Today we’re off to Canada, visiting with Bas Suharto. We’ve seen Bas’s home garden before, but today’s garden is one that Bas created for a friend.
At the end of summer, I visited the garden I designed and built for a colleague in Orleans, Ontario. I designed it in 2019 after seeing her front yard as just a lawn, and one that was not easy to maintain. I proposed a garden idea that was a bit like a “Japanese-style garden” with gravel.
The before picture shows just a basic, boring front yard, with lots of labor required to keep it mowed.
Bas created this drawing to show the planned transformation.
Here’s a new planting starting to take shape.
For gravel, Bas used 3/8-inch river-wash stones. Bas finds that it is easy to remove fallen leaves from small gravel.
In the final garden, creeping thyme (Thymus praecox, Zones 5–8) makes a beautiful and functional ground cover. The dense foliage keeps out weeds, and the flower display is wonderful.
The Japanese stone lantern makes an eye-catching centerpiece.
Even out of bloom, the creeping thyme is a pretty ground cover that sets off the other plants.
Cleome (Cleome hassleriana, annual) is a vigorous, tall annual that is easily grown from seed and makes quite the statement in this garden.
Red wax begonias (Begonia semperflorens, annual) bring color all summer, while the tall feather reed grass (Calamgrostis ‘Karl Foerster’, Zones 5–7) has a height that helps define the space and screen out neighbor views.
My colleague uses colluses of the leaves of the perilla plant (Perilla frutescens, annual), called shiso in Japanese, to make Japanese shiso juice. The foliage is also quite beautiful!
Get our latest tips, how-to articles, and instructional videos sent to your inbox.