Garden Photo of the Day

Lorraine’s from-scratch garden in Ontario

'Barbara Mitchell' daylily, Echinacea 'Razzmatazz' with Hydrangea 'Pinky Winky' and Delphinium elatum 'Pagan Purples'. (We grow all our delphiniums from seed) Photo: Courtesy of Lorraine Roberts

Today’s photos are from Lorraine Roberts. Lorraine says, “When we moved to this 24-acre property located in Caledon, Ontario, (Zone 5) in 1999, there were no gardens – just trees, grass, and a house. So to create and establish the gardens, I would grow thousands of perennials every year from seed.

Heliopsis ‘Loraine Sunshine’ with ‘Olina’ Asiatic lily, Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’ and in the background Veronicastrum and Miscanthus variegatus. Photo: Courtesy of Lorraine Roberts

“This passion soon became full time employment for my husband and myself when we opened up an organic perennial nursery/destination garden centre that features extensive botanical gardens – Plant Paradise Country Gardens. (”

This is a very large Delphinium elatum border. In the front are Silene armeria (annual) blooming, and Anemone ‘Pamina’ for fall blooms. In the back are Persicaria polymorpha and Miscanthus giganteus. Photo: Courtesy of Lorraine Roberts

Well, Lorraine, your nursery must be a success, because I know that if I visited this garden, I’d want to buy one of each plant I saw, in an effort to create something even close to this. Well done!

I love how the colour of the Allium sphaerocephalon (drumstick allium) is echoed in the foliage of Panicum ‘Prairie Fire’. Photo: Courtesy of Lorraine Roberts
Left to right: Pennisetum ‘Red Head’, Panicum ‘Prairie Fire’, Miscanthus ‘Malepartus’, Bottom row: Tradescantia ‘Lucky Charm’, Sedum ‘Angelina’, Dianthus ‘Heart Attack’, Sedum ‘Class Act’. Photo: Courtesy of Lorraine Roberts
What to do with the empty space under a new deck? We planted hostas, jack-in-the-pulpits… in juxtaposition with 5 different varieties of hardy sun-loving opuntias (prickly pear cactii). Piles of snow help to winter them over. Along with sedums, Geum ‘Prairie Smoke’, euphorbia…. Photo: Courtesy of Lorraine Roberts
Variegated brunnera with Dicentra ‘Burning Hearts’, lady’s mantle, Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Astilbe ‘Purple Candles’. Photo: Courtesy of Lorraine Roberts
This is a three year old garden which includes Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, Brunnera ‘Kings Ransom’, Actaea ‘Hillside Black Beauty’, Hosta ‘Stained Glass’, Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’, and more. Photo: Courtesy of Lorraine Roberts
Astilbe ‘Colour Flash’, ‘Burgundy Lace’ painted fern, Hosta ‘Inniswood’, Actaea ‘Brunette’, Heuchera ‘Caramel’. Photo: Courtesy of Lorraine Roberts

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  1. Tea_garden_lover 10/12/2012

    Another example of the ability to balance colors asymmetrical design in a garden as well as frame excellent photographs. Thanks and glad you found your calling.

  2. user-258617 10/12/2012

    Hey Lorraine-great garden! I'll be up to visit your nursery in the spring for sure. We have had little success overwintering delphiniums in our Toronto garden despite repeated attempts. Do you think it's because you have better snow cover in Caledon. Any tips?

  3. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 10/12/2012

    Wow! Beautiful garden and beautiful photos. Inspiring.

  4. GrnThum 10/12/2012

    Absolutely gorgeous! What an incredibly beautiful blending of color and texture. It's delicious!! And thanks for the individual tags. I've got to get some of those Razzmatazz echinaceass.

  5. enchantedgardens 10/12/2012

    Your plant combinations are amazing! I wish you great success with the nursery, and will definitely visit if I am ever in Ontario!

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/12/2012

    Whew, talk about someone who walks the walk in what became her chosen profession and passion...Lorraine, your gardens are stunning and I would be so inspired if I came to your nursery as a customer. The photos you shared with us here and on your website are beautiful.
    Could you please pop back on here and tell us about your seed starting techniques with perennials in your early days before you became a business. I would imagine now that you have a greenhouse facility but how did you handle things when you first started?

  7. kayecat 10/12/2012

    I am "favoriteing" it for future use. Beautiful!

  8. PamWittenberg 10/12/2012

    Wow. That's all I can!

  9. Plant_Paradise 10/12/2012

    Hi meander1, Thank you for your comments and your question regarding seed starting in my early days of growing. I would use seed starting trays with premium quality seed starting mix. I would start them indoors the first week of March. As the weather got warmer and as they started show some leaf, I would put them outside for the day and then bring them back inside at night. Eventually my husband made cold frames and I would leave them outside at the beginning of May. At the end of May I would plant them in the ground or re-pot them into larger containers. Even though this method was quite labor intensive, I had great success.

