Garden Visit: Tangled Garden, Grand Pre NS

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Tangled Garden for only the second time; though I had driven by many times, it was only last August that I paid the very reasonable entry fee and enjoyed its beauties. I knew the next time I visited I would purchase a season pass, so prepare to see a few more posts from me this year documenting the changing sights.I really appreciated this combination of wood anemone and what I later realized is probably fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus. At the time, the wood anemone foliage dominated and I simply assumed I was looking at Bowman’s root, Gillenia trifoliata, so I didn’t have a good shot of the stems/leaves to identify the fringe tree. I have never seen fringetree growing in Nova Scotia (and only once before in my life, on a trip to Virginia), so my mind didn’t go there. However, I am pretty sure this ID is correct. It’s a lovely planting combination I would love to try in the future.

The peonies were open, some were even over. Here on the Eastern Shore, our peonies only opened this past weekend. Most of the roses were in bloom too.

Since my memory of the garden was from last August, it was really interesting to see which plants stood out in the labyrinth in late June. The linear nature of the labyrinth poses an interesting design challenge for a succession of blooms; one advantage is how the repetition of plants enhances the meditative aspect of moving through the labyrinth; however the limited planting space (e.g. the labyrinth is narrow so the plants feature singly, one after the other) means that ideally, selected plants should either recede into other plants after their moment of show, or else be a solid ‘supporting player’ as other plants come into their glory. As you can see from this picture, the lady’s mantle Alchemilla mollis and cranesbill (Geranium sp?) provide most of the labyrinth structure, though the evening primrose is coming along apace. There is also Ragged Robin and a short Persicaria for colour, and some sedges with their mace-like seedheads capture the attention as you walk.

I can’t get away from Royal Fern Osmunda regalis this year; first in Mineville growing wild, and now intentionally planted at Tangled Garden. Here, a sweetly creamy globeflower was looking very delicate among the robust-but-finely-feathered foliage.

One of the things that I love about the Tangled Garden is that its wildness and unkemptness in parts of the garden can feel as thoughtful as little touches like this vase in the window of the garden tea room. It feels like an exercise in trusting that everything will have its own moment.

I don’t know if the rill was running when I was here in August, at least not as splendidly as last week, with the thyme in its glory. It is a great feature to have at the far end of one of the larger ‘production’ spaces of the garden. Everyone who entered this part of the garden made their way over to the rill to enjoy it.

I really enjoy the ambition of the Tangled Garden and its uniqueness among the Province’s garden destinations. They grow a lot of plants most Nova Scotians don’t have in their home gardens but could, if they knew about them, and they grow with an abandon that gives you a great sense of a plant’s essential nature, something you won’t necessarily get from a more formal and highly maintained garden setting like a border in the Public Gardens. I highly recommend it as a source of inspiration!


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