October 15, 2008
The new Helen M. Kippax Wild Plant Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens was opened with great pride on Sept. 17. The garden was built by LO member Aldershot Landscape Contractors.

During the opening remarks, RBG executive director Mark Runciman congratulated Bill DeLuca and his company, Aldershot Landscape Contractors, for an “amazing job” of constructing the garden and pond. Also on hand during the official ceremony were Burlington mayor Cam Jackson, RBG board chair Terry Yates, Brantford councillor Greg Martin and RBG charter member Dr. Leslie Laking.

Guest of honour Mary Stedman, niece of Helen Kippax, told the audience of over 200 that her late aunt would have been delighted with the garden, “especially the fact that it combines education and beauty.” Helen Kippax was one of eight founding members of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects in 1934. In the 1940s, Mary Stedman and her late sisters, Margaret and Ruth, were introduced to the Royal Botanical Gardens by their aunt. In 2005, the sisters decided to support the development of a garden to commemorate the life and legacy of Kippax.

Under the direction of landscape architect Martin Wade and Aldershot Landscape Contractors, more than 60 volunteers, comprised of members of the RBG’s auxiliary, board, staff, and the local community, were involved in creating the garden. It took eight days for Rob McDonald, supervisor of RBG’s auxiliary, and his dedicated group of volunteers to complete the planting in very specific areas marked out by the architect.

The new garden contains more than 14,500 plants that will demonstrate how sustainable gardens can feature native plants and still be beautiful. The garden features native trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses, all present in Ontario prior to the arrival of European colonists in the 18th century. Over 135 native species are displayed in plant community zones that represent several local habitats, including prairie, oak savannah, Carolinian forest and wetland pond. Native plant gardening expert and author Lorraine Johnson assisted as native plant consultant.

Caption: View of the pond, Kippax garden