Huron-Perth garden tour ready for another year - Spring Home and Garden 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
The Discover the Gardens of Huron Perth tour is in its fifth official year of operation and aiming for a successful two-year program this year.
Typically, the pamphlets cover one year, outlining private and public gardens throughout Huron and Perth Counties that can be visited through summer and the shoulder seasons, however, organizer Rhea Hamilton-Seeger said with such great opportunities, it didn’t make sense to focus on only one year. With events like the homecomings in the area and the International Plowing Match being held near Walton, the organization felt it was best that this year’s tour pamphlet covers two years instead of one to encourage visitors to the community to return in 2018.
The map includes 42 different labelled stops throughout Huron and Perth, 29 of which are gardens and the remainder are associated businesses that advertise with the group.
Among the newer additions to the tour are the Huron County Museum and the Huron Historical Gaol in Goderich, two stops which Hamilton-Seeger said are fantastic for both green greenthumbs and master gardeners alike.
“There is a community garden at the museum,” she said. “Visitors can learn how to handle their garden there and take a tour and see what is growing.”
The gaol, on the other hand, features period plants from when the correctional facility was constructed in 1842.
“The food from there will be donated to a local food bank, which is great, and the site is definitely interesting to visit and see what they’re doing,” Hamilton-Seeger said.
The two sites are open by appointment or during their regular operating hours. For more information, contact email@example.com or call 519-524-2686.
Locally, gardens can be found from Lucknow to Grand Bend and the west coast to Brussels.
Blyth hosts two gardens of note according to Hamilton-Seeger – the Wonky Frog Studio operated by Scott Ramsay and Cat O’Donnell and Hideaway Haven maintained by Jane Smyth.
The Wonky Frog Studio garden features 150th Canada tulips this year as well as types of berries and proves a good companion to the pottery and art studio it is beside. The garden is open when the shop is open. For more information, visit the studio on Facebook or call 519-440-2717.
Hideaway Haven provides a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees and pet-friendly plants with a stone bridge. The site is open by appointment or chance. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Auburn and the surrounding area features four different gardens including Gwen Richardson’s Donnybrook Flower Farm, Rainstone Farm maintained by Ron and Elfi Enns, Karen Redmond’s Whimsical Grass Gardens and Jacqui LaPorte and John Empson’s Escape from Chaos garden.
Baanrae Gardens in Brussels is not to be missed, according to Hamilton-Seeger. The site features a large vegetable garden as well as perennial gardens. For more information, contact owners Don and Monique Baan at email@example.com or call 519-887-6998.
Overgrownus, a garden near Listowel, should also be taken in according to Hamilton-Seeger. The mature country garden includes a pond, waterfall and sitting areas. For more information, call owners Wayne and Marilyn Williams at 519-291-4776.
Hamilton-Seeger also pointed to Smokey Hollow Farm near Dashwood as a unique experience.
Owner Joan Brady will cut her flowers and make arrangements if visitors contact her ahead of time.
“It’s not just a garden, it’s a great place to get cuttings and arrangements,” Hamilton-Seeger said.
For more information, contact Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-237-3198.
In the east, Hamilton-Seeger said Fryfogel Tavern Museum and Arboretum is also a great stop.
“They’re working hard to promote the arboretum,” she said.
The site is described as a park-like setting including the arboretum which houses five acres of native plant restoration space, a heritage garden and can accommodate groups with the Tavern museum and picnic tables and porta-potties in the summer.
In previous years, the tour has partnered with local cafes to provide places for garden tourists to relax and recharge. Hamilton-Seeger explained the practice has benefitted everyone involved and will continue this year.
Sites like Cinnamon Jim’s Cafe in Brussels, the Queens Bakery in Blyth and Bayfield Berry Farm support the pamphlet and are central locations for visitors to gather their thoughts, compare notes and recharge before moving on.
“It’s been a positive step for the pamphlet,” Hamilton-Seeger said. “It helps tourists to know where they can stop and what they can find.”
The pamphlet also offers a comprehensive list of 1-day garden tours hosted by local horticultural societies and garden groups.
A tour will take place in Stratford on July 2. Tickets are $15 each or two for $25 and are available at garden centres in the area as well as at City Hall. The tour runs from 10 a.m. -2 p.m.
The St. Marys tour is on July 9 and will run from 1-5 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available in front of the village’s town hall at the corner of Queen and Church Streets.
The Auburn tour is set for July 17 and will start at the Auburn Hall at 6 p.m. For more information, contact Karen Redmond at 519-526-7633.
The Goderich tour is set for July 15 and will run from the tourism office on Hamilton Street. Tickets are available ahead of the event for $10 and $12 on the day of the tour. For more information, call Vicky Culbert at 226-421-2295.
Hamilton-Seeger explained that, with the two-year period for this pamphlet printing, she hopes that she will be able to have a second printing closer to the International Plowing Match in September. She said estimated dates have been provided for the 2018 tours as part of that planning; Stratford’s is set for July 8, 2018; St. Marys, July 7; Auburn’s July 16 and Goderich’s July 21.
“We’re really hoping to get into events like the IPM and pass out the maps,” she said. “We’re a group of volunteers and we just want to share the gardens in the area and that would be a great place to do that.”
Pamphlets are available at local businesses and tourism sites throughout the area.
For more information, visit www.gardensofhuronperth.com or look up the Discovered Gardens of Huron Perth group on Facebook.