Thursday 20 August 2015

Kingsbrae Garden - St.Andrews, NB

Kingsbrae Garden has always been on my list of places to visit. Despite only being about an hour away, I'd never been there. I thought it would be a fun place to explore with Little C, so we planned to visit the garden last week. It's been a horribly foggy summer, so we planned to go on the one day that was forecasting sun all day. Of course, when I woke up, I couldn't even see down the street. More fog. I didn't let that dampen my spirits though, and we hopped in the truck and headed to St. Andrews.

It was still foggy, but it made it look a little dreamy, didn't it?
The fog was already starting to move out when we arrived, and in fact, was kind of nice. It kept us cool, which was a good thing because Kingsbrae Garden is huge! I had heard it was big, but I really didn't know it was that big.

According to the brochure, it's 27-acres. Originally, the estate had been known for its fine gardens, and when the property was donated, they expanded on this tradition. Open since 1998, Kingsbrae includes a variety of gardens, starting with the White Garden that you pass through as you enter. There is also a Knot Garden, Perennial Garden, an Orchard, Edible Garden, Children's Fantasy Garden, ponds, a windmill, animals, play houses, and so much more.  There really is a lot to see.

When you pay your admission, they give you a map. There are 34 stops! (I told you it was big!) We started using it, but quickly gave up and just enjoyed the walk and views. A stroller, toddler, camera, and map are a bit too much to handle at once!

I'm sure the first question most parents would have is, "Is it good for kids?" I say, yes! First of all, it's outdoors. For my son, that's an immediate win. It's fairly stroller friendly. Although there are a few parts with stairs, you can always find an alternative path route. I would warn that the pathways are mostly gravel, so I would suggest that you have a stroller that will roll well on gravel. Of course, my son decided that he really didn't want to be in his stroller and walked around most of the garden stroller-free... after we had already brought the stroller into the garden.

Knot Garden - it was really pretty and structural

Perennial Garden - This was one of my favourites, a lot more wild
and not so perfect. There were many different flowers to look at. 

Little C stopped to smell almost all the flowers in the
perennial garden... but I had to stop him from
drinking the dew off the leaves!

The Children's Garden had mini houses that kids can actually
go inside. It was hard to move on from this spot!

One of the reasons we decided to visit in the morning, was the Lady Bug Release. It happens every morning at 10:30am. They release 1000 lady bugs to help combat aphids in the rose garden. When I heard about this, I had visions of lady bugs being set free from a basket, flying throughout the rose garden. That's not exactly what happened. One of the employees came to the garden with a bag of ladybugs! She opened it up and carefully moved the ladybugs from the bag to the roses. There were a lot of them! Although not what I expected, it was still neat to see. 

Ladybugs! There are 1000 in that bag. 

Our favourite part? The edible garden! You are welcome to try anything in the garden. Little C found the very last strawberry and gobbled up some high bush blueberries. He seemed to enjoy the unripe ones the best. Silly boy! We also tried three types of gooseberries and red currants, which we'd never had before.

Edible Garden - gooseberries, blueberries, and red currants

Another stand-out garden was the Scents & Sensitivity Garden. It was put together with the CNIB, and features plants with different textures and scents so those with visual impairments can enjoy. This is also a great thing for kids, because they can touch and smell everything! A child's dream. 
Scents & Sensitivity Garden

Scattered throughout the garden are sculptures. I'm a huge fan of public art, so I loved this aspect of Kingsbrae Garden. They hold a biannual sculpture contest with prizes of $20,000! It sounds like a pretty big deal, and by the look of the artwork throughout the garden (and in the dedicated sculpture garden) they attract very talents artists. 

There is so much to see at Kingsbrae Gardens - it's definitely more than just flowers. Next time, I will plan to stay for even longer, or plan to go for the morning and return later in the day, which your admission ticket allows. We were getting hungry (translation: a toddler meltdown was bubbling up!) and decided to leave around noon time. There is an on site restaurant, Savour in the Garden, which looks amazing, but I don't think it is for kids.  I guess if there was one negative, that would be it. Having said that, I understand that not every restaurant is kid-friendly, so I don't actually count that as a negative.  [Edit: Kingsbrae Garden tells me that they DO welcome children in the cafe! That's great news, and I will definitely be stopping in next time for lunch!]

If you are interested in art, gardening, animals, or just a peaceful walk in a unique setting, I would highly recommend a visit to Kingsbrae Garden. It's so much more than a garden!

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