Notes From the Old Ottawa South Garden Club
Top 10 North American Gardens Worth Traveling For
On a cold and snowy evening in early January, the members of the Old Ottawa South Garden Club (OOSGC) were treated to an armchair tour of the “Top 10 North American Gardens Worth Traveling For”. The list is a joint promotion of the Garden Council of Canada and the American Public Gardens Association. The list for 2017 (in alphabetical order) is: Chicago Botanic Garden (www.chicagobotanic.org); Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (www.vancouverchinesegarden.com) ; Ethnobotanical Garden (www.quepasaoaxaca.com/jardin-etnobotanico-de-oaxaca/); Halifax Public Gardens (www.halifaxpublicgardens.ca); Hershey Gardens (www.hersheygardens.org); Reford Gardens (www.refordgardens.com); Las Ponzas (www.xilitla.org); Longue Vue House and Gardens (www.longuevue.com); San Diego Botanic Garden (www.sdbgarden.org); and Tucson Botanical Gardens (www.tucsonbotanical.org).
The presentation contained stunning photographs of each of the ten gardens together with extensive notes on their respective histories. The three Canadian gardens on the list are representative of the diverse attractions of these ten gardens.
The Halifax Public Gardens are the result of the civic pride of Victorian Haligonians: a 16-acre oasis in the heart of downtown Halifax that was opened in 1867. It retains much of its original Victorian character—the gardens boast ornate fountains, a bandstand, statues, urns, and a magnificent wrought iron entrance. Thousands of cruise-line passengers visit the gardens during the summer.
By contrast, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (the first Chinese garden built outside of China modelled after Suzhou style of garden architecture) was opened almost a century later. But in a similar show of civic pride, and to prevent the building a highway across Chinatown, Chinese leaders and scholars along with representatives of other groups fought for the cause and raised six million dollars to purchase the 2-acre block and import 53 master craftsmen from China to complete the garden thirteen months. Designed to create a serene space, the garden hosts many Chinese-themed events including: “Lanterns in the Garden”; “Year of the Dog Temple Fair”; and a celebration of the Chinese New Year.
Although now owned by Les Amis des Jardins de Métis and open to the public, Reford Gardens were once the private “paradise” of Elsie Reford. Originally, a fishing lodge near Grand-Métis, the 45-acre property was given to Elsie by her uncle in 1926 when she promptly began transforming it into an English-style garden. Now managed by her great-grandson—Alex Reford—the gardens remain true to Elsie’s creation. Each year the gardens host the International Garden Festival—the leading contemporary garden festival in North America. Since its inception in 2000, more than 160 gardens have been exhibited at Grand-Métis. Each year the festival exhibits about twenty conceptual gardens created by more than seventy architects, landscape architects and designers from various disciplines.
The evening ended with a discussion of the role of public gardens and some of the gardens visited by members including the wildly successful MosiacCanada.