|The Rock Garden at Whistling Gardens|
In 2012, Whistling Gardens near Brantford opened to give us a new botanical garden focused on conifers – the winter garden's best friend – including rare and unusual finds.
Want conifers? A short drive from Toronto, owners Darren and Wanda Heimbecker have assembled one of the largest collections in the world, well over 2,000 different kinds, covering 18 acres of their 56-acre site. With a garden centre, too, Whistling Gardens is an inspiring conifer "show and sell."
|Whistling Gardens is the fruition of founder Darren Heimbecker's 30-year passion for special plants|
|This is a young garden; only planted about five years ago. I look forward to seeing it mature.|
His garden centre is well-stocked. (There's also an online catalog with useful plant details.) Even at the end of season on my September visit, it had tempting buys. Yes, I was tempted. And I bought. Next time, I'll be less impulsive, though. The pair of poor Chamaecyparis 'Sparkles' I snapped up on the bargain table sat in their pots for a couple of months till I figured out their new home.
|Trails meander through the beds, giving you close-up views of the conifer collection|
|Pinus strobus 'Tiny Kurls' is a dwarf white pine with attractive contorted needles|
|Heimbecker experiments freely with uses for coniferous material, like his curved hedge of weeping spruce|
|Among the deciduous plants is this variegated Forsythia 'Kumson', looking cool even after the flowers fall|
|These little mounds in the rock garden are the mossy leaves of Dianthus freyii, which will pink up with flowers in May.|
|The Temple Garden is one of eight different garden settings, and already a draw for weddings|
For myself, I'll be prowling through the 2013 online catalog, aiming to build up my conifer content. And I'll be hoping for a longer repeat visit. How about you? Do you have enough evergreenery?