Fanshawe Gardens Achieve Botanical Garden Status
On March 24, 2009, the Gardens of Fanshawe College and the A.M. Cuddy Garden officially became a botanical garden under the auspices of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).
A.M. (Mac) Cuddy Garden was donated to Fanshawe College by the Cuddy family in October 2007, in memory of A.M. (Mac) Cuddy who died in 2006. The property, near Strathroy, Ontario, includes five acres of gardens and a century-old residence.
BGCI is an international organization representing over 500 members - mostly botanic gardens - in over 120 countries. BGCI aims to ensure the world-wide conservation of threatened plants, the continued existence of which are intrinsically linked to global issues including poverty, human well-being and climate change. The threat of extinction is a crisis currently facing one-third of all plants.
Fanshawe's placement as a botanical garden is unique since we are the only botanical garden in the Carolinian Zone in Canada and the only botanical garden owned by a community college in Canada. Our collection of over 200,000 plants in over 4,000 species includes several rare and locally endangered species such as the Cucumber Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata) and the Yellow Trillium (Trillium luteum).
Additionally we have in our collection one of the
rarest trees in the world: Wollemia nobilis or the Wollemia Pine
(pictured at right). This prehistoric plant,
that is not hardy and hence kept in the greenhouse for the winter months, is from
Australia where the last remaining 20 plants live in a secret canyon. Rediscovered in
1994, this 200 million-year-old living fossil is one of the wonders of plant conservationists
worldwide. Fanshawe Horticulture co-ordinator Michael Pascoe, during his MSc sabbatical
at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London,
England, did some preliminary pollen analysis research on this species trying to confirm its
ancestry to other existing tree species.
We hope in the near future to be an official signatory to the international agenda on plant conservation as a means of demonstrating the important role botanic gardens play in meeting plant conservation roles.