My name is Kat, and I’ve been gardening for two years in a small town in Ontario, Canada. Our village is in a rural area, and I’m very lucky to have a backyard with farmland soil that has the consistency of chocolate cake—digging is actually fun. I’ve been expanding existing beds and making new ones, with a goal of choosing plants that will survive periods of summer drought with minimal water and attract wildlife and pollinators to our yard. Whenever I can, I incorporate purple and blue blooms—our daughters’ favorite colors.
We live in an area of town where none of the yards are fenced in. We back on to our neighbor’s slope, which is lined with mature evergreens and walnut trees, and our perennial garden is a skip and a jump from our other neighbor’s abundant raised vegetable beds and wildflower patches. Children, cats, bees, and butterflies drift freely through our connected spaces.
I turned 40 this year, and my family gave me garden-related presents, including a velociraptor done in metalwork and a garden arch. These lush hostas are a perfect cover for my dinosaur to stake out the birdbath for unsuspecting robins. This cracks me up every time I look at it.
I spent the winter planning my planting, and I couldn’t read enough about the work of Piet Oudolf, Nigel Dunnett, and Jinny Blom. This image is an ode to their design style.
Another planting inspired by these important designers.
And one more.
This ‘Royal Wedding’ poppy (Papaver orientalis ‘Royal Wedding’, Zones 3–7) really doesn’t belong at the very front of the garden bed, and it only survived for a day, but I knew my youngest would love it for being so huge and so very purple. At least I got a photo before the petals floated away in the warm summer breeze.
Our local conservation authority offered wildflower kits for pre-order, with an assortment of native plants that would require no watering after their first year. This photo shows the black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), hoary vervain (Verbena stricta, Zones 4–7), and one bloom of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa, Zones 3–9) at the front. From these kits I am also growing wild chives, wild bergamot, columbine, lupines, Liatris spicata, and bee balm, and I have added my own plantings of false indigo in the same beds (not local to our region as far as I know but not too far away, and the taproots make them entirely self-sufficient even when we haven’t seen rain in weeks). These beds are still filling in, but the plants are doing well and always have airborne visitors.
My garden is just beginning, and I am already mapping out a new section for next year. I really enjoy getting up early before everyone else and heading outside with a cup of coffee to spend time in the garden. I might weed, I might read, or I might just sit and look at it and feel grateful for what’s growing.
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Love that velociraptor! Love all you grow but especially that poppy which I cannot here in the Deep South of the US.
Thank you! Can you grow other poppies there?
What a wonderful garden you have assembled, I just love it, you are lucky to be in the country with connected lots, must be beautiful. Congratulations on a job well done from a fellow Ontario resident, I live in Leslieville. Where is your town?
Thank you! We are in Northumberland County - beautiful country out here.
Gee you have accomplished a ton of beauty in your garden in just two years! Love that description of your soil as chocolate cake, sure withI could say the same! Your village sounds so idyllic with kids, cats and butterflies roaming freely! Such beautiful world you have created with your garden!
Your energy, attitude and enthusiasm for all things gardening is a beautiful thing, Kat. It's fun to read your lively commentary as well as enjoy your delightful photos. I love how you've tucked the whimsical velociraptor ( keeping a hopeful eye on the birdbath for its next meal) in amongst the robust leaves of the hosta...no wonder it gives you a pleased smile. You have an already great garden that you obviously have plans to make bigger and better in the years to come. Keep those pictures coming!
Thanks! I have gone a little photo crazy, to be honest!
Kat, I love your style of gardening and your whimsy with ornamentation. All of your plants appear to be doing quite well. I love your focus on natives, and wonder which of the grasses is the one in two clumps behind Dino? Has it stayed as lovely and upright through the summer? Is is the same as the one behind your butterfly weed? Love your baptisia - am so happy more people are growing them. Can't wait to see what you do next year.
Hi! The grasses behind the dinosaur are Karl Foerster - they are huge now, upright and not fussy at all. By the butterfly weed I have Korean feather reed grass - not as tall as Karl Foerster but it stays green and has a nice shape. I love baptisia - that one was planted last year (Vanilla Cream) and I added more of it plus pink lemonade and American goldfinch in other spots this year.
Oh my - between the velociraptor and that amazing poppy, I am jumping with joy! Your garden is a pleasure to look at - thank you for sharing it with us. I am, however, consumed with envy regarding your "chocolate cake" soil as mine here in North Carolina is heavy red clay and I have to dig out and use garden soil to get anything going. : )
That sounds like such hard work! You are in good company with those British gardeners I love reading about.
And just like that ! - An new gardener is born... Beautiful & welcome to our world of never ending obsessive art making with weather & flora partnering !
Kat, your garden is delightful and I suspect that your daughters will become gardeners, lured by purple and lavender flowers. The wood carving caught my eye because my brother-in-law BK in Toronto has made similar carvings, one of which also lives in our garden.
Interesting about the carving - I got it locally but the store owners are Toronto connected still. I will ask them to remind me who did it!
Thanks-it would be interesting if it turns out to be my bro-in-law’s carving
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