Gnome News

ramblings of a plant lover

The Evolution of the Pergola

It’s been quite a journey for both Fraser (our carpenter) and myself on this Pergola project for our new garden at Forsythe. Quite a difference from my crude thumbnail to the finished structure. We worked through the logistics and tension of expectation, budget and realities. And overall, I’m quite pleased with the outcome. The final coat of stain is on. We just have the feet to finish once the stonework on the terrace is completed. Fence is stained. Big trees in and the retaining wall is underway. Looking forward to the fountain being installed as a centre piece for the Pergola (that’s “center” for my American friends). One more thing to check off the list.


Mr. Fussy, your delivery has arrived!

The big trees have arrived and are lined up along the driveway in queue for planting. The guys doing my stonework asked if we could get the big trees here sooner than later so they can put them in position before building the retaining wall. First shipment arrived today. Let the planting begin!


Forsythe Begins

It’s been hard-going, but the transformation is well underway – stay tuned!

Perfect Peonies

A friend of ours just clipped some flowers from her garden to share with us. I can’t believe how remarkable Peonies are – surreal!

I have to find a spot in the new garden to plant some, so I can pay it forward.


The Wild Wild West

As many of you know, we moved to Oakville’s West Harbour last June and well, you haven’t heard from me in awhile because we’ve been up to our eyeballs in dust and dirt. The wild wild west right now.


View of the addition from the back northwest corner of the property.

Forsythe is on the grand wrap-up and right now it’s all about getting the garden mapped out and in before the end of summer. The charm that drew us to this property is starting to prove itself, but there’s still lots to do. We’ve made a few trips to the nursery, reworked the plans that Christopher designed for us last year and now it’s all about a myriad of details. We’re definitely looking forward to seeing the details come together.

Here are the latest shots from the project and some video too! I’ll keep you posted as things unfold this summer.

Park Güell, Barcelona

Mr. Disney is going to be owing some serious royalties on the other side for “borrowing” such obvious inspiration from Gaudí.

Park Güell was named after its original owner Eusebi Güell, who commissioned Gaudí to design this wealthy estate property on Muntanya Pelada (bare mountain) in 1900. This highlight experience from a recent trip to Barcelona was a crescendo of innovative architecture and gardens all wrapped up the way it should be. Considering the context of time, and surprisingly fantastical, Park Grüell is the height of whimsy, creativity and wonder. From the building stock, to sculpture, to hardscaped paths and bridges set in the heart of a beautifully-designed garden park, perched high above the city, this is one special place.

The plan was to build some sixty houses on the development, along with common services for the residents: porter’s lodge, visitor reception, a large square, market, a chapel and a surveillance service. Nature was to play a prominent role, and the conditions established for building stipulated that each house could only occupy one-sixth of its plot; the garden would occupy the rest. Park Güell was a failure as a real estate venture, and only two of the sixty houses planned were actually built. Work stopped in 1914 and the residential area was never completed.

UNESCO declared it a Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 1984. If you have the good fortune to turn up in the architecturally astounding city of Barcelona, Park Grüell is a must see. Here are a few memory snaps from my afternoon visit – enjoy.


The Porter’s Lodge at the gates of Park Güell.

The Armchair Book of Gardens – A Miscellany

It’s a pleasure to recommend this wonderful coffee table book for my garden friends from Jane Billinghurst and Greystone Books D&M Publishers Inc. As the title declares, it’s a wonderful ‘miscellany’ of prose, stories and images exploring the sensual, spiritual, aesthetic, social, and even political nature of gardens. This collection from various points in human history features a wide variety of writers and beautiful illustrations. Delightful to the eye and inspirational to the mind. You can’t go wrong.