Ten Yards of Mulch …

… is almost enough!

What a warm, dry summer it has been.  The early summer flowers like iris and lilac are long since spent and have been deadheaded.  And now it is the season for watering.


We have been watering at least twice a week, sometimes three since late June.


Sometimes it has seemed like we have done nothing else but water.


So a few weeks ago, we decided to use some of our precious savings and buy mulch.  There is no question that mulch provides a huge benefit to a garden bed.  It insulates the soil, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer through the spring and fall, it helps the soil retain moisture and (especially beneficial) it helps prevent weed seed germination.  Many organic mulches also add nutrients to the soil as they break down.

The down side of mulch is that it costs money and we usually have more volunteer resources than cash resources.  There is also the issue of the amount of labour it takes to spread it in a large garden like ours.  We have talked about it every year, but have never had (or been willing to spend) the money.


But the hot, dry weather finally got to us and we ordered mulch.  Ten yards of it.  Adams Brothers brought it in three loads and dumped it in three locations in the Garden.


We managed to get it all spread in three work sessions covering all the main garden and part of the habitat garden.


It hasn’t meant that we don’t have to water at all, but it has made a difference and looks great. It cost us over $600 of our hard earned cash, but we all agree that it was worth every penny.

It’s Iris Season in the Garden

IMG_0764We still have plenty of Lilacs blooming (see the dwarf one in the background?) and will be having the official opening of our Lilac Walk at our Garden Days event on June 18th, but right now the irises are the stars in the Garden.  They are blooming everywhere.

IMG_0758Not only by the pond, but also IN the pond.

IMG_0757They look great with a stone wall as a backdrop.

IMG_0756The Cream coloured ones look pretty nice in the rock garden.

IMG_0761But I must confess, these purple ones are my favourites!


Time flies!

It seemed like winter would never end but the snow finally melted and we started our spring cleanup on April 27th.


We got the leaves cleaned up rickety split and the following week the grass was green and the first flowers of spring were there to greet us.


Daffodils and primroses are reliably first.


We had only just started and took a week off.  Remember what we say about all work and no play?  Four of us joined a Master Gardener group from the Port Hope area for a bus trip of the Brandywine area of Pennsylvania and Delaware.  What an amazing three jam packed days of visiting world class gardens!

Here we are checking out azaleas bigger than we are at Winterthur

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and the most amazing “green” public washrooms at Longwood Gardens.

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Now we’re back home getting geared up for a very busy season.  We’re making plans for our Garden Days event in June and hope to start planting our Wildlife Habitat Demonstration Garden in the next couple of weeks. Tomorrow we’ll be helping Town Staff get the pond cleaned out and up and running .


We won’t have flower borders like Longwood’s any time soon, but we can always dream!

Monarchs & Milkweed at Tower Hill

Our Winter Solstice Family Day was such a success, we’ve decided to partner with the Museum on Tower Hill for another one.

thhg-monarchposterFEB28bRGBCheck their website for more details about the event as well as other activities going on during March Break.  The exhibit is on loan from Canadian Museum of Nature and will be at our Museum from March 12th to April 30th.

Don’t miss it.

Lighting up the Garden

The Tower Hill Gardeners got together for one last workday and created some holiday magic in the Garden. We’re getting ready for the Winter Solstice Event we are co-hosting on Sunday, December 20th.


Twinkle lights in the pine tree,

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Garland on the cabin and gold balls in the oak tree,


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and presto … Christmas magic!


No skating on the pond this year, but look at the reflection of the lights in the still, black water!


We went all out and put a Christmas tree on the big porch and the policeman is in the spirit too!


Join us on the 20th for some family fun and gather around our Winter Solstice bonfire to celebrate the longest night of the year and encourage the sun on its journey towards spring and summer!

Check our Events page for more details!



Creating a Lilac Walk – Part 2 – Planting Leonard’s Lilacs

We were delighted with how all the new lilacs (purchased with our OHA  special project grant) did through the summer. We had to water them during the dry spells, but by fall they were all established and our “Boomerang” managed to come back with one lonely bloom in the middle of September.

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We made the decision in the springtime to wait until the fall to transplant Leonard’s Lilacs to a permanent home in our garden.  The “Agincourt Beauty” had huge blossoms and was really thriving …

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but the only example of “Slater’s Elegance” was really struggling.  The healthy branches had put out some amazing white flowers,

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so we tried our hand at propagating.  These lilacs don’t spread by suckering so we gave air layering a try.

