Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Return Visit to Grange Hollow Nursery

Missed Grange Hollow Nursery Part 1? Go back and read it here.

It's late summer at Grange Hollow Nursery just south of Owen Sound, Ontario. Nursery owner Katherine Taylor sets the scene for us:

"As autumn approaches, the perennial gardens are shifting to fall colours. Seeds are beginning to ripen - for collection by both the birds (for food) and by us (to grow next season’s stock). The grass garden is reaching its full glory - hundreds of towering spikes topped with feather blooms wavering in the breeze." 

"The vegetable garden is bountiful and we’re struggling to keep up with canning and freezing, while savouring the last of the fresh produce. The final waves of migrating butterflies are passing through and wee first-year frogs have dispersed from their ponds seeking refuge for the winter."

"It’s a different hustle and bustle from the springtime, but not less active. Business is winding down at the greenhouse, but fall cleaning, potting, and planning are ramping up until the first blanketing of snow when we can take a breath and relax."

At the heart of the Grange Hollow is the old brick farmhouse. Adjacent to the house, the is a long vegetable garden and a butterfly garden that we are about to see. In this post we'll also visit the shade garden, with its rustic arbor and pond, that sits in the shadow of the smaller of two barns.

An overhead view of the property.

The layout of the nursery in closeup.

The vegetable garden.

Katherine describes her vegetable and butterfly gardens:

"The vegetable garden was the first garden we built using this farm’s most prolific crop - limestone. We filled it with composted manure from our cattle and chickens (Note: we no longer have livestock)." 

"The butterfly garden and vegetable garden blend together in late summer as the tall perennials mature, obscuring the rock walls built by my husband in the exuberance of youth. The self-seeding Heliopsis, Echinacea and Malva contribute to the profuse wild look."

Malva on the rock wall that Katherine's husband built.

A mix of flowers and vegetables.

"This is an amaranthus variety named "Velvet Curtains." It has darker blooms and leaves, and a more upright habit than Love-lies-bleeding. It is a great filler in cut-flower bouquets, but really we grow it because Mom likes it, " says Katherine's daughter, Sarah, who works alongside her mother at the nursery.

Butterfly weed

Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa  has clusters of orange and gold flowers mid-summer. This is a native North American wildflower and is the principal source of food for the both the adult and juvenile Monarch Butterfly. Butterfly weed likes dry conditions and well-drained, sandy soil. Full sun. Height:60-90 cm (23-35 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm(18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.

A Zinnia flower in full glory.

The vegetable garden.

"In the vegetable garden, we grow just about everything: asparagus, rhubarb, lettuce, chard, radishes, kale, beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onions, cabbage, peppers, beans (bush and runner), sugar-snap peas, cucumbers, cantaloupe, squash of all kinds, garlic (which we sell) and of course lots of heirloom tomatoes," says Katherine.

"We also like to try something different every year, like sweet potatoes, popcorn, edamame or okra - not always with success! This year’s experiment: cucamelons. I like to have flowers among my vegetable plants to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects, and also because it looks pretty! "

Another of the Zinnia flowers.

Sarah Taylor says, "This plant is an artichoke relative named Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus). Its stalks are an edible delicacy if you are inclined (we are not). It is borderline hardy here, but has overwintered for close to 10 years now. Great for pollinators and just generally cool-looking."

Borage, a prolific self-seeder, had taken over the far end of the vegetable garden by late summer. Bees adore this herb. The big swath of sky-blue flowers hummed like a hive (as it happens, borage flowers add a delicious flavour to honey).

Borage has limited culinary uses, but the flowers are edible and taste a little like cucumber. They look beautiful as a flourish in iced tea and can be also make a nice garnish in summer salads. Here's a link to 15 borage recipes.

In late August, the area behind the seed starting greenhouse had a terrific display of pink, purple and white phlox. 

Sarah says, "This Phlox could be "Bright Eyes" or one of its seeded progeny."

