Real gardens: Kingsbrae Garden

Kingsbrae Garden in New Brunswick, Canada, was once destined to become a dog-training facility. As much as we love dogs at F&F, we’re glad that never came to fruition, as the garden is stunning.

A bold planting scheme, running from serene Liatris and Monardas to cheerful poppies and knapweed, drifts through the organic public garden, which was designed and planted in the mid 1990s.

The 27-acre site surrounded a 1910 Edward Maxwell Manor house. When work began on the garden, there were many mature trees, shrubs and several areas surrounded by tall, stately, old cedar hedges. These areas were developed into themed gardens. The rest of the plot comprised virgin Acadian forest and fallow fields. The forest has been left intact, with only a few paths and simple wooden bridges added.

The gardeners also dug out two large ponds and created an in-ground irrigation system, which lessened the garden’s dependence on the town’s water supply.

In 2006, the garden became the first in Canada to have a Wollemi Pine, known as the ‘Jurassic living fossil’. these rare Australian trees are the focus of a worldwide conservation effort, as there are only 100 adult specimens in the wild.

The garden is, according to Marketing Officer Maureen McIlwain, 99.9% chemical free, supplying all its own compost and relying on natural predators such as ladybirds to keep pest numbers down. A nearby hotel supplies kitchen waste for Kingsbrae’s huge compost piles. These heaps mean the gardeners have never needed to import topsoil, improving the soil’s condition instead using their own ready supply of nutritious manure.

In fact, the organic ethos is so important to the team at Kingsbrae that the garden was one of the leading forces in establishing a local ban on lawn pesticides. When you look around the garden, pesticides do seem a ltitle irrelevant. Everything is flourishing.

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