Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! John’s garden in Ontario

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Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root

Today’s photos are from John Root in Rockwood, Ontario. John says, “As a youth, I got my first lessons in gardening working in my father’s gardens in Stratford, Ontario. Folks sometimes confused our garden area for a public park. There surely was a lot of work to keep it up. Now I am a retired teacher after more than 30 years of successful teaching. For the past 37+ years I have lived in Rockwood, Ontario.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root

“I have been at this freehold townhome residence in zone 5 for the past 11 years. We built the house situated above the river on barren and very sloped land. We love it here, with a protected mixed wood stand between us and the river, although I can usually see the river between the trees. There are trillium and natural orchids growing in this bush, as well as trails that wind for miles along the river. Beautiful.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root

“My biggest challenge has been the creation of new gardens…poor soil, great light, hilly landscape, treed area behind the house, rabbits, deer, and raccoons galore. In the last few years I moved about a ton of rock to form the bones of the garden. Then we moved a good number of peony plants and interesting garden structures to compliment the landscape. We get the east, south and west light.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root

“There are some restrictions for the front of the house, but I’m willing to try to bend the rules a little. I have brugmansias out front, and along the side & back of the house. The beds at the back are varied. Some are tropical, others are like an English border garden disappearing into the woods below. There is so much stuff there, there is hardly any room for weeds, and that suites me just fine….less work to do.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root

“A few years ago, I moved my fish pond into a raised bed structure with the pond and fountain in the middle into which I put water lilies. The gurgling water makes a relaxing sound for us when we are outside. We get a great view of it when we sit in front of the outdoor fireplace with the dahlia hedge on each side of the fireplace.”

Wow, John, what a garden! Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root

****The gardening season is CRANKING!! Send me some pics of what’s going on in your gardens, folks!****

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of John Root

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View Comments


  1. tractor1 05/07/2012

    Wow, there's so much it's dizzying, leaves me reeling... I can't decide whether it's a small property jammed full or a large property that requires several in attendance. Where's that river, I'm hoping for a relaxing spot. Everything so busy, busy, busy! If ever there was a sow's ear turned into a silk purse this is it.

  2. trashywoman62 05/07/2012

    Whew, I am exhausted trying to see plethora of plants in each photo!! John you have such an eye like putting the white candelabra with the chair and table!! And I see the table is made from an old treadle sewing machine!!

    I can FEEL your restraint in the front yard!! It must be a challenge to keep it in within the "normal" guidelines!! Your brug is fabulous!! What zone are you? Do you did up the whole plant in the winter or just take cuttings? I have a couple and would like to have one do that for me but I am zone 5...ooops now they say we are zone 6.

    Can you tell us the name of the airy blue ground cover in photo 2?

    Thanks for the photos.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 05/07/2012

    Goodness, if you put the same kind of effort into your teaching as these pictures show you have in your gardening,then there have been 30+ years of my fortunate young people! I am sure that is the case.
    Your dahlia hedge is amazing and I, too, would delight in sitting in front of the fireplace and feasting my eyes on that rainbow of colors.

  4. duckcovegardening 05/07/2012

    John, your gardens are fabulous. I love that you have made areas for formal, as well as informal beds along the riverbank. And, the blue bruneria lining the garden path is amazing!! Why didn't I think of that? The raised fountain is an inspiration, as I will soon be creating gardens on a barren, ravine in upstate NY. I think I can replicate your idea, and it must be easier to tend because you could sit on the retaining wall. The dahlia beds bordering the fireplace is also a very good idea - I grow and dig them every year but I have them every where and have to dig in multiple place - your's is a better idea! Thanks for sharing your magnificent gardens.

  5. plantlady57 05/07/2012

    WOW, love your gardens. Also love the birdhouses. Did you make them? Great to see an Ontario garden. Not quite our zone as we live close to Ottawa. Thanks for sharing.

  6. snollygaster 05/07/2012

    You have really achieved a sense of place, of mystery and of character. To me that is a garden. Congrats!

  7. sheilaschultz 05/07/2012

    You may have retired from teaching, John, but you certainly haven't retired!!!Just lovely...

  8. plant_lady_55 05/07/2012


  9. dukeofargy 05/07/2012

    Thanks for the kind compliments. They are much appreciated.

    Plantlady57, you asked about the bird houses. Yes I did built them with some scrap lumber. I have several unique ones,- castle, old school house, ukranian church, cathedral, pagoda to mention a few.

    Trashywoman62, The blue flowers are actually foreget-me-nots. I let them go to seed, and then scatter them where I want them to go. They make a good groundcover choking out most weeds. I do live in zone 5, Southern Ontario. Thus the brugmansia plants ( and I have several ) have to come inside for the winter. I tend to bury the pot when I put them in in late spring for the summer, and then they are easier to get out in the autumn. Cuttings are always taken, just in case the parent plant doesn't make the transition (but they usually do). The cuttings can then be sold once rooted. I actually have one that is over 7 feet inside right now that has grown into the basement lights. It will be a challenge to get her outside tomorrow.

