I came across the garden of Peter BonSey, a genuine TV show gardener. Peter was the garden designer on TLC's season 1 (2002-03) of While You Were Out, a reality series makeover show whose gimmick was that the redecoration was kept secret from the homeowner. Peter is/was also the founder of The English Gardener, a well-known Buffalo area landscape design firm. But he's also been a butcher, cabin boy, Naval officer, real estate salesperson, construction company owner, teacher, actor, chemical company owner, head hunter, convention planner, graphic artist, printing production manager, radio show host, and writer, among other things. He's retired from it all now, having mostly accomplished his goal of "...becoming an interesting old man." He does still do the occasional talk/lecture for groups.
|Matching stacked brick pedestals for annuals |
flank the end of the driveway. Why haven't
I done this already? Stacking stones
is one of the few abilities I have.
I like to think of my own garden as less an organized manicured garden and more a laboratory for garden design ideas. And that's what I saw in his – though his botanical experimentation, construction ability, and creative and artistic sense are well beyond my own. I could have stayed there for hours.
Here I'll show you some features of his garden and what I remembered of what he told me about each.
|Neat gravel paths surround this "allotment-style" garden of simple wooden raised beds, with supports for climbing plants. He told me what his vegetable garden yield was in pounds, but it was crazy high and I don't remember what it was.|
|He created this (and other) stacked slate sculptures in and amongst the vegetables. |
Even vegetables like to be surrounded by art, I suppose.
|...and a sundial. Vegetable gardens need sundials too.|
|Looking back toward the street, outside the chain link fence, which actually gets barely noticed, is a row of annuals in planters on pedestals.|
|Peter has many espaliers going. I cannot even remember what these were. |
I should have written notes, but felt that was a bit impolite while having a conversation.
If I get back there, I'll do a more in-depth "interview."
|Another free-form espalier. These flanked both sides of the "vase" seen in the next photo.|
|To separate "rooms" of the backyard, there were more dry-stacked pedestal with plants.|
I love this idea and will find ways to incorporate them into my garden.
|Another dry-stacked brick pedestal, this time IN the garden to add height |
and to fill in a blank spot with one of his many tropicals.
|He's got a great mix of tropicals, perennials and annuals throughout the garden. Most of the reseeders he lets do what they want, until they do what he doesn't want. It's a very controlled chaos.|
|Having the unnatural aversion to corners led him to this stone wall solution for the corner of the property - with built-in planters top and bottom. No dry-stacking here.|
|Lanterns and wrought iron finish off the curved stone wall.|
|Looking back from whence we came. To the right you can see his greenhouse where he overwinters the tropicals. It has a koi pond in it to keep the moisture up for the plants.|
|he's not a particular fan of "tall plant in back, short plants in the front" garden design. He likes the multi-layered natural feel of plants popping up where THEY think they'll grow well.|
|Against the fence is a row of pollarded Rose of Sharon trees. He keeps them trimmed down, and all but strips them every Fall. The result is small, manageable trees with great color, texture, and the perfect size for a small backyard.|
|Looking over the back yard, I see how effective NOT having a corner can be. With the mirror back there, it makes the garden seem larger.|
|One last look at the pollarded Rose of Sharon.|
|Peter admiring yet another espaliered tree on the side of the house.|
|The trimmed hawthorn tree "hedge" opposite the espalier above. The extreme trimming makes it a privacy hedge of great texture and color that changes throughout the year. Certainly gives this narrow alley its personality.|
|Eggs. Just, well, because.|
|The last remaining wall of the house. I think I like this garden so much |
because I see many of my ideas in here (done better!), as well as ideas I want to steal.