The Carlington Summit

At a time when gardening is becoming the leading hobby of Canadians, it is not surprising that there is overwhelming support for the re-establishment of the botanic garden along the eastern edge of the Central Experimental Farm. Many people do not know that the 1886 creation of the Farm included the establishment of the arboretum and a botanic garden which, by 1908, was already the site for testing many thousand different perennials as well as a wide range of trees. Nor do they know that the garden gradually declined so that by the 1920's there was a call for its re-establishment. This call was repeated in many government reports right through until today. In fact, a start was made on the task in the early 1960's so that the new garden could be opened in the Centennial Year. Unfortunately, the government changed and, I am told, we are left with a few rose bushes somewhere in the grass east of the large barn on Prince of Wales.

The new proposal can be found in a publication of the non-profit Ottawa Botanical Garden Society entitled “Ottawa's Botanic Garden: A Vision” or on the web at It proposes greatly improving the maintenance of the arboretum, which would remain open and free to the public, and a new botanic garden south of the arboretum, largely to the east of Prince of Wales. This garden would include a large perennial garden and a series of specific gardens covering the cultural history and origin of cultivated plants in Canada, a herb and medical garden, and a First Nations Knowledge Garden. In addition, there would be a gardener's garden which would provide advice and display answers to the common questions about gardening in our cold climate.

It is proposed to pay for these features by establishing two large greenhouse conservatories on Carling Avenue at Dow's Lake. One would house a butterfly house and the other a series of greenhouses for plants from different climates. Income from entry fees to the greenhouses would be used to pay for the maintenance of the arboretum and the gardens at the south end.

Only two issues of concern have been raised in the many public meetings on this proposal. Firstly, will it create a traffic problem and, secondly, will it disturb the National Historical Site Designation of the Farm. We feel that the answer to both is “no” although a traffic and parking study must be undertaken to determine projected traffic flows and, where necessary, modify the plans for parking, etc. A detailed heritage study suggests that the plan will improve the historical site designation as it includes a number of heritage programs that are not available at this time.

We expect to offer and area of peace and tranquility as well as information for tourists and local residents alike. At the same time, we will offer a wide range of programs for the local community - classes in horticulture, botany, the environment, art, etc. and a special program for children and a horticultural therapy program. The garden will become a cultural and scientific centre for the community as well as enhancing the protecting the area in its present state for centuries to come.

For additional information, see the website or contact the president of the Society, Dr Ian E Efford at 526 4427 or