2017 Highlights

The days are pretty monochromatic and dreary when the sun isn’t shining and there is not much to do in the garden but reflect on last season and dream about the upcoming one.  So it’s a good time to look back at 2017 and share some of the great garden moments we had during our sixth season of volunteering.

Last year we had a lot of snow over the Christmas holiday ad as a result, our decorations stayed up for a good part of the winter. We were able to unplug the lights but some of the coloured balls were buried under the snow until it melted.


The Gardeners were anxious to get started in April and before long, the grass was green, the daffodils were blooming and blackly season was in full swing.

Spring is a great time to divide perennials and one of our Gardeners has a great hosta collection in her garden.  She was generous enough to share quite a few to get started on a shade garden we have been creating, hidden behind the time capsule.

The lilacs we planted a few years ago are starting to come into their own and brought flowers and fragrance to early summer.

There was a flurry of activity just prior to the Garden being featured by the Horticultural Society’s Garden Tour,

as we prepared, Town Staff was busy installing benches and chairs and interpretive signs.

We had a huge windstorm the night before, but between Parks & Rec and the Tower Hill Gardeners, we were all cleaned up in time to host a very special event dedicating our newly installed benches.

The families of the people being honoured by the dedication of the benches were piped in by Morley MacDonald, grandson of Charlie MacDonald who is remembered fondly as “the first Towerman”.  He helped build the Tower and Garden, plant the Plantation and then watched for fires from the top of the Tower and tended the flowers at its base.

Eric and Dona Simpson enjoy the view from the bench honouring Eric’s father, who was the District Forester in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Like many Parry Sounder’s, he has fond childhood memories of the Garden and confirmed the location of the fabled Sunken Rose Garden.  We have no plans to restore it, as it has morphed into our Secret Shade Garden, hiding behind the time capsule!

The Horticultural Societies of District 18 and the Hobson Family joined to honour the memory of Madeleine Hobson, who dedicated her life to local (and provincial) horticultural efforts.

It was a rainy summer relative to 2016 and we rarely had to water, but we had green grass

… and flowers galore.  Fall in Parry Sound is glorious.  Georgian Bay delays the frost and the lower sun in the sky softens the colours in the Garden,

and it is THE best time of year to plant.

So we placed and order and got to work.

Summer gave way to fall’s brilliant colour.

We wrapped up our gardening efforts at the end of October, but got together in early December to decorate,

and create some seasonal magic to end the year.


Sit and Stay Awhile …

The Tower Hill Gardeners have been volunteering in the Garden since 2012; planting, weeding, pruning, deadheading and raising money for special projects.  Early on, it became obvious that there weren’t enough places to sit down and relax in the Garden other than on the grass or stone walls.

Last year we had the opportunity to do something about that.  First, we acquired and assembled eight Muskoka chairs to scatter around the Garden.

With the support of the Town, we also ordered four memorial benches that arrived during the winter and have been installed around the pond.  These benches have been dedicated through generous donations in memory of people who have had a significant connection to the Tower Hill Heritage Garden or Horticulture in the area.


The benches are quite comfortable and offer different views around and overlooking the pond.

And the chairs are scattered about in pairs.  Four are looking out over the harbour …

And the others are in the Habitat Garden …

and close to the base of the Tower.

These are a great addition to the picnic tables that were already there and so now you can bring a book and choose a place either in the sun or shade and stay awhile.  The Muskoka Chairs are comfy enough that you might even doze off while listening to the sounds of the Garden.

Drum roll!

Ta- dah!

We have all (Tower Hill Gardeners and Town of Parry Sound Parks & Recreation Staff) been working like crazy this week to get the Garden ready to be the star of the show on the Horticultural Society’s Garden Tour on Sunday.  The benches and Muskoka chairs are installed, and so is the interpretive signage for the Wildlife Habitat Garden.

The Garden looks awesome … join us between 1:00 and 5:00 pm on Sunday.

2016 Highlights

2016 was our fifth gardening season at Tower Hill.  Winter seemed like it would never end but we started our season at the end of April as usual.


We were disappointed by some vandalism over the winter to the Ranger Cabin as well as to the rocks surrounding the base of the Tower.

img_0524But we were not deterred and got right to work cleaning up leaves, beds and the pond.


It was a cold grey day, but  the daffodils and primroses were blooming.



Before long the grass was green and spring was in full bloom.


The end of May brought the early irises and lilacs.



We learned in early May that our application for funding by TD Friends of the Environment had been approved and so we ordered plants and got to work.


We hosted another Garden Days event in late June.




Summer brought heat and drought and many hours of watering.


But there were flowers everywhere … our best season yet!





We went on our annual Muskoka Garden Centre crawl in early September.


But made sure we had time to clean the flagstone path for a wedding,


That took place at the sundial and was almost rained out!


By fall the grass was green again and as the flowers faded, we barely noticed.



And we declared the gardening season over on a beautiful day in late October.


We got together a month later for our Annual Potluck,



and then officially closed the year with our Winter Solstice on Tower Hill Celebration.  There was no snow the day we decorated, but a week or so later there was a dusting of snow.


and by the 18th, we were buried and just about froze as we gathered round the fire at sunset.


Now we wait patiently for our chance to get over there and take down the decorations!





Join us on Sunday afternoon as we celebrate the changing season !


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

Image 2016-05-24 at 2.33 PM (4)

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

Image 2016-05-24 at 2.33 PM (5)

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,

2015-12-05 13.52.54

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


2015-12-05 15.27.58

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!