May 15, 2009
In October 2007, Fanshawe College received an incredible gift, a living legacy in memory of A.M. “Mac” Cuddy. Now, the gardens that he loved are thriving under the constant attention of the horticulture students and specialists at the college.

Patricia VanOmen Cuddy, the widow of the late A.M. Mac Cuddy, donated the property, known for decades as Cuddy Gardens, to Fanshawe College. The property is comprised of a lush and unique garden stretching over more than five acres and includes the century-old residence where Mac Cuddy and his family lived for more than 56 years. He died on Oct. 18, 2006.

Nationally known as an astute entrepreneur in bringing the Cuddy Farms organization to international prominence, Mac Cuddy was not only a pioneer in the turkey industry, but he also had a true passion for farming and gardening. Over the years, he developed an extensive and beautiful garden property that grew into a must-see destination for horticulturists and landscape designers from across Canada and around the world. The garden, designed and built by Michael Pascoe, has become part of the educational program that he heads at Fanshawe.

As Pat Cuddy fondly said at the time she made the gift, “Mac loved this garden. When he passed away, I wanted to be sure the gardens would live on. By donating the property to Fanshawe College, I am assured that his legacy will continue for all to enjoy.”

In acknowledging the gift, college president Dr. Howard Rundle pointed out the perfect match Pat Cuddy made. “Here at Fanshawe, we are nationally known for our horticulture and landscape design programs. Here is a place we can offer expanded opportunities for teaching in horticulture and landscape design, and at the same time, give students an overall appreciation of the natural environment around them.”

With more than 2,000 different plants, this is indeed an incredible facility for students to gain hands-on experience. During the past season, students were exposed not only to this masterfully-designed English-style garden, but they also gained tremendous experience through its world-class plant collection.

The student work continued through the fall on a rotational basis and like all good gardeners, the team now looks forward to the coming spring where it will tackle new and exciting projects at this magnificent garden estate.

Reflecting on a busy year at the gardens

In its first year under Fanshawe College’s care, Cuddy Gardens underwent a number of renovation projects, from replacing a cedar hedge that had seen better days, to the addition of many new and interesting plants. Cataloguing, dividing and replanting the extensive German iris collection was a major project.

Since plans call for the house on the property to also be used in the future as an educational facility, work is underway to install new services. This includes water and hydro to the house, and a new well for the gardens’ irrigation system.

Future plans for the gardens include planting a new border of evergreens along the highway side of the property and creating a second perennial border backed by a stone wall. As it develops into a true botanical garden, the school is working hard to map and label all current plantings, as well as properly acquiring and labeling all new additions.

Cuddy Gardens was featured in the October 2008 issue of Canadian Gardening.

Open garden  

It was always a priority for Mac Cuddy that the gardens be open to the public at various times during the year. Fanshawe is proudly continuing this tradition.

On June 7 and 8, the 12th annual Cuddy Open Garden Tour will take place, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sat. and from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sun.

The day will include gardening demonstrations by provincial experts and a sale of rare perennial plants.

For more information, please call the horticulture program at Fanshawe College at 519-452-4430 ext 4323 or the garden at 519-245-4108, or e-mail All are invited to support the Cuddy Gardens Fund.