Belle Vue has a history of exceptional gardens

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a series of articles by historian/genealogist Debra Honor regarding the Belle Vue house and its history. Honor is a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

Since Belle Vue was first built in 1819, the gardens on the property were well known as being exceptional.

Robert Reynolds, the first owner, had a good reputation as a gardener and farmer. In 1840, as a Justice of the Peace, he carried a petition with 64 names to the House of Assembly to ask, “that the articles essential for the promotion of agriculture may be admitted free of duty, and a higher duty imposed on foreign produce.”

In 1841, at a dinner for Colonel John Prince, a toast was made to Robert Reynolds. This included “his activity and intelligence as a Magistrate, and his worth as a private gentleman, and on his skill as an agriculturalist.”

The Chairman of the Kent Agricultural Society commented on Robert Reynolds as being “known far and wide as an enthusiastic horticulturist and floriculturist farmer, as well as one of the most cultured and accomplished gentlemen.”

When William Johnston advertised the sale of Belle Vue in 1884, he described the farm as:

“[The house] is 125 feet front and 50 feet deep, the kitchen being built at the side of the house the rear opens directly into the garden which is well stocked with every variety of the choicest grafted fruit trees and nearly every variety of grapes trained or trellised and arbors; there are two orchards one old and the other fast coming into bearing, having the best grafted varieties; there are several brick outbuildings, including a dairy, smoke house, tool house, workshops, house for farmer or gardener – coach house which is very large and roomy, arranged for five horses, while the hay loft holds about 20 tons of hay; cow stable, piggery, ice house (filled) poultry house and other minor buildings and improvements, including an excellent well; the grounds are laid out in appropriate shape, and artistically planted with ornamental trees comprised of crab, honey, locust, mountain ash, horse chestnut, walnut, maple, evergreen and climbing vines.”

The Mullen family in the 1930’s kept up the gardens with the help of gardeners, John Jones and Peter Stokes. In 1935, the Mullen family invited several summer residents from Amherst Point to view the gardens. “Needless to say, this invitation is to be taken advantage of quite soon.”

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit www.bellevueconservancy.com for more information!

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