Phlox paniculata 'Bright Eyes' has fragrant flowers that are pink with a contrasting magenta eye. This is a mid-sized phlox that likes average to moist conditions and average garden soil. Full sun or part-shade. Height:60-75 cm (23-29 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm(18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.

Another late summer perennial:

Variegated Sea Holly, Eryngium planum 'Jade Frost' has grey-green leaves edged in cream and clusters of violet-blue umbels. This perennial likes hot, dry sites and soil that is high in salts. Pick stems just as the flower clusters begin to open and hang them to dry for fall arrangements. Full sun. Height:50-60 cm (20-23inches), Spread: 30-60 cm(12-23 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.

Our final stop on this visit will be the shade garden next to the smaller of the two barns.

"This garden bed faces south and used to be hot and dry. It was home to many daylily cultivars. As the trees and shrubs have matured (especially the oak), it has become shady. Over the last few years I have been swapping out sun-lovers for more shade-tolerant plants," says Katherine. 

"The flagstone walk was formerly the path to the barnyard, whose split-rail fence has been re-incarnated as a rustic arbor (a Mother's Day gift from my sons). Generous annual applications of mulch have greatly improved the soil (standard practice for all of our gardens) and reduced time spent weeding. 

1. Japanese Fern, Athyrium niponicum 2. Japanese Forest Grass, Hakonechloa 3. Lungwort, Pulmonaria 4. Hellebore "Golden Sunrise" 5. Autumn Fern, Dryopteris erythrosora 6. Hosta probably "Janet" 7. Lamium 'White Nancy' 8. Bugbane, Actaea (formerly Cimicifuga) "Pink Spike"  9. Canadian Ginger, Asarum canadense

A closer view of a few of the plants in the previous image. Hellebore "Golden Sunrise"(top left), Hosta probably "Janet"(top right), Autumn Fern, Dryopteris erythrosora (chartreuse fern in the middle) and Canadian Ginger, Asarum canadense (foreground).

"The globe thistle surprised me - it doesn't seem to mind the shade!"says Katherine.

Phlox and Turtlehead flowers.

Turtlehead, Chelone lyonii has pink hooded flowers from August into September. Turtlehead prefers moist soil, but does pretty well with average soil moisture. This is a long-lived perennial that can easily be divided in the spring. Full sun or part-shade. Height:60-90 cm (18-23 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm. USDA Zones: 3-9.
Note: There is also white flowering native Chelone glabra.

"Nestled next to a forty-year-old Alberta spruce, our small pond is home to various amphibians, and neighbouring garter snakes. We plan to add large submerged containers of native wetland plants and resurrect the waterfall in 2018."

"We had some pots of Cyperus "King Tut" and "Prince Tut" left over in the greenhouse, and after endlessly watering, I thought I would try growing them as pond plants (works really well!) and has given me some ideas for next year... Looking lush and prehistoric in the background are ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris)," says Katherine.

And this ends our little tour of Grange Hollow Nursery.

Missed Grange Hollow Nursery Part 1? Go back and read it here.

All our plants are grown using pollinator-friendly practices. We will help you pick the perfect plants for your growing conditions. Try something new from our extensive selection of heirloom tomato and vegetable transplants, herbs, annual flowers, native and exotic perennials. Find inspiration or relaxation in our sprawling, cottage-style display gardens, teeming with bird, insect and animal activity. We welcome you to take a scenic drive to discover our unique gardens and plant nursery in picturesque rural Grey County! 


  1. So gorgeous! Thanks for sharing xo

  2. My garden will only be 2 years old this summer and I was thinking of putting some vegetables here and there with the flowers. I always loved that look too! Your photos are wonderful!

  3. I am always amazed, and impressed, when people have an overhead sketch or drawing of their gardens and property. That, in itself, never mind their amazing garden, is quite the bit of work. A garden such as hers is the kind that makes any person feel very welcome -- almost like it's saying, come on in!


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