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Five Gardening Lessons Learned at Minter Gardens in British Columbia

Updated on November 13, 2019
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Sheri lived in the Pacific Northwest for 50 years and built dozens of gardens. She now gardens in Florida.

A past trip to Harrison Hotsprings resort brought the opportunity to take a quick day trip to Minter Gardens, no longer in business. It cost fifteen dollars per person to visit the gardens, open approximately from 9-5 and takes about two hours to see casually. The gardens provided many good examples of combining a natural setting with formal and informal gardens in a variety of types. They also taught a variety of garden lessons about using water, man-made structures, texture, contrast, and different terrains in developing a garden design. They are truly beautifully crafted to make every garden look and feel like something special. These lessons still offer value to any gardener planning their garden design.

How to Use Different Terrains


Minter Gardens was built on a hillside below the Cascade Mountains on a treed lot with many native evergreen trees that provide a sense of enclosure and height. The rockery garden shown in the photograph makes use of plants that grow well on a hillside and in a rocky terrain and flowers that bloom in huge drifts. A small decorative house gives the feeling of a small private garden. Other terrains demonstrated at Minter Gardens are natural drainage areas, areas beneath trees, and flat lawns and vary by the amount of sun and water that are available.

How to Use Contrast

Photograph 2 : Contrast used in landscape design at Minter Gardens
Photograph 2 : Contrast used in landscape design at Minter Gardens

Many examples of contrast are included at Minter Gardens. Trees planted usually have a variety of colors from rich rubies, variegated patterns, bright and dark greens. Formal gardens often use color wheel contrasting colors such as the yellow and purple flowers in photograph 2, or in another case, red and white flowers. Photograph 2 also shows large and small leaves, thin and rounded areas, and a mix of rock, wood, pottery, and natural elements.

How to Use Texture

Photograph 3 : Using texture in landscape design at Minter Gardens, BC
Photograph 3 : Using texture in landscape design at Minter Gardens, BC

All plants have a natural texture and when green is the primary color in an area for the season, texture is the only thing that makes garden elements stand out from each other. At Minter Gardens, every planting that is made uses a variety of contrasting textures. Lacy maple tree leaves are combined with tall heavy arborvitae. Thin mounds of fountain-shaped grasses contrast with tall spiky iris. Huge frilly leaves are contrasted with small delicate flowers. Natural river rock contrasts well in gardens with small creeping plants.

How to Use Man-Made Structures

Photograph 4 : Using man-made structures in landscape design at Minter Gardens, British Columbia
Photograph 4 : Using man-made structures in landscape design at Minter Gardens, British Columbia

Minter Gardens can teach a gardener many tricks about different man-made structures. Fences, cement walls, trellis, garden paths all add a different style to a garden. Natural structures also are used to add a feeling of whimsy in the case of topiaries shaped like women or peacocks or formality in the case of hedge walled planting areas especially for the rose garden. Fencing is provided by rails and walls. Bridges are made of stone or wood. Any feature built in the garden was used as a support for a plant even if it was only moss. Additions of artwork were selected to look like a close part of the natural surroundings. My favorite was a pottery face added to a cedar tree trunk that was both subtle and amusing.

How to Use Water Features

Photograph 5 : Using water features in landscape design at Minter Gardens, British Columbia
Photograph 5 : Using water features in landscape design at Minter Gardens, British Columbia

Water features at Minter Gardens are plentiful because of a natural stream that was cultivated and directed to water the gardens throughout. Huge ponds and smaller ponds look either natural or formal. Streams provide flow, noise, water for birds, and a good contrast for water loving plants and statues of birds. A water wheel is used as decoration and to provide water to the Japanese Garden region.

When planning your gardens, be sure that you consider the uses of the special parts in your terrain. Add contrast and texture by careful selection of plants. Use man-made structures and water features to enhance the overall look and feel of your garden. The result will be a garden where you spend many hours of enjoyment.


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