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Colborne Lodge Heritage Gardens

The gardens at Colborne Lodge, surrounding the picturesque cottage at the south end of High Park, the home of John and Jemima Howard, have long been supported by the Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto. Once again, thanks to the support of the Hort for this outstanding project, which goes from strength to strength, as anyone who has visited the garden over the years will appreciate.

From the early spring display of heritage bulbs, through the summer profusion of perennials and annuals to late September when coleus and chrysanthemums continue the colourful show, the garden is a source of pleasure for the thousands who visit High Park each year.

Some 16 volunteers, including some from the Swansea Horticultural Society (who contribute both time and money) work in the garden, ably supervised by Catherine Raven as well as by the City staff at the Lodge.

A piece of time and peace of mind, the Heritage Gardens at Colborne Lodge.

To see more images of the gardens click here.


2013 was another unusual year at Colborne Lodge in High Park. The gardens were lovely but once again struggled with the weather and a greatly reduced number of volunteers. I can report that many of the highlights of the season came as a result of the Hort money from the previous year. We had excellent results from the spring bulbs we purchased in 2012 and the lilac bed and the west side of the Lodge looked stunning when they were at their peak. The Shag Bark hickory bed on the west side of the south lawn was also significantly improved by the daffodils we were able to purchase in 2012 to replace a whole range of daffs that just disappeared in the spring of 2012.

The 2013 grant got started with a splash of colour in the barrels by the front door of the Lodge where Marg Hawthorn planted pansies at the earliest opportunity, which lifted the spirits of everyone. She made excellent choices and they bloomed well into fall. Later in the season, we lost one of the Hort-purchased barrels from years gone by, possibly by the garbage truck. Also early in the spring, we used some of the money to purchase potting soil to get the canna lilies potted up and started. The previous year we just planted them into the garden and as a result, it took almost until September before we had a decent showing. The veranda roses also benefited from some manure purchased with Hort funds.

As it turned out, we were able to allocate even more of the grant money to spring bulbs (approx. 300) as the weather conditions didn’t allow us to take on clearing the area intended for the spiraea we had hoped to purchase. Oh well, there is always another year; Mother Nature must have had her reasons. We have high hopes that the success with spring bulbs that we enjoyed in the spring of 2013 will continue across the veranda bed and down the east side of the Lodge this spring where we planted the majority of the bulbs purchased with the 2013 grant. The grant also permitted us to purchase two bleeding hearts to replace those lost when the new storm windows were put in place.

The Hort contribution to the heritage gardens at Colborne Lodge makes a huge difference to us and the outcome is enjoyed by thousands of people. I hope that everyone will come and visit the Lodge this year. We have a lot to look forward to and, if this winter ever ends, one thing to watch for is a new climbing rose that promises to be at least thirty feet high, which we planted on the veranda trellis! I am also looking for more volunteers as we have lost two of our stalwarts to health related issues. The gardens are a lovely place to spend some quality time. Just to get you in the mood, I mention that despite the frigid weather, the scilla is starting to appear above the ground on the west slope down to the road. Now that’s a sign worth contemplating.

Catherine Raven