Cicada Molting

As well as being surrounded by the beauty of trees, flowers and shrubs in unique garden designs, in the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens you can also see lots of small critters and insects. As a result, we often get the opportunity to witness “nature happening” right in front of us, and yesterday was one of those times.

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One of our students noticed a bug molting or eclosing on a sign in the Main Courtyard. The location was perfect to get some photos, watch the process, and to let the visitors look and learn as well.

With a little googling, we realized it was a cicada. Also, it turns out that one of our students is a bit of a bug geek, so she was able to explain the whole process for everyone.

Here are a few of the photos, in sequence…

We hear the cicadas a lot in the heat of summer, but this is the first time most of us had witnessed the molting. Perhaps not as “beautiful” as the metamorphosis of a new monarch, but clearly another one of Mother Nature’s little miracles.

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Wine & Roses – July 5

Tomorrow is the big day – well one of them. This weekend is full of big days, really.

One of the highlights of our House & Garden Tour Weekend is definitely Wine & Roses, Friday July 5, 5pm-7pm.

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Imagine roaming among acres of stunning beauty in the unique setting of Canada’s Garden of the Year, wine glass in hand and the sweet aroma of roses in the air, while you listen to the sultry sounds of jazz… you’ve just imagined yourself at “Wine & Roses”, a special evening in the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens on Friday July 5, 5-7pm.

Wine & Roses has become a hallmark community event, occurring on the eve of the popular Annapolis Royal House & Garden Tour. Thousands of rose blossoms, wine in hand, music in the air… it is simply a magical experience.

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Your $20 ticket entitles you to admission, food, and entertainment. Cash bar. If you are a 2019 Gardens Member (yet ANOTHER reason to become a member) you save $5 off that ticket price. For even greater value there is a combo deal on Wine & Roses and the House & Garden Tour the following day. Please check www.ExploreOurGardens.com for details.

This is a “rain or shine” event. Bring an umbrella and wander the gardens, or find shelter in the Gardens Interpretive Centre and Elm Tree Café.

Wine & Roses provides a unique opportunity to enjoy one of Nova Scotia’s treasures! Tickets may be purchased online, at the Historic Gardens, or by calling the Gardens at (902) 532-7018.

House & Garden Tour Weekend – July 5-7

In Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, an International Communities in Bloom winner, we are proud of our heritage buildings and for the history held within their walls.  We are equally proud to share our many special gardens, and the stories that they tell. 

We invite you to join us July 5-7, 2019 for House & Garden Tour Weekend in Annapolis Royal.

Friday evening’s Wine & Roses provides a great start to the weekend experience, followed by a walk downtown and a Candlelight Graveyard Tour. The Annapolis Royal House & Garden Tour, our hallmark event, will fill your Saturday with visits to some of the wonderful properties in Annapolis Royal and surrounding area! And our Sunday series includes a bouquet of “day after” activities to allow you to explore various aspects of this wonderful community. Take a closer look by following the links below!

Friday, July 5, 5-7pmWine & Roses

Saturday, July 6, 11am-4pmAnnapolis Royal House & Garden Tour

Sunday, July 7, 9am-5pm – Sunday Series

Please explore www.ExploreOurGardens.com to get a taste of the experiences being offered, and plan your weekend in Annapolis Royal now! 

Arnold Promise

Witch Hazel 'Arnold Promise'

Much to the delight of our visitors, we were able to exhibit several Witch Hazel cuttings at an event recently, taken from the shrubs at the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens. This one is ‘Arnold Promise’, one of the Arnold Arboretum’s most famous plant introductions. We really love its striking yellow tendrils, and always look forward to it blossoming in the Gardens in late winter.

To read more about this stunning plant, we refer you to an Arnold Arboretum blog post: https://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/the-ultimate-early-bloomer/

Cedar of Lebanon

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Another of our noteworthy trees in the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens is the Cedar of Lebanon (cedrus libani). A slow growing tree that can live thousands of years, the Cedar of Lebanon has existed in the world for many millennia and is often said to have been planted by God. (Ours, of course, is still very young by comparison!) There are many biblical references to the Cedar of Lebanon – a symbol of strength, beauty and majesty.

