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.


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!





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!

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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Creating a Lilac Walk


We are undertaking something bigger than we have done before.  During the winter we received Council approval for our plan for a Lilac Walk/Grove.  The plan was to add examples of a number of different Lilac cultivars along the walk around the base of the tower so that visitors could see that there are more than big lilac coloured lilacs available to plant in their gardens.  The walk will culminate in a grove of very special lilacs dedicated to Leonard Slater (a long time cottager in the area who developed them).

Here’s a look at the overall plan.

Site Plan

Despite our best efforts to spend it all, we had some funds left over from last season and we applied for and received a Special Project Grant from the Ontario Horticultural Association.  That was quickly matched by our Society and by the family of Leonard Slater.  So we were in business and ordered the plants!

They arrived on a big truck a couple of weeks ago and the Thursday night gardeners had their first workday getting them planted.


The early blooming French hybrids were already blooming and instantly filled the Garden with their fragrance.


We planted the drought tolerant Korean Dwarf varieties in the Rock Garden. The “Miss Kim” is so huge we could barely lift it.  It will be blooming in another week or so.

Miss Kim

But the “Palibin”, “Boomerang” and “Tinkerbelle” are worth a visit right now.


The later blooming Preston Lilacs are gearing up now.  This one named “Miss Canada” looks like it will be quite interesting.





Winter is for resting … and for planning.


Early winter is a peaceful, quiet time in the Garden with its own beauty.  Gone are the colours of summer; replaced by the monochromatic greys and browns of bark and stone.


Before the snow gets too deep there are a few hardy souls who continue to visit the Garden, walking their dogs and playing on the pond.


At this time of year, the stacked stone walls that define the perimeter of the Garden really stand out. We always have to resist the urge to hide them with flower beds.


Meanwhile, the Gardeners and  Cabin Crew are enjoying a well deserved rest.  But we are making plans for 2015 … we’ll keep you posted (pun intended!)

Where have all the flowers gone?

It’s Hallowe’en and we are having our first snow of the season, but we are still wondering what happened to summer and those warm golden days of autumn.  It was a great summer in the Garden despite the cool, wet weather.  The annual flowers didn’t amount to much but all the perennials that are adapted to our climate flourished.


The planting around the pond was lush and colourful and the mass planting of Black eyed Susan’s was spectacular through September and most of October.


The purple coneflowers bloomed for months on end


The Gardeners kept busy weeding and deadheading through the summer but would never pass by the opportunity to create some new beds to plant in next season.


As we packed up our tools this week, the “Last Rose of Summer” title went to the “Campfire Rose” looking pathetic but still blooming in the special planting next to the Ranger Cabin that was planted in partnership with the Museum on Tower Hill to celebrate the centenary of Tom Thomson’s visit to the area.






Baby, it’s cold outside !

Winter seems to have descended on the Garden, but it’s toasty warm in the Museum on Tower Hill, so we have moved the Garden indoors!


We have put together an exhibit about the Garden that will be in the E. Roy Smith Gallery for the winter.


The exhibit tells the story of the Tower and Gardens and includes a slide show of old photos and of our restoration efforts over the past two seasons. Wear a warm coat, hat and mitts, though, because even in the winter, a climb up the Tower can be worth the dramatic view!





Not so Quiet in the Garden this Week

Although the Wednesday gardeners went about their business quietly, weeding and deadheading and generally keeping things tidy, you can tell by this view out the cabin window, there has been something else going on.


The process of reconstruction has begun in the Cabin, thanks to Distler Construction!  So the sounds in the Garden have been of saws and drills and nail guns, not the splash of the pond fountain.


Tuesday and yesterday they replaced rotten stick framing and rafters.


And today they got started on the roof. Tomorrow they will put on the new shingles and the Cabin Crew will pick up the old ones and clean up.


It won’t be raining inside the cabin any more!