This entry to The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens is a short walk in the direction of down town. It consists of a 17 acre horticultural development located in historic Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.   In the mid 1970's the Town of Annapolis Royal and its citizens met to discuss ways of revitalizing the town through conservation and promotion of its heritage. A consulting firm was hired to study resources, a possible site was chosen, and county and provincial experts were soon in agreement that the location was ideal for a display garden. Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens opened in the summer of 1981.

This circular patio offers a variety of pathways. We considered taking this graveled pathway but realized that the Rose Garden which we usually visit first would be a no-show. Instead we took that eastern exit through the arbour. A numbered plan of the gardens illustrates this area as the end of a suggested tour.

Historically themed areas tell the story of Nova Scotia settlement from an agricultural and horticultural perspective, showcasing gardening methods, designs and materials representing more than four hundred years of local history.

Orientation Map: Passing through the "Entrance" one avoids the administration building (A). At this season payments or passes are assessed in the "Garden Shope" (B). You are on the circular patio at (B). The Governors Garden is at (24). I know, a bit confusing, but that's the way of this world? You can scroll back here if you happen to be a map addict.

This garden is #24 on the above plan.The Governor's Garden consists of of herbs, flowers and heritage 18th Century apple trees arranged according to the traditions of the 1710 to 1749 period, when Annapolis Royal was the British capital of Nova Scotia.

One of these apple trees is central, as yet without leaves. I photographed  everything on this walk in sequence.

This is looking north from that last garden at the Victorian Garden (#25) which was not looking highly developed. At its height, the Victorian Garden contains over 3,000 "vibrantly colourful annuals." The selection of exotic and heritage plants, set in elegant symmetry, reflect Victorian tastes and the wealth of Annapolis Royal during "the age of sail."

This is either the restaurant or the interpretation centre beyond that fence. I think the former. Picture taken from within the Victorian Garden. Neither building was open for business.

The Historic Gardens are owned and operated by the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens Society; which is a non-profit charitable organization. The fees charged to enter the gardens all go to the continuing maintenance and development of the gardens. The society is also involved in various projects to help raise money for the gardens. Some of these include their Annual Benefit Dinner and Auction and their Annual Garden Tour. This rustic fountain is immediately east of the Governor's Garden.

North of the fountain the main pathway leading into the formal Knot Garden (#26) which is a long way from its final form. The resident restaurant is at right in the foreground and the interpretive centre in the distance behind that plant arbour.

For 4000 years, aboriginals have inhabited the land, using this area as a stopping place. A small Pine Forest further south represents the huge eastern forests present before Europeans settled in North America. In this garden there are exotic trees, like the blossoming Paulownia (Chinese Empress), the iconic Laburnum Arbour, the fruit bearing PawPaw (unique in the Maritime region), living fossils such as the Dawn Redwood and Ginkgo Biloba, and the majestic weeping American Elm, a provincially designated heritage tree.

Named varieties in the Perennial Garden (#22) are a great help in helping gardeners identify plants they have purchased where the name has been forgotten.

This week closed the Magnolia season. Tulips were also close to full maturity.

Core gardens are linked by paths through many display areas featuring plant collections, garden art (which we find an annoying reminder of human technology), water features (as above) and natural areas, which are sometimes under development. Connecting pathways surround garden ponds and benches offer stopping points.

The Rock Garden (#21) features rugged species.

They are located in a precipitous eastern location which really does have a rock-bound aspect.

Newfoundland Violets and plants of a hardy climate thrive here.

That rock outcrop is immediately right of the pathway. Here we are looking back at perennial beds.

Ruth stands just below on the path looking westward...

At the upper pond, seen beyond yet to bloom perennials,

And this wooden footbridge.

The lower pond seen immediately south of the bridge.

It has a controlled outlet under the path. Beyond, ancient Acadian dyke lands.

On the far side of that pond we found these flowers.

This was my view of that pond looking eastward.

This is pine tree, rhododendron and azalea country (#18).

These flowers make a good show closeup,

or seen at a distance.

The distance to the south is fenced to keep deer out of the gardens.

Some varieties of rhododendron have delicate flowers.

This gate prefaces The Dyke walk.

The view directly west takes in a steel highway bridge over Allains Creek. The railway once passed over a second bridge beyond it and the bed is now  walking trail.

This area, partially under development is near the Marsh Look off. That Scottish heather collection at right (centre) is now looking colourful. Note flower trees in background.

To access the look off, take these stairs.

The Marsh Look off is a wooden fenced platform.

It gives an elevated panoramic view of the marsh.

We depart through than Pine Forest mentioned earlier.

Trilliums take shelter on this forest floor.

Following this straight path north westward intersects with that entryway arbour.

Not much action here!

A few twists and turns southward puts us above the location of the Spring Colour Collection (#11).

A bit later you will see ornamental grasses in this place. Spring blooms are seen closer the dykeland.

Here they are! Proprietors of the garden insist that that stump is a sculpture.

Let's not think about that.

Another look at that heather collection.

That view does bring a spring to my doorstep.

The big fellow are magnolias. Not all varieties are unsubtle.

Many of these blooms nevertheless command close attention.

La Maison Acadienne is a prime reason to return here at least once every year. It is the only archaeologically authenticated replica of a pre-deportation Acadian dwelling in the Maritime region. This structure is based on a 1671 habitation when Port-Royal (later Annapolis Royal) was the centre of Acadie

The potager (kitchen garden) seen just behind Ruth is based on original diary notes from the Acadian era a fair time after the creation of Port Royal (further west) in 1605.  The orchard and willow hedge are heritage cultivars from the 17th Century, not yet at full height.

Immediately south, we have this late spring view of the dykeland. The Gardens have created an enclosed dyke just below the pathway.

Interior detail is a story in itself, but here is a teaser.

