Garden Tour: Heather Benton from New House New Home

Friday, August 01, 2014

I'm really excited to share with you the first official Blogger Garden Tour: Heather Benton from New House New Home.

Heather is a Canadian girl who spent most of her life in the big city. Three years ago, her husband took a job in a small town and life changed when Heather retired from a stressful job and moved away from family and friends. But she got to retire and spend her time in the garden, cooking and renovating their 1935 Tudor home. According to Heather, she's domestically obsessed and blogging about it!

And now for the beautiful garden tour!

Welcome to my garden.....We took over this garden three years ago after moving to a small town in SW Ontario. My previous garden had been a "concrete jungle" as the backyard was mostly pool, so I focussed mainly on growing things in pots and small spaces.

Lisgar house
This is the front of our 1935 Tudor in the spring. The saucer magnolia (on the right) is my pride and joy.

But this property had a big yard with lots of possibilities. So we set out creating our own version of an English cottage garden, complete with veggie patch and perennial borders.

favourite flowers
From top left: Easter lily, ghost fern, saucer magnolia, "bowl of beauty" peony, helopsis, "raspberry ice" heuchera, David Austen rose, double tiger lily, "sweet autumn" clematis

Along the way, I've blogged about it with the main purpose to share it with my friends and family "back home."

perennial border back of garden
Back perennial border with the newly built deck in the background.

We've accomplished a lot in the three summers we've been here....a raised vegetable bed, my "secret garden," a shade garden and many other smaller beds. The one thing I've learned about taking on such a big task is to do it in phases. After three years of building, turning sod and lugging umpteen yards of top soil, I'm glad we spread the work out. And now we can sit back and relax (other than weeding, of course).

When we first moved in, there was no fence separating the yard from the driveway area. Because we live right next to a park, this was a huge privacy issue for me. I wanted to be able to have dinner on the patio without passersby checking out the food.

garden gate
The ivy was here, but the hosts, rhododendrons and Sweet Autumn clematis are new. The DIY burlap wreath is a seasonal addition.

Patio Area
flowers beside garage
Once you enter the patio area, there's a small garden along the garage wall...

The path leads to the vegetable garden which is enclosed with sections of old fence brought from the back of the property.

rose arbour, clematis

The "Jackmanii" clematis was in sad shape when we got here. It was overgrown and falling in onto itself. That first year, I cut it back to about 12" and prayed. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith in the garden. That leap paid off as the clematis is thriving now.

Secret Garden
secret garden fence line
Secret Garden BEFORE
The above picture is what we started with - a sad fence line and a couple of tired hosta. This is what it looks like now...

The old shutters were added to break up the long boring fence line.
My secret garden is just that....mine. You can't see it from the house as it's tucked behind the perennial border in the top picture. Somehow or other it's turned into a yellow garden. Which was not my intention. But the helopsis, the tiger's eye sumac and day lilies give this sunny spot it's yellow. That's okay. Sometimes, you just have to let the garden create itself. This is the hottest part of the garden, so everything I grow here has to be drought tolerant - it's filled with spiderwort, some newly planted lavender and tons of daffodils in the spring. So there's something for every season.

Shade Garden
before shade garden
Shade Garden BEFORE
In high contrast to the hot secret garden is the shade garden which runs along the north end of the property. When we moved in there was nothing here but dirt because even the grass wouldn't grow.

hostas shade garden
Shade Garden AFTER
 We've filled it with hosta, hydrangeas and ferns and my favourite feature of all...

water feat
This tranquility fountain adds the pleasing sound of water and a cool spot on a hot day

We love to entertain so the garden needs to be something for everyone. It gets used A LOT. We've dined under the stars, had tea parties under the maple trees and pre-wedding family gatherings:

garden dining

This year, I can say we're done. But I know that with any garden, it's never "done". It's been a journey to create this oasis. We enjoy sitting on the deck watching the birds in the bird bath, dining on the patio alone or with friends, and puttering in the vegetable garden.

Thanks for joining me on our tour. And thank you, Stephanie, for allowing us to share our gardens with you and your readers.

Follow Heather here:


Thanks Heather! Next week, I'll feature the garden of Jennifer Farr from Kitchen Counter Chronicles.

Blogger Garden Tour Series

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Side garden against the garage
A few weeks ago I was standing in my back yard raking up leaves (again) when I started to think about other gardens around me and how cool it would be to go on a few blogger garden tours. I wanted to actually go to their homes to see their gardens, what they've done, how they take care of them and what they'd love to see in their garden in the future.

After running around in my head about how I could organize this I thought... hey I'm a blogger (guessing I'm blogging again??), why don't I just ask other bloggers to send me a few pics of their gardens that I could put on my blog? 

