Trees with gold, purple and silver foliage, such as golden black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia'), European beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Purple Fountain') and weeping, willow-leaved pear (Pyrus salicifolia 'Pendula'), add height and drama. Around them, the exotic broad leaves of cannas, bear's breeches (Acanthus mollis), sticky Jerusalem sage (Phlomis russeliana), honey bush (Melianthus major) and Chinese rhubarb (Rheum palmatum 'Atrosanguineum') contrast with the feathery foliage of bronze fennel and sword-like, striped New Zealand flaxes, as well as irises, libertias and various grasses.
"Biennials self-sow, popping up in different spots each year. Exotics mix freely with commoners, for even sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis), gathered as seed from an Alberta farm ditch, looks lovely and airy among its fellows."
Founded in 1979, the not-for-profit HCP suffered some initial setbacks—funding hiccups and the occasional vagaries of nature—but has always been buoyed by the enthusiasm and determination of its members and volunteers. Bob Clarke, curator of the Takata Japanese Garden, tells me the $50,000 his garden needed in seed money was raised through bingo nights. He is currently raising money to add a 12-by-18-metre Zen Garden.
Among the first gardens established at the HCP was the Doris Page Winter Garden, created in 1985 to honour a well-known horticulturist, television host and HCP volunteer, and a tireless champion of the beauty and usefulness of winter foliage and flowers in woodland settings. The garden is now lovingly maintained by Patty Brown, a former HCP student. Visit soon and you'll see more than 500 examples of plant material suitable for a Zone 8 winter garden, including hellebores, winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) and trout lily (Erythronium spp.).