Lovely afternoon for a walk "Through the Garden Gate" Sunday
By Liz Dadson

Home & Garden

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Donna Mowat (L) and Betty Cowley of Kincardine check out the gardens of Peter and Cheryl Tucker on Sutton Street in Kincardine during the "Through the Garden Gate" annual garden tour, organized by the Kincardine and District Horticultural Society, Sunday afternoon

One of the gardens at the home of Robert and Frances Nixon on Knights Court, Kincardine

Mary Ann (L) and Ralph Knowles of Kincardine climb the steps from the lower garden at the home of Robert and Frances Nixon

Caroline McAllister (L) and her daughter, Alyssa, 10, of Kincardine relax in the beautifully-terraced garden at the Nixon home

Sunny, warm weather made it a perfect afternoon to tour 10 local gardens as part of the Kincardine and District Horticultural Society's annual "Through the Garden Gate" event Sunday.

Opening their property for the first time were Peter and Cheryl Tucker of Sutton Street. While it was a lot of work to get things ready for the viewing, the couple agreed that it is very rewarding to share their gardens with others. 

Their five-year-old gardens consist of many family perennials, such as early red and white tulips, several varieties of peonies, iris, phlox and large lemon-coloured lilies.

Overcoming the challenge of clay soil and a "sea" of dandelion heads, the plan, when developing these gardens was to have all-season interest with consistent blooming from spring to fall, and to have the gardens visible from any window, says Cheryl. The yard of trees, shrubs and flowers attracts birds and butterflies.

Many of the gardens have significance to the Tuckers.

The front flower bed is shaped like a kidney in honour of Cheryl's father and her brothers. In 1966, her brother, Bob Harwood, needed a kidney transplant so her father donated one of his. Thirty years later, another donation was required, so her younger brother donated one.

"My brother was the longest living kidney transplant recipient," says Cheryl.

Another flower bed contains a rose tree in memory of Peter's mother, and a small evergreen in memory of his father.

And directly in front of their home are beautiful butter pixie lilies and an umbrella tree.

Peter's father owned the two acres and built the first house, at the south end, in 1951. The one the Tuckers live in now, to the north, was built in 1992. They designed it to be wheelchair-friendly and with more windows. The section of road in front of the two homes is commonly called "Tucker Lane."


Robert and Frances Nixon welcomed the public to view their gardens on Knights Court, for the second time. The first was in 2001.

"When we came here 31 years ago, there was nothing at the back," says Frances. "We could see Highway 21 from our house."

The multi-level back yard has seen many changes over the years, evolving from a desolate area to its present state. The linden, magnolia, tri-colour beeches and maples have grown, and the 100 12-inch saplings have matured into 30-foot cedars, defining the property.

The "Secret Garden" features a rock garden, pond and borders planted with grasses, hostas, rhododendrons, perennials, shrubs, roses, spring bulbs and annuals. A variety of seating areas around the yard offers relaxing spots to watch the changing seasonal vistas in the garden.

"It's a lot of work but it's very rewarding," says Frances. While it is mostly perennials, she enjoys filling the planters with colourful annuals every year.

The huge weeping willow on the lower garden is 28 years old and stands guard over that area, while an equally large blue spruce towers over the front of the house.


The remaining gardens on the tour were hosted by the following:

  • Linda Farrell and Hugh McCulloch on Inverness Street South
  • Jean Karikas on Anne Marie Crescent
  • Robin and Janice Matchett on Boiler Beach Road
  • Gail Wright on Heritage Drive in Heritage Heights subdivision
  • Bill and Virginia Bacon on Park Place in Heritage Heights subdivision
  • Ken and Rose Brown on Snobelen Trail in Heritage Heights subdivision
  • Grant and Frances Clark on Snobelen Trail in Heritage Heights subdivision
  • Allan and Eleanor (Campbell) Rutledge on Snobelen Trail in Heritage Heights subdivision

Refreshments were served at the Walker House in downtown Kincardine.


Madi Wayland (R) of the Kincardine and District Horticultural Society, pours tea for Mary Rose Graham of Kincardine at the Walker House

Cheryl and Peter Tucker stand with the umbrella tree and butter pixie lilies in front of their home on Sutton Street

One of the beautiful flower gardens at the Tuckers

Welcome to the Nixons' "Secret Garden"

The front flower bed at the Nixons

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011