It’s the end of summer and time to say au revoir to the warmth and beauty of the season. We have a new virtual tour video and product collection to mark this seasonal transition. (Click here for our botanical art print collection)
FULFORD PLACE GARDENS - VIRTUAL TOUR
The following information on the gardens is according to the Ontario Heritage Trust souvenir booklet and gardens brochure for Fulford Place museum in Brockville (note that we have added date details for those involved with the design, with thanks to Robert G. Hill, Editor of The Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada - 1800-1950):
This magnificent 20,000-square-foot mansion was built in 1899-1901 for self-made millionaire and Senator George Taylor Fulford I and his family. The house was designed by noted American architect Albert W. Fuller (1854-1934), of Albany, N.Y. , with the landscaping design by the prestigious Olmsted Brothers firm, who also designed New York City's Central Park (1858), and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol (1874) and White House (1935). Fulford Place and its collection were donated to the Ontario Heritage Trust by the family in 1991.
[Editors' note: The designers involved were Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) who retired in 1895, and his two sons John C. Olmsted (1852-1920), and Frederick L. Olmsted, Junior (1870-1957). The Olmsted firm also was responsible for the original design of Mount Royal Park in Montreal (1876).]
Fulford Place was once a lush 9-acre estate filled with gardens, large native trees, greenhouses, and various outbuildings and amenities. Today, the property is 3-acres and features the formal Italianate garden west of the mansion.
[Editors' note: The Italianate garden featured in our property tour video is one of the only remaining aspects of the landscape design, and was restored by the Ontario Heritage Trust by 2004].
Typical of the Olmsted approach, formal designs were artfully integrated into the splendid natural setting, incorporating natural features such as mature trees and rock outcroppings. The focal point of the bedding garden was an elaborate white marble fountain, featuring bronze mythological sea creatures. The Italianate quality of the garden's original design was enhanced by a variety of carved stone figures - statues of Adam and Eve, a pair of crouching lions guarding the west veranda staircase of the house, a carved marble bench as well as large and small urns. The Senator's wife, Mary Fulford, much preferred the look of a wild garden, so the Olmsteds introduced a wild English garden just beyond the Italianate garden which functioned as a "dense background" for the white arbour and marble statues of Adam and Eve in the Italianate garden.
The Lower Gardens: In 1900, Frederick G. Todd (1876-1948) (who had been the Olmsted's "plantation assistant" at Fulford Place) opened his own office in Montreal. He was hired in 1903 to create a V-shaped Rock Garden and Water Garden featuring six cascading waterfalls.
The utility gardens were also built by Todd to the southeast of the mansion. They provided fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers to both Fulford Place and neighbouring Thornton Cliff.
Restoration of the Fulford gardens was one of the Ontario Heritage Trust's most exciting heritage garden conservancy projects, with extensive research and documentation assembled from the Olmsted archives in Massachusetts. The restoration included the Italianate-style gardens, the triton fountain, statuary, stone walls and gates. Pathway restoration and planting of the geometric beds were completed in spring 2004.
According to Parks Canada Directory of Federal Heritage Designations website, Fulford Place was "designated a National Historic Site in 1992 because it is a fine example of an eclectic mansion, with its original furnishings and fittings largely intact, and it retains significant remnants of Olmsted-designed landscape."
Fulford Place museum, located at 287 King Street east in Brockville, Ontario along the St. Lawrence River, is open to the public for tours in both English and French, and is available for facility and special event rentals (check their website below for further information). The beautiful heritage gardens are currently maintained by Garden World in Brockville.