About Me: Tony Spencer

In one form or another, I may have always been a gardener. Certainly, I’ve been growing (and occasionally killing) things since year dot.

I’m a writer by profession and a planting designer by passion. I grew up with a promiscuous muse making music, poetry, and art in equal measure – playing and composing on guitar and writing performance poetry.

In my bohemian years, I scraped by with seasonal stints working as a landscaper for a guerilla company called ACME Environmentals in Toronto, and later with Parks Canada in Banff, Alberta.

Tony in cafe

Over 15 years ago, I fell in love with gardens all over again – through the visionary work of Dutch planting designer, Piet Oudolf. As someone not adverse to solitude,  I retreated to my former cottage with stacks of books to teach myself how to create a garden inspired by his philosophy and style of planting design.

Now and then, I like to venture out from my own home ground to visit some of the more legendary naturalistic gardens of the world in the U.S., England and the Netherlands, where I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from the master himself and his longtime colleague, British garden writer, Noel Kingsbury at Hummelo.

I’ve since met a number of their friends and peers including leading German innovators, Cassian Schmidt and his wife Bettina Jaugstetter at Hermannshof, and plantsman and grower Roy Diblik out of Northwind Farm in Wisconsin.

I’m also deeply involved with a remarkable global group of designers and gardeners who converge in my Facebook group Dutch Dreams. We’re all a part of what is loosely called the New Perennial Movement currently taking the zeitgeist by storm – feel free to join us by subscribing to my blog or via Facebook. 

I was super delighted to win the 2015 Garden Writers Association (GWA) Gold Award for ‘Best Overall Electronic Media’. This honour inspired me to take on the role of Co-regional Director for the GWA here in Canada with an aim to work with my fellow writers and creatives.

Now in 2017, I’m busy planning a new garden experience up at our historic cabin in the post-glacial rolling hills of Mono, Ontario – part of the Niagara escarpment: a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve. I also selectively take on professional planting design projects for people keen to create something deep and different in their own private garden worlds.

Looking for a different kind of speaker with stellar visuals for your hort group or botanical garden? I’ll be speaking again this year at the 2017 Canada Blooms, major horts around town, as well as teaching Planting Design at the Toronto Botanical Garden with special workshops on a regular basis. Please message me here at the blog for my avails and rates.

I hope you enjoy The New Perennialist. I encourage you to go back into the archives to more deeply explore this most sensational form of new garden expression – attuned to the greater rhythms of life.


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