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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.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
© 2017 Gardens of Stratford, Ontario

The Ted Blowes Memorial Pollinator Peace Garden.

The Ted Blowes Memorial Peace Garden is Stratford’s newest public garden, named in honour of one of our most respected citizens. Ted served four terms as mayor and was an advocate for environmental causes and civic beautification. 

Walking or driving, it is difficult to miss the Memorial Garden, because its distinctive feature is a large footbridge that spans…well, actually, it spans nothing. Stratford residents refer to it with fondness as The Bridge To Nowhere.

Photo: Amanda Ryan

The garden is in upper Queen’s Park, east of the Festival Theatre and gardens.  It is a very pleasant walk of five or ten minutes from the theatre, past the band shell with, perhaps, a stop for ice cream at Duke’s concession stand en route.  If you are driving, follow the circular road named for Richard Monette, who was Stratford Festival’s Artistic Director for an amazing 14 seasons. 

 

Depending on when you visit, there may be ample parking or you may have to drive another lap or two around Richard Monette Way to find parking.  Parking is also available on some nearby streets, but do observe posted restrictions. 

Photo: Doug Reberg

The bridge was built in 1966 as a pedestrian overpass permitting safe crossing over the rail line that cut through the park.  The rail line effectively split off a section of parkland and created two parks, the larger Queens Park and smaller Centennial Park, named to commemorate 

Canada’s 100th anniversary.   

 

The Bridge To Nowhere was originally called Centennial Bridge, and it had a useful function for a relatively short time.  However, the Stratford-Listowel train was discontinued due to decreased demand, and the tracks were removed. There seemed no good reason to demolish a perfectly good bridge just because it spanned nothing, so The Bridge To Nowhere still stands as a charming touch of whimsy. 

Photo: Doug Reberg

It is highly appropriate for the garden to be named in Ted Blowes’ honour, because he proposed using the bridge for that purpose in 2012 (he died in 2013).  A strong advocate for environmental causes, Ted suggested that the garden should attract butterflies and other pollinators, and that is how the Memorial Garden has been designed.  In fact, it has a butterfly shape. The area under the bridge, and the bridge itself, represents the body and two elliptical beds on either side represent wings. 

Photo: Amanda Ryan

The garden includes many varieties, such as butterfly bush, known to attract pollinators. Soon after the first planting, Monarch butterfly eggs were discovered.

Insect species such as bees and wasps are very important pollinators. Many bees (such as spring mason bees and summer leaf cutter bees) are solitary. They prefer small cavities as nesting sites where they lay eggs and store food for larvae that will eventually emerge. 

 

As you walk about the pollinator garden you may find structures such as this “condominium for solitary bees” that offers many possible nesting sites.

Photo: Doug Reberg

Did You Know?

Stratford is proud to have been named the second “Bee City” in Ontario. 

 

It is generally recognized that a Grade 10 student, Ethan Elliott, has had a significant role in Stratford seeking and attaining that recognition. Bee Cities are so recognized because they promote sustainable habitats for bees and other pollinators.  Stratford annually plants thousands of plants in beds, hanging baskets and planters, creating beauty and providing habitat for countless beneficial pollinators.  

Photo: Doug Reberg

A very attractive and peaceful water feature is a short walk from the Memorial Garden. There are also other garden beds to enjoy in the area, such as a planting of red and white begonias commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday.

Do you appreciate the tall trees that provide beauty and shade for visitors to Confederation Park, The Bridge To Nowhere, and The Ted Blowes Memorial Peace Garden?  Thank the Boy Scouts who planted the trees in 1937.  

You will find other plantings to enjoy, such as these beautiful impatiens.

Photo: Doug Reberg

Photo: Doug Reberg