Gnome News

ramblings of a plant lover

“Wits End” with Beauty

A friend invited me to visit their home in the quaint southwestern Ontario town of Fergus to discuss a design and landscape project. I had been through Fergus before, but never long enough to tour about and fully appreciate what a remarkable town it really is. Resting on the bank of the Grand River is part of the original founding family’s John Black Estate and the former 1879 limestone “carriage house”, which is now their charming abode and property called “Wits End”.


Mr. Chris Houston walks me through his lovely Carriage House property on the banks of the Grand River in the Canadian Scottish settlement of Fergus.

Tidying Up The Stumps

Dan’s the Man

Of course when it comes to gardens the British often lead the show. I recently came across the work of Dan Pearson, British Landscape Architect & Garden Designer. Dan and his studio are doing some remarkable garden design work that I find most inspirational.


Monty Don in Italy

Over the holidays there was much binge watching and one of the series I most enjoyed was the ever knowledgeable Monty Don taking me touring through some of the most interesting and stunning gardens of Italy.

Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 9.32.51 AM

To Plant or Prune, and When…Hmm?

When working on a recent “very late” fall garden project for a client I was reminded how important selecting the right plants is to ensure greater odds of the new plantings surviving the winter months and taking root in the spring. My client was very keen on planting Columnar Dawyck Purple Beech trees. Our nursery supplier strongly discouraged this because it was so late in the season and we had already had snow. While Beech trees are best pruned in late winter when the plant is dormant and internal fluids are not actively moving through the tree, planting past frost is not advised. The same was true of my client’s second choice Columnar English Oaks. So, we opted for Chinese Dogwood, Japanese Red Maples and White Birch which are more forgiving for a late season planting.


New Year’s Day

You don’t always have to travel a great distance to enjoy completely different surroundings; the beauty of nature, a garden or amazing property.


Friends from Toronto invited us to their magnificent farm they’ve recently purchased in Northumberland County for a New Year’s visit and a wonderful walk through their wooded acreage. The former owners of this 70 acre estate farmed Dogwood, Curly Willow, Hydrangea and other perennials that they harvested and sold to many of the nurseries in the GTA, usually during the holiday season. They also used them to teach basket weaving and create other hand-crafted garden architectural products for sale.