A conifer collector's confection

I've been to a few "Collector's Gardens" – gardens of true plant-a-holics that collect non-run-of-the-mill plants. Mostly they've been garden writer friends or folks that work for nurseries that can more readily get their hands on unique plants, or hard-to-find cultivars of more common plants. In my experience, they're usually less "designed" and more of a hodge podge of plants (well-suited to their spots) that the owner gets excited about.

This plant collector's garden, just outside Toronto, blew me away.

The Marion Jarvie garden was more of a curio cabinet of a garden. Or it looked as if you were touring a botanical garden, condensed into a small suburban lot. The more, and closer, you looked–the more there was to see.

Mostly featuring dwarf conifers of every size, shape, and color, it also hosts wonderful trees, shrubs and even some perennials I'm sure came from other planets.

This was just one of the dozens of gardens toured as part of the 2015 Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto this past June. More than 70 gardeners attended. It was difficult to get photos without other gardeners in them–crouching, stretching, and contorting to get their photos taken. I wouldn't want it any other way. You can learn a lot touring gardens with 70+ people smarter than you that can answer questions, make you look at things you wouldn't normally see, or even just ask great questions themselves.

Not much else I can say. You'll just have to appreciate the photos...

The side entrance to the garden. A prelude.
Sorry about some of the photo lighting. It was a bright sunny day and it was the afternoon. Not the best for shooting.

Gardener shown for scale.
Texture, texture, texture.
Random potted annuals/tropicals, as well as artworks were mixed in with the garden inhabitants.
Verticals were used to offset the low mounds of the compact and mounding conifers.
Who couldn't look at this all day?
Alium turned out to be the Toronto Fling signature flower.
Damn Barbara Wise kept getting into my photos. Or was I stalking her? I can't remember.
I need a white blooming tree.
So much at which to look.

The details of the garden were infinite. If the bus wasn't leaving, I'd still be there shooting photos.
So many unique details, like this juxtaposition of leaves that may never have been
combined at any time previously in history.
Left to right, there's Jim Peterson, publisher of Garden Design Magazine; Helen Yoest of Gardening with Confidence; the lovely and talented Susan Harris, of GardenRant.com (among other blogs and sites); and one of our daily Toronto hosts for the trip, gardener David Leeman.
All these garden bloggers just add more color to the garden.
I can only dream of a garden this sophisticated and complex.


  1. I love your enthusiasm for Marion's garden, Jim! I think you've done great justice to her garden in your opening panoramic shot. And I like your curio cabinet image. So glad you wended your way up to Toronto for our big garden party.

  2. Your description of it being like a botanical garden or a curio cabinet garden was my impression, too. It took my breath away to walk around to the back and see that amazing collection. I've never seen anything like it. You were one of those expert gardeners on the tour. What a fun conference!

    1. Beth,
      If you think I was an expert gardener, I apologize for deceiving you! I may know a few common names of a few plants, but the only Latin I know is a few Harry Potter incantations. It, being a magical garden, did leave many spellbound.

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