Donna Dawson

Areas of expertise

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Member since
10th May 2007

As the owner/publisher of the Internet Web site, , Donna Dawson has received many awards and has been recognized in numerous publications. Begun in 1996, has grown to become Canada’s largest Internet gardening resource site with over 200 countries and several million unique visitors finding a gardening site to learn and grow.

In 1998 Donna began organizing and hosting gardening tours. Her custom designed garden tours, which change yearly due to repeat guests, can be seen at She has also worked with Tourism agencies helping and hosting tours to their countries.
In 1995, Donna achieved her master gardener certificate through the University of Alberta Devonian Botanic Garden. She is a Director in her Region VII of the Garden Writers Association, Affiliate Member Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors and member North American Travel Journalists Association.
She has appeared in numerous gardening magazines including Homemaker's, Gardener for the Prairies, Gardens West, Canadian Gardening and Gardening Life, as well as local and foreign newspapers and Internet sites such as and where she is currently the expert on gardening. She is part of the expert panel at with her specialty in gardens and writes for She has also had the opportunity to provide photographs to European Homes & Gardens, BCAA and Doctor's Review.
She is currently living in the Republic of Panama, exploring a whole new world of plant material and writing about it in The Visitor, a weekly periodical for both the expat community as well as locals as it is published in Spanish and English. Her articles have also appeared in Vivir Bien, a lifestyle magazine in Panama as well.
One of the hobbies that she has is collecting photos of seating from around the world while on her travels. Those can be seen under the Pix area of along with all the trips and tours she had taken over the years – be advised though – this is not an area you will want to leave!! is her way of bringing gardeners together from all over the world, to share their trials and successes as well as learn from the thousands and thousands of garden articles by writers from all over the world. They can find out what is happening in the Events area, and if they need a garden club or supplier, they will find it. The tours only site brings gardeners together to share in the joy of seeing how others garden and to go home with both great memories and new found friends.

I Can Garden homepage

Donna Dawson's activity

  1. July 2013
  2. Donna Dawson reviewed Villa Massei in Tuscany, Italy

    Villa Massei – the garden of Paul Gervais de Bedee and Gil Cohen. Paul is a thirteenth generation New Englander, descended from the family of Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand. Gil is the rose lover and philanthropist. Gil was there to greet us and we…"

  3. Donna Dawson reviewed Orto Botanico Comunale di Lucca Botanical Garden in Tuscany, Italy

    The garden was established in 1820 by Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, and contains a number of mature plantings of botanical interest. Its site is roughly triangular, set within a corner of Lucca's city wall, and organized into two main sections. One con…"

  4. Donna Dawson reviewed Villa La Petraia in Tuscany, Italy

    Villa La Petraia –where we heard the story of bringing the buildings and the fields of Petraia to an organic and biodynamic agricultural life after a forty year dormancy; the restoration of a 900-year old casa colonica; the rebuilding of ancient st…"

  5. Donna Dawson reviewed Villa La Foce in Tuscany, Italy

    Villa La Foce - The garden at La Foce was designed by Iris Origo and the famous English landscape gardener Cecil Pinsent between 1925 and 1939. It is considered today an ideal combination between the landscape and 20th-century architecture, blending Ital…"

  6. Donna Dawson reviewed Renaissance Garden in Val d'Orcia in Tuscany, Italy

    In San Quirico d’Orcia, a little walled village, we visit the Renaissance Garden in Val d’Orcia: the Story of diomede Leoni and his Horti Leonini The Horti Leonini gardens are a splendid example of giardini all'italiana: they were designed i…"

  7. Donna Dawson reviewed Abbey of Sant'Antimo in Tuscany, Italy

    Abbey of Sant'Antimo - The origins of the abbey date to a small oratory built here, on the location of a former Roman villa, in 352 at the death of Anthimus. In 715 it was cared by the diocese of Chiusi.  Saint Antimo was a martyr.  In 770…"

  8. Donna Dawson reviewed Tenuta Monaciano in Tuscany, Italy

    A drawing by the artist Ettore Romagnoli dating from 1835 attests to the fact that there was a garden annex to the Villa in the eighteenth century but was actually put in place during the middle part of the century when the building was completely modifi…"

  9. Donna Dawson reviewed Castello di Celsa in Tuscany, Italy

    Castello di Celsa. Celsa has the quality that dreams are made of. A castle with turrets surrounded by a formal garden, a Renaissance chapel and a beautifully converted conservatory - the Limonaia - look across the valley towards the skyline of Siena, sur…"

