Friday, May 11, 2012

Return to Merlin's Hollow

When it comes to weather, there is no magic in the timing of my visits to Merlin's Hollow. On my first visit to David and Deirdre Tomlinson's garden in Aurora, Ontario, it was not only raining, it was pouring!

The weather forecast for my second planned visit called for showers in the afternoon. As I grabbed my camera and hopped into the car that morning, I crossed my fingers and decided to hope for the best. 

Luck did not travel with me! 

I swear that it commenced to rain the very moment I steered the car onto the exit ramp for Aurora. Then, as I stepped out of the car and opened my umbrella, light rain turned into a heavy downpour. 

Seconds later the lightening and thunder began.

Have you ever tried to take pictures with a camera while holding an umbrella? There is a lot of juggling involved. For this reason, many of my pictures are slightly out of focus.

For those of you who may have missed my first post on Merlin's Hollow, the garden was designed by David to be a series of 4 themed gardens surrounded by a tall cedar hedge. At the entrance to each of the 4 gardens is an arched garden gate. 

There is 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 (that is a formal knot garden that looks great even in winter). 

What prompted me to brave the weather and make this second visit was plain and simple curiosity. 

I don't know about you, but I find that after the tulips and daffodils have faded, there is a bit of a lull in my garden where there is little or no color. 

Sure there are the alliums take over where the other bulbs have left off, but overall, there is a lot of green and not much else until the summer perennials and roses really kick in.

Merlin's Hollow was spectacular in early May, but I wondered how David and Deirdre manage to carry that early spring color through those last few weeks in May and first week in June?

The answer in good part? Columbines! Lots of them. And in every pretty shade imaginable.

But what else did Merlin's Hollow have to offer by way of color in those early days of June? 

Let's take a look around and see. First, we will look at the Perennial Flower Garden (Lower left on the garden plan).

In this front part of the garden, there were irises of all colors. 
(Sorry, David was unsure of the names of the particular varieties.)

Cushion Spruge, Euphorbia Polychroma

Centaurea hypoleuca 'John Coutts' (For some reason, the flower here has photographed to be much more purple than it really appears. 'John Coutts' is actually more of a magenta color.)

Centaurea montana


While at the front of the garden, we will take a quick one-picture-look at the formal knot garden by the house (the Winter Garden in the lower right corner on the garden plan).

Now let's head into the top lefthand side of the garden, where there is a thyme lawn and a gazebo ( The 'Fragrant Garden' on the garden plan above).

The secret to the success of this thyme lawn? David says it is as simple as poor, gravely soil.

Finally, (sorry this post is getting hopelessly long!) we will head out of the Fragrant Garden and enter the Rock and Water Garden (see top right on the plan).

Here there is a small pond, bridge and waterfall.

A Thalictrum that appears almost as wet as I was at this point in my garden tour! 

But before we go, let's take a very brief look at some of the beautiful irises in this part of the garden.

Have a great weekend and happy gardening!

More Information and Links: 

This Saturday will be the first Merlin's Hollow Open Garden for this year. The dates for the 2012 open gardens are: 
Saturday, May 12th
Saturday, June 9th 
Saturday, July 7th 
Sunday, July 15th

Here is a good general information link on Merlin's Hollow with address and contact information: Merlin's Hollow.


  1. What beautiful pictures - you can't even tell it was raining. I love columbines. I think they are so pretty and delicate and I love the color on the first iris. Just wonderful. I am going to have to look for that type for my garden :)

  2. Rain or not... you managed to get some really lovely pictures!

  3. Wow, what a fabulous garden! Thanks for the inspiration. I love all of the columbines... wish the bunnies here would stop eating them so I could grow them. Maybe if I plant 300, some will survive :-)

  4. Wat a fantastic garden. I love to see the aquilia's. I love to see the big leafes of the astiboide tabularis near to the bridge. What fantastic day you must have here. Great photo's of the flowers Jennifer.
    Have a nice weekend

  5. The Aquilegias, Tradescantia and Thalictrum look beautiful even in the thundering rain. Excellent photos.

  6. I agree that there is a bit of a lull between the spring bulbs and early summer flowers - but they've been able to fill that gap beautifully. Rain or shine, this garden is spectacular.

  7. This is a thoughtfully designed garden, and one test of good design is that it looks fantastic in the rain or any weather. And you got some great shots, even in the worst of conditions!

