Published on April 18th, 2016 | by Janet Kurasz0
Garden Touring for Enjoyment and Education
Beyond the obvious joy of viewing beautiful gardens, garden touring provides the benefit of expanding your knowledge of horticulture, new technologies and making connections with like-minded people. Learning from others’ experiences always re-kindles my enthusiasm, sending me home with a “to do” list of things to try in my own garden. One of the fastest growing domestic tourism activities in Canada is to vacation locally; taking frequent, shorter vacations and day-tripping. Gardeners love to visit private gardens, public gardens and market gardens. My bucket list includes horticultural places I have yet to visit.
Just in Ontario, there are over 100 horticultural destinations so there is no excuse not to visit one nearby. The internet is an excellent resource; do your research to ensure the destination is still operational, has plenty to offer, open to the public, and accessible on the days you want to visit. They have hours of operation and may be closed on specific days, such as Sunday. In most cases, pets are not allowed. To help you plan your next mini-vacation, I have compiled a sampling of destinations:
Shaw Garden Tour, Niagara-on-the-Lake
This garden tour showcases 7 or 8 spectacular private gardens in Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake. English perennial gardens, exquisite garden statuary and 100 year old trees surround historic homes.
Contact the Shaw Festival Box Office at 1-800-511-7429 or go to www.shawfest.com/gardentour
Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens
Open to the public, free of charge, the gardens are also home to the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory. A collection of maintained gardens that include the Floral Clock, Queen Victoria Park, Oakes Garden Theatre and the Floral Showcase. The gardens are laid out for collection and study of plants, most of which are labeled. There are Allees, Vistas & Hedges; an Arboretum, Dwarf Conifer Collection, Old Specimen area, perennial borders, and a Parterre Garden. On their website, they offer a downloadable Botanical Gardens App. http://www.niagaraparks.com/niagara-falls-attractions/botanical-gardens-facts.html
Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery
Located in Norfolk County, on the sand plains, Bonnieheath was named one of Norfolk’s Top Ten Amazing Places in 2014 and winner of the Sustainable Tourism Ambassador award in 2015. The Winery Store and Lavender boutique are now open to the public. Fields of Lavender thrive in these sandy soils including, a wide variety of English Lavender, and several other varieties of hybrid and French Lavenders. An agri-tourism destination that provides a small farm experience through culture and education. http://www.bonnieheathestate.ca
Pathways to Perennials
A Boutique Garden Centre located in Pottageville, 4 km west of Hwy. 400. The options here are always changing, and not just with the seasons. Bringing in products from all over the world, you will find unusual treasures to enhance and personalize your own oasis. They provide workshops, meet and munch events, and private garden tours. Be sure to lunch at the Blossom Café. http://www.pathwaystoperennials.com/
Canada’s newest Botanical Gardens located in Wilsonville, south of Brantford and the 403. These award winning gardens, opened May 26, 2012, and were developed on 20 acres with over 4,000 different plants. Known for their collection of unique conifers and kaleidoscope of colour, there is also a fountain display with 110 fountains choreographed to music composed by the founder and owner, Darren Heimbecker. Darren’s love of plants in all its forms is evident throughout the gardens. You will see unusual combinations and styles of gardens to suite every taste: a Peony Collection, Conifer Gardens, Floral Displays, Le Marais-Marsh Garden, Rock/Alpine Garden and Temple Garden. http://www.whistlinggardens.ca/