What to do now - Garden-Inspired Travel

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

Jodi Delong
Photography by
Dan Callis

The gardens of Annapolis Royal capture the majesty of Canada's gardening heritage

A stroll through Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens is a trip through the history of gardening. The 10-acre gardens were created in 1981 in an effort to revitalize the town of Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley. French settlers established the town, originally named Port Royal, in 1605. Enduring numerous territorial battles with the English, the town finally became a part of England's colonies in 1710, and was renamed Annapolis Royal in homage to Queen Anne.

Among its many treats, the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens has a series of themed areas that reflect nearly 400 years of changing styles. The first settlers are represented by the Acadian cottage, which is a replica of a settler's home, and a kitchen garden-or potager-laid out in symmetrical beds. Of particular interest to many visitors is the billboard at the cottage listing Acadian surnames from the 1671 census. Many present-day Acadians can trace their lineage back to these ancestors.

As the French ceded territory to the English, so the potager gave way to the plantings of British gardeners. The governor's garden echoes the features of the Annapolis Royal governor's residence in 1748. It has geometrically patterned walkways and beds, formally clipped yew hedges, and ornamental and practical plants, such as rhubarb, apple trees, hollyhocks and herbs. Of less rigid appearance, yet no less meticulously planted, is the Victorian garden, where the flower beds are curved and filled with colourful, flowering annuals, a style prized by gardeners of Victorian England.

During the peak blooming time of late June to mid-July, visitors can revel in more than 230 varieties of roses in the rose garden. There's the Austrian copper rose (Rosa foetida 'Bicolor') that dates back to 1590s Europe, with its copper-orange single blooms nearly covering its branches. The deep maroon blossoms of 'Tuscany', an ancient gallica, easily explain its nickname of "old velvet rose." A bed of miniature roses includes 'Mr. Bluebird', with almost lavender flowers, and the cheery blooms of 'Ko's Yellow'. A chorus of hybrid teas, floribundas, musks, Austin English roses and grandifloras testifies to the skills of rose breeders over the past century and helps visitors see what kinds of roses can grow in the local climate.

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