  10. Donna Dawson reviewed Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West in Cape Town, South Africa

    Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West where we enjoyed these beautiful gardens and afterwards a wine tasting. It was such a bright day here it was hard to see let alone take good pictures, but at least you have some idea of the joy and beauty that lie…"

  11. Donna Dawson reviewed Cellars-Hohenort in Cape Town, South Africa

    The Cellars-Hohenort rests on the breathtaking slopes of Table Mountain. Located in Constantia, Cape Town, it shares its home with some of South Africa's most historically significant wine estates. Set over nine spectacular acres, The Cellars-Hohenort ga…"

  12. Donna Dawson reviewed Kwa-Zulu Natal Botanical Gardens in Pretoria, South Africa

    Kwa-Zulu Natal Botanical Gardens is where we learned about the role plants play in the lives of the Zulus. "An ideal Botanical Garden: the Pride of Natal - and of Kew" - Sir Frederick Keeble in the 1930sThe beautiful and tranquil KwaZulu-Natal …"

  13. Donna Dawson reviewed Durban Botanic Gardens in Durban, South Africa

    On the lower slopes of Durban's Berea ridge lies the city's brightest jewel, the Durban Botanic Gardens. It is the city's oldest public institution and Africa's oldest surviving botanic garden. The Durban Botanic Gardens (DBG) traces its origins to colon…"

  14. Donna Dawson reviewed Pretoria Botanic Gardens in Pretoria, South Africa

    This 76 ha urban oasis is a pristine getaway situated in the eastern suburbs of South Africa’s administrative capital, Pretoria. A 35 m high quartzite outcrop divides the Garden in two sections. Its frosty south-facing section and the north-facing,…"

  15. Donna Dawson reviewed Brenthurst Gardens in Johannesburg, South Africa

    Brenthurst, the private garden of the Oppenheimers. No photos were allowed but I did manage to get a few that were ok to take. When Mandela was freed he was given some koala bears along with their food, eucalyptus branches and leaves…little did th…"

  16. Donna Dawson reviewed Nezahat Gokyigit Botanic Garden St. Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

    Situated in the center of a busy motorway intersection, Nezahat Gökyigit Memorial Park, is a testament to the drive and inspiration of Nihat Gökyigit. Built in memory of his late wife Nezahat, the Park is striving to become a botanic garden tha…"

  17. Donna Dawson reviewed Emirgan Park in Istanbul, Turkey

    The park, owned and administered today by the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul, covers an area of 117 acres on a hillside and is enclosed by high walls. Inside the park with two decorative ponds are plants of more than 120 species, and very rare t…"

  18. Donna Dawson reviewed Flor & Fjaere Island in Norway

    As we boarded the colourful, flower bedecked boat from the pier at Stavanger, excitement built…for we had some inkling of what was coming but we had no clue what was really there… I have seen hundreds of gardens over the years in many count…"

  19. Donna Dawson reviewed Damsgard Country Mansion in Bergen, Norway

    A quick bus ride gets to you one of the nicest areas in the city and along with that, the Damsgard Country Mansion. Bergen was a large, busy and rich town at the end of the 18th century. Among the aristocracy it was popular to build luxurious countrysi…"

  20. Donna Dawson reviewed Bergen Botanical Garden in Bergen, Norway

    Surrounding the Bergen Museum the Garden was originally, until 1996, the University of Bergen’s botanical garden. It has a central location, but with only 1.4 ha in size it had no possibility for expansion. The new Botanical Garden at Milde approx.…"

  21. Donna Dawson reviewed University of Oslo Botanical Garden in Oslo, Norway

    The Botanical Garden is part of and forms the border around the Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo. It was founded in 1814 and is the oldest scientific garden in Norway. Through research, education and plant conservation, the garden seeks t…"

  22. Donna Dawson reviewed Yamingshan National Park in Taipei, Taiwan

    A beautiful peaceful park that took my breath away – the moss was everywhere and I am very fond of moss in gardens. Camellias too … The mountain park serves as a refuge to 1230 plant species, 88 bird species, 150 mammal species, 16 amphibian…"

  23. Donna Dawson reviewed Taipei Botanical Garden in Taipei, Taiwan

    This botanical garden was first built as a nursery in 1896 during the Japanese colonial period. It was later expanded and renamed the Taipei Botanical Garden in 1921 and was the very first in Taiwan. It contains the gardens of Gymnosperms, ferns, taxonom…"

  24. Donna Dawson reviewed Sofia University Botanic Garden in Sofia, Bulgaria

    This is another gem that must be visited. All the plants were donated by a wealthy merchant. They also have a little garden shop where the lady there does some wonderful arrangements…it was founded in 1892 by the first Bulgarian professor in botan…"

