The VanDonzel Garden High River Garden Tour 2021

The idea for a garden tour was the brain child of Frank and Joanne VanDonzel. They brought together a committee of like minded people, approached the High River Rotary Club and the rest, shall we say, is history.

The VanDonzel home was constructed on the site of Buck Smith’s 1878 “stopping house” along the edge of what is now, one of High River’s favourite stopping places, George Lane Park.

The design of the lower yard melds wonderfully with the park adjacent to it.

Frank and Joanne first eyed this property in 1970 but had to wait 25 years for it to come onto the market. The original homestead consisted of five properties bordering George Lane Park. Their home is built on the exact location where the Weinard/Smith residence was once located. That building later served as the area’s first school and was believed to be the oldest structure in the area.

The property consists of riverbank (clay) and river bottom (rock) meaning the gardens had to be approached using distinctly different methods. Once the house was constructed retaining walls were put in along the riverbank sides. Clay was removed and replaced with fertile garden soil. Compost and peat moss was added to the flowerbeds.

This combination created an excellent environment for their lovely garden to thrive in.

The Front Beds

The two front beds contain a wonderful mix of perennials and annuals to ensure there is always something in bloom.

If you wish to see any image larger - simply click on it.

A member of the delphinium family, the larkspur is a beautiful addition to any garden. It will be in mine next year.

The lilies were splendid.
As indeed

Between the front and the back gardens, you will find this lovely rose.

The Back Patio

This space welcomes you to take your morning coffee out to enjoy the new day as you are surrounded by highly organized and well thought out beds. There are areas of shade and areas of sunlight enabling a variety of planting options.

“Joanne enjoys color and plans the perennials according to certain colors and blooming time.”

Any gardener knows what a challenge that can be but she accomplishes her goal admirably.

A decorative railing serves as support for a wall of greenery providing the space with privacy without the feeling of being fenced in.

There are the most impressive beds of hosta I've ever seen.

So many leaf colours and patterns.

They are very happy hostas!

In addition to everything else there are several striking agave plants.

“The flowerbeds on the top are the responsibility of Joanne and Frank looks after the lower river bottom portion.”

It's a larger space but there's lawn that can be mowed with a riding mower, so that's a perk.

The Lower Garden

In what was once river bottom, loads of topsoil were brought in to create mounds for the planting of trees and shrubs on the bedrock. The result of which is an urban forest setting with an undulating lawn.

More places to enjoy a meal or an afternoon siesta in the shade are in the lower garden. As well as a path to the house that passes by the latest addition - an insect hotel.

Good use was made of a tree that unfortunately had to be taken down, but it gets to stay in the garden and nuture nature.

I love the sound of water in a garden. Don't you?

The next time you drive through George Lane Park during the Rotary Club's Christmas Light display you will see their trees lit as the medicine tree.

Until the next garden stay safe and stay healthy!

Created By
Cathy Bennington


C. J. Bennington Photography