So that's what I did. I put the word out to my nifty blogger Facebook groups and asked who'd like to participate and guess what? People responded! So nice of them...

For the month of August I'll be hosting tours of some beautiful blogger gardens. If all goes well, I'll have six gardens to show you!

The first in the series takes place on Friday and will feature the garden of Heather Benton from New House, New Home, but I thought it would be fun to show our garden first! I also had a few questions for the bloggers so I'll answer those too!

Here we go!

We have a pretty decent-sized yard for Toronto standards and when we first bought the house, there was a giant wooden play structure in the back (the previous owners took it), no deck and a chain link fence. I wish I had before photos for you!

We've done a lot to fix it up including adding a deck, finishing the fence and adding a gate to keep the kidlets in ;).

What do you love most about your garden and what makes it special to you?

I love that it's somewhat shady, but gives us lots of sun in the afternoons (although it does get pretty hot back there!). It's a great place for the kids to play. Although a bit of an eye-sore, the driveway comes all the way to the back so it's a great place for the kids to ride their bikes and play in the water table.

I also love the plants and flowers that come every year. We have poppies from my best friend that she gave us as a wedding gift, pretty purple irises that were here when we moved in and beautiful ivy that covers the garage. Every year I try to get something non-plant related to add to the garden as well... typically I check out HomeSense for little garden accessories.

View from the other side of the yard, across from the side of the garage

What have you learned along the way that you can share with others about gardening or setting up a backyard oasis?

Well we're still learning that's for sure. Mark and I have bad memories when it comes to our garden so we always seem to forget what comes up where and when. We have (kind of) learned not to over-crowd because chances are that things will grow bigger than you think. Our hostas are so big even after splitting them this year and one of them located in the front yard is blocking a hydrangea from getting any sun so we'll move that next year.

We're also still working on dealing with critters and pests. We trying a water and soap concoction to deal with the slugs on the hostas and there are always issue with squirrels and raccoons digging something up!

I guess the main thing we've learned is to be patient (which we have a hard time with) and to plant what we love. Also, planting perennials every year helps keep things growing and flourishing. I find it silly to plant annuals that don't come back!

Do you have any future plans for your garden or do you love it just the way it is?

There is always something to do! I mentioned changing up our driveway a while back on the blog so that will come with time and we'd love to see more colour in the garden beds. This year has been the best so far with colour so we're excited to keep learning and figuring out what works and what doesn't! Mark also wants to give the lines of the garden a bit more personality... he'd like to see some curves as opposed to being straight all around.

Another thing we'd love to figure out is how to have growth for every season. My sister is working on that right now with her new garden and it's something I'd love to get a grasp on so that the garden doesn't look all brown and dead when fall hits.

Take two of the grasses: we accidentally drowned the previous
grasses with the eaves spout over the winter!
Hydrangeas are my favourite! We also have peonies in the spring.
Mark found these ferns behind the garage so he dug them out
and put them in the back corner of the garden

That's it for our garden! Stay tuned on Friday for the first up in my blogger garden tour series!

Huge disclaimer: My husband is the gardener in the family. I'm getting into it somewhat (does raking and dead-heading count?) but you have to start somewhere!

What's for lunch? Grilled Pear & Goat Cheese Sandwich with Honey & Chocolate Mint

Friday, July 25, 2014

Grilled Pear & Goat Cheese Sandwich with honey and chocolate mint

There's nothing I like better than a quick lunch and this is it! The best part is that it seems like a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, but kind of like you're eating dessert.

I've made this sandwich before a few times, but there's an extra little kick in this one: chocolate mint! Our neighbour is growing a ton of it and offered some to me so I snuck a couple leaves in for fun.

By the way, this is kid-approved! I made this sans-mint for Leo and Mila a while back and they loved it.

Recipe: Grilled Pear & Goat Cheese Sandwich with Honey & Chocolate Mint
  • 2 slices of bread (I eat thin rye bread from Dimpflmeier, but thick and crusty French bread would be amazing here)
  • 1.5 oz of goat cheese
  • 4-8 thin slices of pear
  • A drizzle of honey
  • A couple leaves of chocolate mint
  • Oil for grilling
  • Spread goat cheese on both sides of the bread - don't be shy! Use lots!
  • Layer the pear on one slice of bread
  • Drizzle with honey & top with mint
  • Grill!
  • If you have it, use coconut oil in your pan. It's super yummy with this sandwich!
  • I used two mint leaves and it was a tad much. I really liked it, but if you just want a taste go with one.
  • I used my cast iron pan, but I've also used my panini press which is fun because you get nice grill marks.

Enjoy and let me know if you make it!
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