Monday, June 18, 2012

Sneak Preview: Ponds Big and Small to Inspire You

The Sperling's Pond, Hamilton

Dealing with a deep personal loss is never easy, but somehow Debbie Sperling managed to find in her grief a reason to do good things in her community. Rooted in happy memories of her sister, Jean, and inspired by her loss, Debbie set out in 2010 to organize what she hoped would be the largest pond tour in Canada. The wellspring for this inner strength? A deep spiritual bond with nature, her love of gardening and her own backyard pond. 

"My sister Jean loved nature and my garden's pond," Debbie recalls. "After she was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in February 2009, she would visit as often as possible. I treasured the times I watched her pain and tension disappear as she sat pondering."

In July, Debbie and her sister toured the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice for Palliative Care in Hamilton, ON together. Debbie remembers, "She was nervous at first, but like all those times we sat looking over the pond, her anxiety melted away as she took in the beauty of the home and the smiling compassion of the staff...Within minutes Jean decided to spend her final weeks there."

Jean passed away at peace, having received what the family felt was exceptional care. "Our experience as a family made us want to give back to the Hospice," says Debbie."Jean's fancy for the pond gave me a vision for this project." The pond tour raised over five thousand dollars that first year and has gone on to become an annual event.

The Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice receives approximately 41% of its annual budget from the government, meaning that it must raise the remainder to cover its monthly operating costs. "It is for this reason that events such as the pond tour are critical to the home's survival," says Jan Nichols, the hospice's Director of Development. 

The Lawson Pond, Hamilton

"This year's pond tour will showcase over 20 amazing private gardens,"says co-chair Melanie Downes of Clearwater Ponds. "On Saturday, June 23rd there will be tour stops in Hamilton, Grimsby, Burlington and the surrounding area. Sunday, June 24th will spotlight properties in Oakville, Mississauga and Halton Hills. There is even a "surprise feature garden" that will be open on both days."

The Brown's Pond in Mississauga, ON

The theme for this year's pond tour is "It's all about the memories" highlighting the role that memories have played in inspiring this year's gardens. For the Brown's of Mississauga, their pond is, "Where we begin and end our day. The sights and sounds draw us in and provide us with many happy hours of pleasure and relaxation." 

Thought it was designed to look expansive, this is actually a mid-sized pond 
on an average suburban lot.

Irises are a nice choice for pondside plantings and the Brown's have several pretty varieties.

Located right off the deck, this the perfect place to enjoy a morning coffee 
or to relax on a fine summer evening.

Let's stop on our way to the next pond to admire the roses growing 
all along the walkway to the back garden.

 The Paquette's Pond in Mississauga, ON

The Paquette's pond is a great example of a water feature for a small-sized garden. Water tumbles into a small pond that is just inches deep. Though the pond is only a year old, already the Paquette's already have many happy memories of the times they have spent sitting by the pond.

"The pond is a mecca for cardinals, finches, robins and many varieties of butterflies. We often see different birds drinking at the same time," the Paquettes tell me.

"We even have racoons dropping by during their evening jaunts around the neighbourhood," laughs Robin Paquette. "Last summer they discovered the goldfish and now they think we are offering them up as hor d'oeuvres."

The Luke's Pond in Oakville, ON

For Jackie and Peter Luke, their Japanese-inspired bridge and garden pond has formed the perfect backdrop for a summer wedding, a grandson's christening and garden parties for friends and family. The sound of water cascading down the pond's waterfall (which you can see on the left) has added a lovely ambience to all these cherished summer memories.

Jackie wanted their garden to have a Japanese feel to it, where the emphasis is more on form and foliage than flowers. She did most of the plant selection and Peter did most of the planting.

The garden's design incorporates a large patio area just outside the back door 
with ample seating for large parties. 

Just a short walk across the bridge, there is second flagstone patio complete with a table and chairs.

The Clarke Pond, Halton Hills

There were no trees or grass, let alone a garden when the Clarke's moved into their home ten years ago. In 2004, they commissioned Clearwater Ponds  to design a pond and garden that would transform their 2 acres on the outskirts of Glen Williams into the perfect backyard retreat. 

Water now pools on an upper terrace and flows down a meandering stream, under a stone bridge and then cascades down into a large pond. 

For the Clarke's 2 young boys, their pond is the place where summer memories are made. 

There are goldfish to feed, croaking frogs to hear and needle-thin dragonflies to watch. Though the pond is sizeable, it is only two feet deep, making it the perfect place for supervised summer fun.

Highlights of the 2012 Pond Tour for the Hospice include pond-less waterfalls, small water features and beautifully landscaped gardens filled with colorful summer flowers. There are even prizes to be won and a photography contest to enter. The tour is self-guided, leaving participants free to plan each of the two tour days to their liking. All proceeds from the sale of tickets go directly to the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice. 

"My sister would have loved this tour," Debbie Sperling says. "She would have bought tickets in a heartbeat. Jean would have toured both days, revelling in the tranquility, imagery and sensory stimulation of every pond she could get to."

The 2012 Pond Tour for the Hospice represents a perfect opportunity for you to find the inspiration to create your own personal garden sanctuary. 

Just imagine two, fun-filled days of touring and the natural beauty of this area's most magnificent water gardens. Best of all, it is for a really great cause!

