Monday, March 23, 2015

Halifax Public Gardens

Van Dusen wasn't the only garden I visited last year.  Later in the summer we made a short trip to Halifax.  Oddly enough I always seem to end up in Halifax during the winter.  This was my first time there in summer and I knew exactly what I wanted to see.  I've walked past this garden many times but it's closed in winter.


This time I was able to walk right in and see all the sights at the Halifax Public Gardens.  This garden is a national historic site created in 1874 when two older gardens were combined.  It's a Victorian style garden and very different from the gardens I am used to seeing.


Victorian gardens tend to be quite formal.  They were used to displayed exotic plant collections and often had brightly coloured symmetrical flower beds.  Ornamentation was prized and Victorians did it big displaying large gazebos and sculptures.

The Halifax garden demonstrated many of these typical Victorian characteristics.  There were numerous statues and grand water features.



This very ornate bandstand is surrounded by brightly planted perennial beds.


 Many plantings were impossibly intricate, like this snake that wove through the grass.


There were several of these snakes winding around, perfectly edged and planted in annuals.

Even the more natural looking plantings still featured statues and large masses of plants.


I really enjoyed some of the wonderful plant displays like this one of locally grown dahlias.


This was a great way to search out new plants for my own garden.

I did find though that the Victorian gardening technique was a bit stuffy for me.  I'm not a huge fan of annuals and I like a bit of a wild look to my gardens.  Regardless, I loved being able to wander through this large park in the middle of the city.  It's a welcome refuge from the bustle and noise.


Have you seen any Victorian gardens?  What's your favourite garden style?



30 comments:

  1. At the Missouri Botanic Garden in St Louis, the have a Victorian Garden. It is interesting but not my style. I like a little bit of formal plantings such as the knot garden I try to keep going but I like what I call a manicured wild look. Ha... try to imagine that. :)

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    1. manicured wild look describes it perfectly! I like that style too. Some edges, some borders but a little floofy at the same time.

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  2. I enjoyed seeing all your photos of this visit and the previous one, Marguerite. I enjoy seeing all styles of gardens, and I'm especially drawn to Japanese gardens. But that's certainly not the style of my own garden. I think we can enjoy all kinds of gardens and appreciate them, but those ideas don't always work for us. Not to mention, I would need a team of workers to create even a small area like some of these gardens:) I like Lisa's comment--whose lovely garden I've seen, by the way--"manicured wild look"....I think that fits my garden, too!

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    1. So I think we can all agree to coin Lisa's phrase ' manicured wild look' it is! you make a good point about the team of people needed to upkeep a garden like this one. It's stunning to look at but it must take a small herd of people to keep it looking like this.

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  3. I have to say I like it! I think I'm a little Victorian:)

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    1. Good for you Jane! nothing wrong with liking this style, just a bit formal for my tastes.

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  4. It looks like an interesting garden. I would not have a Victorian bedding out schemes in my own garden but it is nice to see them in public gardens (only place where they can afford to have these).
    Thank you for sharing it.

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    1. Good point Alain. The money to grow all those annuals, and the staff to implement it all would be pretty high. Not to mention upkeep of the other features. It's great to see a real Victorian type garden though too. I would never have known otherwise what one looked like.

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  5. I love the Halifax gardens! In fact, when visiting Halifax, my hubby and I stay across the street from them so that we can start our day with a walk in the garden. Thanks for taking me back!
    I love all gardens. Each is beautifully unique.
    I hope your snow melts soon and you are spared any flooding.
    Wishing you a beautiful week,
    Linda at Beautiful Ideas

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    1. Too funny Linda, we stayed across the street as well on our trip. I had a view out of the hotel window of the garden. I hope all our snow melts soon. Cabin fever has officially set in on the east coast.

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  6. One of my favourite places to escape to at lunchtime to eat in the sunshine!! It really is a wonderful place and it changes with new blooms every time you visit!

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    1. you work in Halifax! lucky you. I noticed they had a lot of benches for sitting. What a great spot for lunch. very restful.

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  7. That must have been a lovely trip! When we lived in Dartmouth, NS, in my childhood, the Public Garden was my mom's favourite spot. If we had to go "across the bridge" to Halifax for any business, she would drag me by the hand and pull me into the gardens. Now, when I visit there, that's my first go-to spot. I wish all cities had such a refuge in their centre.

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    1. what a great memory. I agree, I think every city could use some garden space, not just a couple planters.

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  8. I managed a visit to the Public Gardens myself last June. The formal Victorian flowerbeds are a bit dated, but the garden overall is still the source of many happy childhood memories. I missed seeing the snake when I was there. It's kinda neat.

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    1. Glad to hear you got a chance to visit. that's too bad you didn't see the snakes. I actually thought they were the greatest part. so very over the top but really neat to look at. The beds were generally a bit too filled with annuals to interest me but I guess that was the point?

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  9. Stuffy? Yes, very, and still replicated in far too many public spaces in the uk today, though thankfully more and more they seem to feature wildlife areas, flower meadows and perennials. Mind you, apparently the dearth of young gardeners with good propagation skills is partly due to the lack of annuals grown for big park displays nowadays. Glad you finally got to go beyond the gate though.

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    1. I've never heard that about the lack of propagation skills. Interesting. I think if cities used annuals in a pleasing way I wouldn't object so much to them but too often it's white and red in matching planting blocks. Desperately ugly. I thought it was just city landscape crews that planted this way though, never realized it stemmed from Victorian garden schemes.

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  10. No Victorian gardens here. But then we have very few public gardens at all, so that's not saying much. I did work years ago on a private garden with a Victorian twist. I remains a happy memory (lots of scented roses).

    Christine in Alaska, no Victorians for miles

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    1. Christine, I think the landscape in Alaska is far more interesting than any planting scheme the Victorians could come up with. you've got it all, moose, grizzly, mountains, northern lights, crisp air and wildflowers. can't ask for more.

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  11. Thanks for the tour! I do prefer the more informal planting, but love having a peek at the more formal. As Janet says, we still have a lot of unimaginative planting of annuals in our local parks, here in the uk, which is a left over from a formal horticultural past.

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    1. I'm more of an informal girl too but it is interesting to see something different. It's always good to see how other people do things.

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  12. This is a garden I would enjoy, though it is not my style either. I do find though that I like to mix annuals more into my herbaceous beds. About ten years ago we took a vacation in Nova Scotia and spent a couple of days in Halifax - though we missed this garden, unfortunately.

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    1. I like mixing in annuals too. They're not bad plants but beds of only bright annuals can be a bit over the top. Sorry you missed this garden on your visit, it's a fun stop but I'm sure you were kept busy with lots of things to do on your trip.

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  13. Oh my gosh, and what a deligt that must have been, I'm swooning over those gates....sigh.

    Big big sigh...beautiful.

    Jen

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    1. The gates are pretty impressive aren't they? That's the part I always saw in winter, these giant gates keeping me out. Thought they were gorgeous but really needed to get past them this once.

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  14. Marguerite girl I am ashamed to say that for all the time I have spent in Nova Scotia I hadn't seen their gardens in Halifax .. I don't think I was a true gardener at the time perhaps ? haha
    These are wonderful shots and I too like a less fussy, informal design that you can get close up to see the plants.
    Joy : )

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    1. No apologies necessary Joy. I can't believe I've never visited more gardens in BC. All those years living there and I've only visited a couple gardens. Funny how our tastes change.

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  15. I love the dahlia display. They are beautiful flowers but it's too hot for many of the varieties here.

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    1. I didn't realize dahlias disliked hot. I thought they would do better in warm locations. I have to dig them up each year to keep them from freezing each winter.

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