September 15, 2009
By Wendy Harry
London and Windsor chapters membership coordinator

The London chapter’s first annual Gardens of Distinction Tour was a huge success, selling over 300 entry tickets. Sunny skies broke through the early morning rain clouds to make it a perfect day for a garden tour.

When the chapter board first discussed the tour, the thought was what a wonderful opportunity to showcase member skills, creativity and professionalism. What easier way to do it, than to bring the people to the garden?  Jay Murray of the London chapter board and participant in the tour says, “We don’t have the benefit of a showroom like a kitchen store. Showing photographs is not the same thing as seeing the real thing. The tour is like having a dozen showrooms.”

The unique part of this tour, over traditional garden tours, is that attendees had the opportunity to meet the professional who created the garden.  Each LO member who created the garden was onsite to answer any and all questions.  Participants agree that is was a great way to promote their business and meet over 300 potential clients, all in one day.

Each garden showcased a different size, budget, theme, feature, obstacle and use of hardscapes. This helped the public who toured the gardens to look beyond the normal, and dream bigger.

Attendees were not typical flower lovers, but instead were people in the market for ideas, inspiration and the chance to meet the people who could bring it all to reality.  As Nicola Kamp, one of the garden participants, said, “Flowers are like the pillows of a room — you can’t depend on them, or use them for structure — they are there just to add a little something extra.”

Along with a lot of wows, some of the comments from attendees were, “Who would want to leave home?” and, “How can I get that in my garden?” and, “I have a similar back garden, but I never dreamed how much I could do with it!”

The tour also showcased three public gardens that London members played a major role in creating:  Alex’s Butterfly Garden at the Children’s Hospital, Banting House Global Garden for the Diabetes Association, and Fanshawe College, which is maintained by the student members of LO. This was a great branding opportunity for Landscape Ontario and the Green for Life program.

Garden committee members are Jerry Hakkers,  Michelle Peeters, Jason Zehr and Wendy Harry.

As Michelle Peeters of Baseline Nurseries said, “Each garden that I saw offered something different. It was an amazing opportunity to showcase our very talented LO members. The gardens are a testament of our professionalism and expertise in the industry.”

This year’s participating members include: Coldstream Land Escape, Escapes Outdoor Living Designs, Greentec Landscape Design and Construction, Nicola Kamp, Patrick J. Callon Landscape Designer, RiverBend Golf Community (Sifton Properties), Rural Roots Landscaping, Stone In Style and TLC Professional Landscaping.

Proceeds for this event will go to the Canadian Diabetes Association and the London Chapter for future projects. Thanks to the following sponsors who placed ads in the tour booklet, the chapter will be able to donate over $1,000 to the Diabetes Association for the Global Garden. The sponsors are: Atlas Block, Baseline Nurseries and Garden Centre, Canadale Nurseries, Echo, Firefield Landscape Garden Centre, Fisher Topsoil and Landscape Supplies, Grand River Brick and Stone Div., Oxford Insta-Shade, Silverthorn Landscape Supplies, Stihl, TLC Professional Landscaping, Triple H Landscape Supplies, V&P’s Topsoil and Landscaping Supplies and VanHorik’s Greenhouses and Garden Centre.

We will be looking for more gardens next year, so plan early and be one of the first to participate.

Wendy Harry may be contacted at