Monday, June 12, 2023

Grand gardens add to a Canadian Niagara Falls visit

Watching the mighty Niagara Falls roar over a cliff is reason enough to visit this amazing destination. While visiting the American side of the Falls is definitely worthwhile, some people think the Canadian side offers more additional things to do in the surrounding area.

Niagara Falls 

For example, if you love beautiful gardens, Canada’s nearby offerings may entice you to cross the border. Niagara Falls gardens feature spectacular horticultural installations which are considered among the most beautiful throughout Canada and the world. The gardens are open year-round, and the flowers offer a landscape of changing blooms through different seasons. Activities include nature walks and hiking, cycling, photography, and bird watching.

Botanical Gardens

Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

The Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens is among Canada’s largest with 99 acres of beautifully maintained gardens to explore including the largest rose garden in Canada. The Botanical Gardens is located just a twelve minute drive from the Falls as you head north along the Niagara Parkway (admission is free). Visitors are welcome to explore the lush surroundings of this area by wandering paths to view the gardens and ponds here.

Butterfly Conservatory

Located at the Botanical Gardens, the Butterfly Conservatory is home to 2,000 butterflies representing 60 different species. Temperatures inside are carefully regulated for the comfort of its colorfully-winged inhabitants, making this glass-enclosed conservatory a warm escape for visitors during the cold winter months, including the stunning waterfall feature that gives the feeling that you are in a tropical rain-forest oasis.

Butterfly Conservatory is a great family activity as well as a romantic date idea for couples. The conservatory includes meandering paths surrounded by towering tropical plants and blooms that have been hand-picked to attract the various species of butterflies. Butterfly species at the conservatory include the banded orange, blue morpho, common Mormon, cydno longwing, Doris longwing, Gulf fritillary, Julia, Low's swallowtail, monarch, mosaic, owl, red lacewing, Sara longwing, and small postman.

Oakes Garden Theatre

Oakes Garden

The spectacular 
Oakes Garden Theatre serves as both an entranceway to Queen Victoria Park and a serene spot to take in the calm of the gardens while enjoying panoramic views of the American and Horseshoe Falls. Did you know that the site on which Oakes Garden Theatre stands today was formerly home to the Clifton Hotel? After the hotel burned down twice (in 1898 & 1932) the land was purchased by Harry Oakes who hired architects to create an intricate design of gardens and stone sculptures. Oakes Garden Theatre officially opened to the public in 1937.

Designers of this picturesque amphitheatre took advantage of the contour of the existing grounds to form a curved pergola overlooking the amphitheatre. Decorative iron gates, Queenston limestone edging, stone gardens, water features, ponds and bordering shrub were meticulously integrated to the formal garden design. The shaded lily ponds and formalized gardens offer visitors a tranquil escape in the heart of Niagara Falls. Be sure to explore the Japanese Garden that can be found behind the stunning pergola! This area is also home to the Secret Garden Restaurant featuring a patio that overlooks the American Falls.

Queen Victoria Park

This park, called the heart of the Niagara Parks, celebrates every 
season with a visual spectacle of unique native and international plants and beautifully maintained gardens. Don't miss the spectacular Hybrid Tea Rose Garden, tucked back from the road just south of the Niagara Parks Police Building. Queen Victoria Park also provides a plethora of viewing locations where visitors can enjoy the nightly Falls Illumination.

Floral Showhouse

Just south of 
Table Rock Centre and the new Niagara Parks Power Station, you'll find the hidden gem that is the Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse. Tour seasonal displays within the tropical foyer and three stunning display houses. Guests can also enjoy outdoor gardens and ponds featuring a miniature village and train. When visiting in the spring, guests walking the grounds surrounding the Floral Showhouse can take in the fragrant and floral Magnolia trees that line Magnolia Allee.

Floral Showhouse

The Floral Showhouse presents several unique displays throughout the year including the Hydrangea Show in May, Chrysanthemum show in the Fall and the holiday Poinsettia show. The Floral Showhouse is a ticketed attraction and is also included in the Niagara Parks Niagara Falls Pass.

Information and photos courtesy of Irene Knight <>


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