A mature Cedar of Lebanon has a massive trunk, a flattened top and broad spreading horizontal branching. Lower branches typically remain on the tree as it ages, often touching the ground. It is a slow-growing tree that will typically grow to 40-60’ tall.  The needles resemble those of the larch, but are evergreen. The needles are grouped in tufts of 30-40, are a dark blue-green color, and stay attached to the tree for 2 years. When they fall to the ground they don’t decay for several years.

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The tree has had many practical uses throughout its existence. One of the most valued construction timbers in ancient history, the wood was used by the Phoenicians to build ships, and by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and Persians to construct houses and temples. Cedar resin was used for mummification, and its bark used for various medicinal purposes. The Ottomans used cedar wood as fuel for railway engines. And the list goes on.

The tree is symbolic of Lebanon and still graces its flag, yet after millennia of harvesting the tree is in trouble.  In 1876, Queen Victoria ordered a protective wall to be built around a 102-hectare grove, but deforestation continued despite this. In recent decades the cedars have been declared a protected natural resource. By then, this immense forest had been reduced to just a couple of hundred specimens that grew in a handful of isolated patches.

One of the few remaining stands of ancient cedars is the “Cedars of God”  located in the Qadisha Valley and is said to be the oldest remaining cedar grove in existence. In 1998 it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  While deforestation is not a major problem there now, climate change is a huge concern instead. Global warming has interrupted the natural ability for the trees to viably reproduce, so in recent years there has been an effort to regenerate the cedar forests through planting programs. I refer you to a great article by The New York Times about the current situation.

Our wee Cedar of Lebanon is only an upstart compared to its ancestors, but we hope that future generations will see it continue to grow into a majestic specimen. After all, “A man does not plant a tree for himself; he plants it for posterity.” (Alexander Smith – 1863)

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London Plane – a great winter tree!

London Plane Tree

On a blue-sky winter day like today, we will sometimes get questions from visitors about the funky tree near the street that has “dangling ornaments”. We know immediately they are referring to our London Plane (Platanus × acerifolia), a cross between the American Sycamore and the Oriental planetree.

Our London Plane was planted in 1995, so is still a young tree. It is beautiful in the summer months, with lovely large leaves that resemble maple leaves. (Fun fact: all sycamores, including London plane-trees have alternate branch and leaf arrangement, while all maples have opposite branching.)

But in the winter, when the leaves are gone, one can fully appreciate other features of the tree, including the lovely “dangling ornaments” as well as the great camouflage bark.

Nature's Ornament

The “dangling ornaments” are its fruits which are in aggregates of hundreds in a round ball about 2.5 cm (1″) across. Many remain on the tree into winter, but eventually fall to the ground and break apart.

The other really interesting feature is the bark, which exfoliates to reveal a colourful camouflage pattern. While this feature is present year round, it is often better appreciated in the winter.

London Plane Tree

Our London Plane is also graced with some climbing ivy, adding even more interest.

London Plane Tree

A little extra reading:

An interesting resource about the history of the London Plane is found in an article from, well, London of course! The Secret History of the London Plane Tree.

A Tree for All Seasons – Seven-son Flower

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Another very interesting tree in the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens is the Heptacodium miconioides or Seven-son Flower, located along the path towards our Rose Garden.  Native to China, it is a rare plant and reportedly may no longer be found in the wild.

As the name indicates, the flower heads tend to be comprised of seven flowers. It blooms in late summer, unlike most other trees, providing a September highlight.

Seven Sons

After the blossoms finish, the autumn colour of  its “afterbloom”, comprised of tiny fruit surrounded by showy rose coloured calyces, is stunning.  The tree is a good source of nectar for butterflies.

And of course the incredible exfoliating bark adds year round interest. Today, we have winter photos to show, as it is indeed winter!

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For more information on this unique plant, and other photos, visit the Missouri Botanical Garden plant database. (This is a good resource for information on many plants – you may want to bookmark it!)

Fun fact – While the heptacodium is presumed to be named for the typical number of flowers in a whorl, it features a variety of numbers in its display:

  • 7 flowers
  • 6 petals on each flower
  • 5 calyces on each “afterbloom”

Next time you are in the Historic Gardens, be sure to keep an eye out for this unique garden resident.