering blue-mauve blooms. Many of my resident woodlanders actually appreciate a more acidic content.

The remaining border at roadside is more of an Arboretum, where we have highlighted some of our more unusual specimen trees which include Fagus sylvatica 'Roseomarginata, Cercis canadensis 'Covey', Acers shirasawanum and Red Dragon, as well as a few notable conifers including Sciadopitys verticillata 'Joe Kozey', Abies concolor, Metasequoia 'Miss Grace' and a delightful fernspray Chamaecyparis! I love that we are able to highlight what are the essentials to any well structured garden border.

 The last border is at the side of the retail store and here is where I wanted to create a simple narrow border using only three plants - all of them variegated. I must preface and say that the first ten or so feet is home to what are proving to be two bestsellers for us - Hosta 'Empress Wu' [she of the gargantuan elongated foliage] and a fully hardy reblooming Wisteria! 

Back to the experiment..... I chose three popular shade perennials: Hosta [2] and Polygonatum falcatum 'Variegata'. I repeated their placement down the narrowly long length. Of course one of the Hosta that we chose also happens to be the most sought after plant of all of the display gardens! Hosta 'Hi Ho Silver' was one that we snagged on a trip to one of our suppliers. Of course we bought them out, thinking we would see how our customers responded, and if need be, we could always order more. Ummmm..... No!  Apparently from the people I have communicated with over the past season, he, a charming sport of Ginkgo Craig, was reputedly a weak performer and has since disappeared from commerce. He is the one pictured below. If this is what people call a weak performer...... I love the wide, pristine white edges to foliage that is narrow and pointed. Not a dwarf, but definitely one of the smaller selections. We are ever so patiently waiting for him to bulk up, where upon we will see about propagating him so that we can satisfy the ever growing number of customers who have requested him via our seasonal 'Wishlist' program. I would hate to disappoint my loyal clientele! And No. I do not have a half dozen sequestered in my own garden. Not yet at least!

And there you have it, this is where I spend my time when I am not in my own garden. I have the greatest employers a plantaholic geek like myself could ever dream of. It has helped revitalize my passion for all things perennial [and yes, I'm slowly finding an appreciation for annuals as well!] and has allowed for me to use the display gardens to help introduce the world to the fascinating wonders of woodland and zonal denial gardening - essential items in a world that thinks they are satisfied with Petunia and Geraniums. Silly people! 


Jodi DeLong said...

Hi Barry, long time no talk! I can see why you would love working there, now the question is, do you leave your whole paycheque there in plants to bring home, or does having such a great selection make it easier to enjoy them and leave them there?

Barry said...

A bit of both! Last year very much the 'whole paycheque scenario but I have a secret 'perk' that allows me to enjoy the eclectic selection without breaking the bank! Thanks for visiting!