The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Touring gardens in midst of heat wave


by John Beaulieu (Bowl-you)

As I write this in mid-July we are having a heat wave with temperatures setting records, 34 degrees C feeling like 44 with the humidity. Not much gardening getting done. It really made me think about all the hard work that folks had done to have open gardens. We went on the annual summer tour of the Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society members gardens. We did not make it to all on the tour, but did get to most of them. We found that some areas have had rain that had gone around us here in Midhurst. Our own gardens are looking sad because of the lack of rain. There are watering restrictions and outdoor burning bans happening all around the area.

The first garden we visited was in the centre of Aurora, about an hours drive to the south of us. Merlin’s Hollow, as it was called, was an oasis in the Aurora downtown. This English style garden of David and Dierdre Tomlinson was a 3/4 acre garden started in 1981.

Enclosed by high cedar hedges, each garden area has it’s own distinct character and a series of arches invite the visitor from one garden to the next.

Features within the garden include woodland beds, a fern walk, alpine garden with scree beds, a bog and a pond. Stone walls enclose the raised beds.

Brenda enjoyed the daylilies, and I found that David had about 30 species of hardy geraniums. I also solved a mystery… My very first hardy geranium that I got from a local farmer’s market vendor in the mid 1980s was called ‘Tomlinson’s Geranium’, a name that I could find no record of. It was in fact a G. sanguineum, but it had probably originated here at the Tomlinson’s garden.

Merlin’s Hollow was filled with all kinds of fun sculptures.

Our next Stop was about an hour west in the Hockley Valley, at Trish Symons’ Hockley Meadows Farm. There were 166 acres – half on the Niagara escarpment and half down to the Nottawasaga River in the Valley.

Trish gave guided tours to each group of members that arrived. She took us to the edge of the escarpment so we could lookout across the Hockley Valley.

The group was also taken past and through the 7 large scree beds where cactus (I’m sure they love this weather) and succulents thrive.

Trish has an extensive collection of hostas, over 50 potted plants growing on her deck, and an inground swimming pool which has been filled in, and planted!

The next garden was also in the Hockley Valley.

Liz and George Knowles have been developing their garden for 37 years.

Over the years, the initial three large perennial beds and vegetable garden have been supplemented by a sand bed, two ponds, woodland gardens, a grass garden and a large rock garden.

I loved the use of gravel for the wide walkways between some of the gardens. A large trough made from pressure treated wood housed an alpine crevice garden. I had even spotted and old friend, Geranium ‘Orkney Cherry’, in the gardens.

The last stop was back east to Schomberg, to the 2 acre garden of Beverley Lunau. Her country home is surrounded by perennial borders accented with many flowering shrubs, ornamental trees and evergreens.

Being the last scheduled stop, Beverly provided a barbeque picnic for the group and we all brought an additional pot-luck item. We had a great time talking about all the wonderful gardens while sitting in the shade of a big maple tree.

I don’t get to very many of the ORG&HPS meetings, but do make a point of going on at least one of the 3 garden tours that the group organizes each summer. There are so many great ideas that you see in other members gardens, some of which you can apply to your own. It was a great job done by all whom organize these tours.

More blog posts by bowl_you

Previous post: Geranium pyrenaicum

Next post: Geranium phaeum as a hedge/row



Lovely gardens.

20 Jul, 2013


Fantastic pictures....what a great tour!
The Hockley gardens certainly look very lush.
And how inventive, the shovel and nail plant!!!! I don't know how anybody could think of such a novel idea!

20 Jul, 2013


I definitely want a shovel plant like that one! You must have had an exhausting tour, but very worth while - some grand gardens and great ideas to take home.

20 Jul, 2013


Lovely way to spend the day, all the gardens are grand and I really enjoyed your tour, thankyou for sharing John......

21 Jul, 2013


Lovely gardens, thank you so much for sharing. :)

21 Jul, 2013


Thank you for taking the time to share your garden tours with us. Thoroughly enjoyed my walk around :)

21 Jul, 2013

Add a comment

Recent posts by bowl_you

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    24 Sep, 2012

  • Gardening with friends since
    22 Apr, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    19 Feb, 2013

  • Gardening with friends since
    22 Jan, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    17 Jan, 2012

  • Gardening with friends since
    16 Mar, 2010

  • Gardening with friends since
    18 Jun, 2012

  • Gardening with friends since
    22 Oct, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    9 Aug, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    9 May, 2011