Annapolis Royal

An Amazing Collection of Botanical Art

A few days ago, I wrote about Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. I have always enjoyed visiting botanical gardens. Two of the best are on opposite sides of Canada. Martine and I also loved visiting the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. What I found interesting is that the Canadian gardens looked equally good rain or shine, while the ones in California looked best in sunny weather.

Also, the Canadians did a much better job in labeling the different plants than the American gardens we’ve visited.

One of the neat features of Annapolis Royal is that is only a few footsteps away from Fort Anne, originally built in 1629 to protect shipping. It saw action in five wars, terminating in the French and Indian War (1754-1763). On the northern part of the island is the extensive Fortress of Louisbourg, built by the French in 1713, which played a major role in the French and Indian War.

In general, Nova Scotia was our favorite part of Eastern Canada, followed by the City of Québec. We loved the lobster dinners and the French Acadian culture of towns like Chéticamp, where moose could be viewed from the window of our B&B.

Paradise from an Old Quarry

Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia

Eighteen years ago, I took a solo trip to Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. One of the highlights of my trip was my first visit to Butchart Gardens, fifty-five acres of botanical paradise a short distance from Victoria. Usually, botanical gardens look their best in bright sunshine. Curiously, Butchart shone as much in the rain as it did, later that afternoon, in bright sunshine.

I spent hours exploring the grounds, rewarding myself with a delicious English tea for lunch.

Back in 1904, the grounds were part of a large limestone quarry that looked dismal, until the wife of the owner Click here to see how Jenny Butchart turned that ruined earth into a small paradise. Today it is a National Historic Site that draws thousands of visitors from around the world.

A few years later, I returned with Martine, who also fell in love with the place.

Come to think of it, Butchart Gardens was one of two botanical gardens we visited in Canada. The other one was in Annapolis Royal, clear on the other side of Canada. I will write about it at some point in the coming week or so.

Butchart Gardens on a Rainy Day

This Used To Be a Quarry

Everyone knows that gardens always look their best under bright sunlight. There is, however, one garden that looks great even on a rainy day. I am referring to Butchart Gardens, near Victoria, British Columbia. There is something about the plants there that shine in all weathers. When in Los Angeles, I love to hang out at Descanso Gardens, Huntington Gardens, the Los Angeles Arboretum, and the South Coast Botanical Gardens—but none of them hold a candle to Butchart Gardens.

The only garden in North America that I could conceive of as competing with Butchart is in Nova Scotia at Annapolis Royal: The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens. Perhaps it has something to do with both gardens being more in the temperate climatic zone. In Los Angeles, at certain times of the year, even the most beautiful plants can look a little dusty and bedraggled.

Sign at the Garden Entrance

I have visited both gardens twice, and I love both of them. But then, I wouldn’t be at all surprised that there are other great botanical gardens of whose existence I am not aware. As much as I have traveled, I have seen only little bits here and there. Martine and I went to Annapolis Royal to see the citadel, not even knowing of the garden’s existence. The citadel is nice, but the gardens are spectacular.