September 05, 2017

Gardeners' Delight at Niagara Falls

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Happy September! It seems like just yesterday I was in Buffalo, New York, and after that, at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The Association for Garden Communicators (GWA) held its Annual Conference and Expo in Buffalo, Aug. 4-7, and the full-day, post-conference story tour on Aug. 8 took us to Niagara Falls.

I was a "new-bee" for this conference, and I must say it didn't disappoint. The organization's leadership and the other attendees were friendly and welcoming. I even reconnected with "old" friends--garden bloggers and writers I'd met at other events.

I think my favorite "event" was the Niagara trip. The gardens were amazing, the Canadians were welcoming, and of course the Falls (which I'd never seen before) were spectacular and more powerful than I'd imagined.

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We started the day at Niagara Parks' Floral Showhouse, where bright plants and blooms wove through the grounds.

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I realized later that most of my photos here were from the exterior grounds, but this indoor display was hard to miss. All the statues on the grounds were lovely. I searched and searched online for an explanation of this sculpture and couldn't find a thing. It appears to depict three children playing on top of a Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum).

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Outdoors, a "Life in the Garden" display featured lush arrangements of annuals and perennials, alongside whimsical miniatures of homes, buildings, and modes of transportation.

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I've always enjoyed miniatures, and their placement in the gardens was joyful and inspiring.

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The greenhouse was handsomely bordered by vines and shrubs.

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I spent as much time outdoors as I could on that beautiful day.

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The borders and planting beds included many pollinator-friendly and strikingly beautiful blooming plants.

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Another statue for which I can't find a name was this lovely piece rising out of a fountain--the woman depicted is lovingly holding a simple bouquet of flowers.

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Fortunately, I did record the story behind these sculptures. The collection of bronze figures titled, "Freedom," depicts children playing with wildlife in a pond.

The next photos include artful arrangements in pots, along rock walls, and in borders at various Niagara Parks locations--the grounds of the Floral Showhouse, Oakes Garden Theatre, and Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens.

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I could have spent hours around the Botanical Garden's European-style hedged garden, where Hydrangeas mixed with Joe Pye Weed and flowering annuals in pots.

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The School of Horticulture had some attractive and utilitarian displays, too.

butterfly outside

We also visited the Butterfly Conservatory, where Monarchs on Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia spp.) greeted us near the entrance.

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butterfly triplets

Butterflies of more than 2,000 species fly free in the enclosed, rainforest-style conservatory.

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Of course, any trip to the Niagara area must include spectacular views of the falls.

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They greeted us from various angles throughout the day.

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The highlight was when we donned the yellow plastic slickers and toured the "Journey Behind the Falls."

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The sheer power of all that water is truly impossible to depict in a drawing or a photograph. I'd have to say it exceeded my expectations.

o canada

Thank you, Canada, for your hospitality!

More highlights from the GWA event to come in future posts.

46 comments:

  1. Girl, you had too much fun. I like miniatures in the garden too. Of course plants take precedence and you certainly saw all sorts.

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    1. Yes, it was awesome! I usually don't include a lot of props in my garden, but I'm adding little touches here and there. I'm not sure I'd want the miniatures in my garden, but they were fun to see at the Falls area. :)

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  2. The Niagara region has some wonderful gardens and I would have taken that tour had I not gone on the add'l day from the Toronto Fling. I want to go back, actually, especially to the Botanical Gardens. Now the boat ride, I think I would need a lot of convincing to go on - just too close to the falls for comfort. Even looking at the pictures gets me nervous!

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    1. Yes, we didn't have enough time at the Botanical Gardens. Argh--always such a rush for these things, but of course that means we get to see more stuff. I know many folks toured the Falls during the Toronto Fling--I regretted passing that opportunity by, and didn't want to let it happen again! I'm so glad I went this time!

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  3. Enjoyed seeing all your pics. That was a beautiful garden with many varieties of flowers and cute butterflies. The miniature buildings looked beautiful. Niagara fall looks awesome:)

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    1. Thanks! Niagara Falls was much more powerful and beautiful than I expected. It's so hard to describe it with words or photos or even drawings. It's one of those "must experience it" things.

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  4. Wonderful pictures, the Niagara Parks and Floral Showhouse look beautiful but I can understand the Niagara Falls were the highlight of the day. You were lucky to have such a bright sunny day, then it´s even more imposing I think.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, we were fortunate it was a bright, comfortable day for the Niagara tour!

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  5. a mammoth post Beth - thank you for sharing your tour, lots here to love and digest with the eyes - one fave being the Turks cap lilies (?Margatons) and bench view. Adore butterfly farms and Niagra was a climax of all climaxes to your tour

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    1. Oh yes, the lilies were beautiful. I have several more photos of them. The color and the angle of the sun was much prettier at that time of the day. Niagara Falls--especially the Canada side--is really awesome!

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  6. Oh my gosh, what amazing photos. My mum visited as a child, but I doubt I'll ever make it to the falls :(
    I really liked those miniature buildings too!

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    1. Thank you, Tim. Oh, you never know: If you ever have a chance to visit, go for it! The miniatures were really fun. :)

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  7. Exceptional. Post.
    Lovely gardens, sculpture . . .
    I haven't seen the falls either . . .
    On my "must" list.
    (Was the boat ride rocky and rolling??)

