See the Texture in Uli and Paul Garden a Garden Tour


My friend Uli Havermann has the most inspiring garden. [Note: You may remember Uli from the community greenhouse and this incredibly juicy pot.] She manages to combine a passion for foliage and a love for Vintage metal and terracotta in a visually stunning way.

I met Uli for the first time while visiting the garden she shared with her partner Paul Zammit during an open garden day in Toronto in 2010. I didn’t do any research on the gardens I was going to visit that day and I didn’t know what to expect. But when we went to see Uli and Paul, I knew that I was in for something special.

I took the photo of their driveway at the top of the page in 2010, when everything was ready to visit the garden. Here it is this week. Uli wants me to tell you that some of the plants are still in plastic pots because she just took them out of the store. Look at all the succulents!

The first thing that catches your eye is the volume of planting material. I am sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of plants and pots that I can stack in my own little garden, but then I visit their place and realize that I am an Amateur in comparison. They do the volume well. As a plant lover with little space to work, I have never been able to follow the rule of multiples (planting 3 or more of the same plant together instead of sprinkling the bed with a selection of single plants).

When I think of your garden, this is what I see the most: the texture. With which I am back to Uli’s collections. Over the years, she has visited flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores to collect an impressive collection of urns, pots, fences and other cast iron and metal garden accessories that she has incorporated into the design of the front and back yards. Uli is not only synonymous with clean and perfect rooms. I see it as a value in the textures and patina of old broken and rusty things — the kind of thing most people would spend on garbage. And then she brings them home, and together she and Paul showcase these hard old treasures in a stunning way, playfully weaving their textures with colorful and equally textured leaves.

None of this is as simple as you think. Most “full” gardens, especially those that are full of “stuff” (another of my misfortunes), tend to start out as an outdoor junk shop. Not your garden. Somehow it all comes together to create something graceful yet fun; high brow and low brow at the same time. And proof that two people live here who really, really, really like plants.

There are simply too many awesome plants in the world and my garden is much, much smaller than my eyes. The trick to breaking this rule is to plant in such a way that you don’t end up with a jumble of plants that all compete with each other at the same Level. Mine often suffers from this suffering, so in the short time I spent gardening here, I moved three or more perennials. Uli and Paul’s gardens are full and a little hyperactive, but also surprisingly quiet and pleasant. I attribute their success partly to a refined ability to see, understand and compare textures.

Every time I visit, I have the same visceral reaction “”I could live in this garden forever!”And then, when I have to go home, I feel charged and inspired to try to create a garden half the size of yours.

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