11 inspiring garden looks to steal

I spy a beautiful garden

Do you ever pass by a beautiful garden and see something you’d love to recreate in your own garden? We always think we’ll remember exactly what we saw, but by the time we’re ready to dig in and recreate the container, flowerbed or garden accent that caught our eye we’ve usually forgotten some of the important elements that made it so special.

That’s why community garden tours in your local area are so much fun – they give you an opportunity to take some photos of exceptional gardens and garden decor that you wouldn’t otherwise get an opportunity to see. Many local garden experts and the homeowners who have created the gardens on these special tours are happy to share their success stories, including information and tips on how their gardens grow.

One of my favourite spring garden tours that I rarely miss is organized by the Toronto Botanical Garden and is called Through the Garden Gate: Forest Hill. This year it runs Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It’s a fabulous way to spend a weekend with a friend, so check out the website to find out more about this popular 26-year-old garden tour. Tickets sell out fast!

Here are some of the highlights from my visit last spring that I hope will inspire you to get creative in your own garden. Enjoy these beautiful city spaces created by several homeowners with a passion for beautiful outdoor spaces.

A classic garden gate is a hint that something very special is just on the other side. Photo by Karen Kirk.


Steal this idea and create a checkerboard patio using large, square pavers and filling the spaces in between them with grass or fragrant thyme. This beautiful poolside patio was designed by landscape architect Mark Hartley. Photo by Karen Kirk.


Beneath a cool leafy canopy, two comfy chairs beckon you to stop a while and enjoy a quiet conversation for two. Photo by Karen Kirk.


Landscape architect Mark Hartley designed this unique stone structure composed of open windows and doorways that frame an outdoor kitchen and pool. The openings frame eye-catching views from various vantage points. Beautiful and clever! Photo by Karen Kirk.


An amazing mural by Daniel P. Izzard painted on the side of a garage gives a garden designed by Neil Turnbull Ltd. a view into a mythical time. Photo by Karen Kirk.


It was amazing to discover this stunning architectural knot garden by Neil Turnbull Ltd. in one of the homes on the Toronto Botanical Garden tour. Photo by Karen Kirk.


It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to create an enchanting garden. Climbing roses, leafy vines and a collection of terra cotta pots filled with annuals set the tone for a simple English-cottage style garden. Photo by Karen Kirk.


Here’s a great way to hide an unsightly drainage pipe. The plants seem to love the idea too! Photo by Karen Kirk.


An old galvanized trough supported on bricks in front of a fabulous orange brick wall is overflowing with annuals and a cedar shrub. Photo by Karen Kirk.


A brick support from an old demolished garage now serves as a trellis for Clematis. Wire supports help train the vine up and around the brick pillar. Photo by Karen Kirk.


Water features add whimsy to a garden wall or fence and provide a quick stop-over for the birds to bathe in and drink from. Photo by Paul Chmielowiec.


It’s always fun to mimic designs that we’ve discovered on our travels and to put our own personal spin on them. Come back next week for some pretty awesome potted urns I found while on the Through the Garden Gate tour of private gardens last year.

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