A Heritage Garden Carved Out of the Rainforest

Follow the old San Josef Wagon Road to Bernt Ronning's homestead garden.


Norwegian settler, Bernt Ronning, established his homestead in 1910 near the terminus of the old San Josef Wagon Road. This road was promised as access to the settlers further out at Cape Scott, but was never completed. Most settlers abandoned the area over the years, but Ronning continued making his life here into the early 1960's, working as a trapper, fisherman, and camp cook, while maintaining his prized garden.

During the earliest years, Bernt Ronning cleared over five acres of rainforest in order to plant the wilderness garden of his dreams. A garden created from seeds, cuttings of trees, and exotic plants he ordered from around the world. His house and garden became a regular way station for the settlers hiking from Cape Scott, Raft Cove, and San Josef Bay. As the years passed, the garden continued to grow in size and variety.

In the late 60's and into the 70's the garden nearly disappeared under the encroaching brush and alders. Many of the trees grew into unusual shapes as they struggled to find their way to the light. The daffodils stopped blooming under a thick canopy of dense salmon berry bushes. Most of the hundreds of flowers in the terraced beds were lost. Today, the Bernt Ronning garden has once again been freed from the invading rainforest. 



Depending on the season, you can expect to see sprays of crocuses and snow drops, daffodils and bluebells, deer lilies, magnolia, rhododendrons and azaleas. Bushy bamboos, thick shrubs, and unexpected species of towering trees. Deciduous varieties are brilliant in the fall. The garden is probably best known for the pair of Monkey Puzzle trees that once stood at the entrance to Bernt Ronning's house. Only one of these trees remains standing today as one of the oldest and largest in British Columbia.



Ronning's Garden is owned an operated by a small group of volunteers who tend to the property and are committed to ensuring the space remains open to the public. There is no admission to enter the garden, however, donations are accepted onsite, or via email transfer, and go entirely towards the maintenance and preservation of the garden.

EMAIL: ronningsgarden@gmail.com for e-transfer details

Ronning's Garden Trail Map

News from the Garden

Sign up to hear from us through the seasons at Ronning's.

Contact Us

Visit us on Vancouver Island North

Ronning's Garden can be reached by a ten minute walk along a restored section of the old San Josef Wagon Road. From Port Hardy, follow the signs to Holberg, then take the San Josef Main towards Cape Scott Provincial Park, and look for the turnoff to the Garden between kilometer markers 14 and 15.  

Ronning's Garden

San Josef Main Fsr, Holberg, British Columbia, Canada

Drop us a line!