  25. Donna Dawson reviewed Balchik Botanic Garden in Bulgaria

    Botanic Garden and former summer palace of the Romanian Queen Maria Alexandrina Victoria De Edinburgh. Constructed in 1924 it is an unusual building but it was the style in those days…I loved the chair and table down by the beach that she would si…"

  26. Donna Dawson reviewed Royal Botanic Garden of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia, Bulgaria

    It was started by King Ferdinand in 1882. The ‘gardens’ are really just the glass houses, but they have about 6 small houses chock and block full of wonderful plants, all healthy and happy and named. There were a few that I did not recognize …"

  27. October 2011
  28. Donna Dawson reviewed Aberaeron in Wales, United Kingdom

    The charming town of Aberaeron is famous for its Georgian elegance with brightly painted town houses and an attractive seaside quay. This was most evident as we took a stroll out in the rather breezy weather to see the ocean and the boats. The houses sur…"

  29. Donna Dawson reviewed Harlech Castle in Wales, United Kingdom

    The English monarch Edward I built Harlech in the late 13th-century to fulfill this very role. It was one of the most formidable of his 'iron ring' of fortresses designed to contain the Welsh in their mountain fastness. Ironically, in 1404 it was taken b…"

  30. Donna Dawson wrote a holiday idea Wales – Inspired by Nature, Genuine in Hospitality

    That about sums up my trip to Wales – genuine and inspirational. There is a graciousness about the country that was felt everywhere. From the gardens to the hotels you could feel the welcome and it was so hard to leave because of it."

  31. Donna Dawson reviewed Bodysgallen Hall in Wales, United Kingdom

    Historic House Hotels Limited has skillfully and sympathetically restored the 17th century house. The hotel has two restaurants, with imaginative food, which has been awarded three rosettes by the AA for fine-dining in the Main Hall, and is prepared from…"

  32. Donna Dawson reviewed Wales

    The National flag is green on the bottom and white on the top, and right in the middle sits a red dragon. The Leek and the Daffodil are both national emblems of Wales. The Welsh word for daffodil and leek are the same – Cenhinen for leek and Cenhin…"

  33. Donna Dawson reviewed Aberglasney House and Gardens in Wales, United Kingdom

    While Aberglasney’s very existence was unknown to the world in general (many local people remaining unaware of it), a small band of enthusiasts of historic houses and gardens had long kept an informal watching brief on the property, noting its decl…"

  34. Donna Dawson reviewed Aberglasney House and Gardens in Wales, United Kingdom

    Spectacularly set in the beautiful Tywi valley of Carmarthenshire, Aberglasney House features one of the finest gardens in Wales. Aberglasney Gardens have been an inspiration to poets since 1477. The story of Aberglasney spans many centuries, but, the ho…"

  35. Donna Dawson reviewed Feather Royal Hotel in Wales, United Kingdom

    The Feathers Royal has a strong tradition of hospitality. As the focal point of the small seaside port town of Aberaeron on the beautiful Cardigan Bay Coast, the Feathers was originally an 18th Century Coaching Inn offering food and shelter to travelers …"

  36. Donna Dawson reviewed Wilhelma Botanical Garden in Stuttgart, Germany

    Wilhelma is not a zoo in the generally accepted sense of the word – it’s the only zoological botanical gardens in Europe. And with its combination of plants, animals and historic buildings unique worldwide. A visit here is a visit for everyon…"

  37. Donna Dawson reviewed Llanerchaeron in Wales, United Kingdom

    At Llanerchaeron we enjoyed a quick lunch before our visit.  This is a National Trust Property and a rare example of a self-sufficient 18th-century Welsh minor gentry estate has survived virtually unaltered. The villa, designed in the 1790s, is…"

  38. Donna Dawson reviewed Pomeranzen Garden in Germany

    The Pomeranzen Garden in Leonberg has been established in 1609 by the Renaissance-builder Heinrich Schickhardt for the duchess Sybilla von Wuerttemberg. As the only preserved garden from Germany’s late Renaissance this rare terrace composition has …"

  39. Donna Dawson reviewed Ludwigsburg Palace and Gardens in Stuttgart, Germany

    In the 18th century the Palace of Versailles was the ideal to which every European ruler aspired. But very few were able to realize their absolutist dreams in as literal, grandiose way as the rulers of Ludwigsburg. Ludwigsburg Palace is one of the larges…"

