MAITLAND - Standing in the middle of Mary Ann Van Berlo's garden one can hear the buzzing of bees and the steady clicking of camera shutters.
"As you can see, I've brought some passionate people," said tour leader Annie Pastor of her busload of clients fully equipped with cameras to document their experience of the 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Garden Trail. This is the first-ever tour Annie has organized to the Leeds Grenville gardens. The tour included Trail gardens as well as visits to local eateries, inns, attractions and boat tours over a four-night, five-day stay.
"This will go a long way," Annie said of the photographs tour participants were taking. The images will spread the word this region is a destination for garden lovers, she added.
"I think people are pretty impressed. They will know all about the 1000 Islands by the time they leave here," she said. Along for the tour was garden writer and photographer Larry Hodgson. He is one of Canada's best-known gardening writers and lecturers.
"The whole experience is absolutely incredible," Larry said. "It's lovely to see so many beautiful gardens without having to travel too far." The local tour has 14 gardens this season.
Claire Leger is owner of Fern Mansion in Quebec, a famous oasis known for its beautiful gardens and 25 unique statues. She welcomes hundreds of visitors every season. She joined the ttrip to Leeds Grenville to get new ideas to take back and use in her own garden. "It's so marvelous! I'm really happy to be here," she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Gerald Cusson, of Drummondville. It was his first time to the area and he would like to make a second trip later in the season. "I didn't know it was so beautiful here," he said, adding Annie Pastor's tour and Larry's articles will mean more tour buses will follow.
Learn more, see maps and images of the second annual 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Garden Trail on our webpage. Five new gardens were added this year.
The Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office is looking for new gardens to join next year's Garden Trail. The Trail would like to expand into communities which currently don't have gardens in the tour, including Athens, Toledo, Delta and Westport. Please send email inquiries or suggestions to econdev or view the application form on our website.