Greetings! My name is Jan Le Clair, and I live in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. I have been gardening for about 15 years at our current house, an 1866 historic Victorian row house, fully attached with a former carriage-through on one side. When I was growing up, my family home had a large, sprawling, suburban-style lawn that was always in need of cutting. I swore that as an adult I would have little or no lawn. That has come true. We garden both the front and back of our home. The front is well drained with full sun until about 2 pm, and I operate on a classic purple-yellow-white color scheme shot through with a splash of orange later in summer. Our backyard is all shade, and we call it our “sanctuary” in the city.
I am a lover of iris, which does so well in the front yard. The garden sports several different kinds of irises, and I love how they really herald the spring. This is an old-fashioned variety of bearded iris.
Elegant Siberian iris (Iris siberica, Zones 3–9)
Wider view of the Siberian iris. The individual blooms are small, but they are produced in such profusion that big clumps like this can be breathtaking.
More bearded irises in yellow and purple.
I purchased this single petal peony plant called ‘White Crinkle’ on a whim when it was on sale a few years ago. It was past its prime at a box store nursery; however, it has gone on to become an absolute show-stopper in the front garden. I receive constant comments when it has over 50 blooms and a gorgeous, puffy, cloudlike petal formation.
‘White Crinkle’ is like sunshine peeking through clouds on a summer day, and just looking at these blooms brings me great joy.
After entering the carriage-through to the small backyard oasis area, one can peek over the bright blue antique piece of garden gate we installed to see mostly foliage shrubs and plants. The garden is fully shaded, thanks to a mature Norway maple (Acer platanoides, Zones 3–7) planted by a previous owner decades ago. We replaced the back garden retaining wall a number of years ago with beautiful Welland, Ontario, limestone we sourced and reclaimed from some former steps near the local university campus, which is not far from our house. Welland limestone is darker and hardier than Kingston limestone, which shales and breaks more readily.
This shade planter always occupies the limestone wall in the backyard.
A ‘Miss Bateman’ clematis (Clematis ‘Miss Bateman’, Zones 5–9) clings to an arbor, giving us a feeling of two “rooms” in this small garden. The clematis is a bit fussy in this shade garden, so it gets a bit babied and coaxed in order to bloom, but bloom it does every spring. We like to host musical house concerts here in summer, which our kind neighbors support. When the torches are lit and the fireflies come out in the late dusk, it is a magical place to host and to hear terrific live music.
Have a garden you’d like to share?
Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!
To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.
If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.
You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!
Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.
Get our latest tips, how-to articles, and instructional videos sent to your inbox.