  40. Donna Dawson reviewed Ynyshir Hall in Wales, United Kingdom

    Solitude is precious and readily available at Ynyshir Hall, once owned by Queen Victoria and set amongst breathtaking scenery in the secret heart of Wales. Cradled in 14 acres of glorious gardens, this luxury hotel in Wales sits midst the splendour of th…"

  41. Donna Dawson reviewed Augustusburg Castle in Westphalia, Germany

    Augustusburg Castle stunned us with its Rococo architecture.  Augustusburg and Falkenlust present the first important creations of the Rococo style in Germany. For more than a century, they served as models for most of the princely courts. Like the…"

  42. Donna Dawson reviewed Plas Brondanw in Wales, United Kingdom

    We arrived to be greeted by Gwynedd Roberts, the head gardener and Manager. "It had been at about my twenty-fifth birthday that my father unexpectedly handed over to me the control of the old (Williams) family property of Plas Brondanw which I woul…"

  43. Donna Dawson reviewed Plas Cadnant in Wales, United Kingdom

    Stephen Lacey wrote a great article on Plas Cadnant which I read both before and after visiting and I urge you to do the same… a tidbit follows, but read the whole thing…it is so interesting. ‘In the valley, below the crumbing, ivy-c…"

  44. Donna Dawson reviewed Bodysgallen Gardens in Wales, United Kingdom

    After breakfast we were meeting with the head gardener, Robert Owen, for a more personal tour. He has been the head gardener here for over 30 years. There are 3 full time, 1 part time and 2 volunteers that tend these beautiful pleasure gardens and food…"

  45. Donna Dawson reviewed Gwaenynog Hall in Wales, United Kingdom

    Gwaenynog Hall in Denbigh was the setting for the Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies – and we could see not a one!  This was the garden that stories are made from…and it was a real treat to be standing in it…and hoping that a few bunnies…"

  46. Donna Dawson reviewed Erddig Hall and Gardens in Wales, United Kingdom

    Erddig Hall, described as the jewel in the crown of Welsh country houses. How fascinating to see such a place, a home from the early 18th century which reflected a gentry families 250 years of upstairs, downstairs life. We met with the Head Gardener, G…"

  47. March 2011
  48. Donna Dawson reviewed St. Rose Nursery & Garden in Grenada

    John Criswick, who runs St. Rose Nursery & Garden is the consummate plantsman.  He grows plants because he loves everything about them.  No visit would be complete without a visit to a nursery but this is more than a nursery. …"

  49. Donna Dawson reviewed Smithy’s Garden in Grenada

    Smithy’s Garden is a labour of love and it shows in the layout and placement of plant material. It has a very enviable collection of Vanda orchids with their little faces welcoming you to your visit."

  50. Donna Dawson reviewed Balthazar Estate in Grenada

    Denis Noel from Balthazar Estate showed us around his plantation and as we walked through this tropical rain forest paradise it was ‘look up’ all the time. Heleconia at 8 to 10 feet high surrounded us and when he cut the flowers to show us w…"

  51. Donna Dawson wrote a holiday idea Grenada – the Garden (Friendship) Isle

    Master Gardener, Donna Dawson, has just gotten back from a press trip to see the gardens of 'this wonderful island that is only 28 miles long and 14 miles wide'."

  52. Donna Dawson reviewed Hyde Park Garden in Grenada

    When we visited Fay and John Miller of Hyde Park Garden, the greeting was genuine. Not only were they happy to show us around but after the tour we sat and chatted with them and were delighted by many stories. Their hearts are in this garden, it holds …"

  53. January 2011
  54. Donna Dawson reviewed Monsopiad Cultural Village in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

    Nestled besides the Penampang River are the many traditional buildings that make up the Monsopiad Cultural village, a living museum located 16 km or about half an hour away from the Kota Kinabalu City Centre. Monsopiad was a fearsome warrior who lived in…"

  55. Donna Dawson reviewed Menara Tun Mustapha (Sabah Foundation Building) in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

    Located 5 kilometres or about 15 minutes away from the Kota Kinabalu City Centre. Formerly known as the Sabah Foundation Building, this circular tower of steel and glass stands 30 storeys high in the Likas Bay area and is instantly recognizable as a Saba…"

  56. Donna Dawson reviewed Kota Kinabalu City Mosque in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

    The second main mosque in the city is the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque at Likas Bay at the north coastal highway. It is another impressive example of a marvelous architecture, it resembles in some ways the design of the Masjid al-Nabawi mosque (The Prophet…"

  57. Donna Dawson reviewed Sabah State Mosque in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

    This state mosque is a masterpiece of architecture with its dove-grey walls and glittering majestic domes with gold inlay. A wonderful combination of Islamic architecture and contemporary design. It is centrally located at Jalan Tunku Abdul Raman. Up to …"

