The New Brunswick Botanical Garden ~ A Garden to Love
Celebrating your 25th Anniversary is a pretty big deal and the NB Botanical Garden is shining bright this year proudly recognizing this important landmark. The extensive gardens with over 80,000 plants on 8 acres of scenic land make it the largest arboretum east of Montreal and it is all decked out in its' finest, showcasing its' wonder to the world. I envy those that live in Saint Jacques, (where it is located) or nearby Edmundston, with a yearly membership as they can go for their daily walk through this remarkable landscaped beauty any day they please. Put NB Botanical Garden on your 'must see' list folks, as this... is a garden to love.
The Welcoming Garden
Now this is how to make a grand entrance! The welcoming garden will have you lingering and in awe before you even step inside the main building to purchase a pass for the day in the additional 11 gardens. Striking sculptures, water fountains, architectural features and of course beautiful blooms whet your appetite giving you a taste of what is yet to come.
Make sure you explore the Live Butterfly Exhibit to meet the friendliest butterflies! Within moments of entering, joyful laughter caught my attention and I turned to see a family pointing to a butterfly resting on a man's baseball cap. When I rounded the corner, another beauty was sitting atop on a young lady's finger greeting her and a toddler was dancing nearby in delight when a big beautiful blue butterfly flitted and fluttered around her to say 'hello'. I was shortly thereafter circled by two or three swirling butterflies seemingly playing tag with each other. I became dizzy trying to capture them on by video. Enjoy your visit in the live butterfly exhibit. These are truly one of nature's most beautiful delicate creatures. Make sure you peek into the chrysalis display case. Maybe you might be treated to an awesome new awakening. Many new butterflies are emerging daily.
Extraordinarily Creative Features
I was struck by the creativity and artistic touches throughout the many gardens. It is truly exquisite from the welcoming garden to the shade garden to the flowery brook to the alpine rocky summit. Sculptures, gazebos, natural arbors, stone walkways, and a floating driftwood flower garden will catch your eye. Guylaine Dufour, one of the amazing Artists in Residence this summer, also has her sweet stained glass work in the gardens and there are several whimsical birdhouses, beautiful benches & pretty painted adirondack chairs to rest on too. So, take time to smell the roses, and enjoy all the little surprises & picturesque vignettes. For it is all the little things that make this garden extraordinary.
The NB Botanical Garden has its' own Khronos ~ a.k.a. 'Stonehenge'. These stone circles, like the famous ones in England, are astronomical measuring instruments. Discover this serene, sacred place. Be captivated by its' ability to identify the important times in humanity with the stars and moon as its' guide. Learn more about time & space, solstices & equinoxes and how the monolith's shadow marks special dates. After the sun goes down, stand atop one of the much smaller granite blocks by the huge water circle to glimpse at the magical reflection of the stars & sky above. Take some time here, meditate perhaps, or just 'sit a spell' to simply marvel at the wonder of it all. Enjoy the mystical experience of just 'being' in this special celestial garden.
Enchanting Café Flora can be found in the main building with a lovely terrace that overlooks the stunning waterfalls and perennial garden. There is a healthy menu of delicious offerings. I thoroughly enjoyed the fiddlehead soup and the sweet & salty watermelon & bacon salad. My friend Lucie had the seafood chowder and was equally as pleased with her tasty choice. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch with new friends Josée Landry, Director Jardin Botanique NB Botanical Gardens & Janice Arsenault, Tourism Coordinator Edmundston-Madawaska and stunning views while sipping cool lemonades under colourful umbrellas. This is a sweet spot to lunch.
Luc Cyr ~ Sculptor & Storyteller ~ Artist in Residence
I had the honour of spending some time with Luc Cyr, one of the uber-talented 'Artists in Residence' here at the NB Botanical Garden. Luc is an fine wood craftsman & a fascinating gentleman. He is more than happy to share the process of his amazing master sculptor skills.
His workshop houses many of his character sculptures and if you are lucky, he might even make you a 'bon homme,' like he did for me and my friend Lucie.
A wealth of local historical knowledge and a lover of nature, Luc is in his element here. He is a dear, kind soul and if you enter his workshop quietly, you might even see the chipmunk that Luc has recently befriended. Several times a day, this little guy stops by for a tasty morsel or two that Luc has 'squirelled away' for this new found furry friend.
To hear Luc speak of his grandfather will melt your heart and understand why this man is who he is and how he found his wonderful gift to the world. Make sure you stop by Luc's workshop, but remember to tiptoe so you can see 'Chip' and tell Luc, the 'Maritimes Maven' sent you.
The Herbalist Pavillon is a beautiful indoor space that offers hands-on activities & interactive workshops with a professional herbalist on-site. Learn all about the various health & medicinal benefits of different herbs, flowers and plants, as well as culinary flavouring tips. Enjoy herbal teas, aromatherapy, make natural creams, and discover more about edible flowers. Partake in a hands-on informative session with their knowledgeable herbalist and come away richer for the experience.
The Hen House attendants are a flutter, as there is a mystery that needs to be solved and they need your help. Some nasty little rascally critter is responsible for the loss of all this year's resident chickens. The staff has started an intensive investigation so that they can keep the offender out and keep the chickens safe for next year's gang.
Enter the contest for a free 2019 NB Botanical Garden membership by guessing which animal you think was the culprit (the fox, the weasel, the skunk, the porcupine, the mink, the otter, the marten or the lynx...) - the draw and winner will be announced on September 28, 2018. 'Winner, winner, chicken dinner' (okay, that was just wrong)... but all kidding aside, you have to admire the staff for their creativity here in helping the garden plan ahead so this never happens again. Have no worries, as the Chicken Coop is a very special exhibit and will return in 2019 bigger and better and extremely secure from all natural local predators.
'La Grande Grouille' ~ Fall Festival
On October 4th to the 7th, the NB Botanical Garden will be in full fall foliage and glowing orange for 'La Grande Grouille' ~ Fall Festival. They welcome autumn in a big way here transforming their already incredible gardens into a spectacular pumpkin extravaganza. During the day, thousands of carved, painted & decorated pumpkins will be on display throughout the gardens along with mystical sculptures & joyful garden creatures joining in for the fun too.
At night, the gardens begin to dance bathed in a shimmering, flickering orange glow from all the lit pumpkins, making this a magical autumn day & evening you don't want to miss! I know the date is already marked on my calendar! Hope to see you there. For more info on this special event and the NB Botanical Garden, click on the photo below.
This post was sponsored by Tourism Edmundston-Madawaska; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.