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    1. Thanks, Lynne. We didn't ride the boats; we just observed them from the shore. LOL. Yes, they do look pretty scary, but I'm sure the ride is fun, too. :)

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  8. Great photos. That Botanical Garden looks fantastic. Those hedges! I grew up in Buffalo and used to go to The Falls all the time. Have not been for a long time as I no longer have family in the city. But you are right that The Falls do not disappoint. They are also amazing in the winter when the snow and ice builds up into frozen sculptures half the height of the waterfalls.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I'm sure the Falls are stunning in the winter, too, but I doubt I'll ever brave the cold to see them in that season. ;-) I have enough trouble motivating myself to walk out my own door during the winter. The Botanical Gardens were amazing, and I truly want to go back in spring or summer because we only had time for a short tour of each place.

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  9. I'm always amazed by how bright and colorful summer gardens are in northern climates. What a fun trip and especially nice to see those beautiful gardens with all the plants and nice miniatures.

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    1. That's very true. Our days are long in the summer, too, although now they're getting shorter very fast. :( It was a very fun trip, and I have many happy memories. The gardens were amazing!

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  10. Wow, what a wonderful time you must have had. Beautiful butterflies and I love that photo of the echinacea.

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    1. Yes, it was so fun! The butterflies were awesome, and all the plants--including the Echinaceas--were so healthy, colorful, and lush.

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  11. Wow! What a great tour. Hard to pin down what I liked most, but that first photo was gorgeous! Thanks for taking us along, Beth.

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    1. Hi Tina: It was fun! The scenery AND the gardens were amazing! If you haven't been there, I highly recommend it! :)

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  12. It looks a bit terrifying actually! I don't think I would want to be in the boat at the bottom of the falls. Would love to see it one day, though.

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    1. Yes, the boat ride looked a little scary. We didn't do the boat ride--we just watched it from the lookout area. The falls and the entire area are strikingly beautiful!

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  13. How great was your trip, loved seeing the photos, love the little houses, my mum and dad went to the falls on their 25th wedding anniversary many yards ago.
    Amanda xx

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    1. Hi Amanda: It was wonderful! Lucky parents! I need to get my hubby there one of these days. It would be a great destination for an extended family, too. :)

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  14. WOW!!! What a treat to look at your photos.
    Thank you for taking us along.
    Carla

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    1. You are welcome, Carla! It certainly was a fun day. Actually, the entire conference was awesome. I hope to do a few more posts about the Buffalo area in the next few weeks. The gardens are amazing!

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  15. Great pictures and tour! I'm so sorry I couldn't stay an extra day but get to see it through your eyes!

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    1. Thanks, Linda! I know: I wanted to go after the Toronto Fling, but that didn't work out. So, I'm glad I was able to see the falls and the gardens this time. :)

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  16. I so enjoyed taking this virtual tour with you, Beth, as I was unable to attend the GWA conferece this year due to a family commitment. I feel I need to return to the Falls when the summer flowers are in bloom -- it's many years since I was there. Maybe I'll see you in Chicago next year! P. x

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    1. It would be great to meet you in person, Pam! Chicago is close, so I do hope to make it next year. Yes, the falls were awesome!

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  17. Great photos! I couldn't help but notice that planting of coneflowers--they almost look too perfect to be real. Visiting the butterfly sanctuary must have been a real treat; it's always special to see so many up close. I haven't been to the Falls since I was a teenager--time to visit Niagra again!

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    1. Thank you, Rose! Yes, the coneflowers were lovely--actually, the entire area was really beautiful! The butterfly sanctuary was fun, although I felt sorry that they were confined to such a small area. Still, a great experience--especially to get kids interested in butterflies.

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  18. Oh how fun! I've only driven through Niagara Falls area on the way to Canada, so we never had time to stop and see anything other than the Falls. The botanical garden looks amazing! Sometime I'd love to do that boat trip behind the falls, too. The falls are so gorgeous.

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    1. Oh, yes, you would love the entire area, Indie. If you ever get near again, it might be worthwhile to set aside a day or two for Niagara Falls. :)

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  19. I still haven't seen Niagara Falls, and I grew up in New York. Wonderful gardens, I especially love the tiny houses amongst the flowers and on the branches of trees.

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    1. That's so funny, Jason. I hadn't seen Wisconsin Dells until I was in my 20s, even though I grew up in Wisconsin! Yes, the gardens and the entire ambiance of the entire area are special!

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  20. What a fun trip! The falls would be my favorite part, too.

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    1. Yes, it was great fun. You would love it, Sue. Many pollinators in the outdoor gardens. I noticed many native plants, as well as garden cultivars.

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  21. Wow! I've never seen the falls in person but your description makes me want to. Pictures of a summery warm sunny garden are welcome on this cool, wet, and windy morning. I can just hear a mom yelling at those kids in the sculpture, "You kids get off of that stinky thing!"

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    1. Oh yes, it's worth the trip, Peter. I had a similar reaction to the "Freedom" sculptures. It was so whimsical and cute. We've been very hot until today. I never thought I'd say this, but a cool autumn day is OK. This is a very weird autumn (entire growing season) for us.

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  22. Have been to the US side of the Falls, clearly we should have spent time across the border. '-)

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    1. That's what people were saying--that the Canadian side is much more interesting and beautiful. I've never been to the U.S. side, so I can't say for sure. The entire area is very pretty, though--not all that different than parts of Wisconsin, which isn't surprising because we share a similar climate and the Niagara escarpment in parts of the state.

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  23. My goodness that was quite an extra day! I certainly missed an amazing trip! Loved seeing all the butterflies.

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    1. Yes, I'm glad I signed up. I missed it when it was an extra event for the Garden Bloggers Fling, and I didn't want to miss it again. But I suppose you've been to the Falls before?

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