9 Things That Inspire Lyndon Penner

The gardening and landscaping expert shares why the Dixie Chicks, Reader Rock Garden and his spade from Lee Valley Tools are all things he can’t live without.

Photograph courtesy of Lyndon Penner.

Lyndon Penner comes from a long line of gardeners – he learned from his mother, who learned from his grandparents, who learned from his great-grandparents. “I think it’s genetic,” he says. “I remember being five years old. My mom and I were planting seeds and I thought how magical it was that a handful of dust turned into flowers.” Now something of a garden and landscape guru, Penner appears regularly on CBC Homestretch and recently released his third book, Native Plants for the Short Season Yard.

Here are nine things he can’t live without.


The Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way

The Dixie Chicks embody this independent spirit and their music came along at a time in my life when I needed that. To this day, I’m always listening to this album.


Spade from Lee Valley Tools

I do a lot of digging, for both myself and in clients’ gardens (it’s possible I was a badger in a previous life). In our heavy prairie soils, you need a spade that can do the job, and this is the best one I’ve found.


Bicyclegardening Blog

My friend Cheryl really knows how to put a design together. Her blog never fails to inspire me. She really encourages me to be a bit bolder with my designs.

Reader Rock Garden

William Reader had this idea that he was going to turn Calgary into the garden city of the West, and he’s one of my gardening heroes. Nestled right in the centre of this city we have this quiet, inspiring, lovely little place that no one really knows about – but it’s incredible.


Calypso’s Taverna

I have always loved Greek food and Calypso’s is outstanding – good for lunch, good for drinks with friends, good for out-of-town guests.


Caf Rolo Latte from Higher Ground

I’m a coffee fiend and the Caf Rolo Latte at Higher Ground is worth the wait. It’s like those Rolo caramel chocolates married to coffee. It’s probably way more calories than I need, but I don’t care – it’s delicious.



I got a bumblebee tattoo above my heart at The Arthouse Inc in Kensington last summer and the artist did a magnificent job. The detail was incredible, so if I need more ink, that’s where I’m going.


Mary Oliver Poetry

Oliver is an American poet who mostly writes about nature and wilderness and our connection to it. If I’m going through dark places or find myself discouraged, her poetry reminds me of what’s important in life.


Branford Beauty

The Branford Beauty is a particular form of Japanese painted fern I got from Rundle Wood Gardens in Altadore. The colouring is odd for a fern – silvery green with notes of violet. It’s a little bright spot in my shady corner, and I love it.

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