Gardens - Featured Gardens

Beauty unearthed in an Eastern Ontario garden

Veronica Sliva
Photography by
Roger Yip

A gardener carves out her dream oasis from an overgrown country lot

Watering challenges
Another one of Tara’s ongoing challenges is watering her expansive property. “The gardens are too spread out to water everything, but I do try to water any plants not firmly established and my most precious ones—such as the azaleas and Japanese maples—and large containers and window boxes during severe droughts.”

For many gardeners, a large property is the stuff of dreams. Tara concedes her dream is realized now that her garden is well established. She muses, “Often I’ll sit with my feet up, reading a good book, and sometimes, when I look up, it takes my breath away. And I think, Mission accomplished.” But Tara cautions, “A very real problem with such a large property is that you never run out of room to plant. I keep telling myself enough is enough, but when you’re talking about gardens, can you ever have enough plants?”

Tara's tips

  • “The miniature hostas must be placed carefully in a big garden like mine or they get lost in the crowd,” says Tara MacKenzie. She plants in groups of three, then frames the plants with a bed of stones so they’re easily seen. She avoids planting minis close to larger types, which will overwhelm them as the season progresses.
  • When scattering seeds, Tara presses them fully into the soil to ensure successful germination.
  • To deter deer from her much-loved hosta collection, Tara grates Irish Spring soap and distributes it throughout the garden. “This usually keeps them away,” she says.
  • To water deep-rooted plants, Tara buries two-litre plastic pop bottles with pinholes around their base. “That way,” she says, “I can fill the bottles and know that the water will get down to thirsty roots. It works.”



top photo: A purple martin house is one of Tara’s many do-it-yourself projects; inset photo: The path leading to the woodland garden is surrounded by azaleas, pagoda dogwood, columbine, violets, Solomon’s seal and ferns.


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