Today, Niagara-on-the-Lake is filled with tree-lined streets and beautiful century homes. Surrounded by fruit orchards and vineyards, it is often referred to as "one of the loveliest town in Ontario".
Certainly, you would be hard pressed to find another place in the Provence of Ontario that has dedicated as much public and private property to the art of gardening. "Gardening is a hobby and a passion here in Niagara-on-the-Lake, we are fortunate to have an abundance of wonderful gardens and gardeners too!", explains Vicky Downes, host of the Royal Manor B&B in the historic district of "Old Town".
The B&B is a handsome two story Georgian home that was built in the early 1800's as a tavern for the ships arriving at the docks at Navy Hall. In recent years, the house has been lovingly restored in a way that is faithful to its 19th century origins. The original pine floors still remain and are in amazingly good condition.
The B&B is surrounded by mature trees and has a lovely perennial garden complete with a small waterfall and pond. "The gardens have all been built over the last decade.", Vicky tells me, "They continue to evolve yearly, as the plants grow and need to be trimmed, separated or moved."
Let's take a peak around, shall we?
"Perennials are my passion and I have planted as many varieties as I can afford over the years. After a decade, I now have colour throughout the growing season and lots of textures and greenery too.", says Vicky.
Main border looking back towards the driveway.
A pretty hosta and Giant Fleece Flower, 'Persicaria polymorha' in the near background
Giant Fleece Flower, 'Persicaria polymorha' and Black-eyed Susan, 'Rudbeckia hirta'
Black-eyed Susan, 'Rudbeckia hirta'
"I am always delighted when I am asked to share a cutting, because I know that that person will always remember where the original plant resided, and hopefully think of me too."
Toward the back of the property, is a large pond that was designed by Clearwater ponds to be low maintenance.
"The pond was built over a large hole that the previous owners had called a sunken garden (but was filled with weeds) and that I believe was the location of a former building/shed on the property. The pond plants were a new endeavour for me and I'm still learning how to get them to bloom and how best to locate them for maximum growth.", Vicky tells me.
The pond and the adjoining patio is a perfect spot to relax and recharge. "The fish are a delight for my Mom who watches them from her windows and calls them to feed daily in the spring and summer.", Vicky says.
A pretty combination of several Hydrangea shrubs and a Japanese Maple.
As well as a wide range of perennials, there is a nice selection of trees and shrubs. "I have many trees around the property, but always wanted a Japanese Maple and a Dogwood, both of which I now have."
Purple Smoke Bush, Cotinus coggygria 'puroureus'
A beautiful mixed of plants and shrubs welcomes guests at the front of the house.
Large container plantings flank either side of the front door. (Love this mix of Coleus, Sun-loving Impatiens and golden hued Creeping Jenny!)
"The hydrangeas at the front were planted in 2000 just as the 18 month renovation was being completed on the interior and now need some severe trimming yearly so that they don't cover the windows. I am not sure of the name of the variety, but they are an 'old' variety that bloom off the old branches, so they can't be trimmed too much or no flowers will appear the following year.", explains Vicky.
I found colours in these hydrangeas so pretty that I couldn't stop taking pictures of them. I think I must have over 20 shots!
"I scatter aluminium sulphate on the soil annually in the spring to create the colour variations.", Vicky tells me.
Many thanks to Vicky Downes for allowing me to show you her beautiful garden.
Further information and Links:
Thinking of visiting Niagra-on-the-Lake this summer? You my just want to time your visit to include the Shaw Garden Tour. Visit: www.shawfest.com/gardentour for more details.
For general information on Niagra-on-the-Lake: http://www.niagaraonthelake.com and http://visitniagaracanada.com/
For information on the Shaw Festival visit: http://www.shawfest.com
A bit more about Royal Manor Bed & Breakfast:
The B&B is located in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake and is a few minutes away from shops, theatres, and restaurants. The manor offers three spacious and beautifully appointed bedrooms, each with a private ensuite bath.
The B&B promises the visitor an array of gourmet breakfast options including "eggs benedict, omelettes & quiches, fluffy buttermilk pancakes with maple sausages, or apple french toast" which are served in a bright and airy breakfast room.
Royal Manor has central air conditioning, is smoke-free, pet-free and adult-oriented. Manor House Photo gallery.
I have never had the pleasure of staying at Royal Manor, but did note an abundance of favourable online reviews that spoke of the B&B as a "true gem" and described the hospitality as "gracious" and "welcoming".
Royal Manor Bed and Breakfast