MARJORIE HARRIS GARDENS
Is a small garden design business with wonderful workers and great clients.
We can transform truly dreadful gardens into something that makes the heart sing.
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Here’s what some of our recent clients have said to us:
“I was having a snooze in the garden the other day, woke up and felt this great sense of peace, it’s like the garden was reminding me that the pursuit of art, beauty and relaxation is much more important than all the other grubby stuff we worry about. So Thank You.” Peter Best
“It looks fantastic. I’m sitting in the kitchen looking out the window and I am blown away by the transformation.” Aubrey Spring
“When I appealed to you last year but I felt so overwhelmed and it just seemed like fate that I should read your column in the Globe and Mail that day. I looked for more information on-line, felt it was worth a try. When I look at my garden now it is with a far different feeling than on that day – just fills my heart with joy and I think it is nearer the picture we had for it when we started out 20+ years ago.” Lynne Jones
My own garden shows my philosophy of planting: make it work in every season.
My garden in summer:
My garden in winter:
SMALL URBAN OASIS
This is one of our earliest gardens and still a favourite. It combined a great client, decent budget and patience.
A western exposure, close to neighbours and the need for a parking pad but desire for a garden for entertainin.
We screened off the parking pad, had stepping stones to a patio restricted in size but used to cover the giant tree stump. The lighting is absolutely gorgeous in this small garden. The plants have grown at a tremendous rate but this is what it looked just after we finished planting. Now the owner has taken possession of it herself and moves things around, gets them whacked back and loves living in the garden.
After – the front yard:
As you can see we started planting by arranging and then re-arranging the pots first. This is time consuming but a necessary part of organizing the garden. The aim is perfection.
The front looked like a parking lot but instead of digging everything up we had these handsome container built to scale and filled them full of perennials and woody plants that will look good all year round.
FRONT YARD MAKEOVER
In this case the front garden of a very pretty little house was just plain boring.
The second shot shows the careful preparation of the whole area: dug down as deep as possible (not less than 8 inches); with a quality soil, topped with compost and then a lovely mulch.
We set up the plants and I am always with the team at this point moving things around and around until they are perfect from every point of view.
Front planted after:
This shot was taken later that day. I’m anxious to see what it will look like later this year when the plants have settled in and had time to put on some bulk.
BIG CORNER LOT
The garden is on a corner lot and this soil was so damaged by the renovations, parging and other construction that it had to be excavated by machine. This is unusual for us, but we know when we have to get help.
We transformed this front section of a corner lot in one day. Beech trees track the steps to the front door; a gorgeous Acer palmatum ‘Tamukeyama’ creates a central focus for this border. This was taken the day we planted it up.
Condos present a really interesting problem because you are pleasing many different tastes. In this case we had a united board: everybody hated the existing garden, the landscaping had been done many years ago and the maintenance was almost negligible. Invasive Ribbon Grass was used as a filler, annuals moved in in spring for colour and moved out in autumn leaving a boring view
The planting here was all annuals so all winter long the owners of the building were looking at mud. We used what we could from this planting in other borders and tried to overwinter some of the tender plants. There was one tree, a Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborescens) which wasn’t doing well.
Here’s the same border, cleaned out with the soil replaced and the poor Serviceberry released from potential strangulation. We added masses of mulch but were very careful because this is over the garage and the wiggle room was fairly slight. So we build up a berm and added the Serviceberry to this salubrious spot along with dozens of evergreens with a variety of foliage colours to make a tapestry effect when you look down on it.
LARGE DOWNTOWN RETREAT
This yard had been a parking pad, was infested with rats feeding on the scraps from nearby rooming house. We cut down the dying trees, cleaned out the magnolias and hauled masses of concrete away.
It was not a happy place and little used by anyone.
We imagined the garden like going to the lake with a dock for taking in the evening sun. The perimeter was planted up with pleached beeches to give a wall-like structure and cut out some of the neighbouring buildings. The intense planting all around the deck/dock gives a feeling of walking through a sea of plants.
The courtyard after:
Each section of the garden was looked after as a special area of its own. This little courtyard is the entranceway from the parking pad. Fences and gates provide a maximum of privacy.
A LOOK AT MY FRONT YARD
This is my own front garden one year after we tore it apart and repurposed all the old plants and added many new selections. I can now look at it with pride.