Visit beautiful Keppel Croft Gardens in Grey County, Ontario.
We started creating Keppel Croft Gardens in the late seventies. We planted close to the house as we wanted to be able to find things in the long grass! We were lucky to begin with a pretty clear garden slate--basically just a bank of lilacs and some old apple trees.
At no time have we had a grand, overall vision for the gardens. Most parts of the garden begin after some thought, discussions and sometimes some sketches on the back of an envelope or in Bill's Garden Idea book. Here's a virtual walk through our gardens, with more information just a click away as I continue to build this webpage. Let's begin with the surprise garden on the north side of a bank of lilacs, This garden was made on top of a large square of carpet placed over our septic bed.
The woodland garden was once a gravel pit. All the earth for the gardens had to be brought in by wheelbarrow. We have had to have some of the poplar trees removed to offer better growing space for more desirable trees. This sheltered location allows us to grow some Carolinian trees such as Red Buds and Tulip trees.
After realizing that conventional plantings are impossible in most places in the garden, Bill perfected a planting technique which has been quite successful. He begins by digging a hole with his pick axe. Everything is sieved into a wheelbarrow. The stones are collected in buckets and the soil amended before being put back in the hole and the plant planted. Layers of newspapers and other materials cover the areas around the planting holes. The buckets of stones are emptied on top as mulch. The pebble beds demonstrate this technique well.
Another area of the garden which demonstrates our use of mulches and planting holes is in the newly developed iris garden. Here Bill has selected irises in white, blues and yellows to grow on a dry slope. The nearby garden swing is a great place from which to view the irises. California poppies overtake the irises later in the season.
A garden which utilizes a special gardening technique is the xeriscape garden at the edge of the barnyard. Here we planted drought tolerant plants and have used flat rocks as mulch. We never water this part of the garden. It is survival of the fittest in this area! The xeriscape area includes our little zen garden and the thyme and lavender garden.
What was once a pasture for my sheep is now a large rockery. The featured rocks were brought in from the farm fence rows. Bill has created pathways and ponds. This garden gives him a great deal of pleasure -- and anguish, especially in the spring when all the vole damage is revealed. A rockery is a perfect place for voles!
Frequent visitors to the garden have watched the progress of the building of the dry stream bed. It is on occasion a wet stream bed in the spring or after heavy rains, as you can see in this photo. The stream bed is lined with carpet and plastic. A heavy stone mulch is added along with handsome larger rocks. This year Bill hopes to complete the dry stream bed project.
A mini flood plain allowed us to dig with shovels when we made the Circle Garden and the wedge beds. The full summer and autumn displays are quite exuberant in these gardens.
If you take the Nature Trail, you will enjoy a twenty minute walk to our bush. There are numerous benches along the way so you can pause and experience the peace of the outdoors. Bill has placed informative plaques along the path so this will be a learning experience for you. You will pass through our slowly established arboretum.
Along the Nature Trail you will find Keppel Henge and the analemmatic projects. Wander out into the fields to enjoy these installations. There are also a number of art installations in the field. Closer to the barn you will find a butterfly garden. This garden is planted up with plants that sustain butterflies.
Our most recent and an on-going project is our community vegetable garden. With the help of our enthusiastic Wednesday volunteers we have begun to turn an area in a field into a medieval four square vegetable garden. Here we are sharing the very first harvest of the first season-one radish. We sliced it so everyone had a taste! After three years this project is about half way to completion. We all enjoy sharing the harvests, which now amount to more than a single radish!
Bill has built three greenhouses. One is attached to the south end of the workshop. It is heated in winter by a wood stove. There are two pit greenhouses. The largest greenhouse is heated only by the sun and the ambient warmth of the ground. The smaller pit greenhouse close to the house is heated through the winter by one 100 watt lightbulb. This year we hope to renovate the original small greenhouse. It is rather showing its age!
Or view other linked pages at
Site Revisions made - May 2010