Tour a Collector’s Garden Filled With Artful Plant Combinations

Winding paths lead you through a series of gorgeous garden rooms

Chen Choo is a retired nuclear engineer with an artist’s eye and a passion for collecting plants. His garden in southern Ontario is filled with a fascinating mix of cold-hardy perennials, trees, shrubs, and vines, arranged in painterly, interconnected compositions. 

Pathways link garden rooms together and guide visitors through the space. This video will help you imagine what it would be like to explore the garden in person, as I was privileged to do while shooting photos for the February 2019 issue of Fine Gardening. 

A plant collector’s garden runs the risk of becoming too regimented or overcrowded, but this is where Chen’s artistic sensibilities save the day. He has organized the space around several “sanctuaries,” which he describes as small, informal garden rooms with invisible and overlapping boundaries. As he acquires new plants, he continuously adjusts and edits beds to showcase prized specimens and to give every plant the space and conditions it needs to thrive and look its best.  

At the heart of the garden is a beautiful water garden and gazebo. Chen designed the water feature to evoke the impression of a tropical mountain stream in his birthplace, Borneo. Surrounding the water feature are gardens organized around intriguing color themes: the “Burning River” is aflame with reds, oranges and golds, the “Icy River” sparkles with frosty whites and cool blues, and the “Almost White” garden combines white flowers and foliage with colors that make white look better. 


Learn more about this garden:

You can read an abbreviated preview of the original article here.

Click here to read the full article, to open the February 2019 issue.

To learn the names of some of the plants shown in the video and article,click here

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  1. perenniallycrazy 07/10/2022

    Beautiful! Hope these virtual garden tours stay as a regular feature of Fine Gardening. Thank you.

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