Niagara is full of beautiful places, and luckily for visitors and residents alike, many of them are open to the public to visit and enjoy. If you are in the mood for some beautiful flowers and a breath of fresh air mixed in with your summer fun, make sure to check out these places!
BOTANICAL GARDENS NIAGARA FALLS
Enjoy 99 acres of beautifully manicured gardens, which feature perennials, rhododendrons, azaleas, herb and vegetable plants, roses and more. There is no cost to wander the gardens, but there is a fee for parking. Located at 2565 Niagara Parkway.
Our lives revolve around time. Alarm clocks, schedules, timers; time is an ever controlling factor in day-to-day life. But Ontario Power Generation and the Niagara Parks Commission’s Floral Clock has given us the opportunity to look at time, having halted the rush and planted the beauty back into the passing minutes in a literal fashion.
This free horticulture attraction featured along the Niagara River Parkway adjacent to the Centennial Lilac Garden and Sir Adam Beck Generating Stations entices millions of tourists annually, all coming to take in the beauty of this modern mechanical clock meets organic botanical wonder.
Built to act as a beautiful distraction, the clock was designed and constructed in 1950 by Ontario Hydro with the intention of drawing attention away from the wires that surround the area.
Inspired by a similar famous clock found in the Princess Street Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland, Ontario Hydro Chairman Dr. Richard L. Hearn was told to look into the oral wonder in 1903 while on a business trip. Inspired by the beauty of the clock and the attention it was attracting, Hearn set away to design a similar, but more impressive in stature, clock which would later be constructed in 1950.
In 1977, Ontario Hydro joined with the Niagara Parks Commission allowing them to control the maintenance and design of the botanical aspect of the oral clock while Ontario Hydro maintained the original design and construction of the hardware — including the clock mechanism, hands, transformers, drive system and musical applications that are housed within the three small rooms under- neath the clock.
To this day, the Floral Clock continues to be a team effort.
Today, the clock is more than three times the size of its inspiration in Scotland, with the face measuring 40 feet across, the planted area measuring 38 feet across and containing over 16 thousand locally grown carpet bedding plants and three traditional hands that weigh a combined 1250 pounds.
But the clock is not only a once annual feat, it features two faces each year; one in the spring that is made up of violas which provide a colourful design to welcome the spring and the second at the beginning of June for the summer season, show- casing thousands of carpet bedding flowers.
Chosen for their easy maintenance, these summer season owers begin growing in the greenhouses at the School of Horticulture in November and include red, pink and yellow Alternanthera, grey and green Santolina and other similar plants that are used until the ground frosts in October.
But the clock’s face is not simply a pretty design. The design team utilize the creative surface to commemorate the history of the Niagara Parks Commission and Hydro as well as celebrate special events important to the community.
Past clock faces have commemorated the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara, The Boy Scouts, and the War of 1812. Community members can pitch ideas to the team for inspiration, but the majority of the ideas come from head staff, usually almost a year prior to the planting.
Following finalizing the clock’s face design, a design is made to scale and a graph gets put on it. Then it is given to the carpenters who make a wooden template of the design. Once the template is done, staff sets out to make the metal forms that outline the design and help in the planting process. Starting from the top and working their way down, it takes a team of six plus people and four days, weather permitting, to rip out the plants, lay the design and plant the new seasonal arrangements. But the manual labour does not end at the initial planting. Every two weeks, two gardeners of the maintenance team halt the clock to trim the plants in order to maintain the height and colour of the clock face’s design. is process takes two to three and a half days, weather permitting.
Adding another touch of whimsy, curving around the clock’s face is an 85 foot wishing well pond, housing bright gold sh and lily pads. Constructed as a preventative tactic to ensure tourists did not climb up on the clock or pick the flowers, all summer long tourists can be found tossing change into the pond and making a wish. When the Parks drain the pond later in the season, the coins are given to Ontario Power Generation who then give it to local charities.
NIAGARA PARKS FLORAL SHOWHOUSE
This is a lovely place to stop and wander around at any time of the year. Several annual displays take place, with something new in bloom each time. Located at 7145 Niagara Parkway. Admission is $5.
QUEEN VICTORIA PARK
Possibly the best view a park could ever have, this beautifully manicured park has a collection of both native and international pants. There is a rock garden, hanging baskets, rose garden and more, not to mention tons of benches and quiet spots to enjoy a picnic. THis is also one of the areas oldest parks, having been established in 1888.
This beautiful spot nested on top of the escarpment is both picturesque and historic. And while the history might not be pretty, the landscape certainly is. This is a great summertime spot to wander, and you can also enjoy the splash pad, playground and fine dining at the Queeston Heights Restaurant. Notably, Queenston Heights Park is the Southern Terminus of the Bruce Trail.
These are just some of the amazing gardens and parks Niagara has to offer! And while these ones are some of the most well known, sometimes the best way to discover a new favourite place is to get out in your car and explore… you never know what kind of natural beauty you may come across, especially in a place as diverse as Niagara!