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Gardens big and small to see at horticultural society's showcase tour

'It's nice to see real people's gardens and to feel the love the owner has put into the garden'
2018 07 08 GT – Garden Tour -  TB 04
Ann Hollings and Alex Harrington welcome guests to their garden during the Guelph Horticultural Society Annual Garden Showcase in 2018. Troy Bridgeman/GuelphToday file photo

After a short hibernation, the annual garden showcase tour has returned.

Select gardens will be back on display for the public through the Guelph Horticultural Society following a two year hiatus during the pandemic.

"We are so excited to be back," said Kathy MacKenzie, key director at GHS, "because gardening was one of the safe things we could all do in the pandemic, a lot of people took up gardening, and I think stayed with it during the pandemic. I hope a lot of people will come to our tour."

Now, the only threat to the event this year is the weather.

"We wait so long for our tulips and daffodils to come out, and they get wiped out after a day's heat," MacKenzie said about the unpredictable weather this spring. "I think with the heat last week it has improved. The gardens are out now, but we now just have to worry about the frost not touching them," 

On June 12, residents will be able to tour seven different gardens throughout Guelph and get the opportunity to speak with the owners behind them. Each garden will feature a local artist, and five of the locations will have musical performances.

"Usually we have somewhere between 350 and 500 people come through, it's our main fundraiser," said MacKenzie.

Unlike the elaborate garden tours held in places like Toronto, MacKenzie said GHS garden tour focuses on gardens owned by individuals. 

"We try to showcase different gardens, because a garden means so much to every person, it's different, it's not the same," said MacKenzie, who notes small, medium and large gardens will be displayed.

"It's nice to see real people's gardens and to feel the love the owner has put into the garden, to see how people use the space, it's different for every person."

One of the major changes this year to the annual garden showcase tour is the date of the event. MacKenzie explains they changed the date to accommodate other events the society is holding this summer, including hosting the Ontario Horticultural Convention in July and an indoor flower display for Art On the Street.

"It was going to be too much for our members to do that show, plus our members who have the convention and our own garden tour, so we moved it," said MacKenzie, adding the changed date also allowed them to feature a different selection of plants. 

Later this month, the GHS will hold an event to celebrate a new pollinator garden at John Galt garden at Riverside Park as part of celebrating the "Year of the Garden." MacKenzie said the society received a grant from Pollination Guelph last year to improve the garden and put in native, pollinator-friendly plants. 

"That's been so exciting because that's a very well-travelled route there right behind the fire station, cyclists, joggers, walkers and the Frisbee golf over there," said MacKenzie, "and all the neighbours would walk by and they'd say, 'Isn't great that you're taking this over? We're so pleased to see these gardens being loved again. So that's what we're doing for the year of the garden."

Tickets for the GHS garden showcase tour are now available at a few locations for $10 each and can be purchased the day of at each participant garden. To learn more, go to

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Ariel Deutschmann

About the Author: Ariel Deutschmann

Ariel Deutschmann is a feature writer and reporter who covers community events, businesses, social initiatives, human interest stories and more involving Guelph and Wellington County
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