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David watched over the shrub all summer long, keeping the layer moist and watching for new roots.  We were hoping to move them in September, but we had a very warm dry month.  Finally, moving day arrived on the last day of the month.  We had a record number of volunteers that day.  Some stayed at the Garden digging holes and the rest of us met at David and Lynn’s place.  The plants were dug, loaded them into the trailer and brought to the Garden.

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Most of the holes were already dug when we returned so we soaked them and got the lilacs all planted in no time.

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They look great planted alongside the path, creating the Lilac Grove we envisioned.

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The warm temperatures extended well into the fall and we got the rain we needed in October, so the lilacs settled in with a minimal amount of flagging. This week the grove is a winter wonderland. The lilacs are ready and waiting for spring … next year’s leaves and flowers tucked tight in their big fat buds.

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Fall is Glorious in the Garden

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Autumn really is a special time in the Garden.  With our close proximity to Georgian Bay we don’t usually have frost until after Thanksgiving and this year was no different.

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As the flowers begin to fade, the autumn grasses come into their own.

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Backlit by the low sun, they are not only beautiful but interesting looking as well.

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Fall colour?  Yes, we have plenty of that.  The sumacs and spireas around the base of the Tower are like a wreath of blazing colour.

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Blue is a fall colour too.  The sky and water seem bluer than in the summer time (less humidity in the air?).  Check out the view of the harbour revealed by pruning done by the Gardeners.  It’s even more spectacular from the top of the Tower.

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The leaves collecting in the pond release their tannins and make the water almost black. All the big botanical gardens have a reflecting pool and on a sunny fall day we have one too!

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An Evening Stroll Through the Garden

At this time of year, evening is a great time to visit the Garden.  Besides not being as hot as it can be during the day, the lighting is not so harsh and the flowers are not so noticeable.  The Garden is green and serene.

Most people enter the Garden here and head up to the Tower. This is where the policeman once stood.


After making the climb to the top to admire the view, the rest of the Garden can be enjoyed by following the paths that were laid by the Ontario Forestry Branch firefighters back in the 1920’s.

We follow this path from the Rock Garden at the base of the Tower over towards the Sundial and Birdhouse. The Birdhouse is a model of the original Fire Tower.


It is perched atop an exposed rock (there are quite a few in the Garden).  The “trefoil garden” … three round beds encircled by flagstone is usually filled with annuals and flowering perennials.  This year there are cannas and Stella d”Oro daylilies.


The Sundial sits at the intersection of several flagstone pathways … one leading back towards the Ranger Cabin …


… and over towards the pond. Beyond the pond there are a few paths leading nowhere, having been cut off by the road that was built to create a driveway for the Museum.  We can only imagine where they lead to in days gone by.


We find ourselves, though, at the “front walk” to the Ranger Cabin.


We climb the stairs and overlooking the pond, realize that we have missed a few of the pathways and decide to go around again and see things from a different perspective.


Here’s the view back towards the Tower from where the birdhouse is perched.


One more time around the pond to watch the fish enjoying the cool evening (they hide under the waterlilies when the sun is high) and we head back up towards the Tower.


Clockwise this time, around the base of the Tower (and maybe a second climb to the top?) and we head back through the pillars like many generations of visitors before us, reminded once again how lucky we are to have this special place.


Garden Days at Tower Hill

Poster snip

Garden Days at Tower Hill is part of a national event to celebrate gardens and gardening and to bring garden lovers across Ontario  together.

Our Garden Days event, hosted by the Parry Sound and District Horticultural Society, Tower Hill Gardeners and Museum on Tower Hill was an overwhelming success. The weather was perfect and the Garden looked wonderful.

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The night before the event, it was green and serene in the Garden.

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But Saturday morning was a different story.  By ten o’clock we were all set up and people had already started arriving … enjoying the sunny day in the Garden and browsing the plant sale and vendors,


While they waited patiently for the opportunity to view the Flower Show .


The workshops were well attended.

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And the Strawberry Social was a big hit.  There were plenty of places to enjoy the treat … under the Rotary tent,

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or on a blanket under a tree near the pond.


In the blink of an eye, the day was over. Another flurry of activity and we were all packed up.

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And just as we were ready to leave … more people started to arrive.  It was a wedding party coming to have their photos taken.  A picture perfect way to end a picture perfect day!


The next morning, the tent was taken down and all that was left was the memory of a successful event and the hint of the truck that took it away!

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Garden Days at Tower Hill


Don’t miss our first ever Garden Days and GardenOntario Week event this Saturday, June 20th from 10 am to 4 pm.  For a complete listing of events and vendors click here.