When David Tomlinson first married, he promised his new bride he would create a beautiful garden for her. It was not until some years later, when they immigrated to Canada, and bought a house in Aurora, Ontario that he was able to fulfil his promise to her.
On their 3/4 of an acre, David set out to design series of gardens within a garden. First, he enclosed the property within a high cedar hedge. Then, he used more cedar hedges and a series of arched garden gates to partition the property into four distinct garden rooms: a Perennial Flower Garden, a Fragrant Garden (with a thyme lawn), a Rock and Water Garden (with a stream and pond), and a Winter Garden (with a formal knot garden). He named the garden he had created Merlin's Hollow.
1. Cedar Hedges 2. Sculpture 3. Long Arch 4. Herbs 5. Thyme Lawn 6. Gazebo 7. Fern Walk 8. Butterfly log pile 9. Dry bed 10. Compost 11. Acid Bed 12. Bog bed 13. Alpine bed 14. Frog pond 15. Stream 16. Snake Hibernacleum 17. Future aviaries 18. Woodland bed 19. Cold frames 20. Bat box 21. Bird house 22. Bird feeder 23. Deck vegetable garden 24. Mason bee box 25. Snag tree 26. Butterfly box 27. Lady bug box 28. Robin shelf
A landscape architect by trade, David designed each garden so that it would have its own distinct character. He included bog and woodland beds, a fern walk, an alpine garden, heritage shrub roses, and raised beds with stone walls. David also incorporated features that would encourage wildlife and insects to take up residence in the garden. He added a stream and pond, birdhouses and feeders, a bat box, Mason bee box and a snake hibernacleum ( provides garden snakes with a cool, dry place to shelter from weather extremes).
An avid collector, David Tomlinson's garden includes over 1500 different varieties of plants, many of them rare and unusual. Most impressive is the fact that he grew most of these plants himself from seed.
On the day of our visit, I took so many pictures that I am likely to try your patience by asking you to look at them all. So in this post, I have decided to concentrate on two of the gardens: the Perennial Garden, which is to the front and right of the house, and the Rock and Water Garden, which is at the back of the house.
A gravel path leads past the house and through a wooden arch into the Perennial Garden. The path sweeps around the perimeter of the garden and leads you past the expansive perennial borders. Tulips and daffodils were planted throughout.
The Perennial Garden also had a lovely assortment of different Primula.
Now, we are going to turn to the right and enter the Rock and Water Garden.
Spring Pea, 'Lathyrus vernus'
Spring Pea, 'Lathyrus vernus'
Double Bloodroot, 'Sanguinaria canadensis "Multiplex'
Checkered Lily, 'Fritillaria affinis'
Above left: Water cascades down a waterfall into the pond. Above right: a yellow-colored Asian Marsh Marigold dips down into the water of the pond. Above: The bridge over the little stream that runs into the pond.
The vivid, blue wooden bench by the pond. You can see white Iris Bucharica in the lower left foreground and patches of blue Brunnera macrophylla and pink lungwort to the right of the bench.
Grape Hyacinth 'Muscari armeniacum'
White Marsh Marigold (left) and a plum-colored Hellebore (right), which took seven years to bring from seed to flower.
Each year, Merlin's Hollow is open to the public, free of charge, on the 2nd Saturday in May, the 2nd Saturday in June, the1st Saturday in July and 2nd Sunday in July. If you would like the address and driving directions, please feel free to email me.