The Reading Garden Project

As a means of fulfilling its mandate as a Horticultural Society to make a horticultural contribution to the community and involve itself in public plantings the West Carleton Garden Club wanted to choose a project that represented the fact that this was a township-wide club. Once the library was scheduled to be moved to the site near what is now the Deifenbunker Museum, The Library Board, represented by Dixie Trenholm, approached the garden club to see they would consider landscaping around the new library., built and maintained by the members of the West Carleton Garden Club, the Reading Garden is in a park-like setting adjacent to the Carp Branch of the Ottawa Public Library with a vista overlooking the Carp Valley. Designed in 1998 by Trevor Cole, it consists of 3 shade groves of 5 trees each with contrasting foliage shape and seasonal colour (pin oak, full gold ash and red maple) as well as 2 trellises with climbing vines (hops and clematis) and 2 peony beds. There are 8 benches, an octagonal picnic bench and a large boulder with identifying plaque.

Once the members agreed to go forward with the project a committee was struck, chaired by Donna Christie. A large public garden tour featuring West Carleton gardens was held in 1996 to procure funds to initiate the installation of the garden. The initiative captured the imagination of many and the tour and Reading Garden idea were promoted in the local papers, there were articles in the Ottawa Citizen, gardens were featured on the television show “Canadian Gardener” and Laurence Wall interviewed about the concept on CBC radio. “Friends of the Library” (under the leadership of Barbara Evans) helped by sponsoring a tea for the event. Over 1000 tickets were sold for the garden tour which raised the needed funds all in one day.

Several years passed as the library land needed to be purchased, the library needed to be built, the site for septic etc. needed to be finalized before the design could be developed. Much background planning was being done. Once the plans had be completed and donated by local gardening personality and author, Trevor Cole, the West Carleton Garden Club members slipped into action. In 1999 the groves were prepared, trees were ordered and planted, and member Brian Osborne designed, built and installed one trellis. A “Place a Bench” campaign was launched to have benched dedicated and donated and a contractor was hired to install stonework under the benches. In May 2000 edging, landscape fabric and mulch were put in place. Mulch was donated by Gardiner Tree Trimming and Dan’s Tree Services and labour was volunteered by club members. Lilacs donated by Caecelia Goetz were planted along with the trellis vines and acidanthra. Trees were watered all summer and George Laughlin built and installed the second trellis. Ken Hutt and Hutch Holtom put in the patio stones. Six benches were ordered from Lanark Cedar.

In 2001 the trellis was completed, topsoil was added to bring the site to grade, Victor Prochazka looked after the ordering, storage and installation of the benches and the plaques. Ian Moxham secured the benches. The new soil was seeded and watered. A blue spruce was planted. The Official Opening Ceremonies was on Sat., June 16th, 2001 with a “garland-cutting” by Councellor (former Mayor) Dwight Eastman, Library Board rep Judy Claus and Club President Maurice Estabrooks.

Members who played an active role on the committees or as regular helpers who are not mentioned above were : John and Cherith Cook, Nancy Suggitt, Noreen Violetta, Rosemary McCready, Sheila Laughlin, Pat Moxham, Sharon Foran, Ola Armstrong, Sandra Preese, Anne Gadbois, Cathy Hutt, Jacquie Estabrooks, Brenda Cole, Evelyn Dore, Linda Osborne, Janet Wright, Carole Reilly, Sue Carey, Leo Enright, Barb Glasgow, Dave Atwood, Jim Robertson, Elizabeth Morsink, Christina Zehaluk.

Accomplishments the following year in 2002 included the installation of 2 waves of peony beds. Members were invited to come on Sept. 18th and contribute a peony to the garden. The garden was included as a rest stop on that year’s garden tour. A photo album was compiled, 2 trees had to be replaced and there were spring and fall work/weeding bees. A large boulder was donated and placed centre garden by Karson Kartage.

The garden grows and changes and current members pitch in to help with the annual work bees and improvements. Notably Ted and Jill Barnicoat and Adeline Colley have been key during the last six years. The garden has been enjoyed by school groups, museum visitors, library clients and staff and garden club members. It has been the site of picnics, strolls, a venue for reading outdoors, a site for weddings and teas. It holds a special place in our community.