  58. Donna Dawson reviewed Sabah State Museum in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

    Built in the longhouse style of the Rungus and Murut tribes that kept a wealth of historical, tribal treasures and handicraft of the indigenous people. Highlights are exhibits of 6 life-size traditional houses of ethnic groups, Science centre, and art ga…"

  59. Donna Dawson reviewed Kota Kinabalu

    How many of you have had the opportunity to visit Malaysia…it is truly a country worth visiting.  I have been there at least three times now and it never ceases to amaze me.  It is a bit of a long flight from the U.S. but take the opport…"

  60. Donna Dawson reviewed The Terracotta Army in Xi'an, China

    Terra-Cotta Army of Qin Shihuangdi, one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the world and awesome!! The Grand Mausoleum of Qin Emperor, the first emperor of China, is protected by more than 6000 life size Terra-Cotta Warriors and horses. The e…"

  61. October 2010
  62. Donna Dawson reviewed The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens in Florida, United States

    The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens are near Winter Park and worth your time. The gardens are adorned with wonderful sculpture to view. The Polasek is a liv­ing museum, with out­door gar­dens dat­ing to 1949. The three-acre…"

  63. Donna Dawson rated Helen Dillon’s Garden

  64. August 2010
  65. Donna Dawson rated Montrose Gardens

  66. Donna Dawson rated Chelsea Flower Show

  67. Donna Dawson rated JC Raulston Arboretum

  68. July 2010
  69. Donna Dawson commented on Three Days into the Heart of Louisiana

    "I don't think you will have any problems visiting this area and seeing any remnants of Katrina...I know we didn't - it was gorgeous and be sure to stay at the Parc England Boutique Hotel for a really nice experience. Donna"

  70. Donna Dawson wrote a holiday idea Three Days into the Heart of Louisiana

    We've all heard about New Orleans…but what about Alexandria/Pineville, Natchitoches and Shreveport? I was to discover there were more delights in store for me..."

  71. May 2010
  72. Donna Dawson wrote a holiday idea Donna Dawson's India

    The highlights of a recent trip to India - from Delhi to Udaipur via Rajasthan."

  73. Donna Dawson reviewed Agra Fort in Agra, India

    Few forts in the world have a more fascinating story to tell than the Great Fort of Agra. Originally planned as an impregnable military structure by Akbar, the Agra Fort, over a period of time, acquired all the elegance, lavishness and majesty of an impe…"

  74. June 2009
  75. Donna Dawson commented on And the Web 2.0 Winner is:

    "Congrats Kat!! and held in Canada wonderful. expat from Canada now living in the Republic of Panama and one of your writers :)"

  76. January 2009
  77. Donna Dawson reviewed Transiting the Panama Canal in Colón, Panama

    This canal is really a marvel in engineering. Nothing has been changed since the original design. The locks have worked perfectly since day one. It is fascinating to be on a ship going through the locks. You wait your turn to enter and sometimes dep…"

  78. June 2008
  79. Donna Dawson rated Yu Yuan Garden

  80. Donna Dawson rated Tiger Hill or Huqiu Garden

  81. Donna Dawson rated Lion Grove Garden

  82. Donna Dawson rated Garden of the Master of the Nets

  83. Donna Dawson rated The Terracotta Army

  84. Donna Dawson rated Luoyang Peony Festival

  85. Donna Dawson reviewed Luoyang Peony Festival in Luoyang, China

    At the same time that the peony festival is held in April, there is a floral exhibit, where the feature flower of course is the peony. I am including some pictures of the floral arrangements so that you can see what floral design is like in China. 200…"

  86. Donna Dawson rated Longmen Grottoes

  87. Donna Dawson rated Villa Torrigiani

  88. Donna Dawson rated Hanbury Botanic Gardens

  89. Donna Dawson rated Les Cèdres

  90. Donna Dawson rated Serre de la Modone Garden

  91. Donna Dawson rated Japanese Garden, Monaco

  92. June 2007
  93. Donna Dawson reviewed Monet's Gardens in North East France, France

    I was not prepared for the beauty of Claude Monet’s gardens…they were truly inspiring and after a tour of the gardens go through the house and upstairs to his bedroom and look out the very same windows that he did, where he could see and reflect on the …"

  94. Donna Dawson reviewed Great Dixter Gardens in South East England, United Kingdom

    A must see for gardeners, you will not forget the series of gardens nor will you forget the differences in gardening styles. Great Dixter is a charming 15th century timber-framed manor house set in one of the most beautiful gardens in England. Records f…"