This site is all about my attempts, using micro gardening, to bring cohesion and beauty to our large rural property in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada.
What? A few months ago I was trying to come up with a way to describe my approach to designing and planting this huge property in the County. Huge to me, that is – coming from a tiny city garden – the backyard measured just 18 feet by about 30. It hit me – micro gardening. That’s what I was going to do — design and “install” the property one tiny section at a time – hoping to maintain some sort of cohesion through the while via plant choice and hard structures. A quick Google search led me to many other gardeners who had already thought of the term! I decided to keep using it though, and while other definitions and purposes may be similar to mine, it’s not exactly the same. For me, a micro garden is up to around 150 square feet, and can include planters and raised beds as well as sections of a larger garden or a specific area within a garden.
Where? Prince Edward County is a peninsula of land, sometimes called an island, that juts into Lake Ontario south of Belleville and Trenton. It’s about halfway between Toronto and Ottawa and generally enjoys a hardiness zone of between 5 and 6 — there are LOTS of micro climates!!
When? We purchased the property in 2003 and brought in one of those pop-up trailers to live in the first summer. Our hope was to build a house on the property within a few years. We finally moved in Thanksgiving weekend, 2015.
Why? Why micro gardening instead of coming up with one large design for the entire property? Good question with a few answers. When we bought the property I was still working as a professional gardendesigner and frequently needed to find homes for plants that were no longer wanted by clients or that I had purchased a few extra of because they looked interesting. My allotment garden in Toronto was getting full. So I started creating planting beds in the County and plunking things in. We soon had a mish-mash of either garden or lawn or planned meadow, with a few structures (huge composter, pergola, concrete table and benches rescued from a client) thrown in. Without a house on site I couldn’t devise a large scale plan so needed to come up with garden areas that were out of the way of future home building activities.
How? When I had an area of the yard I was sure would not be trampled by construction equipment I started to think how I would like it to look in the long run, how it will relate to the (eventual) whole property, and what sort of hardscaping (stone work, structures, pathways etc) will be involved. I broke the areas down into small section to make construction and maintenance manageable. Then I started to bring in plants – either purchasing or by propagation – I’ve discovered many of the perennials I use are great self-seeders (Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Lupin…) and this is the palette for colour, texture and height I want to use throughout the property.
Who? Just me, mainly, with the occasional help of friends or contractors.