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Ontario Rock Garden tour


by John Beaulieu

Each year I try to go on at least one of the Ontario Rock Garden & Hardy Plant Society tours. Even though the thrust of the club is towards growing alpines, the members gardens are very varied and you never know what you will see or what great idea you will learn.

Our first stop near Gormley, ON was in a development of large homes on a cul-de-sac with lots of large spruce trees. Going up the circular driveway, the wonderful landscaping did not hint at the interesting areas around back.

There were ponds and bog gardens, and Terry (one of the hosts) told us tales of a garter snake that managed to catch and eat all the goldfish in the ponds!

Terry’s husband Doug showed us through his large greenhouse filled with tropical orchids.

Our second stop was in Stouffville, where Donna showed us around the wonderful cottage-style garden of her small village lot.

Donna’s plants were perfect for the cottage garden style. And of course that must include geraniums!

These very short alliums were very interesting.

Our third garden visited was a 10 acre property near Brooklin (Whitby) ON.

Our host, Sofie, suggested we start our tour with a stroll through the 300 foot long woodland garden… Just turn left at Justin Beaver!

Most of the large clematis collection was growing up stumps and trees.

There was a beautiful vista in every direction.

I loved all the dry-stone walls, and Sofie’s husband John had collected (and placed) all the stones himself.

The seaholly had colourful bugs on it!

There were geraniums such as ‘Rozanne’ and ‘Sanguineum ’Elke’ throughout the garden, but this one caught my eye. The light veins on this G. pratense variety looked like it might be ‘Mrs. Kendall Clark’, a variety I have tried to aquire for some time, but have never managed to get. Sofie said this was the last one in her garden… All the others had been tossed in the compost! It was not behaving well for her. You never know… One gardener’s want list is another’s compost pile!

The long dry-stone river bed and the dock by the 20 foot deep pond, made it feel like you were by a lake.

Fun stuff… Glass balls on an old TV tower!

What a great idea… Flowers made from old plates and cups!

After the three gardens, we just had time to visit the nearby Mason House Gardens, where I was thrilled to find the last pot of this tiny double-flowered erodium.

Another great tour. Not only does the club supply easy to follow maps of the route, but they also suggest other nearby garden centres that you can visit. A big thank you to all the members who volunteer to make these tours such a success.

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Lovely ... thanks for sharing. :o)

9 Jul, 2014


wonderful trip - thank you.

9 Jul, 2014


What a great trip to take. I think the allium with those huge leaves could be A. karataviense. I bought one bulb of this last year but have not seen any sign of any growth as yet. It is supposed to be very hardy so I am a bit disappointed. It is interesting to see all those different gardening styles. I think most folk here would consider Donna's small lot as quite a large garden in the UK. I hope you left your phone number or address with the owner of Mrs Kendall Clark. your new Erodium was a lucky find.

24 Jul, 2014

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