Zonal Denial Gardening

23-5 - Zonal Denial 2

"I am in zonal denial," Janice says,
"and love to grow unusual plants.
I push the limits of what is
considered ‘hardy’ in this zone"

While some people are content to enjoy gardening as a hobby, for others it becomes a passion. Janice Currie is a passionate gardener, self-taught over 20 years. Her gardening prowess was acquired through study, trial and error and learning from knowledgeable gardeners. Her garden is filled with plants rarely seen and was one of the star attractions on the 2008 Victoria Conservatory of Music Garden Tour.

Janice’s love of plants and gardens evolved as she raised her family. Trained as an accountant, she realized she much preferred the creativity associated with planning and planting a garden. Over the years Janice transformed her city lot of lawn and a few shrubs into a showplace.

Stretches of lawn became garden beds. Trellises, arbours and structural elements were added to define spaces in the garden. She added a greenhouse and learned to propagate plants. She searched out unusual plants and those she found beautiful. Janice’s garden today is filled with plants from around the world, including many that are marginally hardy in Victoria’s sub-Mediterranean climate. Several of these are rarely seen in Victoria.

"I am in zonal denial," Janice says, "and love to grow unusual plants. I push the limits of what is considered ‘hardy’ in this zone. There are quite a number of Zone 9 plants here. This is risky but I love them."

Janice’s passion for gardening encompasses a love of design as well as a love of plants. "I enjoy creating visual vignettes," she says. "Gardening releases my creative side. If I had to live my life over again I would have chosen a creative path for a career.

"As it is, I am a voracious learner and have immersed myself in horticulture. It isn’t possible to learn everything. I find there is always more to learn.

"Starting the garden here by cutting beds in the lawn, I chose shapes that were aesthetically pleasing. Working with the garden hose, I laid out the design and flow of the garden. I didn’t have a plan. The entire garden has just evolved.

"I filled the beds with plants that struck my fancy, carefully doing the research to make sure each plant was given an ideal spot in the garden. Foundation plantings of trees and shrubs came next. But this wasn’t enough. I quickly added decorative hardscapes of lattices, an arbour and fences. Then the plantings of perennials evolved from there.

"My philosophy of gardening is to buy plants I love and then find somewhere in the garden the plants will love."

Janice’s Oak Bay garden is one of the warmer microclimates in Victoria so her collection of "zonal denial" plants has fared well.

For Janice, gardening is more than just a hobby. Through her relationship with her garden she found her true vocation, her real passion.

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Right: Euphorbia ‘Tasmanian Tiger,’ planted next to a hardy fuchsia, shows to advantage. Behind grows E. characias ‘Wulfenii,’ scrophularia and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light.’ Variegated iris leaves highlight the euphorbia.

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Variegated leaves of Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ are complemented by Sambucus ‘Black Beauty,’ Helianthemum ‘Wisley Pink’ and leaves of sessile (trillium) and Cornus florida (dogwood)
on the right.

(Read the rest of this article in the May 2009 (West Coast & Southern BC) Issue.)

Article Information


May 2009 (West Coast & Southern BC)

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