The “Three Sisters” Garden

This is the area of the three sisters, named after three loyal companions: corn, beans and squash or pumpkin.

In the spring, First Nations women went to a fallow clearing or a woodland cleared of its underbrush. There they formed mounds of forest-soils and in the center of each one they carefully planted seeds. The traditional three sisters method is both clever and efficient since corn, beans and squash need one another to grow without fertilizer, labour or pesticide. Corn serves as support for the beans, which in turn enrich the soil through a bacterial process. Finally, squash and pumpkins cover the ground with their large leaves thus retaining humidity and limiting growth of undesirable plants.

In the language of the Iroquois people, the three sisters are known as De-o-ha-ko, which means “our benefactors” or “they who sustain us.”

Jardin «Les 3 sœurs»
Beans supported by corn
Photo: Montreal Botanical Garden (Claude Lafond)
Squash flower
Photo: Julie Boudreau
Jardin «Les 3 sœurs»
Three sisters with squash
Photo: Montreal Botanical Garden (Claude Lafond)