    Tractor1, the river is located just below the cedar bush. When we sit on the back patio, we can see the light twinkling as it reflects from the water at sunset. Currently, I am reworking a sitting area in the bush that will give me a much clearer view of the river.


  10. Garius 05/07/2012

    John, your garden is beautiful! A lot of effort went into getting it that way, I'm sure. You're not too far from me - I live in London, Ontario.

    Your Brugmansia is wonderful. I'm new to brugmansias, having been given a cutting last spring. It grew a little in the summer, then I brought it in for the winter. It liked it better inside, in a cool North-facing window (the only window I could put it in). It lost all of its outside leaves, but grew new inside ones. Then it got spider mites and after I sprayed it with soap, it lost all of those leaves. But it grew new ones. Then another round of spider mites and soap and lost leaves. I just took it outside last weekend, so hopefully I'm done with the spider mites and it can keep its leaves all summer. LOL. I am interested, however, in what you do to overwinter yours and whether you do anything special in the spring to acclimatize them to the outdoors.

  11. MichelleGervais 05/07/2012

    You guys--there's an amazing article on brugmansias (angels' trumpets) by Deanne Fortnam in the latest issue of FG. She grows and overwinters several. She details her methods in the article, and also recommends some of her favorites. Look for it!

  12. dukeofargy 05/07/2012

    Garius, thanks for your interest in this wonderful world of brugmansia. Unfortunately, spider mites can be a problem with these beauties. However, I can honestly say I have not had a problem in the last few years when I follow some basic procedures which I have learned from the experts in the field.

    1) when watering in the summer, I only water in the early morning and then I also spray under the leaves. They don't seem to mind it. This keeps the mites away.

    2) when bring them in for the winter, I dig out the root in the pot, chopping off the exterior roots. If it is in the ground, I dig up the root mass, trim it to size and put it into a pot. I then trim off the large leaves (because they will be falling off anyway because the plant has to adapt to a new light intensity). Then I spray the entire plant with water from the hose and let it dry. Then I spray with insecticide, let it dry, and spray with water again. I also let the insecticide run into the pot to kill any bugs hiding there. When it is dry, it comes into the house for the winter.

    3) Some brugs don't mind going dormant for the winter, but others really object. You have to get to know them. Like some people I know, they have their own unique personality. LOL

    4) In the spring, they need to be acclimatized to the new light intensity with care. They can get sunburned quite easily before they get used to the brighter light. One has be be aware of changing temperatures in the spring. I found that they don't like to be lower than 5 - 10 degrees C. They are quite frost sensitive, and you don't want the stem to be frozen, or they have to come back from the root, and then sometimes don't bloom for several years. I start acclimatizing mine in the shade, and then part shade until after a few weeks they can take more light. They LOVE a nice warm rain though

    5) If trimming, always try to leave a "Y" on the stem, as they bloom above the "Y".

    Best of luck with your beauty. Does it have a name? What colour is yours?

  13. tractor1 05/07/2012

    Duke; your property looks well tended, and I can tell a lot of thought and labor went into its creation. I'm guessing from how close the next house is that the properties are not large but still yours looks like a spacious park. I was amazed that I was first this morning, but I got going early as a big rain storm is forcast for the Catskills and I have ten acres of turf that needed mowing before the ground gets wet... I just now finished racing the rain and the light and I'm exhausted.. but I managed to fix a double screwdriver before logging on. LOL Btw, a pair of Canada geese are brand new parents, see The Five! Sorry for the quality but I had to use tele at about 800 feet... actually I was very lucky to get the few pictures as by sheer accident I spotted them hustling from my pond out into field and then they crossed my creek and then the road, naturally I ran out to stop traffic but fortunately there was none. Those little feet sure can move. Oh well, they probably won't be back till they're grown, goslings are moved often as protection against preditors. Now it can rain, I'm finished mowing and rain doesn't bother geese. Your birdhouses are lovely, now you need feeders. A black bear got my feeder so now I'm back to tossing seed out my window onto the ground... Mr/s bear got all my neighbor's bee hives too. Critters gotta eat.

  14. pattyspencer 05/08/2012

    I echo everything everyone has said!! Just beautiful

  15. pattyspencer 05/08/2012

    Tractor1 - cute cute pic!!

    The other day I was driving to my son's work when I saw a mom goose with her 4 babies walking down the sidewalk. Dad was about 30 feet away watching. It was so darn cute!

  16. Garius 05/08/2012

    Thanks for the info, John - that's very helpful. The forecast is for a low of 5 on Thursday night, so maybe I should bring the plant in that night.

    I don't know the variety - the neighbour that gave me the cutting says it's white. He got his from a friend, and neither of them knew it was a brugmansia - I figured that out from his description of the flowers and other clues, but now I'm sure. It's still pretty small, but I'm hoping for some big growth this summer and maybe some flowers.

  17. lakegardener 05/09/2012

    Absolutely Beautiful...

  18. shuttereye 05/16/2012

    The drama of the sunlight peeking through to the table and chandelier is awesome!

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