Eldon House Gardens
The Grounds of Eldon House
The Harris property originally consisted of 13 acres and a terraced walk spanned the two elevations of the site, from the house down to the flood plain. The property initially extended along the Thames River from Fullarton Street north to Central Avenue (then known as Great Market Street).
About the property
The property surrounding Eldon House on top of the hill now overlooking Harris Park, has had garden beds since the 1840s. On the “flats” by the river, large vegetable gardens were planted; at their height, they covered more than six acres of land and needed five full time gardeners to tend them.
The historic garden urns and benches you will find on the grounds have been onsite since the 1890s, after an inheritance came to Lucy Ronalds Harris from her English relations. At that time, the family finances improved, allowing for more elaborate gardens. The family also added a conservatory to the drawing room in the late nineteenth century as well as built the greenhouse that can still be seen today.
A decision was made in the early 1980s to restore the gardens to a similar state to when the Harris family was in tenure. The focus became the gardens of the 1890s and 1920s. Experts from the University of Western Ontario and the University of Guelph helped to authentically re-create the gardens, using family photos, historical seed catalogues, magazines and articles.
The following plant-identification and location listing follows a route from the front gates off Ridout Street, south along the gravel walk, past the herbaceous border. It follows the terrace edge to the west lawns and north to the rockery. Finally, we move past the greenhouse and into the courtyard, where a path leads south along Ridout Street back to the entrance gate.
The plants identified are intend to act as a taste of the perennials that have been traditionally featured on the site and is not an exhaustive listing.