Catharine East


The Catharine East Garden is on John Street South.  Traveling south on John Street, it is on your left just before the short bridge crossing the Avon River. The sign for the garden is easily seen from the street. It is directly across John Street from the Avondale Cemetery.

There is parking on McLagan Drive just before you reach the garden.  In fact, Catharine East garden is just a short walk from the Corcoran Iris Garden.  Parking is also available on T. J. Dolan Drive. 

Photo: Anu MacIntosh-Murray

Catharine East lived in Stratford her entire life, and was very involved in community activities.  She died in 1981, and this garden was established with a bequest from the estate of her husband Lawrence. 


She must have had a strong connection with gardens, because there is a second Catharine East garden in the 

peaceful courtyard of Stratford General Hospital. 

Photo: Anu MacIntosh-Murray

If you enjoy walking in a natural setting, the T. J. Dolan Natural Area is well worth a visit across John Street just south of Catharine East Garden. Spring bird watchers find that area particularly rewarding, and there are often excellent bird  sightings in Catharine East Gardens.   


The larger garden was designed to display a collection of flowering and ornamental shrubs, perhaps to help home gardeners decide if those varieties would be suitable for their own properties. 

Did You Know?

The overall design of the garden is a letter C, for Catharine.

Photo: Doug Reberg

In spring, the garden has fine displays of lilacs.


Summer displays include unusual varieties, such as large specimens of Bottlebush Buckeye, Purple Smokebush, 

other shrubs such as Gold Drop Potentilla, and seldom-seen specimens, such as Amur Tamarisk

See how many you can spot!

Photo: Anu MacIntosh-Murray

Tamarisk (also known as Salt Cedar) has a reputation for being highly invasive, particularly when planted near water.


A single Tamarisk can produce thousands of seeds, so it has potential to spread widely. For example, some sections of of the Colorado River are congested with Tamarisk. 


However, it is also said that in regions with cold winter temperatures, such as Ontario, invasiveness is not a great problem and the Catharine East Tamarisk does not seem to have spread.   Still, if planted it should be monitored with caution.


The Ontario Invasive Plant Council has identified Tamarisk as an “alert species”. 

Photo: Doug Reberg


Stay in the loop and learn about upcoming projects and events, and how to join Garden Stratford (Stratford and District Horticultural Society).

The Stratford and District Horticultural Society 
Celebrating our 141st year in 2019

Funding: Destination Animation Partnership Fund, Stratford and District Horticultural Society

Historical Consultants: Lutzen Riedstra, Dean Robinson, Stratford-Perth Archives

Research, Writing: Doug Reberg

Web Design and Construction: Ryan Carruthers, Jamie Park

Photo Credits: Nancy Burnett, Doris Dodd, Fred Gonder, Mike Matthews. Anu Macintosh-Murray, George McDemott, Dennis Rawe, Doug Reberg, Amanda Ryan, Stratford-Perth Archives, Joan Daynard

Thanks also: Brenda Biggin, Sally Hangeveld (Stratford Public Library), Anita Jacobsen (Head Gardener, Stratford Festival), Quin Malott (Manager, Stratford Parks Forestry and Cemetery), Dan Martin (Manager, Stratford Parks and Forestry, Retired), Tom Robinson, (Shakespearean Gardens), Ann Swardfeger, (Publicity Director, Stratford Festival), Krysta Tomasevic and Colleagues (Perth Health Unit), and the Gardeners of Stratford


Gardens of Stratford is a commemorative project of Stratford and District Horticultural Society, celebrating its 140th year in 2018.

© 2017 Gardens of Stratford, Ontario