13 Oct 2014

Garden of Giving Thanks

This is a post of thanksgiving! It doesn't include your traditional family, nor turkey dinners and pumpkin pie - but rather a very special garden [to me at least!] and the people who helped inspire and bring it to fruition, and who actually assist me in its continuous evolution.

It was my Grandparents, and my Grandmother in specific who introduced me to the wondrous magic of the 'darkling wood' of Sombra Twsp as a child. The genus Arisaema was the very first I learned to identify, and as such, it has remained a life-long fascination for me! Our NA native A.triphyllum happily seeds himself about every year, and there are an ever increasing number of 'cousins' being introduced.

Parents are not supposed to have 'favourites', though secretly I think we all do, given the hour of the day, and our level of stress, and as such I find my heart swelling everytime I come across the faintly blushed faces of A.candidissimum! How do you not totally fall in love!

Once upon a time, eight odd years ago, my current employer at that time pressed into my hands a book that he thought I might be interested in. I cannot help but laugh when I think back, of how he rather wittingly ensured that the 'green' [and I do not mean in the environmentally knowledgable way] acolyte standing before him would find himself ushered toward the 'dark side' within the short span of reading the first six pages of the book pictured above. If you're at all familiar with the name Daniel J Hinkley, you will also undoubtedly know the name Heronswood - a word intimately associated with a magnificent garden, and a sadly now defunct nursery in Washington.

Say no more! That damned photo in the bottom right hand cover of the dust jacket ignited a full on hortgasm inspired obsession for me! 'Sweet baby Jesus, what is that startlingly blue flower, and more importantly, how do I get my hands on one? Of course said plant is none other than one of the pinnacles of accomplishment for obsessed gardeners like myself - hell, we've even designated a scale of 'worthiness' if I am truthful: if a plant is held in high enough esteem, it is often referred to as being part of the elusive 'holy grail' - and if there was ever a plant to deserve such a designation, it is most definitely Meconopsis - specifically those with the sublime blue of the photo above, which, for the record is from my own garden! Please. No applause until the end of the post..... thank you! [LOL]

The next recipient of thanks is the mastermind behind one of Ontario's best woodland garden nurseries, not to mention a display garden that can best be described as 'a magnet for repetitive hortgasms!' I see I might be confusing some of you with the word 'hortgasm' - a brief definition:

'The sudden state of mind and body that may include the following - a sudden tightening of the chest cavity, followed by successive heart palpitations, a sudden sweat, dizziness, shortness of breath all occurring in quick succession after viewing a particular plant or collection of plants in a defined space.'

Welcome to paradise, conveniently located in nearby Acton, Ontario! Larry Davidson is a plantsman with a decidedly shady disposition, and as such, Lost Horizons, his woodland plant nursery is home to a staggering selection of plants that also share his passion for all things woodland: they are indeed the best examples of 'shady characters' bar none! The plantings that make up the display gardens are unlike anything pumped out by the 'landscrapers' of today. Each plant is hand selected, an intimacy between plantsman and chosen plant that reflects knowledge, respect and an awareness towards aesthetics - a key component that too often supersedes those aforementioned. The perfect balance, the harmony if you will shines through in aces when you see the garden first hand!

Lost Horizon, as mentioned, is first and foremost a woodland plant nursery - one that coincidentally is home to an inventory of what can best be described as 'rare and unusual perennials!' Did you not see those exact words somewhere else within this post? Skip back - I will wait for you! With an inventory of some three odd thousand plants - yes, you read that number correctly, and with three quarters of said number made up of hortgasm worthy shady characters, not to mention a generous spattering of said 'Holy Grail' selections - Sweet Baby Jesus! All I am going to say! Well no. I lie! I should add that for close to two garden seasons, LH was where I spent my working days. As shy and elusive as Larry's reputation claims, he practically guided me by the hand, step by step through his display gardens and numerous hoop houses, introducing me to his 'green family!' The aforementioned book? It was the proverbial snare~!

Which brings us full circle: three influential individuals, each an essential part of said circle: My Grandmother; a plantsman/author extraordinaire; a plantsman whose nursery inventory allowed for Teza's Garden to be born. It would be remiss if I did not also mention gardening compatriot Barry Parker, whose generous gift of what remains one my my personal favourites, not to mention a favourite among garden visitors: Polygonatum has never looked so darkly shady as does my beloved 'Betberg.' I am also largely indebted to my current employers at Cedar Spring Nursery in neighboring Elora, both of whom were willing to bring a notoriously shady character into their fold. The creation of the numerous display gardens has been a divine pleasure to be a part of! Here then are a few candid shots of some of my 'family' for you this Thanksgiving Day!

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