Monday, May 16, 2011

Merlin's Hollow, Aurora Ontario


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.

Magnolia

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.


Primula polyantha

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.

Iris Bucharica


Grape Hyacinth 'Muscari armeniacum'

Trillium


Primula denticulata


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.

25 comments:

  1. What a marvellous outing you've shared with us, today! Had it been raining or were the gardens just freshed watered? All of the plants look so beautiful sorting their glistening droplets of water.

    You would never be guilty of trying my patience BTW! I can never tire of seeing beautiful gardens and landscapes! Your pictures are really lovely and it felt as though I really was there wandering quietly along the paths, smelling the heavily scented air, listening to the birds and the gently falling water. What a glorious garden, what a delightful name and history...please DO show us more ;)

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  2. Oh how I wish my husband can make a promise making a beautiful garden for me;-). A very beautiful garden and how nice that is it open for public for free. In Australia the open scheme garden you have to pay $6 per person. I can't afford a family of 5 to visit these garden.

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  3. Desiree, Thanks for your kind and appreciative words. It was not only raining, it was pouring at times- a true test of one's gardening enthusiasm.

    Maylay-Kadazan, David Tomlinson, is a generous man who makes his gardens available to everyone with his annual open garden days.

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  4. Choice plants in a thoughtful setting - I especially like the rock and water garden. Lovely tour, great photos!

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  5. What a beautiful garden. Thanks for showing it to us. I also loved that you included the overhead plans. Magnificent flowers!

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  6. Thank you for showing us this beautiful spring garden! I enjoyed the tour and your story very much. It must have been a great trip.

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  7. Beautiful photos from a beautiful garden. I was quite taken with the white iris Bucharica and have made a note of it. How Mr. Thomlinson has managed to so intensely garden on 3/4 of an acre is amazing; a true gift of love to his wife.

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  8. Breathtaking!!! The Checkered Lily and the Primula denticula are my favorites I think. Absolutely incredible. Love the shot of the blue bridge in the top left corner and all the flowers. Great capture. Can't say enough good things. Thanks for the "tour"!!!
    K

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  9. Wonderful garden and wonderful photos..... Love the white iris .

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  10. Jennifer, thanks for taking us along to this beautiful garden. Wonderful photos, as always, my favorite is the Grape Hyacinth with the Virginia Bluebells behind it. (or is it some Lungworts?)
    The thyme lawn sounds most intriguing.

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  11. What a gorgeous garden, thanks for the tour. :) That blue bench is so striking.

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  12. What a fabulous garden! I hope you will do another post with more photos. There is a lot to absorb. Thanks for sharing your visit!

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  13. Wow, Jennifer what a glorious garden. I am almost ready to paint my garden bench blue!

    Eileen

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  14. I was wondering about the history of the garden.It looks impeccable. So many wonderful plants, particularly the primroses.

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  15. I think, I fall in love with this garden. More photos, please !!! BEAUTIFUL !!! Everything is like a dream ...I will come back to see all those perfect pictures again ! Thank you, for posting !

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  16. I am gob smacked. The Winters that you have to endure in your part of the world, yet in such a short time you can show us images of a garden such as this. Terrific pictures.

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  17. What a beautiful story and a beautiful garden. Thank you so much for the tour.

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  18. oh my goodness, feel free to try my patience, that garden is wonderful. So many colours and everything so beautifully laid out. I like that you included the garden plan at the beginning.

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  19. What a fabulous garden with so many flowers. I could stayed there forever shooting all beautiful flowers and just enjoy the environment.

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  20. What a great looking garden, it looks very full. It is nice of them to open it to the public. I love that pop of blue from the bench.

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  21. Carolyn, David Tomlinson first began work on his garden in 1981 and lovingly maintains it to this day. He designed and built the garden himself and grew most of the plants from seed. I learned of his garden when David came to lecture at the Creditvalley Horticultural Society (to which I am a member). Each year, Merlin's Hollow is open to the public, free of charge, on the 2nd Saturday in May, the 2nd Saturday in June, the 1st Saturday in July and the 2nd Sunday in July.

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  22. Beth Tomlinson and her ever so devoted consort Craig.July 7, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    On behalf of David and Deirdre I would like to offer thanks for all the kind comments and the wonderful blog entry. Deirdre however has become the predominant keeper of the garden of late and if you would like to see one of the prettiest smiles in all of Canada ask her for her deadhead count.

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  23. Yes, I too have spent many a happy time at merlins hollow, its been great to read all the comments about my wonderful aunt and uncle, true environmentalists, and a wonderful garden.

    Ruth, England.

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  24. Oh and hello dearest Beth and her devoted consort Craig,, Ruth England xx

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  25. Last year it was my first summer to visit the Merlin's hollow garden and I had difficulty leaving lol. The flowers are just beautiful. Great review and photography. Anna :)

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