More Information and Links:

Ticket Information:
Tickets for the Pond Tour for the Hospice are available online and at selected retailers throughout the Golden Horsehoe. Tickets are $15 per adult and children under 12 are free of charge. The non-refundable tickets are good for both days of the event and you can visit as many ponds as you wish. The tour takes place rain or shine. For further information, and to purchase your tickets visit:

Thanks to these tour sponsors: Clearwater Ponds and Cole's Pond Store


  1. WOW those are gorgeous! I don't have the space or the work ethic to put a pond in my small yard, so I'll just have to drool over your pictures! Thanks for the tour.

  2. What a terrific event this will be!! And proceeds going to a wonderful cause. Thanks for sharing this with us. The ponds are gorgeous!!

  3. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the tour you offered us here, it must have been twice as nice to visit these lovely ponds in person. Thank you for sharing some of these spectacular places with us.

  4. I am inspired that is for sure what wonderful pictures to make us feel so good inside and so happy I do love them you have such a wonderful blog I love the ponds I wish I lived in an area that had such ponds but I don't so I come and visit your blog

  5. What a wonderful tour, very special. Love the soothing effects of listening to water as it tumbles and is very healing. How nice for the hospice center to have a tranquil spot.

  6. Thanks Jennifer for sharing this sweet story. What an amazing example of channeling grief into a positive project that will help others in the future. She is a special and inspiring woman.

  7. I am sure these tours are very lovely as water sounds really have very calming effects both to sick and healthy. I love also those bridges on them and yes i would love to do what those two kids are doing! must be fun

  8. Amazing and breath taking! :-)

  9. You have featured some magical ponds there - featuring a very worthy project. Who can fail to be calmed by them.

  10. I would love to have a pond, even a small one. Instead I have a fountain that makes a great bubbling water sound. The ponds are beautiful and give one a peaceful feeling.


  11. All gorgeous! What a marvellous thing for Debbie to do in her sister's memory. I am sure Jean would be very proud of her.

  12. Jennifer girl you have struck such a deep cord within me posting this wonderful information and such stunning pictures of pure retreats. I adore ponds but sadly we can't manage to have one here .. we do enjoy our solar birdbath fountain that does have a wonderful trickling noise affect : )
    The little wooden bridge is like icing on the cake .. to here frogs would be such heaven for me .. we are so lucky to have little wildlife souls in our small garden .. rabbits, chipmunks, assorted birds and the nesting Jenny Wren with her babies is so cute.
    What was a sad event in life for Debbie was tuned into such a loving gesture .. Jean's last days must have been so comforting to her .. and now a wonderful ongoing gift will continue with her sister's help.
    A very touching post Jennifer .. I loved it .. and you new header picture is beautiful ! .. There are so many different varieties of herbs now it is mind bending to know them all .. I keep discovering new ones .. in the last years I had one called (I think?) Magic Michael basil and it was amazing !
    I missed out on a lot I usually have like Pineapple sage .. and fennel ... I was too slow getting to the garden centers and POOF ! they were gone LOL

  13. Such gorgeous captures! Your blog is just a visual delight!

  14. What beautiful pictures and lovely ponds! Gorgeous :)

  15. great ponds, don't think we have enough space in the garden, but we have a small fell though :D

  16. Jennifer, thanks for sharing this tour!I loved the Luke's pond in Japanese style.

  17. Wow Jennifer. Girl I want one of each. LOL! They are all so lovely.

  18. I can understand Jennifer how this girl could find peace by looking at the pond. It's a great initiative of her sister to organize this kind of gardentours in memory of her sister. There is always so much to see at a pondside. The wildlife, the fish, the insect's. I hope a lot of people will go on this tour.
    Have a lovely evening

  19. Hi Jennifer - what incredible ponds! Each one of them beautifully constructed and looking very very natural. Water features make gardens so peaceful and restful and all of these gardens produce that type of atmosphere. So nice that the money from the tour is going to the hospice. Excellent idea.
    If you have time, I believe the Hamilton Burlington area's Open Gardens tour is on from June 24th - July 3rd. I'm sure the Spectator would have details on its website. Rob Howard himself (garden editor) is finally opening his own garden for the first time. He lives in Westdale, a gorgeous area near McMaster. If you make it, I look fwd to seeing photos!

    1. Hi Astrid, Rob Howard's garden is a special feature garden that will be open both days the pond tour. His garden has a new water feature that was recently installed and I am looking forward to seeing it. I am sure that I will have photos of his garden to share.

  20. Those are some beautiful ponds. Thank you for sharing them! What a fun outing. ~Julie in PA

  21. What incredible ponds!! I really admire Debbie for creating such a meaningful tour. I wish I lived closer so I could attend. :o)

  22. Those are some serious ponds, absolutely amazing! They make mine look like a little puddle! It must have been a wonderful tour, what a touching idea.

  23. Oh, I wish I lived closer and could go on this tour! If there is one thing I would love to add to my garden, it's a pond, especially one with a small waterfall. There is something so relaxing about the sounds and sights of rushing water. Maybe one of these days...sigh. Thanks for giving us a peek into some fantastic gardens; this sounds like such a great cause as well.

  24. Terrific! :)
    Thank you for sharing these spectacular places with me, they are marvelous!
    Happy first day of summer.

  25. What a beautiful tribute to your sister. The ponds are gorgeous and how wonderful that they're contributing to such a worthy cause. Congratulations!

    1. The pond tour is actually a tribute to Debbie Sperling's sister, Jean. All proceeds for the pond tour go to the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice in Hamilton where Jean peacefully spent her final days. I am sure it is a great comfort to Debbie that something positive has sprung from this great loss.


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