Bernie Van Herk’s well-known front gardens will be open to those on the Stratford and District Horticultural Society’s 2019 garden tour on July 7. Pictured are Van Herk and garden tour committee memeber Marg O’Reilly. Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald/Postmedia Network
When Bernie Van Herk learned last fall that his gardens, well known in Stratford for their colourful tulip displays in the spring, would be featured in the Stratford and District Horticultural Society’s 2019 garden tour, he wanted to design something uniquely Stratford.With the garden tour set for July 7, too late in the season for tulips, Van Herk planned ahead and planted red geraniums — which he grows himself in his backyard greenhouse — that can endure the hotter temperatures of early July.With those red geraniums in mind, Van Herk also asked his friend Steve Groenestege from Signs Ontario to make him something visitors to his gardens would truly enjoy. The result is a large painted sign, hung over Van Herk’s front-yard fountain, featuring pictures of William Shakespeare, swans on the Avon River, fresh fruits and vegetable, flowers, and the Stratford and District Horticultural Society logo.“From the beauty of the swans that swim in the Avon River to the talented Shakespearean plays that the festival displays, Stratford is a truly wonderful place to be,” Van Herk’s granddaughter, Emai Paradis, wrote for her grandfather to read during his interview with the Beacon Herald.Those participating in the horticultural society’s annual fundraiser will also have the opportunity to see Van Herk’s large vegetable garden beside the greenhouse in his backyard.
Bernie Van Herk stand among the peas and carrots in his large backyard vegetable garden, which will be featured in the Stratford and District Horticultural Society’s 2019 garden tour. Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald/Postmedia Network
“At the back I’ve got the vegetable garden (where I grow) peas, and garlic, and carrots, and onions, and potatoes — the whole thing,” Van Herk said.Along with Van Herk’s gardens, this year’s garden tour will feature seven other private gardens from across Stratford and the surrounding area, each of which is unique in some way.“We try to choose a variety of gardens. We try to choose smaller gardens, some that have larger gardens, shade, sunny gardens, and it’s a great way for people to figure out what they want to do in their own garden,” said Marg O’Reilly, a member of the garden tour committee.At $15 per person or $25 for two people, those interested in touring the gardens on display can pick up their garden tour map in Market Square from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Once they have their map, participants can tour any or all of the gardens in whichever order they like between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.Those who participate will also have the chance to have their name entered into two draws. For the first draw, participants will be asked to name a mystery flower or plant at each of the eight stops. Those who get roughly half or more of them right, will be entered to win a large planter.Tour participants will automatically be entered in the second draw, the prize for which is an Adirondack chair donated by C.R. Plastic Products.For more information on the garden tour, search Stratford and District Horticultural Society on Facebook.email@example.com