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Garden Lifestyle

Summer Vacation to Canada

I recently did a road trip to Toronto with herbalgalpals to attend the International Herb Association's annual conference.

  • The Toronto Botanical Garden has 17 themed gardens to wander through on four acres. It is a lovely, well-kept garden with lots of inspirational ideas. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • My favorite garden was the Kitchen Garden with raised beds full of vegetables, herbs and berries.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • I love the showy, star-shaped flowers of the borage plant which appear in shades of blue, pink, lavender or shades thereof.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Besides strawberry and raspberry plants, these currants were in the Kitchen Garden--dangling clusters of ruby fruits dazzling in the sunlight like jewels.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Here's an unsual garden feature--a bark bee house!
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • The gardener's tool shed is a strawbale structure with a green roof.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Of course, we had to stop by and see Niagara Falls, which was a spectacular vista. It was my first visit there and let me tell you, it is bigger and more impressive than I imagined. This is a view of the American Falls.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • This is a view of a tourboat headed into the Canadian Falls. There were lovely plantings all along the walkways.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Monarda 'Marshall's Delight' at Niagara. Plants grow very well there due to all of the moisture.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • The Niagara Botanic Gardens is also a good place to visit with a variety of gardens from roses to a formal herb garden, kitcehn garden and a butterfly house.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Formal four-square herb garden, as well as many other herb beds.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Winter savory plant in the herb garden-- this is what I went to Canada to speak about--Savory is Herb of the Year for 2015. I will post a summer recipe that I demo'ed there.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

I recently did a road trip to Toronto with herbalgalpals to attend the International Herb Association’s annual conference. Here are a few highlights besides the road trip itself–gardens for you to visit vicariously, or next time you go to Canada–or put them on your list of things to do. Both the Toronto Botanic Garden (www.torontobotanicgarden.ca) and the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden and Horticulture School (on the Canadian side) are worthwhile places to visit. I was also surprised at the lovely plantings at the Falls themselves. The masses of flowers and herbs there were healthy and thriving–I think due to the constant humidity.

Having seen photos or film clips of the Niagara Falls, they were not how I imagined them at all. There is talk of the U.S. side and the Canadian side and I thought it was the same falls viewed from different borders. However, there are two falls–both huge and impressive–and it is a major sensory experience. I heard the falls before I saw them; I felt the moisture in the air before seeing them (depending on which way the breeze is blowing, one can get soaking wet–which feels pretty good on a hot day–though is not too good for the camera) and the sight is mesmerizing. Continual thunderous crashing of water and a billowing mist of moisture. Not to mention a crush of humanity from all around the globe. I am glad that I went.

Besides gardens, the conference was inspiring with speakers on every subject from Boreal Herbs, sea buckthorn, neem, to gardens of healing, how to stay healthy and how to raise a kitchen garden. I presented on Savory, Herb of the Year 2015 and made a few recipes to sample, which I will post after this blog. The planning committee for the IHA conference pulled off a great event from good speakers, great field trips, a huge herbal marketplace (one of the best ever) and they even got the hotel to prepare a wild foods dinner (kudos to the chef); and as usual, we ended with our banquet dinner and auction. Next year, the IHA conference will be held in November in Florida. (www.iherb.org)

The post-conference tour was to Richters Herbs in Goodwood, Ontario. Conrad Richter and his wife, Aku, are carrying on the family business started by Conrad’s father, Otto Richter. It is a great place to visit, or if you can’t make it there, Richters has an informative catalog (nearly an encyclopedia) and sells herbs, vegetables, roses, books, herbal products and more. www.Richters.com

Hope your gardens are growing–the harvest season is upon us–so better get busy! Not to mention it is time to plant fall crops.



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