Last week Graham and I had the pleasure of taking a drive to Stratford, Ontario, where we celebrated the fortieth birthday of a high school friend of Graham’s. We were a little bit early for the surprise party, so we took a brief walk up the street from the party’s location to have a look at the homes in the area. Looking at houses and gardens is a sort of hobby for Graham and I. Before we had our son Nate, we used to spend Sunday afternoons driving around neighbourhoods and critiquing the homes we saw. Of course, I paid particular attention to what was growing in front of the homes that we saw. As usual, then, in Stratford I was anxious to have a look at all the gardens we could.
The first thing I noticed was that many of the plants were a little bit ahead of those growing back in Bowmanville. The forget-me-nots were already in bloom in Stratford, and so were the magnolia trees.
Of particular interest to me was a pair of houses just a few doors down from the White House, where the party was taking place.
The front lawn of one small, charming home had been converted to a wild perennial garden filled with flowering spring bulbs, small trees, shrubs and featuring a small grass path which wound through it all. The fresh newness of the perennials was overwhelmingly lovely. Nothing separated the grass from the flower beds. Graham commented that there would be a lot of weeding required for that garden, but the plants were planted intensely enough that I don’t think weeding would be a huge issue for the resident gardener there.
Next door stood a much more formal dwelling, its double chimneys pointing to the sky. The plantings around the driveway consisted of a formal row of pale pink tulips and some boxwoods. Two empty urns stood by the front door. Maintenance at this garden would be minimal, the tight plantings requiring little more than some water and basic pruning.
The contrast between these two gardens was striking.
Which one do you like best?