Hills' garden is a wonder in shrubs, trees and wildflowers
By Liz Dadson

Home & Garden

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Wildflowers and shrubs flank this stairway in the backyard at the home of John and Helena Hill
Sixteen years ago, John and Helena Hill purchased their home at 737 Goldie Cres., Kincardine.

At that point, there was extensive grass in the front and backyards that took more than three hours to cut each week.

Now, their yards are a splendour of shrubs, trees and wildflowers, with no lawn in sight.

"I love having the perennials and wildflowers because they are low-maintenance," says Helena. "It started with a few Black-eyed Susans growing up in the backyard. Every year, more native flowers grew and we planted herbs. We have lemon balm, lavender, thyme and oregano, and they all self-seed."

They planted, lilacs, trees and shrubs and a rose bush that they brought with them from Toronto. "You can't kill it," says Helena, with a laugh.

There are no chemicals or pesticides used on the gardens and minimal watering, she says. "I love it because it's not a lot of work to keep up."


John and Helena Hill in the gazebo in their backyard

John built the gazebo, the fountains and the benches in the gardens, adding to the rustic flavour. In the frontyard, in the shade of a huge evergreen tree is a cozy nook with a table and chairs, for enjoying a visit on a hot, summer day.

In the backyard, is a mulberry bush which hangs over another little nook which Helena calls the grandchildren's hide-out. They also have a Nannyberry tree and a Saskatoonberry tree, and numerous wildflowers which are all native species.

"We enjoy the gardens just the way they are," says Helena. "When we lived in Toronto, we had a landscaper come in and do our gardens. When we came here, we wanted to do our own thing. These gardens attract a lot of butterflies and birds - they're beautiful."

They also attract deer and rabbits, so the Hills have allowed one section to become a "Deer Diner" and another labelled "Bunny Snacks" to try and deter the animals from eating everything.

The Hills' gardens are part of the Kincardine Horticultural Society's "Through the Garden Gate" tour, slated for Sunday, July 11, from noon to 4:30 p.m.

Their gardens were on the tour 12 years ago, but Helena says so much has changed, they think people will enjoy seeing the gardens again.

"Back then, we had mainly Black-eyed Susans and purple cornflower," she says. "Now, it's so different and we have so many different varieties of wildflowers."


Erin Doyle (L) and her grandma, Helena Hill, relax in the shady nook in the frontyard

The Hills moved to Kincardine when John was transferred here with Ontario Hydro. He is now retired and belongs to the Kincardine Rotary Club. Helena is a quilter and belongs to the horticultural society.

Theirs is one of nine gardens open to the public. Also on the tour are Ted Hunter's garden at 1105 North St., Josie McDonald and Theresa Winchester's at 988 McPherson Cres., Linda and Doug McLaughlin's at 880 Brownell Dr., Anna and Philip Nicholson's at 10 Manor Wood Cres., Betty Bannerman's at 262 Gordon St., Lois and Will Van de Klippe's at 437 MacDougall Dr., Pam Robbins and Chris Lazarenko's at 688 Lynden Cres., and Grace and Peter Morris' at 423 Park St.

Admission is $12 in advance, with tickets available at Jerome Flowers, or $15 on the day of the event, with tickets available at the Walker House.


Black-eyed Susans still grow in the gardens


The Hills' frontyard is covered in shrubs and wildflowers


Granddaughter Erin Doyle, 8, of Barrie, holds up a sign that reads "Deer Diner" for this patch of the backyard


Grandson Evan Doyle, 7, of Barrie holds up a sign that says "Bunny Snacks" for this part of the gardens


Erin (L) and Evan Doyle hide out under the mulberry bush

An oriental ornament in the frontyard

Once you have your ticket, you can begin the garden tour at the garden of your choice, making sure to present your ticket at each garden. Refreshments are available at the Walker House.

Proceeds from the event go toward the beautification of Kincardine.

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Sunday, July 04, 2010