  10. Plant_Paradise 10/12/2012

    Hi user-258617, Thanks for your comments. Regarding your Delphinium question: which variety of Delphinium are you growing? The hardy delphiniums we grow are Delphinium elatum (New Millennium variety) which are hardy to Zone 3. Even with little snow coverage they still return reliably every year. There are other varieties of delphiniums that are short lived: such as Delphinium Pacific Giant, Delphinium grandiflora...
    Tips: No mulch, amend soil with compost yearly, cut and remove finished blooms to promote new growth and fall blooms.
    For more information on growing delphiniums visit:

  11. tractor1 10/12/2012

    Allow me to be first to commend Lorraine for starting a wonderful small business that she and I'm sure her husband built themselves. I really like the under deck garden, a good use of space that most use for storing junk... at first glance I thought what deck... but then realized it was way up atop those posts. My only question is are there no deer on those 24 acres in what appears to be mostly conifer woods? I know I could never grow those perennials here unless well fenced... the deer even keep my trees pruned to the perfect height... there's a newly planted sugar maple.

  12. GardenerGM 10/12/2012

    Beautiful flowers and photography! Thank you for sharing these. I am inspired!

  13. Wife_Mother_Gardener 10/12/2012

    Beautiful combinations! Thanks for sharing, Lorraine.

  14. Plant_Paradise 10/12/2012

    Hi tractor1, thank you for your comments. My husband and I did build our perennial nursery and gardens ourselves. On our 24 acre property we do have herds of deer that travel through it year round. To protect the extensive display gardens that are filled with evergreens, trees and perennials we lightly spray the plants with "Plantskydd" in the spring and again when there is any new growth or bloom buds. Usually only twice in one season is necessary. We are even able to grow thousands of tulips. We would not have any flowers if it was not for "Plantskydd". Whenever we plant new trees we also use this product to protect them from deer.

  15. wGardens 10/12/2012

    Just lovely! Looks like you've turned your piece of the earth into a paradise! (And I put that "Colour Flash" Astilbe on my "Must Have" list!) Thanks for sharing!

  16. tractor1 10/12/2012

    Plant_Paradise: I've tried several deer repellent sprays but they are not nearly 100% effective, some don't seem to work at all. So I use fencing, I've discovered that fencing is the only thing that works 100%. And that "Plantskydd is pricey, so I suppose if one writes it off on a business then the cost is not so bad. The thing is since I know there are no guarantees with those repellants I'm not willing to gamble and lose any of my specimen plants, on years with bad winters the deer will eat everything they can get to. Your plants are much less of an investment and are more easily replaceable as you have many of the same, my favorites are one of a kind and have been growing a long time so I'm not going to take the risk. And the plant nurserys around here also use deer fencing enclosing their acreage, whether they have 20 acres or 120 acres, repellent sprays are too costly, too laborious, and too much of a gamble. And no one wants to go around spraying in winter with many feet of snow on the ground and trhat is when deer are mor elikely to be famished and will dig down to get every bit of plant they can find I've found fencing is not very expensive, lasts 30-40 years, and once it's in place requires no labor. Anyway I like your array of plants, and I wish you the best for your business.
    Btw, that lump under my sugar maple is a doe, the software clipped out part. And I noticed that changes were made to this site, but still it won't remember my log on.

  17. pattyspencer 10/13/2012

    You have an absolutely gorgeous garden! Thank you too for the names of the plants - always helpful Every picture looks like it could have come from a magazine - they are stunning!!

    Dang it!! 3rd time I've had to log in this week!!!!! Grrrr
    But that you - thank you for getting rid of that bar at the bottom!!!!

  18. cwheat000 10/13/2012

    Love it, love it , love it! A dream garden with 24 acres. I love the abundance of flowers and varieties. I have always liked Heliopsis 'loraine sunshine', but wasn't sure how to combine . You did an amazing job , the harsh reds and yellows in that combo are softened by the cream variegation in the foliage and the Veronicastrum. I have also wanted to try Persicaria polymorpha but wasn't sure what to do with it. Thank you for some fabulous ideas. I hope you have continued success with the wonderful business you have created.

  19. michgardner 10/15/2012

    Beautiful gardens - but this was Friday Oct 12th posting. Is something up with your site or is it on my end?

  20. greenthumblonde 10/15/2012

    Is it possible to have 24 acres of just delphiniums? What a dream. At least I think so. Do you have help with weeding, maintenance, etc. on such a large property? How much is natural and how much is maintained? I just got about 1/2 way through fall clean up on my quarter acre and my back was just curious.

  21. sheila_schultz 10/15/2012

    Lucky you! Your combinations are nothing less than amazing... and like wGardens, Astilbe 'Colour Flash' is now on my radar.

  22. Plant_Paradise 10/15/2012

    Thank you to everyone for all the many wonderful comments! In response to greenthumblonde's questions: My husband and I manage the whole 24 property ourselves. We do what we can, when we can. I am the head weeder and I maintain the perennial gardens. Even though the property has a large area that contains acres of trees (spruce, pine and hardwood forests) we still maintain these areas with walking trails, tree maintenance and gardens... Our property has an acre pond that we have kept very natural with the exception of adding many water lilies.

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