Small spaces that delight – The Witterick garden

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The Witterick garden: raised planting beds

At the Witterick place, Price had to find a way to protect the garden from the dog’s curious snout and paws.

The solution: four raised beds, essentially large planter boxes grouped symmetrically around the 7.6×7.6-metre garden. The 60-centimetre-high planters are big enough to hold two elegant magnolia trees as well as evergreens and colourful perennials. The fact that the beds are raised also adds height to the garden, making it feel bigger and allowing for easy tending, which the retired couple appreciates.

Other wooden structures include a pergola attached to the house and custom latticework on the garage that is beautifully detailed, making that utilitarian structure disappear into the background. Finally, Price stained all of the wooden structures so they look fresh, bright and elegant.

For the two Toronto gardens, Price used three main groups of plants: small trees, evergreen shrubs and perennials. To soften boundaries such as fences, she also planted climbers, for example, euonymus, Virginia creeper, climbing hydrangea or clematis. “The trees add a strong vertical element, a shady canopy and fall colour,” she explains.

Choice plants for small gardens

“Evergreen shrubs act as the backbone of the garden year-round and make an excellent backdrop to perennials.” Price chose two or three evergreens and repeated them through the garden. Her favourites include boxwood, euonymus and golden threadleaf false cypress, ‘Mint julep’ juniper, daphne and holly.

For added interest, she chose long-blooming perennials with attractive foliage all season, avoiding plants that need staking or spraying. Pots of annuals provide splashes of colour in summer. Instead of lawn, which is impractical in a small garden, she chose easy-care ground covers such as periwinkle, sweet woodruff and ivy.

Into the night

If you’re out in the garden mostly in the evening, Price recommends planting light-coloured flowers that stand out in low light levels. White, cream or yellow blooms will enhance the garden after dusk. Some white-flowering annuals, such as nicotiana and petunia, are more fragrant at night. Some trees, such as star magnolia, emit a lovely scent in the evening. Plants with grey, variegated or silver foliage look wonderful late in the day; for example, the ground cover perennial Lamium ‘White Nancy’ or the grey-leaved licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare), an annual foliage plant.