Gardens - Featured Gardens

The lure of the East

By
Gerald Filipski
Photography by
Marilynn Mcara

A plain-jane Alberta backyard is transformed into a sanctuary with hints of the Far East

If water is the star, there are certainly many supporting characters, such as the carefully placed perennial and shrub beds. “I prefer the textures and shapes of plants and foliage as opposed to a garden just full of flowers,” says Bill. While there are certainly spots of colourful blooms, the majority of interest comes from the variety of textures. Oat grass and Bowles’ golden sedge (Carex elata ‘Aurea’) live happily at the foot of a sculptural Scots pine. The smooth-leafed bergenia is a nice foil to the spiky grasses and sharp-needled pines.

The understorey of the large horse chestnut, mayday tree (Prunus padus var. commutata), apple and bur oak is home to shade-loving plants such as Endless Summer hydrangea, ‘The Rocket’ and ‘Othello’ ligularias, ‘Blue Boy’ hosta and ‘Blue and Gold’ spiderwort. Throughout the garden, more touches of the Far East are reflected in the bamboo fence and bench, the pagodas, the containers and even the small greenhouse.

Bill’s garden is his showplace. He and Lorraine host countless family barbecues, social events and garden tours that support numerous charities. “I built the garden so that it might inspire everyone who sees it,” says Bill. “That’s why we like to have so many people come through it.”

Bill's tips for success:

  • Stay organized and do your homework. Bill keeps a huge binder with tags from every plant in the garden. He knows exactly what’s in each bed. He also takes two briefcases full of gardening books on his business trips and studies them.
  • Soften hard lines. Add interest to hardscaping such as fences by incorporating a trellis to break up a long expanse of wood.
  • Overwinter tender plants indoors. Bill has converted three upstairs bedrooms into a winter nursery, complete with fans and grow lights.


Take a tour of the Holowaty's eastern-inspired garden!

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