Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, in partnership with the Alexander Graham Bell Foundation and Cape Breton University’s Weston Family Visiting Professor in Ecosystem Health and Food Security, Dr. Alana Pindar, are recreating some of Mabel Bell’s gardens.
Mabel Hubbard Bell
Mabel Hubbard Bell was Alexander Graham Bell’s wife and business partner. Deaf from a young age, Mabel was an advocate for education and is recognized as a person of national historic significance. She was also an avid gardener. Baddeck neighbours used to recall her walking through the village, leaning over fences, looking, and chatting about what was growing. Many village gardeners had plants grown from cuttings or seeds she had given them.
The Beinn Bhreagh Hall grounds had many gardens, all planned, managed, and loved by Mabel Bell. There was a fenced kitchen garden near the hall’s kitchen entrance, vegetable gardens between the gardener’s cottage and Beinn Bhreagh Hall as well as on the lake side of the estate, fruit orchards on the hill behind Beinn Bhreagh Hall, and flower gardens. The gardens were both practical and ornamental.
The old fashioned perennial flowers that come up year after year in the same places and are always happy looking and vigorous. They have become to me like old friends, and I should feel very badly to miss them and their greeting.– Mabel Hubbard Bell
Besides providing food for the Bell family, food from the gardens at Beinn Bhreagh was sold to the public. Mabel had an advanced understanding of the role of bees in pollination and in what we now call food security. During the First World War, she turned the lawns at Beinn Bhreagh into potato fields for the benefit of the local community.
In 2022, Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site will celebrate Mabel’s contributions by beginning a new interpretive garden. Dr. Alana Pindar will monitor pollinator activity and the increases in biodiversity that will result from this legacy of Mabel Bell. Visitors can take home a part of this story with seeds from the museum gift shop to plant their own garden at home.
The Alexander Graham Bell Foundation will work with Dr. Pindar and Parks Canada to develop school program that will be delivered both within a classroom and onsite to teach children about the importance of our pollinators and pollination.
In the News
‘A dream come true’: Cape Breton scientist leading project recreating Mabel Bell’s gardens
We welcome your interest in the garden project and should you wish to volunteer at the gardens please contact us