Fusion Gardening

by Mark and Ben Cullen

It is time to change the way that we design gardens.

One exciting concept brings together new trends with traditional garden design concepts. New trends include attracting pollinators, sequestering rain water, and a place to grow food.

Traditional concepts include a place to eat out of doors, read, an activity area for kids and a storage place for garden gear.

Fusion Gardening brings these elements together, or, put another way, fuses them together under an umbrella concept.

Many aspects of Fusion gardening contradict our traditional vision of what a beautiful garden looks like and how it functions. Rain water in a Fusion landscape is captured. Bees and hummingbirds are attracted to a wide variety of blooming plants that are choreographed to bloom in succession throughout the season. Pavers used for an eating area are permeable, allowing water to flow freely through them. And the ‘understory’, the material underneath the pavers, consists of course gravel, providing a place for rain water to slowly seep into the sub soil. (OK, I think as a reader, give me a direct, small example of how fusion gardening contradicts traditional designs)

WATER: Fusion gardens, above all, replace our desire to move water off our property as fast as possible with a management system that puts rainwater to effective use. Rain gardens are created when you lower the grade of your yard and sequester rain water to grow plants that are suited to wet locations. When a rain garden in the spring, dries out in the heat of summer, the selected plants thrive in heat and dryness. In a fast paced, mid-summer deluge of rain, the same plants tolerate ground water, soaking it up and storing much of it for use during dry spells.

Bio swales, rain barrels and garden ponds can play a role in diverting and managing rain water also.

This paragraph, below, can be boiled down to one sentence, referring to a new training and certification program re: Landscape Ontario.

What is a Fusion Landscape Professional?

A Fusion Landscape Professional (FLP) is an industry certified expert. The term Fusion Landscaping has been coined to describe the skill-set that is earned by members of our professional trade association, when they take a course in this program.

This paragraph, below, does not answer its own question.

What is Fusion Gardening?

Fusion Landscaping works in harmony with the natural conditions of your property. It blends a traditional garden with elements of colour, texture and water-retaining features.

As you dream about how you would like to use your outdoor space and what it might look like you may consider where you will eat, relax, enjoy a recreation area and even where you will provide storage. Fusion garden design incorporates all your requirements into a plan that manages storm water, attracts pollinators and creates space for composting and rain barrels.A Google search of fusion gardening sends me to Region of Peel and Toronto Botanical Garden sites, and both describe fusion gardening as including many more aspects than just water. For instance, the Region of Peel’s website lists these aspects of fusion gardening for readers/Peel residents to consider when planning their own:A composter or rain barrel?A garden shed or storage area?

An area for your kids to play?

A secluded spot to relax?

An area for your barbecue?

A space for outdoor entertaining?

A vegetable garden?It is just a good idea!

Fusion gardening makes a whole lot of sense to us. First, rain water is a resource, not a waste product. So why would we be in a hurry to send it to the lake, (Single quotes are cropping back into your columns; most of the time – like this instance – quotes are not needed and when they are, never use single quotes, always use doubles please.) when our own gardens can benefit from the use of it? Fusion Landscaping provides a place for excess rain water to travel vertically, through layers of aggregate and soil in your new garden.

(These are all good, relevant points and deserve some fleshing out – like: How exactly does a fusion garden absorb excess rainwater? What kinds of plants for bio-diversity? How does a fusion garden reduce maintenance costs?) Sean Hayes, president of Clintar Landscape Management has filled training spots for the program and has this to say, “I have noticed that some clients assume these design and maintenance strategies are going to be more expensive than typical garden designs. But it does not have to be more expensive and, in fact, clients can actually save a lot of money on the back end.”

This means that you will use less water to maintain your garden or none at all when you switch to ‘Fusion’ gardening. Flowering plants like echinacea, rudbeckia, yarrow and native ferns are tough and (Give us examples/tell us what kinds of plants you’re talking about here)  self-maintaining. They do not need to be hand watered after they are established. Densely planted, there is very little need for weeding.

Take a moment right now to reflect on the sounds of bird song, bees buzzing in abundance as they forage nectar and pollen from native flowers and the sweet smell of spring rain as it warms the soil after a long, benign Canadian winter. (It will be the middle of Feb. when you tell readers to do this; maybe if you write it in a more descriptive way to create these 3 things?) There are three images that are enhanced through Fusion garden design.

Fusion at Canada Blooms.

In exactly one month, the largest garden festival in Canada comes to Toronto and Fusion landscaping will be featured. A (this is the 3rd mention of Landscape Ontario in this column) Fusion feature garden, designed by Parklane Landscapes, will be a knock-out. Plan on visiting to learn more about it.

Fusion garden design is here to stay, and we think it is an exciting concept of gardening in the future.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster, tree advocate and holds the Order of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them at markcullen.com, @markcullengardening, on Facebook and bi-weekly on Global TV’s National Morning Show.