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MARK AND BEN CULLEN: Fusion gardening brings together new trends with traditional designs

Fusion gardening blends new trends with traditional designs.
Fusion gardening blends new trends with traditional designs. - Submitted

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.


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.

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 skillset that is earned by members of our professional trade association, when they take a course in this program.

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 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.

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.

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, @markcullengardening, on Facebook and bi-weekly on Global TV’s National Morning Show.

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