Bernt Ronning established his homestead in 1910. Most settlers abandoned the area over the years, but Ronning continued making his life here into the 1960s, working as a trapper, fisherman and camp cook. His house and garden became a regular stop for the settlers hiking from Cape Scott, Raft Cove and San Josef Bay. The house boasted a pump organ and a dance floor that was hand-sawn and finished with shoulder planes for dancing.
He gradually cleared five acres of the rainforest as he ordered seeds and cuttings of trees and plants from around the world.
In the late 60s and 70s the garden nearly disappeared under the encroaching forest. Flowers stopped blooming or died altogether, trees grew into unusual shapes. Most of the hundreds of flowers in the terraced beds were lost.
Today, the garden has been restored. Many rhododendrons managed to survive and seeds that lay dormant for many years have sprouted. Several dozen types of trees and plants have been identified so far and new ones are turning up all the time. The variety and depth of the collection is slowly emerging. There are still many unanswered questions and the garden is fascinating for professionals and amateurs alike.
The pair of Monkey Puzzle trees (male and female) are the garden's main feature. Among the oldest and largest of this species in BC, they are one of the few pairs in North America that produce viable seeds. Mr. Ronning supplied these and other rare cuttings to fellow collectors all over the world.
Ronning's garden is open to the public and can be reached by a ten minute walk on a restored section of the old San Josef Wagon Road. This is about a 1 1/2 hour drive by gravel road from Port Hardy, BC. Follow the signs to Holberg and then the signs toward Cape Scott Park. Watch for the Ronning's Garden sign on your right.
For information contact
Ron and Julia Moe
Box 105 Holberg BC
Last modified December 26, 2012