  8. Jennifer,

    This is a wonderful place so jam packed with tons of perennials. I have had the same problem with the camera every so often, rain and more rain. I am really thinking of getting a waterproof camera for such occasions.

    Your photos are wonderful, love the raindrops on the flowers.


  9. You managed your umbrella and camera very well indeed, your photos are amazing. What a wonderful garden you visited, no wonder you went back for a return visit. There were lots of inspiring planting combinations, I'm sure you came back with lots of ideas.

  10. Thank you so much for the lovely tour! I'm thankful for all the photographs and plan to "pin" them for garden inspiration.

  11. Beautiful garden Jennifer, glad you braved the rain and juggled the camera and umbrella to get some wonderful photos. I love raindrops on blooms in pictures.

  12. Jennifer, I read your post earlier, but wasn't able to comment. What a beautiful piece. Your photos are excellent, as always. It may have been a rainy day, but it was perfect for photography!

    I've wanted to ask you, what kind of camera are you using? I use an Olympus E-420 and have been extremely happy with it, but I've managed to damage the viewfinder area. I'm taking it to Henry's tomorrow because I haven't been able to focus properly. I'm hoping they will be able to repair it...


  13. It may have been raining but the light and colours are sensational. Love the alliums....and all the others too.

  14. Glorious! Victoria gardens are lovely, but with our dry summers, they usually lack the lushness I remember from Ontario gardens.
    I loved the columbine. I once had a drift of them in the most wonderful periwinkle blue and have been looking for it ever since. In my garden here I now have pink red.

  15. Thank you for the incredibly inspirational tour.

  16. Incredible photos! Looks like you got lost in time! Such a great job!

  17. My garden has a long way to go, I see. :)

  18. Jennifer girl : )
    I am out of the loop for a while .. but I wanted to say how happy I am about your impression of hellebore .. and , you can have certain hellebore open in staggering time .. mine are going through that now which makes it a very long lasting experience .. and the dried flowers can be beautiful too!
    I still have to correctly identify mine .. there are some that were mislabeled and some I totally forgot which was which .. you know how that can be, we are so busy planting we sort of screw up ? LOL
    I just went out there in between rain showers to clip back Sweet Autumn until I can get to both areas I have her in and properly bind her in on the trellis .. I have to admit the smell of the "Chocolate Vine" is rather amazing for the tiny flower it has .. a mix of pansy scent with candy/chocolate smell ... now who wouldn't love that ?
    This is an amazing garden ... heavenly .. I could get totally lost in it and love being lost ? LOL
    Hope you enjoyed yesterday .. it was so beautiful .. I had a bit of the morning and I was in la la land with my garden , haha .. we are a funny bunch us gardeners eh ?

    1. Joy, Yesterday was indeed perfect gardening weather. I have a chocolate vine, but it has yet to bloom. I can't wait for it to bloom now. Sounds delicious!

  19. What a gorgeous garden! If I had that much garden to work with, I don't think I'd ever come in!

  20. Great idea visiting another garden to see what plants are blooming there. I love columbine and mine are going to bloom this year! I saw buds today and was very excited. So many forms and colours in these plants.

  21. What a lovely, lovely garden - just what I aspire too - (NEARLY THERE, NOT QUITE). Truly, a dream garden - thanks for sharing.

  22. What a wonderful place this is Jennifer, and you sure did better than I did a couple of days ago (with camera and umbrella)!!! Beautiful photographs, and thank you so much for taking us along.
    Have a fantastic Monday!

  23. Hey, Jennifer, it's hard to believe you were balancing umbrella and camera; your images are beautiful, and the rain enhances plants' looks as well. What a collection.

  24. It wasn't too long it was just fabulous. Our Aberdeen garden very much has the lull which you talk of. Beautiful garden and great rain washed plants. The Columbines are earlier to bloom than ours and the tradescantia I have never heard named spiderwort, just had to google it. Thank you for a very enjoyable experience.

  25. What a glorious garden! I could spend hours daydreaming in it! :)
    Thanks so much for the lovely virtual tour.
    Have a lovely week.

  26. I think you did well with holding an umbrella and taking photos with one hand. Your photos are beautiful as always.

  27. So beautiful. Absolutely amazing. Have a great week. Greetings from Romania


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