by Becky Dumais
Garden tours are great sources of inspiration – a way to see how others have created their own lay of the land. This spring and summer you can visit local gardens in Hamilton, Burlington and Niagara. Some events are hosted by associations and horticultural societies or are city-run, and some are held on behalf of fundraising initiatives.
There are several reasons why you should take a garden tour. Each one you visit will be unique in its own way, perhaps planned and plotted for a certain goal or function (such as kitchen gardens), and some have great history. All will offer the opportunity to daydream while you walk amongst them.
A tour gives you a chance to explore what may be an unfamiliar neighbourhood or destination within the city that you don’t normally frequent. You can glean ideas from each gardener about what you might like to have in your own garden, or learn about new plants and varieties that grow well here. You can also learn a few techniques and tips from each gardener – how they’ve tackled a particular situation or obstacle, when they’ve tried a new approach, or adapted their plans in order to grow their blooms to their fullest potential.
Tips for your Tour
April showers have probably passed, but it’s a good idea to bring an umbrella, a change of footwear and even a pair of rubber boots, as some gardens could be muddy. Obviously, you’ll want to bring your camera or phone to snap photos; you never know what other kinds of wildlife you might find bouncing about in the blooms. Do ask the gardeners or tour hosts (if any) lots of questions. Gardeners really are delighted to answer your queries. Along the way you’ll probably come across things that pique your interest. Whether it’s a sculpture, a unique rock feature, or plants that you’re not familiar with, take names of the ‘who, what and where’ to incorporate in your own garden. Lastly, be sure to thank each gardener for opening up their property to you. It’s a lot of work getting ready – often they’re prepping and pruning months ahead.
Upcoming Garden Tours:
Historic Garden Tours
Dates throughout July
Dundurn’s historic Kitchen Garden catered to the nutritional needs and aesthetic desires of the MacNab family 150 years ago. Enjoy informative stories and historic gardening knowledge conveyed by costumed garden staff. All are welcome. Free outdoor event. Regular museum admission rates apply. hamilton.ca/dundurn
Open Garden Week
June 30 – July 10
Now it its 25th year, this citywide event allows you to take in the creativity, imagination and hard work of more than 50 gardeners. Map available online.
Gardens on Parade
Seven gorgeous gardens in Brantford, from small city gardens to large country gardens plus a community garden. A Master Gardener will be at each garden to answer questions & explain special features. Several gardens will host vendors offering garden related hand crafted items. Tickets $10 each.
Contact Anne at 519-442-3458 or Dorothy at 519-753-9063 for more information.
Rain or shine. 10am – 4pm
Grimsby Garden Tour
A tour of nine gorgeous gardens on this self-guided event – including two lakeside gardens with spectacular views of Lake Ontario, butterfly and bee gardens, and an artist’s garden under the escarpment. Tickets: $15.
Burlington Horticultural Society Garden Tour
Funds raised from this tour and other events are used to support community projects relating to horticulture. Ticket information available online:
Blooms for Africa
July 14 & 15
This 10th Anniversary event will be a leisurely walk through the hidden gardens around Hamilton’s historic Gage Park. For tickets or information call 905-527-0470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.