Western face.  The horizontal poles support climbing plants. The kitchen garden is arranged in raised beds as ween here.

Historic Gardens Spring Dinner & Auction Celebrates 20 Years May 24, 2015, 4pm-9pm  We are very fortunate to have such terrific support from the Nova Scotia community with generous contributions of artwork, gifts, certificates, and of course, lots of incredible plant material thanks to the wonderful support of the nurseries throughout the province.” A photo gallery of items up for bid will be online soon at"

That might have been fun aside from giving support to the garden but the timing was wrong for us. As for this homestead it looked a bit like an post-deportation relic, with foundation broached, some window material missing and the thatch falling to ruin. Squirrels were the only residents.


"The Innovative Garden demonstrates modern horticultural methods and is a model for visitors interested in how to design a compact and sustainable vegetable garden in an urban or suburban setting."

We return to the magic patio circle, the entry and exit place.

The Annapolis Royal folk say, "One of the most magnificent of the collections, by any standards, is the Rose Collection which has more than 270 cultivators, from ancient roses like the Apothecary Rose through to modern hybrids including roses of the Canadian Explorer, Parkland and Artist series'. With thousands of colourful and fragrant blossoms, it is the largest rose collection in the Maritime region."
All too true, in season!

Seen on the way to supper: The Windsor and Annapolis Railway leased connections to Nova Scotia's capital of Halifax. The W&AR played a major role in developing Nova Scotia's agriculture and tourism industries, operating from 1869 until 1894 when it evolved into the larger Dominion Atlantic Railway. The local Train Station was constructed over the winter of 1913–1914 to replace an earlier wooden station that had burned. Designed in the Arts and Crafts style by the CPR’s chief railway architect in Montreal, it was built of brick with a slate roof and was considered a “fancy station”….part of the DAR’s marketing plan to lure tourists to the “wilds” of Nova Scotia.

The Annapolis Region Community Arts Council (ARCAC)  founded by a group of artists in 1982 is a registered not-for-profit charitable, community organization dedicated to encouraging and promoting the arts. Its child is a strange gallery in an unaesthetic building.

Ruth and I came close to considering the house next door as a residence. Decided the location was too busy, the community too small and insular, and the lot minuscule.

Years ago I used to do the local paint-on-sight until I realized it was self- competition in support of objectives I disliked. I can say this as I no longer lust after a career in art; life is enough after eight decades.

We did not have a good experience last summer at the Olde Town Pub but as they say, "Hope for the best and expect the worst." The beer was cheap, but the service slow and Ruth described the food publically on the net as "road kill." I admit not feeling well that night. No proof, but... We left no prisoners and no tips and that is a first for us! In the worst of cases we have always left 10%.

One wants to be a happy camper, but cafes have been our best resource in late years.

The ship Mary B. Mackay made record time from New England to Nova Scotia driven by "Portland Run." Keith's beer is not the equivalent.

The Officer's Quarters, on the walk home, had a quieting effect where the beer failed.

Hillsdale House is licensed, although we have yet to take advantage of that fact.

We revisited the Annapolis Royal Station on the way there . It was in regular use until the final VIA Rail train went by in 1990, after which it fell into disrepair. Purchased in 2005 by a private citizen of Annapolis Royal, the station was restored to its former glory and was the home of the Clean Annapolis River Project, a non-profit environmental agency.

Full up at the inn.

The Gardens are not alone in being traditional. Ruth checks out Sunday's weather which does not look good.

Ruth checks out Sunday's weather which does not look good at 8 am Sunday morning.

Ruth studying the menu. Hillsdale House offers two breakfasts: Pancakes with fruit, and traditional (bacon, ham or sausage) eggs and toast. Precisely the right amount of everything.

Not raining yet so I take a tour of this large property. This is the perspective looking north.

And south across Allains Creek.





A wee bit south of east.

The resident magnolia is a Scot's mist.

This veranda is separated from the dining room by French Doors.

That Nova Scotia flag greatly predates the Canadian flag.

Still full up for Sunday night.

A peeing tom view of Victoriana.

The interior view.

The western living room.

As we departed the rains came and remained.

The nursing home. This community has the largest number of seniors in Nova Scotia.

The national wilderness park full afloat under a warm rain. Not a great tenting day.

Working for fisheries many years ago I visited every fish hatchery in Maritime Canada. As I understand it, this one is doomed to closure. DFO has not been faring well under the Harper government. I love this country! Two public rife ranges along this route are probably sacrosanct.

I don't think my former acquaintance Winston Seaton is back here in his former gallery on homestead property near Caledonia.  I liked him better than most fine artists I have  met but don't think he believed that.

In Caledonia one buys food here.

and gasoline here!

After traversing the pine forests of the interior we emerge at Milton and stop briefly at Liverpool. Ruth stops here at the Hank Snow Museum where the rain very nearly stops allowing this surreal photo.

The Bowater-Mersey paper empire buildings at nearby Brooklyn are going to be a long time in disassembly. We stop in that community to eat sandwiches.

At last, the frontier of the centre of the universe!.

Bridgewater, Nova Scotia and still raining. From 1860 to 1968,a water-powered mill (at left in dark red) lightened the workload for Nova Scotian farm families by carding a week’s worth of wool in one hour!

At right,  another lost church, This one is on the road between Bridgewater and Lunenburg.

A little further east...

The remains left by a winter house fire.

The Middle Centre Road has this outlook on our seaside neighbourhood.

This is Front Centre with the Lutheran Church front and almost centre.

This winters wild piles of snow led to a great deal of damage for public and private signs.  That was R&R's last happy trip out of First South. By November the lack of a working waste collection system at their country rental, forced them to flee to Mahone Bay, another grim story, with no overnight mini vacations in 2016 or 2017.