Small Worlds

Hand-crafted tufa troughs hold artful arrangements of trees, shrubs and succulentsPlantsman Barry Parker parlays a plethora of pots into a stunning assembly of miniature landscape.

Photos by Laura Arsie

As you walk through the handsome gate into Barry Parker?s Toronto garden, nothing prepares you for the full impact of his plant obsessions. Initially, you are distracted by a lovely old fence covered with dozens of different species of clematis. On a perfect day, almost the whole wall is lit up with bloom. Ahead you can see a garden gracefully divided into rooms edged with wonderful boxwood and furnished with masses of fascinating plants?velvety peonies, exotic foxtail lilies, whorled Solomon?s seal, golden columbines?all vying for attention.

Then you turn the corner to the back of the house and there they are: hundreds of pots, containers and troughs, each with a carefully considered miniature landscape, designed with an eye to perfection. Dozens of them hold Parker?s collection of small willows, others contain alpine plants, an array of special geraniums or sempervivums, and still others are filled with amazing spiky and striped agaves and succulent aeoniums. In some, Lilliputian trees such as spruce, juniper, false cypress and dwarf mountain ash grow (very slowly) amid stony outcrops dotted with rock plants? small green cushions and mats.

Hand-crafted tufa troughs hold artful arrangements of trees, shrubs and succulents.

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