Native Plant Gardens in Nova Scotia

Formal Garden of native plants, Harriet Irving Botanical Garden
Formal Garden of native plants, Harriet Irving Botanical Garden

The Harriet Irving Botanical Garden in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, features a formal garden created entirely of native plants. Nova Scotia is blessed with some lovely evergreen shrubs which can be used instead of box and English yew: inkberry holly, bayberry, bearberry and others. The formal parterre around the circular fountain is sheared inkberry filled with highbush blueberry, turning a brilliant autumn red.

fountainThe gorgeous atrium entrance to the research greenhouses is a cool (in every sense of the word) greenhouse outfitted with potted hemlocks and a fountain created from a large boulder, capped with ferns and mosses, many of them native to eastern Canada. Very cool indeed.hemlocks

The garden also features ecological community gardens showcasing Nova Scotia’s native plants. Unfortunately, the most distinctive plant communities, such as the coastal barrens, are the most difficult to maintain in the fertile and sheltered Annapolis valley, and are being invaded by the species more suited to the garden’s site. This part of the garden features a very well constructed artificial stream which feeds the wetland garden. Plants and rocks are very naturally placed, which is much harder to achieve than you might think.paths

I first visited this garden seven years ago. Our recent travels in Nova Scotia afforded me an opportunity to revisit this fine garden.

On our way to the airport we encountered another fine native plant garden: the landscaping at the Micmag cultural centre near Truro was all native, with some signage discussing important medicinal plants. The garden is newish and suffers a bit from its exposed site next to the car park – some of the wet-land plants were languishing – but it offers a lovely and educational walk that will only improve as the trees mature.


Published by

Trish Murphy

Artist: botanical, still life, and natural history illustration. Garden designer: native plants and naturalistic gardens