Without a doubt, we live in one of the prettiest towns in Canada. Niagara-on-the-Lake is in full bloom, and store fronts, businesses and patios are bursting with colour. Each morning, you’ll see the busy crew from the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake watering and maintaining our public spaces. Like a stealthy team of garden ninjas they pluck weeds, spread mulch, fertilize and make sure the lovely floral backdrops that turn up in countless tourist photos don’t whither in the sweltering heat.
The Town’s dedication to keeping Old Town pristine is one of the reasons we’ve won the Communities in Bloom International Challenge two years in a row and why an estimated 3.5 million tourists visit Niagara on the Lake each year. In the warmer months, Queen Street flourishes as flocks of visitors enjoy shops, cafes and restaurants, The Shaw Festival, horse drawn carriage rides and hotels. We took our own little tour of some of our favourite public garden spaces in Old Town, and here are the highlights for those visiting Niagara as well as us locals, to stop and admire our beautiful town from a different angle, including the names of some of those plants you’ve had your eye on.
Our first stop was this charming plot at the end of Mississauga Street at Queen. This spot features the dark elegance of purple fountain beech, the ethereal wonder of weeping Japanese maple, sturdy yew trees and perennial fountain grasses.
The best way to take in the rest of Queen Street is to park and walk. I’d recommend starting at 166 Queen Street, a residential property with a whimsical garden designed by Mori Gardens and maintained by Bryan Jones Landscaping Ltd.
Take a look at the lampposts dotting the street. Those glorious flowering baskets must be watered by pole arm each morning until they drip through.
I love the Snow Queen oak leaf hydrangea in front of the 124 on Queen. At 10 x 7 feet, this majestic plant may be too large for the scale of your home, but the Munchkin oak leaf offers a similar look in a compact 3 x 4.5 feet.
Stop for a treat or lunch at Treadwell, or the brand new Treadwell bakery, and enjoy the wonderful shady patio bordered by pin cushion boxwoods, purple salvia, and perennial hibiscus.
Perhaps the most memorable of Queen Street gardens is the explosion of colour at the Shaw Café and Wine Bar. These annual flowers are part of a plan dreamed up early each year and grown in green houses for months before they are ready to plant outdoors. They start and end each day with a big drink so they’re fresh and ready for adoring visitors.
As you continue along Queen towards King Street, take a look at the trees. You’ll see oak, maple and ginko. These trees looks so healthy because new soil is added, and they are fertilized and mulched by the Town.
Balzac’s Coffee Roasters on King Street features gorgeous planters that get refreshed with each season. Their design incorporates height, texture, colour contrast, and interest from leaf and flower.
Across the street from Balzac’s is the Prince of Wales Hotel. Globed yews, variegated hostas, and astilbe create a lush, green welcome and a striking contrast to the façade of the grand old hotel.
Simcoe Park offers several lovely vantage points to sit and people-watch. Rest in the shade and admire the yew hedging, variegated hostas, Annabelle White Hydrangea, and chestnut trees. Can you spot the layers of height, various textures, and points of interest? Each plant compliments its neighbor, and serves to make this a perfect place for a rest as you wander along Queen.
As you turn back to walk down Queen, admire Corks Winebar and Eatery featuring cheerful variegated dogwood, juniper and hicks yews. Note the rosehip bush in front of Wine Country Vintners and find a globed burning bush at Nina’s Geletaria & Pastry Shop. Great for leaf interest in the summer months, this bush changes colour with the seasons and makes for a great hedge or pruned shrub.
No detail was missed at many of our local shops, such as Greaves, with a sense of entry at even the side doors. That’s rose gold bayberry and yew hedging in the front of the building.
Take a right on Victoria Street and admire homes and local businesses like One Earth and Frances Denny Acquisitions as you stroll towards the water. You can take a left on Front Street and a left again on Gate to head back to Queen Street.
Pop into Pie’za for lunch, or visit the Oban Inn to admire the gardens with a glass of Perridiso wine.
It’s not just the hard working crew from the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake who are willing to get their hands dirty for our award winning beauty. You’ll see countless private residences and bed and breakfasts with meticulous gardens that will delight every taste and style.
As you return to Queen Street, you’ll see the Canada Post Office sign poking through the Virginia creeper. The building is also adorned with white hydrangea similar to either the Annabelle hydrangea (which grows 3 x 4’) or the Incredibelle hydrangea (at 5 x 5’). Those are perennial grasses you see in the distance.
Our little walking tour of Queen Street public gardens is just a small sample of the loveliness on offer here in Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you are planning to visit our wonderful town, locals will tell you, one of the best ways to experience the town is on bicycle, taking your time to soak up all the sights. Choose your favourite spots, and show them off to visiting friends and family, or snap photos on your visit of the gardens that most inspire you.
Mori Gardens is proud to have grown with Niagara since 1974, assisting locals and visitors alike with garden designs, offering many of the stunning plants you see throughout town, and sponsoring community projects in the most beautiful town in Canada.
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