The Reading Garden

at Wood Library

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” — Cicero

It’s a beautiful day.  The sun peeks through the trees and warms your face. From your perch on a bench, you’re surrounded by native plants. Your book is open on your lap. You sip a cup of tea as you watch butterflies flutter from flower to flower, gathering pollen as they go. You link your tablet to the library WiFi and wait for a friend to join you for Tai Chi class, with a plan to walk downtown for lunch when you’re finished. You haven’t felt this relaxed in weeks!

This is just one vision for The Reading Garden at Wood Library – a new outdoor community space that everyone can enjoy.

With support from community members — and an award-winning design by Architect Ted Liddell — a currently underused area of the library property will be transformed into a beautiful, inviting place for patrons to read, study or work, gather in small groups, or play quietly.  The approximately 2,000 square foot garden will include a columned entrance that mimics the architecture of the library’s historic building, a pergola, a reading theater, a reading garden, a rain garden, a Native American garden, and shade and pollinator gardens.

Donate to The Reading Garden!

Watch our promotional video created by Mitch Steedman Media!

The garden is designed for outdoor educational programs.  The librarians will use the space for storytimes, tai chi classes, book discussions, gardening classes, and creative writing classes, among other activities. The use of indigenous plants and pollinators, a rain garden, and Native American interpretative garden will provide ample opportunities for individual and group exploration of these concepts.  We have met with local partners such as Ganondagan State Historic Site, the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, and the Finger Lakes Beekeepers Association to discuss future programs and develop appropriate educational signage for the space.

This exciting project supports the library’s mission and fulfills a strategic goal to establish new, sustainable, outdoor classrooms and gathering spaces that foster community connections beyond our walls.  We are especially pleased to make the garden available to our neighbors who live at Thompson Apartments and Wilcox Lane next door.  They will be able to use the garden to enjoy nature, participate in programs, and make new friends.  We anticipate that the garden will also become a gathering spot for children and teachers from nearby childcare centers, the Canandaigua Primary and Elementary schools, and homeschool groups.

Visitors to the garden will be able to access the library’s free WiFi.  The pathways will be graded and designed to accommodate strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs.  The garden will be illuminated with dark-sky compliant lighting and monitored by security cameras.

On September 7, 2023, we symbolically broke ground on the project site.  We are now working with Colliers Engineering & Design and RM Landscaping to realize this project in 2024!

As of June 19, 2024, we have raised $763,022 to construct the garden.  Any donations received above and beyond the fundraising goal will be used for annual maintenance of the garden.   Here is a list of donors as of December 31, 2023.

View the architectural design concept:  Wood-Library-Reading-Garden-Curved-Theatre-Concept-Plan-5.26.21


Groundbreaking celebration on September 7, 2023!