GARDENS: Get inspired! Four great New Edinburgh gardens to study

GARDENS: Get inspired! Four great New Edinburgh gardens to study

52 Alexander Street

WHY: A fabulous example of how to manage shade

BEST TIME TO VISIT: May to early June for bulbs and peonies

WHAT: When she moved into New Edinburgh 14 years ago, Liz Kane lived just a few houses down from this house where she now lives and gardens. “I used to sit on my rooftop deck and look down at my house-to-be. I longed to live in a house with a garden,” she says. View a slideshow of all four gardens, beginning with Liz’s garden »When she did finally buy the corner-lot house with the wraparound garden in 1998, there wasn’t much here: “just a couple of mock oranges and some lilacs lying on the ground,” she remembers. She started by treating the poor soil with mushroom compost and laying down stone walkways. Over the years, she has experimented widely but has finally learned to appreciate the garden’s shade. “Now I love textures, and I don’t look to flowers as much,” she says. The garden showcases various varieties of hostas, ferns, and heucheras. In spring, swaths of soft blue forget-me-nots, periwinkles, and pink bleeding hearts add colour to the green and white palette of the shade garden. In the bed that gets morning sun, ‘John Cabot’ climbing roses thrive alongside peonies, a climbing hydrangea, and Japanese astilbe. On the west side of the house, fast-growing hops — tied up and tamed by her partner, Gordon Jackson — provide shade for the front veranda. A herb garden grows at the base of the hops, just around the corner from arguably the most vigorous Clematis jackmanii in the city, laden with deep purple flowers in season. “I’ve tried to plan,” says Kane, with a sigh, “but I just can’t. One year, after I’d visited Sissinghurst, everything was white. Then another time, after I’d visited Giverny, I decided everything needed more colour. Now I just go to a nursery and buy three of anything, and I spend a lot of time moving plants around.”