Do you have a green thumb? Visit the Gardens of Stratford!
One of my absolute favourite things to do is to take a stroll in one of the beautiful Gardens of Stratford. The most splendid of these are the Shakespearean Gardens. the Arthur Meighen Gardens at the Festival Theatre, and the Ophelia Lazaridis Garden at the Patterson Theatre.
All around the city there are garden plots attended to by the members of the Stratford Horticultural Society, on a volunteer basis. They do a wonderful job of keeping the gardens of Stratford looking their best, and provide an unexpected beautiful surprise around a corner here and there, such as in the Iris Garden, the Dutch Garden and the Cenotaph Memorial.
What was once the site of the 19th century Dufton Woolen Mill is now home to one of the most popular gardens in Stratford. A decade after it burned to the ground, (except for the chimney which still stands to this day), local businessman R. Thomas Orr pitched the idea of crafting a garden dedicated to Shakespeare.
Originally, the plan for the Shakespearean Gardens was to only include flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. While there is still a large emphasis on this, the plants found here have been diversified over the years. In total, there are over 60 varieties of plants, such as a patch of goutweed, (the bain of my garden), a plant that would have been familiar to Shakespeare. You will also find herbs like fennel, rosemary, tarragon, witch hazel, tansy, columbine, and many more. Wander through knots of blooms bordered by thrift and boxwood. Enjoy the fragrant rose gardens along the stone walls, and then take a rest on the iron benches in this sanctuary along the river bank.
The courtyard is filled with beautiful blooms and gives the perfect view of the Huron Street Bridge. Built in 1885, this double arched beauty is the oldest road bridge still in use as a fully functioning road! You can walk underneath it to the other side as well and follow the path along the river.
Remember to snap a picture of the really intriguing Shakespeare bust by artist Cleeve Horne on your way home!
Festival Theatre Gardens
The Arthur Meighen Gardens around the Festival Theatre are beautiful as well, and you will have ample time before or after the show to enjoy them. Set out in steps at the front of the theatre, there is a multitude of beautiful plantings, with two large goldfish ponds at the top. Beside the theatre there are smaller gardens, each with a separate focus, around large bronze sculptures that depict workmen raising the tent which housed the original Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 1953. I particularly like the kitchen garden, which is full of herbs that I use in my kitchen at Mornington Rose.
There are gorgeous views to enjoy as you explore the pathways that meander through the displays of flowers. Be sure to pack your camera for some shots to impress your friends and family back home
“I love visiting the beautiful gardens when we come to Stratford. Walking there makes me feel like I’m in an English country garden.” Gillian S., Windsor
Have you seen our Free guide? Go here to access your copy now to find out “What to Do and What to See in Beautiful Stratford Ontario ” .