Visit the Central Experimental Farm which includes the Dominion Arboretum, the Ornamental Gardens, and the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. You will see colourful beds of annuals and perennials, and several species of trees and shrubs.
The Central Experimental Farm (CEF) was established in 1886 by the Canadian government. It was the centrepiece of five experimental stations set up across Canada at a time when a large proportion of the country’s population made its living from the land.
In 1886, 465 acres were acquired (in the township of Nepean) for the CEF; 64 of these were allocated for an arboretum. A further 361 acres were obtained in 1929 from lumber baron J.R. Booth. Today the Farm occupies over 1,000 acres.
A. Ornamental Gardens
Address: 75 National Capital Commission Scenic Driveway, Ottawa, ON K1A 0Z2
Services for Visitors: parking – washrooms nearby – partially wheelchair accessible – child-friendly
Description: An 8-acre showcase of hardy perennials and shrubs developed in Canada and collected from around the world. Many of the lilacs and roses are proudly Canadian bred. Gardens include the Saunders peony collection, annual, rock, hosta, and sunken gardens.
The Ornamental Gardens are composed of several different areas:
- the perennial collection,
- the rock garden,
- the Heritage rose garden and the Explorer rose garden
- the annuals garden,
- the Macoun Memorial Garden
- the lilac gardens and the Preston Heritage lilac collection
- the peony collection
- the daylily and iris collection
Features of the Gardens include:
- 100 types of irises.
- 125 different lilac varieties, including several “Preston lilacs” developed by Ottawa researcher, Isabella Preston.
- The Explorer series of roses developed at the CEF by Felicitas Svejda and renowned for its winter hardiness
- The largest collection of peonies bred by A.P. Saunders, son of William Saunders, the first director of the Farm
- A collection of the early introductions of daylilies hybridized by Douglas Lycett and Henry Lorrain
B. The Dominion Arboretum
Address: Arboretum, Ottawa, ON K1A 0C6
Services for Visitors: parking $ – washrooms – partially wheelchair accessible – child-friendly – dog-friendly (on leash) – picnic areas
Description: Located on 64-acres of rolling land between Prince of Wales Drive and the historical Rideau Canal system, the arboretum was developed to test the hardiness of woody plants in the Canadian climate. With a variety of micro-climates and showcasing a range of woody plants, the collection contains around 4000 specimens. The Arboretum displays a wide range of well-established trees and shrubs, some dating back to 1889. Because it is north of the 45-degree latitude, it is the most northerly Arboretum on the continent. A unique space in the heart of Ottawa, with its open space, beautiful views over the North and South lookouts, as well as a nice Hosta garden in between the lookouts. Lots of different growing environments and tree and shrub specimens to go with them. Rosybloom crab apples, developed by Isabella Preston, line the Prince of Wales roadway. Other features include a Magnolia Grove, lots of Weeping Willows, and beautiful specimens of Oak and Maple – significant trees over 100 years old.
C. Fletcher Wildlife Garden
Address: near 865, Prince of Wales Dr, Ottawa, ON K2C 3K1 (Prince of Wales at Cow Lane)
Services for Visitors: parking – washrooms – partially wheelchair accessible – child-friendly – dog-friendly (on leash)
Description: A beautiful organic garden with two distinct sections including wildlife-friendly native plant displays, perennial beds, water features, rock garden, a managed woodland, a ravine with a pond, and a wildflower meadow offering wildlife habitat and food.
Features of the Fletcher Wildlife Garden:
- Amphibian Pond
- Evergreen Woods
- The Hedgerow
- Butterfly Meadow
- Old Field
- Old Woodlot
- FWG Resource Centre
- Backyard Garden
D. Canadensis: Beyond the Edge: Artists’ Gardens
Address: Experimental Farm, Prince of Wales Dr, Ottawa, ON
Services for Visitors: parking – child-friendly – dog-friendly (on leash)
Description: Canadensis, The Garden of Canada: Master Plan
The Master Plan design intends to transform the 34-acre piece of fallow Central Experimental Farm land just south of the National Arboretum, into a modern meaningful botanical masterpiece of international standing: The Garden of Canada
Currently, Canadensis presents Beyond the Edge: Artists’ Gardens – a land art exhibition. The exhibition explored the notion of a rural oasis in the heart of an urban centre. There is a total of 6 unique experiences. An attractive, modern sun shelter has also been constructed at the site designed by graduate students from Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism students. The site is a wonderful picnicking venue set in an inspiring, urban, pastoral landscape.
E. Tropical Greenhouse – CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO COVID-19
Address: Maple Dr, Ottawa, ON
Services for Visitors: Parking – Bicycle Racks – Washrooms nearby – partially Wheelchair Accessible -Picnic Areas nearby
Description: This 1,600 sq ft tropical garden is found in a heritage building, built in 1928, notable for its beautiful lines and traditional design. The elegant octagonal structure was originally situated at Major’s Hill Park in downtown Ottawa and moved to the Farm in 1938 to be used for horticultural research. Now a heritage building, it became a tropical garden open to the public in the 1970s. Raised beds frame the circular path featuring a variety of heat-loving plants, tropical rainforest natives, Cacti, and succulents.
F. Canada Agriculture and Food Museum Garden – CHECK WEBSITE FOR UPDATES.
Address: 901 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa ON K2C 3K1
Services for Visitors: Admission $ – Parking $ – Bicycle Racks – Washrooms – Wheelchair Accessible – Child-Friendly – Picnic Areas nearby.
Description: Come explore the outdoor exhibition Discovery Park at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. Discover various crops grown to produce energy as well as plants that benefit pollinators. Interpretive panels and hands-on activities are also part of the experience
The garden, which is within the grounds of the Museum itself is about 1000 sq feet. The garden itself has some perennial grasses and other herbaceous plant materials.
G. Commissioners Park Gardens
Commissioners Park is adjacent to the Central Experimental Farm, not part of it. It is definitely worth adding to your tour.
Address: Queen Elizabeth Dr & Preston Street, Ottawa ON K1P 1B1
Services for Visitors: parking $ (available across from the Dows Lake Pavilion, at the corner of Preston St. and Queen Elizabeth Driveway) – washrooms (available in Dows Lake Pavilion) – wheelchair accessible – child-friendly – dog-friendly (on leash)
Description: Follow the winding pathways and take in the explosion of colour in gardens filled with over 250,000 tulips in the spring. In summer, the tulips are replaced by thousands of annual flowers, which create beautiful scenic views with Dows Lake in the background. Located at the corner of Preston Street and the Queen Elizabeth Driveway, Commissioners Park extends over 8.95 hectares. It was built from the 1920s to 1950s on the site of a former lumberyard owned by J.R. Booth.
2020 Self-Guided Tour of the Central Experimental Farm