Mount Forest Horticultural Society gearing up to pre-pandemic heights with garden tour, park project

MOUNT FOREST – The Mount Forest Horticultural Society is coming out of the pandemic with guns a’blazing.

Members have organized two big projects and hope the public will take an interest.

The first is the garden tour. Long awaited and always enjoyable, the tour takes place July 23 and includes six properties – two in town and four country properties.

“These are wonderful, imaginative gardens,” said garden tour convenor Patricia Corrigan. “They are very inspired and give inspiration and ideas to people on the tour.”

The self-guided tour on July 23 from 10am to 2pm, rain or shine. Tour-goers can start at any garden and visit them in any order.

Tickets are $15 for non-members and can be purchased at M&M Food Market in Mount Forest, or at the first garden tour site, 6810 Sideroad 3 West, Harriston, on tour day.

The ticket includes a map to the other gardens and Corrigan said there will be road signs to help guide the way as well.

“The hosts are very kind to open their gardens and let people see what they’ve done,” Corrigan said. “They are happy to walk with visitors and explain what they’ve been doing.”

One of the gardens has a moon garden, where every plant has silver or white foliage that reflects light at night and appears to glow, Corrigan said.

Another schoolhouse garden in Holstein, with a generous-sized garden, features perennial beds, a vegetable garden, and plenty of unique trees.

“It’s delightful to tour through,” Corrigan said. “Very inspired.”

The variety of gardens, in both size and scope, will get creative juices flowing, with examples of walkways, canopies, whimsical art objects and gardens large and small.

Proceeds go to the Mount Forest Horticultural Society for its next project, and it’s a big one – planting native plants along the Saugeen River in Murphy Park.

The group wants to convert the gravel slope by the water’s edge to a naturalized garden.

“We’ve tried before the pandemic but had to stop,” explained past-president Colleen McTavish. “There are so many issues at Murphy Park. Everything is on a slope.”

The big concrete blocks are being removed, as is the gravel. Then new soil will be brought in, and then the horticultural society will get to work.

“We want to use native plants for a naturalized area so we’re consulting with a native plant expert,” McTavish said. “Once we get the plan in place, we hope to start planting in the fall.”

McTavish said what they don’t want to do is introduce invasive plants or plantings that would harm the natural habitat for fish and other critters.

What they want to do is show people that native plants are beautiful and attract pollinators and that overall, gardens can add to the quality of life for humans too.

“We want people to get excited about nature and what they can do in their own yards,” she said. “You have to do your research though, with plant varieties.

“It was so drab down there. We just want the plantings to complement nature and to be a showcase and teaching tool.”

The Mount Forest Horticultural Society needs some new members, and members with some muscle are most welcome.

Membership fees are $10 for adults, $7 for students and $15 for a family. It holds monthly meetings and hosts annual plant sales, garden tours, maintain public gardens, and is a resource for gardeners with questions.

“We need more people to join,” McTavish said. “But if there are people who just want to get involved with this project (Murphy Park) they are more than welcome.”

For more information, call club president Christine Wasylyk at 519-323-9016 or visit their Facebook page