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Discovering Maplelawn By Katherine Fletcher, photos courtesy of the National Capital Commission


Walled garden at Maplelawn National Historic Site, in the village of West- boro. A rare instance of a European-style walled garden in Canada, dating back to the 1830s.


D


riving west from the Gothic spires of Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings, visitors to the capital will discover Maplelawn, a classical limestone mansion


gracefully set back from Richmond Road’s busy traffic. The once-private residence is a restaurant, another in The Keg’s chain of popular steakhouses. However, after parking your car and venturing inside its


gates, you enter one of the oldest walled gardens in east- ern Canada. The oasis is one of Ottawa’s best-kept secrets, where visitors find a diverse habitat of mature trees and flowers. Here butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees hover over the blooms, pollinating a seasonal wave of flow- ers including tulips, peonies, lupins, phlox and hollyhock. Built between 1831 and 1834 for Scottish immigrant


William Thomson and family, Maplelawn became a national historic site in 1989 because of “the quality of the house, but more particularly because its gardens are the best preserved of the few known surviving examples of early 19th century walled gardens in Canada”. The grounds are now owned by the National Capital Commis- sion, a crown corporation mandated with preserving many


62 • Fall 2016


parklands, green spaces and heritage buildings in the National Capital Region. The estate’s original design dates from the 1830s.


However, when Lloyd Rochester, Maplelawn’s third owner, purchased the estate in 1935, he decided to modernize part of the garden, hiring R. Warren Oliver, the landscape architect at Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm. Oliver’s 1936 layout and planting list still exist. His plans


depict the mansion set back from Richmond Road, with a gracious driveway curving to the front door. A small circu- lar flower bed surrounded by an oval grassed area high-


localgardener.net


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