A garden can be many things. For retired landscape designer Pam Pippy, it is both showcase and testing ground. First created 19 years ago, the main structure has remained much the same.
In the beginning there was only lawn and a drawing of the new garden design Pam intended to build.
She wanted a display garden that she could bring clients to and show them various shrubs, plants and flowers. This garden would also serve as an experimental planting playground of sorts, a place where Pam could try different plantings and monitor their growth to see how they fared.
“There were several plants I learned didn’t grow well here even though the garden centres carried them, so I never recommended them for client properties,” she says.
There was also an aspect of personal satisfaction to the project – Pam is a self-described plant person, and wanted to have a garden. She’s also a rock lover who admits to being emotionally moved by the beauty visible in certain rock. The rock at the Goobies quarry was of this emotionally moving calibre.
“This, to me, epitomizes Newfoundland rock, with the beautiful texture and colour faces and the unevenness of it,” she says. “I just love this look of rock.”
The rocks – several truckloads worth – were dumped in her cul de sac, and together with Mike Carew she chose a rock at a time, building the rockery that would become the foundation for her garden.
The garden is laid out with a looped walkway, creating an inner island and an outer perimeter of planted areas. Because Pam intended to use the garden as a way to show many different plants, shrubs and flowers to clients, the garden uses stone to divide and define areas, with each featuring a few plants. The result is an ever-changing view as one walks through the garden, presented in an organized way.
The garden has colour from early spring to late fall, due to Pam’s careful planning. Selecting a variety of plants and paying attention to bloom times will ensure a progression of colour. It helps to think of your garden in layers, says Pam. There’s the foundation, which are the evergreens that will give a layer of green all year long. Next come the deciduous shrubs that will provide massing – several plants of the same type, used to fill out the garden. Last, you plant perennials and start playing with colour.
“I used to develop a little colour sketch,” says Pam. “In the spring I would have all my early spring colours and I would take my drawing and colour in where I wanted spring colour.”
She would then continue the process, choosing where she wanted late spring colour, early summer colour, and so on until she had arrived at late fall and had colour throughout the garden all season long.