2019 Ottawa Garden Survey – Executive Summary

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Bee pollinating a pear tree flower

The following is a summary of the most frequent comments received from 81 questionnaire responses received by Gardens Ottawa between February 8th and March 31st, 2019. Not every question was answered by each responder, so the sample size per question varies.

For you, what is a ‘Garden’? What do you visualize? What comes to mind?

Responses with similar comments were grouped:

  • 41 of 72 responses contained the words green, greenery, plants, vegetation, flora, trees or shrubs
  • 23 found pleasant associations – relax, retreat, oasis, therapeutic, pleasure, calms, memories, soothing, senses stimulated, refreshing, feel zen, feed my soul
  • 20 communicated specific planning, such as layout, patterns, design, organized, choosing, well placed, meticulous, developed, architectural
  • 19 had flowers, annuals or perennials as part of their vision
  • 17 had vegetables, fruit or edibles as central to a garden
  • 16 associate gardens with natural, wild, habitat, nature, or wetlands

What is your favourite garden or garden experience in Ottawa?

  • 17 of 73 responses identified the Ornamental Gardens at the Central Experimental Farm (CEF) n
  • 9 favoured Commissioner’s Park/Queen Elizabeth Drive, especially during the spring Tulip Festival
  • 8 considered their own garden to be their favourite


What do you think is the most underappreciated/ underrated garden or garden experience in Ottawa?

Many of the favourite gardens were also considered to be underappreciated.

  • 10 of 55 responses found the Ornamental Gardens at the CEF to be underappreciated
  • 10 the Dominion Arboretum at the CEF
  • 7 considered the gardens of ordinary residents underappreciated
  • 7 cited community gardens


What garden type or garden experience do you think is missing in Ottawa?

  • 17 of 69 responses cited the lack of a botanic garden or national level garden where they could spend the full day, a place to go in the winter, where they could learn about plants
  • 11 refer to the need for a conservatory, greenhouse, tropical or winter garden
  • 8 see a pressing need for more market, food or community gardens
  • 7 would like to see more native or wild gardens with biodiversity and attracting pollinators


What do you think is the most important garden/gardening issue needing attention in Ottawa?

Issues were communicated in the comments of all the survey questions and remarks.

Botanic Garden and Conservatory

There was repeated demand for a national level garden or botanic garden of significant size with some form of conservatory or greenhouse that would allow access for a year-round garden experience. People want to be able to spend a good portion of the day viewing and learning more about plants.

Urban Agriculture

The need for more community gardens, where people can grow their own food, was strongly and repeatedly stated. While the Just Food Farm was praised, many cited the need for urban gardens in highly populated areas of the city where apartment dwellers, low income residents, and those without vehicles could grow food.

Poor Maintenance and Neglect of Gardens

Poor or declining garden maintenance was a common theme. Some cited past favourite gardens which had declined.

Many of the favourite gardens, such as the CEF Ornamental Gardens and Maplelawn are maintained almost exclusively by volunteers. While volunteers are an important resource for garden maintenance, they need greater organizational and financial support.

The type of maintenance is also falling short. A lack of skill extends to all aspects of garden maintenance requiring trained horticultural knowledge. More thought needs to be given to the division of tasks between skilled and unskilled individuals, and to make the necessary funding available for proper care.

Urban Intensification

There is concern that urban intensification is happening at the cost of other important and valued components of a livable urban area, such as greenspaces, large trees, and rainfall and heat mitigation. These areas are critical in satisfying the high demand for accessible greenspace to conduct urban agriculture.

Population Impacts and Carrying Capacity

The issue of overuse of gardens was raised. As the population of the Ottawa area increases, the ability of gardens and natural areas to withstand high use without degradation has become an increasingly important issue. Increasing the resilience to high use areas requires a lot more thought and action than has previously occurred on this topic.

Municipal Support for Gardens and Greenspaces

Responders would like to see greater municipal support for gardens in Ottawa. Preservation of existing parks and open spaces, new pocket parks in dense urban areas, including an area for community gardening in all municipal parks.


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