Bits and Bites of Everyday Life


Art in the Garden 2011

'No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden.' Hugh Johnson

True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

One of my special treats in years past has been a day trip to Perth on Father’s Day weekend and a visit to Kiwi Gardens’ “Art in the Garden”. Kiwi Gardens celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. The rolling, ten-acre grounds feature beautiful mature gardens showcasing spectacular perennials, stone walls and winding pathways. Unique pieces of art are strategically placed to complement different areas of the gardens.
Last Sunday was the perfect day to visit this gem that attracts green thumbs from all over the region as well as gardening neophytes. Jacques and I strolled through the different areas, examining garden sculptures, blown glass, outdoor furniture, obelisks and arbours, pottery, bird baths and garden fountains ... even colourful butterfly shelters and birdhouses. The materials used for these original works of art include wood, wrought iron, concrete, stone, resins, glass and steel.
John Schweighardt used to be a builder. In 2009, stone carving became a full-time career for John who admits he gets attached to his creations. “I miss these people (his sculptures) when they leave. There’s a relationship that develops when you’re making them.” As Angela Verlaeckt Clark explained to me, each piece has its own secret life and it’s very exciting to discover what lies hidden underneath a rough stone. John also creates rustic birdbaths, sinks and bowls. Angela visited the gardens on Sunday and met up with John. Several area stores carry John’s work. You can visit his website at
  Alberte enjoys the scenery at Kiwi Gardens.

We enjoyed viewing unique pieces such as a large moose, huge pine cones scattered along the walkways, carved animals, totems, stained glass, intricate sculptures made with recycled material, unique nature photography where we had fun discovering all kinds of animals hidden in the scenery. * We never did find the unicorn!!

Of course, the artistic arrangements of the different flowerbeds were just as stunning as the art. The hosta beds were magnificent, so were the different lilies, irises and peonies. All plants are identified so that the visiting gardener can later stop at the nursery and buy perennials to take home. I bought two pots of perennial geraniums in a pretty shade of blue. I already have some pink ones. The flowerbeds that surround my house will have to be redone because they have been mercilessly trampled during ongoing repairs on my veranda. The perennial geraniums will soon come in handy.
Although Kiwi gardens offers tasty baked goods and refreshing beverages along with some live entertainment on this special weekend, we had decided to have lunch at Mexicali Rosa, one of my favourite summer places in Perth. The patio is built alongside the Tay River. We shared a huge plate of nachos, relaxed and watched two fishermen on the other side. Finally, one of them caught a huge carp that put up quite the fight.
Perth is a lovely town, its stone buildings reminiscent of the canal-building era! Lauded as one of the best places in Ontario to retire, it has a lot to offer. Gore Street is lined with all kinds of specialty shops such as River Guild, which we visited. Stewart Park is absolutely beautiful and hosts the annual Stewart Park Music Festival which I attended with Brian one year. Another favourite of mine is the Garlic Festival in late summer. Code’s Mill, situated near the park, is another interesting spot where you will find the Fiddleheads restaurant. Next door, there is a brand new inn and spa where I promise to book a weekend soon.
When we left Perth, we headed over to Balderson for a visit and to buy cheese and chocolate from the Lanark Village Treats. We browsed through the gift store which offers unique giftware and kitchen accessories and admired the fine-quality furniture at the Amish store. This store has added a kitchen-cabinet section that is worth visiting.
When we left the area, the weather was still gorgeous, traffic was good and we happily headed back to Ottawa for a Father’s Day dinner. I plan to return to Kiwi Gardens in July before I rearrange the flowerbed along the front of the house. It might also be a good time to book that weekend at the spa. Why not?
I leave you with this quote from Lindley Karstin: “Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.”
Enjoy the summer!
P.S. If you have never been to Perth or the Kiwi Gardens, take a drive down Highway 7 and enjoy its many attractions. You won’t regret it!



Yes, this was the perfect weekend to enjoy 'Art in the Garden' at Kiwi Gardens.  In the next few weeks, selected works of mine will be there also.  How cool is that!

John's work is wonderful and you are correct, we think very much the same way...the stones hold the souls of ancestors and when they go to their new homes, a part of the artist goes with them also.  This week I said goodbye to 'Dance With Ancestors' and it was very difficult.

I hope a lot of your readers visit Kiwi Gardens to buy new and wonderful plants...I did; but, also, to see and feel the symbiotic relationship between a garden and art.  A wonder to behold, truly!


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