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Bellevue House National Historic Site of Canada

Gardens at Bellevue House
Picking beans in the garden.
© Parks Canada

A Guide to the Gardens

A Restored Landscape

Introducing visitors to the garden
Introducing visitors to the garden
© Parks Canada / Brian Morin

The extensive grounds at Bellevue House were an important consideration in John A. Macdonald's decision to rent this property. He wrote of the "...complete and quiet seclusion of the house, which is completely surrounded with trees and has a fresh breeze ever blowing on it from Lake Ontario..." The grounds of Bellevue House today are much as they were when the Macdonald's lived here almost 150 years ago. In keeping with the theories of landscaping popular in the mid-ninteenth century, the grounds were intended to beautify the property and harmonize with the style of the house.

Gardeners scythe the lawn
Gardeners scythe the lawn
© Parks Canada / Brian Morin

While some of the characteristics that distinguish the historic gardens from a modern setting are obvious, others are more subtle. You'll notice, for instance, that the grass looks long and slightly ragged - it is scythed by hand and not trimmed with a mower. There is very little vegetation planted around the foundation of the house, since this was not popular in the 1840's. Other differences can be seen in the vegetable garden, where crops such as radishes and turnips are planted in blocks rather than lines, a practice common in earlier times.

To ensure that the gardening practices are appropriate to the period, the gardeners at Bellevue House follow the instructions in such books as Johnson's Kitchen Garden (London, 1843) and J.J. Thomas' Fruit Culturist (New York, 1847).

The Vegetable Garden
The Vegetable Garden
© Parks Canada / Brian Morin

Layout of the Gardens

Historic Varieties

Garden Tools and Techniques

Gardeners' Clothes

Bellevue Gardens at Work