Monday, July 15, 2013

Places, #2 - Keppel Croft Garden

On that drive up to Georgian Bay, the real purpose was to visit Keppel Croft Garden.  It's unique in my experience.  It's full of interesting features and creations and fascinating landscapes, as well as (of course) plants.  It's a private garden, but listed on the Grey-Bruce garden tour, and open to the public on certain days of the week.  This one gets a lot of visitors - and it's so popular locally that it also gets a lot of volunteers!  That must make garden maintenance easier!

From the moment you walk through the welcoming gate it's a fascinating place, with gardens, stone walls, paths, edges, sculptures and whimsy, as well as some really unique features like a stone circle and an analemmatic sundial (bet you don't know what that is!) - but that will be tomorrow's story.

Keppel Croft is best known for it's rock garden,which is beautiful, with numerous boulders, stepping stone paths, and an interesting array of plants, as well as the odd striking sculpture. Luckily for the visitor, the gardeners enjoy moving rocks around; rock walls, edging and paths feature throughout the garden.

I always seem to be most attracted by the brightest flowers, like these poppies (my wife calls me a just a magpie), as well as the actual structure and layout of the garden - that's my half of the work at our own garden. The colour contrasts in this part of the garden are quite striking.

The most interesting underlying story of this garden though is in its creation, for it's built on an area of ancient glacial lake beaches, composed entirely of flat worn, rounded rocks, several metres deep apparently.  To hear the gardeners explain it, there was virtually no actual soil; they learned quickly to dig holes among the loose old beach rocks, add soil, and plant things in the holes.  Today they are left with the small beach rocks as mulch throughout the garden - the most unique mulch I've ever seen.  And there seems to be very little weeding problem.  And of course there are lots of rocks at hand for those walls, paths, and edging.  Look closely at the foreground of the photo above and you'll see the small stones that compose the 'soil'.
The whimsy they've added to the garden make it very interesting for me, and I come away with numerous ideas for our own garden - except it's already too much work without new projects!  Here the flowerpot towers near the potting shed (and a few plants for sale) add a surprising bit of colour, and a collection of succulents sits on an old wooden step ladder.

And here is a small part of one of many sculptures of various sorts.  I could add 20 more photos of sculptures and whimsy easily.

One thing I was suspicious of are these giant thistles, about 6-8 feet high, with enormous stems and lower leaves.  These are from the UK, where you commonly see them as ornamentals in gardens, and they really are very striking.  But we had a few of these for 2 or 3 years in a previous garden, and they self-seeded all over the place.  We quickly got rid of them so they didn't escape into neighbouring farm fields.  I hate to think of the results if they naturalized here!

Tomorrow (that's later today now, 'cause I'm so delayed), the 'Keppel Henge', the 'Analemmatic Sundial' and the 'Skipping Stone Capital of Canada'.


  1. What a beautiful place to visit and I enjoyed your photos very much, thank you :)

  2. Looks like a fabulous garden. I love to visit gardens --and get all kinds of good ideas of what I can plant here. Thanks for sharing.

  3. looks to be a fascinating place to visit!!

    1. It really is - check out the Keppel Henge I'll describe later today.

  4. Sorry I was only half finished when you visited, but come again and read the whole story. It really is fascinating.

  5. such a wonderful garden
    full of beautiful and whimsical details.

  6. What a lovely and colorful garden with some interesting objects around. Nice presentation.

  7. Thank you all for visiting. Its a fascinating place, and it was a great day for pictures.

  8. Great place for relax, wonderful garden....!!
    garden sculptures