A shop to excite gardeners

[attach]6215[/attach]There’s a new gardening shop in town. And not since Val Ward opened Buds on a vacant triangle of scrubby land at the corner of Vaughan Road and Bathurst Street in the late 1990s have I been this excited. Dressing up a corner of Annette Street at Beresford Avenue, Designs by the Yard is a new concept in gardening shops.

Just as Buds whet the appetites of plant-hungry gardeners, so Designs By the Yard is primed to satisfy the tastes of urban gardeners tired of assembly-line teak and apathetic about ho-hum interlocking pavers.

“We’ll be providing a full landscape design service,” says Beth Edney, the store’s energetic owner. “Clients can come here to see stone samples, furniture, unique urns — we even have a big-screen TV to show landscape designs.”

But the shop isn’t simply a showroom of the latest, cutting edge materials and decor. It’s a place where anyone can walk in off the street and browse the special items that have caught the eye of Edney who, since she began her design business in 1994, has developed sources for everything from pillows and pergolas to outdoor lighting, jewellery and artwork — oh, and plants.

Designs By the Yard will be the go-to place for garden consultations, too. For a $150 fee, a designer will come to your garden and offer advice on the plants you’re growing, which ones might need pruning, whether your perennials should be divided — anything to help you make the most of your outdoor space. Or, bring in a photo of your yard and a consultant will work with you to hash out any challenging spots and provide you with a quick sketch of possible solutions.

Edney bubbles over with ideas, so here are a few of her tips for tweaking your garden this season.

Less is more: It’s easy to get carried away by the latest plant or garden ornament and end up with a hodgepodge. To help you pare things down and focus on the important elements, Edney suggests thinking of your favourite thing — it could be a particular plant or a sculpture, for example. Whatever it is, ask yourself if it’s getting the exposure it deserves — a good test is if visitors pass it by on their way through your garden without so much as a glance. To show it off, put a piece of sculpture in a container; or if your heart’s desire is a plant, put it in the spotlight by making sure the backdrop is clean and simple, not too busy.

Take a snapshot: Pictures mirror what’s really happening in your garden, says Edney. But if you still find yourself puzzling over what’s just not right in the photo, turn it upside down. “The brain looks at what’s wrong with the picture,” she explains. If the proportions are not right, for example, it’ll show up in the upturned photo.

Oddities: We’re forever being told to plant in groups of odd numbers — threes, fives, nines, and so on. But why does this trick work? When items are grouped in even numbers, Edney explains, the eye tries to divide them into smaller groups. “Odd numbering works because the eye can’t divide the group,” says Edney. “It sees all three, or all five — and that makes the group visually stronger.”

There you have it. Ideas for the taking from Designs By the Yard.

Holding a picture of her garden upside down, Lorraine Flanigan writes from her home in the South Eglinton neighbourhood.