Tuesday, July 7, 2020

a tour of the historic gardens of annapolis royal

On Sunday afternoon, we went for drive down towards Annapolis Royal. We drove along the Bay on the way there, and then through the countryside as we headed back home. It's a beautiful drive and one we particularly enjoy, as it follows the winding Annapolis River. The river begins behind our property, at the Caribou Bog, and snakes through the western part of the Valley, all the way out to the Annapolis Basin. Annapolis Royal is a sea-side town that boasts a rich historic past. It dates back to when the first settlers arrived in Canada, as early as 1605 (previously called Port Royal), and therefore has many historic homes to admire. It's a tourist destination with a few seasonal cafes and shops, making it a pleasant town to walk around.

It's also home to the Historic Gardens and it's been on my list of things to do this summer. The gardens are spread over 17 acres and incorporate a number of styles. I only had an hour to myself, so I planned to spend my time in the ones that most interested me, namely the Rose Garden and the Governor's Garden. I was thrilled that I was able to catch the rose gardens in full bloom and what's more, I had thought to pack my camera, just in case! I was also pleasantly surprised by a few other features in the garden and as a result, found myself lingering among the lavender, unaware that the closing hour of five had come and gone. (Fortunately I could still slip out the exit gate.)
[ photo from website ]

While there were so many styles of gardens to view, I didn't have time to really take in most of the gardens. Aside from the Rose Garden and the Governor's Garden, a few other unexpected favourites were the Knot Garden, the Dykewalk (which I only saw the entrance to), and La Maison Acadienne, a reconstructed Acadian home.

I couldn't resist photographing this charming doorknob on the historic home. All of the accents are painted in a classically English sage green.

We'll begin our tour in the Rose Garden - a mass of fragrant, unruly blooms in a maze of perfectly edged beds. The many types (apparently hundreds of cultivars) create a vast variety of colors and various shaped blooms. A few early bloomers had already reached their peak and left a scattering of petals, but most were at peak bloom. The oldest variety I came across, a leggy and rather sparse white rose called White Bath, Moss was from 1810.

There was a semi-circle of Iceberg Roses when you first enter that were putting on quite a display. The blooms are smaller, and clustered together. What I like about this variety is that you can see the various stages of opening at once. I prefer this to other varieties that are clusters of all the same stage bloom. It's more pleasing to the eye.

At the back of the Rose Garden is a maze, and at the entrance, this arbor that is covered in a pale pink climber.

I can't wait for the climbing roses we planted this spring to reach this stage.

There were quite a few varieties of English Tea roses, which are always a favourite.

This little spot was my favourite - a little bench, tucked off to the edge of the gardens, in the shade.

I had to pull myself away to continue the rest of the tour and headed next towards the Dykewalk. While I didn't have time to do the entire walk, I popped down a little ways so I could see the river. The river starts off quite small at our property, and by the time it reaches down to the basin, it's large and grand looking.

Near here is also La Maison Acadienne. I've been reading through the history of the Acadian peoples and look forward to returning with the boys to tour this home. I didn't realize until afterwards that there is a little kitchen garden here. I always love a good kitchen garden.

I had missed most of the peonies blooming, but there were still a few lingering ones to enjoy.

There are so many different and interesting plants to enjoy throughout, it would take days to fully take them all in.

With not much time left, I made my way up towards the main house again, to spend my last few minutes in the Governor's Garden. I always love a formal garden, and this one had some of my most favourite features - boxwood hedging, climbing vines and espaliered fruit tress.

The plaque outside the gardens reads "From 1710 to 1749, Annapolis Royal was the capitol of Nova Scotia and the home of the governor of the colony. This small formal garden is based on a description of the original governor's garden in 1748. It is constructed in a formal colonial style, with straight, raised geometric beds planted with herbs, flowers and fruit tress that would have grown in the eighteenth century."

Because the Governor's Garden is near the exit, I was about to make my way back as it was nearing five o'clock. I couldn't help but notice, beyond the water feature that sits at one end of this part of the garden, hidden by taller hedges, there were a couple of small stone steps leading higher up. With a couple minutes to spare, I couldn't resist wandering up to see what was above and I'm so glad my curiosity got the better of me. Here is where I found the Knot Garden and a sweet patio to the cafe.

The lavender was also just about to bloom.

After a few minutes here, I pulled out my map, hoping to find the quickest way to the exit and instead, saw I had missed the water gardens entirely. I hurried down, as they weren't far, and spent a few minutes listening to the water trickle from the upper pond, into the middle, and then down to the lower. The cupped blooms of the water lilies and the saucer-like lily pads were beautiful. It's such a tranquil place in the gardens and had I have brought my book, I would have sat and read there.

Surrounding these, there were quite a few beds with Hydrangeas that are still a couple weeks away from blooming. Later this summer, I will have to return, and bring the boys with me. We will likely do the historic site in town, Fort Anne, while there.

If you are somewhat local, I encourage you to go and view them for yourself. I imagine they're always changing as the seasons unfold.

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