Old-fashioned perennials play a big role in all of Brenda's flower beds, but she's unfettered by challenging conditions in other parts of the garden, so she has more leeway over both plant selection and colour scheme. In the flower bed that skirts the front veranda and the garden that surrounds the backyard pond, masses of perennial geraniums, phlox, pinks and speedwell bloom in pastel shades. "I prefer pinks and blues to reds and oranges," she confesses. There are also hundreds of roses in every shade of pink, as well as peonies and several varieties of her favourite plant, the blue-flowered catmint (Nepeta spp.) "If you have a bigger garden, you have to plant in large drifts; otherwise, everything just gets lost," Brenda explains.
With such a large garden to tend, she believes in spending a lot of time getting it into shape early in the season. For an entire week in the spring, she digs out weeds, edges the borders and adds mushroom compost to further enrich the loamy soil. This early blitz makes summer maintenance more manageable. For the remainder of the season, tasks are reduced to plucking out stray hollyhock seedlings, pulling up a few weeds, tearing out any errant grass and a bit of deadheading. This gives Brenda plenty of free time to join her friends on local garden tours, work part-time at a nearby greenhouse and relax with her children, Gillian and Ben, and their dogs, Willy and Liam.
Size: 1 acre
Orientation: front faces south, back faces north
Conditions: windy and dry, sunny most of the day; opens onto fields
Growing season: April to early October
Garden focus: season-long interest
Taming garden pests
When dealing with pests and diseases in the garden, Brenda Adams chooses not to use synthetic pesticides. Instead, she blitzes aphids with soapy water and cheerfully squishes slugs; she just lives with blackspot on roses-or, at the very most, she might try an application of dormant oil and lime sulfur in early spring. Brenda prefers tough plants that don't need a lot of fuss to keep them healthy. "If you start growing things that need to be sprayed, it's never-ending."