The Renegade Scientist

Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Merrickville, Ontario

Garden Contact Information:
The Garden: "Take an acorn and a shovel and plant a tree," says Diana Beresford-Kroeger."When you replant the forest, you mend the planet."

One hour from Ottawa in Merrickville, Ontario, is Diana Beresford-Kroeger and her husband’s 160 acre property. Over eight acres of the property have been carefully designed to provide a background for her substantial botanical research. Within this garden, Diana has trialed over 6000 species and varieties of flowers, shrubs and trees including varieties she has bred to withstand the rigours of a changing northern climate.

The garden compasses a number of diverse habitats including a water garden, a small vineyard, a North American medicine walk, a potager, a formal mixed orchard and an extensive perennial flower garden. Incorporated into all this is a collection of North American nut bearing trees, the "anti-famine’ trees of the past.

According to Diana, "These trees kept aboriginal communities alive during times of famine. Hickory nuts and others are very high in fat, carbohydrates, and protein and they would sustain a people when the animals disappeared".

Diana is passionate about the preservation of rare and near-extinct plants and the medicines they contain. Throughout her gardens are what she would name her "holy grails", trees and plants nearly lost from the earth. Some of these rare and beautiful specimens have been discovered during her travels into the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes forests. Others have come from places as far away as Japan, Siberia, and the Balkans. A strong believer in sustainability and diversity, she often collects the seeds from her varieties of rare trees and plants and protects them for future use through distribution to research institutions as well as members of the public.

Within the garden can also be found old varieties of table gooseberries, cherries from Siberia, exotic chocolate-smelling black peonies, crandalberries and many other varieties of domesticated heritage species.

The garden has taken over 30 years to build. For a long time, regular tours were offered, inspiring visitors to take action and begin their own "bioplan", a term Diana uses to define a balanced garden which is used to improve both the condition of a person’s life and that of the earth. Diana’s entire garden is designed to create balance, harmony, and health. It is as useful as a place of meditation, healing and appreciation of beauty as it is for research and propagation. More importantly though, her garden is a tribute to what can be done in the world to undo the damage that years of pollution, destruction and neglect have caused. Diana believes that, "Through our gardens all of us can, together, heal our planet... our home."

More information about the work of Diana Beresford-Kroeger can be found in her books.

A Garden for Life ISBN 0-472-03012-4
Aboreteum America ISBN 0-472-06851-2
Available from the University of Michigan Press or 1-800-343-4499

Diana has also written an amusing collection of short stories. Time Will Tell ISBN 1-55082-343-4, Quarry Heritage Books available from LOGIN CANADA or 1-800-665-1148

Soon to be published:
Arboretum Borealis about the circumpolar Boreal forests of the world;
The Global Forests an ecclectic collection of essays on many different aspects of forests and trees;
Sun Dogs a collection of stories from the garden.

The Gardeners' Story:
Behind the Scenes: Executive Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Creative/Line Producer: Donna Gall
Executive Producer, VisionTV: Joan Jenkinson
Director: Cam Bennett
Writer: Cam Bennett
Researcher: Cam Bennett
Narration Writer: Cam Bennett
Editor: Bruce Little
Director of Photography: James Aquila, CSC
Narrator: Bonnie Dickie
Music: Shawn Pierce

Date: 2008

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