The McLaughlin family had an avid interest in horticulture and landscaping, as evidenced by their eleven greenhouses and staff of 24 gardeners. McLaughlin sought out the best talent available to create the numerous gardens of his estate – Harries and Hall in the 1910’s, the husband and wife team H.B. and L.A. Dunington-Grubb in the 1920’s, and award winning architect John Lyle in the 1930’s.
The Parkwood gardens have references to the great gardens of England and Europe, but with a 20th-century spirit. Much of the landscape design draws inspiration from the English Arts & Crafts gardening movement. This style called for a high degree of formality near the house, dissolving into less formal presentation with distance from the house, including a broad expanse of immaculate lawn.
The perimeters included denser woodland borders and the use of cedar hedges to sub-divide the landscape into formal garden spaces, recreation areas and farming space for the production of cut flowers, fruits and vegetables. The hedges served to prevent the viewing of the entire landscape all at once and were complimented by garden gates beckoning visitors to proceed through a sequence of garden views and experiences.
Shortly after the family took residence in 1917, landscape designers Harries & Hall were engaged to design a fitting setting for the mansion. This was achieved by linking each principal room of the house to a terrace or garden area just outside and finally out into the beautiful wooded park.
The site was further refined during the early 1920’s by H.B. and L.A. Dunington-Grubb. The husband and wife design team created spectacular outdoor “garden rooms” including the Italian Garden, Sundial Garden, Summer House and the Sunken Garden. They also refined the South Terrace and designed the intricate lattice fencing for the tennis court and Italian Garden. The Dunington-Grubbs were influential in the development of their profession, were the founding members of the Society of Landscape Architects as well as Sheridan Nurseries. Sheridan Nurseries is still thriving today and remain generous supporters of the Parkwood Foundation.
The last of the major additions to the gardens occurred between 1935-1936, with the commission of architect John Lyle to create the Formal Garden. Lyle was awarded the Bronze Medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada for its design. The two-acre garden is a masterful expression of the art moderne style, and remains breath-taking to this day.
Then and now, the gardens are linked by theme and function to the Parkwood greenhouse complex. Three greenhouses are still used for the production of period and specialty plant materials. The greenhouses display palms, orchids and tropical plants and are home to the Japanese Garden and the Greenhouse Tea Room.
Today, the gardens of Parkwood have been conserved to represent how they appeared in the 1930’s. This heritage garden allows visitors to experience the ambiance as the designers intended.
A stroll through the grounds rewards at every turn. Magnificent trees and shrubs combined with stunning sculpture and ornament placed throughout the designed landscape delight the senses.
Visit Parkwood several times each season to enjoy the changing blooms and evolving growth of the gardens.