Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Garden Tourist

Visiting gardens can be fun and so inspiring! There is nothing like seeing a plant in a garden setting to give you a true sense of how it grows, what shape it takes and how it mixes in with other plants. And you're bound to come home with a lots of ideas and projects in mind.

How can you find gardens to visit in your area?

Check online to see when your local horticultural society is having its annual garden tour (For those of you here in Canada, Garden Making Magazine has a list of garden tours and events organized by province). There are also public gardens and parks you can visit.

Here in Ontario we are lucky to have an organization of over twenty privately owned gardens that are open to the public in Grey and Bruce Counties. Here is a small sampling of the gardens you can visit:

Moorland Place 

Host: Barry More
102645 Grey Rd. 18, Owen Sound, Ontario
Open daily for self-guided tours.
Donation box at the entrance.

Our first stop is an architectural curiosity. With a rambling series of structural additions, Moorland Place seems like an ancient estate home, but in reality, the house is about fifty years in age. 

The extensive grounds that surround the sprawling manor house have the mysterious feel of a forgotten garden. On the hillside below the house there is a long rows of regal lions, brooding griffins and a great abundance of little cherubs balancing pots of yellow pansies on their heads. 

In the perennial garden, the unkempt mix of long grass, weeds and flowers feels forlorn and deeply romantic.

Within the confines of the high walls of cedar hedging, the air was fragrant with the perfume of peonies in bloom. Pink and purple lupins were everywhere.

Here a mounds of gold-colored Spirea framed by sun-scorched hosta lead 
visitors in yet another direction.

The garden "rooms" of Moorland Place unfold for the visitor as a series of surprise discoveries. You'll never be able to guess what's just around the corner. The garden feels wild, curious and very eerie. Would I recommend a visit? Absolutely!

Earthbound Perennials and Gardens in Red Bay, Ontario (not far from Sauble Beach)

14 Hea Rd, Red Bay, South Bruce Peninsula
Hosts: Brenda Sutherland, John Close and Judy Larkin
Open: daily 9-5, May through Thanksgiving
Group/Bus tours welcome
Nursery, café & gift shop

Earthbound Gardens is a plant nursery and a display garden. Garden expert, Brenda Sutherland couldn't have been more friendly or welcoming. We wandered around the garden and then did a little plant shopping.

The fragrance of these old fashioned shrub roses was amazing!

One great reason to visit places like this are the unique and unusual plants you'll find. The nursery offers a wide array of lilies, daylilies and native plants. This purple geranium is a perfect example. It's an old variety called 'Aunty Marge' that is no longer sold commercially. I liked it for its strong upright flower stems and huge purple blooms. 

Check out Earthbound Gardens website to plan your visit and for more information on their free Sunday series of concerts and workshops.

Carpe Diem Gardens

496487 Grey Rd 2, Clarksburg
Host: Jane Dykstra
Open: Monday-Saturday by chance or appointment. Closed on Sunday.
Admission: $3
plants for sale

If you stand next to the sign at the entrance to this next garden, you'll have a panoramic view of the rolling countryside in one direction and an amazing garden in the other.

Owner/gardener Jane Dykstra came out to our car, umbrella in hand, to greet us. Despite the rain, she was more than happy to show us her garden. 

The rose garden toward the front of the house.

The perennial garden at the side of the house.

A pergola and shady seating area just off the back deck.

Bright red annual poppies with the garage in the distance.

 A row of bouquets on a rustic bench.

This is a lovely garden that deserves a closer look, so I will come back to revisit Jane's garden in another post.

Keppel Croft Gardens

504156 Grey Rd. 1, Big Bay, Wiarton, Georgian Bluffs, Ontario
Hosts: Bill and Dawn Loney
Open: 10 am-5pm Wednesday-Sunday, Closed Monday and Tuesday (except for holiday Mondays)
Admission: $3 (Bus tours welcome)
Plants for sale

This was another incredible garden. We happen to arrive along when the peonies were all in flower.

Visitors sitting and enjoying the view.

Love these round stepping stones!

 One of a number of miniature gardens.

Again this garden merits a closer look, so I will return to it in another post. For more information about this garden visit their website: Keppel Croft Gardens.

To plan your trip to visit the gardens of Grey/Bruce Counties, visit their website or look for this map and brochure at your local tourist information.


  1. Gorgeous gardens - thanks for sharing!

  2. How wonderful to be able to tour such lush beauty!

  3. How lucky you are to have so many beautiful gardens open for touring!

  4. What a wonderful thing to have available to you, Jennifer.
    Here, we do not have anything like this, so I truly thank you for bringing all of this beauty here.
    These gardens are just stunning.


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