I had a free day to myself this past Sunday, and decided it was time to slow down the somewhat hectic pace that has been the garden season of 2014, to actually take the time and look backward over my shoulder! I was up early and on my way back to the very first garden nursery who employed me - what is it now, seven years ago? Those of follow my blog, will know that I mean Lost Horizons, a sublime woodland plant nursery just this side of Acton, Ontario.
I promised myself that I would make a return trip when time allowed, if only to see if I could relive the excitement I felt on that day, when, on a search for Corydalis flexuosa 'Blue Panda' [what has since become my signature plant] I found myself at the gates of this botanical magic kingdom. It was very much a case of deja vu all over again! There was one glaringly noticeable difference this year - the absence of so many of the tall, majestic trees that alluded to the feeling that you were entering some hidden away botanical hideaway - but sadly, not even such magical kingdoms are exempt from Mother Nature's icy fury! I had also momentarily forgotten about the bug issue! Big time. The fact that it was overcast and was drizzling didn't help the situation in the least, but for me what was a dozen or so mosquito bites when I could bask in the glory that are the display gardens!
I noticed that the staff was new, and asked for one of the two plants I was hoping to locate. Glancing at the 'plant locator' I discerned that it said 'STK' which in LH jargon means that it is in the stock bed. Not to worry. There is always next year! The sales associate said she would go track down Larry and see if she could find it for me. I didn't have the heart to tell her it was unlikely that we would locate said plant, but I let her strike off and find Larry - I was looking forward to our 'yearly' catch up. Soon enough we spotted one another, and for the next half hour we discussed the trials and joys of the business. He pointed out a couple of his newest treasures, including a stunning Actaea that must have been eight feet tall. We pontificated over a Dracunculus that had just finished flowering. [Mine has not made a return appearance this year after gifting me with a staggeringly bizarre yet beautiful, if somewhat putrid smelling bloom last year!]
And then he was gone, disappearing among the supple textures of foliage that are the bones of why his display gardens are as magical as they are. It was almost like a botanical illusion. Here one minute, gone the next. It was so rewarding to be able to bask in his knowledge and passion of only for such a short time. I found a new member of what is one of my favourite genera - Polygonatum verticillatum 'Himalayan Giant' - and deposited it at the cash desk before crossing over the instantly recognizable footbridge into what can only be described as paradise!
The drive home was filled with nostalgic silence - a part of me will forever refer to 'Lost Horizons' as my first 'home' when I decided I was ready for a career change those seven short years ago. It was there where I was immersed in the intoxicating world of Botanical latin, and it was there, where under Larry's generous and genuine tutelage that I first crossed over to what I now jokingly refer to as 'the dark side!' I learned that for most shade gardens, its more about structure, texture, hues of green and placement, than it is about colour or even presence of flower. I also learned that more is always better. Plant one truly hortgasm worthy specimen, and then fill in with other botanical wonders. The display gardens helped to encourage within me the so called 'layering' method of planting.
Arriving home again with new plant in tow, I decided to sit and quietly observe my own garden - to look beyond what are undoubtedly my favourite plants and seek out the undeniable connection that links it with Lost Horizons. It didn't take long!
Thank you Larry for taking me under wing and opening my eyes to the undeniably intoxicating world of woodland gardening and the vast array of plants that it encompasses! I like to think that my garden is my homage to your skills, knowledge and generosity!
** On a different note I have decided to focus my energies on my FB and Pinterest pages. I will still publish here periodically, but I find that the Blogger platform is so not user friendly and without my WLW [its all about MAC now don't you know!] it is simply easier for me to post to my FB or Pinterest pages. You will find a link to both of them in the right sidebar. Thanks! **