Niagara Parks’ Botanical Gardens is located on the scenic Niagara Parkway and the Great Gorge, just a 10 minute drive north of the Niagara Falls. This beautiful garden setting is home to the Butterfly Conservatory and serves as the unique outdoor classroom for students attending the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. Established in 1936, you’ll enjoy 40 hectares (99 acres) of beautifully maintained gardens. Enjoy perennials, rhododendrons, azaleas, formal parterre garden, shade, herb and vegetable plantings, as well as our world-famous rose garden featuring over 2,400 roses.

floral-clock4-2-610x4052The Floral Clock is a very popular stop on the Niagara Parkway and is photographed almost as often as the Falls! The planted face is maintained by Niagara Parks horticulture staff, while the mechanism is kept in working order by Ontario Hydro, the organization that originally built the clock. The intricate designs on the face of the timepiece are created with up to 16,000 carpet bedding plants. The floral design is changed twice each year, featuring viola in the Spring and four cultivars of Alternanthera along with green and grey forms of Santolina Sage during the Summer and Fall. California Golden Privet and Blue Festuca Grass may be used for contrast. The grounds surrounding the clock feature bedding displays and a tower at the back of the clock houses Westminster chimes that greet each quarter hour. If the door into the tower is open, you can take a glimpse at the clock mechanism and enjoy photographs that show the history of almost every face design all the way back to 1950.

At the entrance to Queenston Heights Park you will be greeted by carpet bedding displays, along with formalized annual bedding schemes that surround both the Brock and Laura Secord Monuments. Nestled high atop the Niagara Escarpment, this is the birthplace of Niagara Falls – garden and nature lovers, hikers and picnickers have used this park for generations. Facilities include two picnic pavilions, washrooms, children’s splash pad, tennis courts, a band shell, snack bar, children’s playground and fine dining at Queenston Heights Restaurant. The Park is also a terminus point of the Bruce Trail, which winds it way northward over several hundred kilometers to Tobermory. The Bruce Trail passes through the Niagara Escarpment, which has been recognized as a world biosphere by U.N.E.S.C.O. Finally, Parks Canada oversees the operation of Brock’s Monument and also has a walking tour of the historic sites associated with this important battleground.

IMG_0070The Niagara Glen is a unique spot of beauty deep in the Great Gorge that has been a designated Nature Reserve since 1992. Stairways lead to 4 km (2.5 mi) of paths that wind through a pristine pocket of Carolinian Forest, past boulders left behind as the Falls eroded through the area thousands of years ago. Visitors should be aware that hikes through the Niagara Glen involve an elevation change of over 60 m (200 ft). Proper footwear suitable for steep and rugged terrain is required. The trails are well laid out and easily negotiated if you take your time! There’s lots of interesting geology and biology to explore. The Niagara Glen is a Nature Reserve that contains wild flora and fauna (plants and animals). Please observe all posted regulations, stay on trails that are marked and follow generally accepted trail etiquette. Fires are not permitted ake only photos, leave only footprints! The Niagara Glen overlooks the Niagara River Whirlpool, a unique natural phenomenon that you must see to believe! Thousands of years ago, as the Niagara River slowly eroded its way through the Niagara Escarpment, creating the Great Gorge, a right-angle turn in the river’s path forced the rushing water into a deep counter-clockwise spin.

winery┬áNiagara-on-the-Lake, often called the loveliest town in Ontario, has a long and distinguished history. Stroll back through history and enjoy world class theatre, fine dining, shopping, our estate wineries, farm markets and historical sites. Site of the old Neutral Indian village of Onghiara, it was settled at the close of the American Revolution by Loyalists coming to Upper Canada, many of whom had been members of the much feared Butler’s Rangers based during the American Revolution at Fort Niagara, then under British control. In 1781 the British Government purchased land from the Mississaugas; a strip of land 6 miles wide along the western bank of the Niagara River for “300 suits of clothing”.

By 1782, 16 families had become established and had cleared 236 acres. In 1791 part of the military reserve at the mouth of the river was chosen as the future townsite. In 1792, Newark – as it was named by Governor Simcoe, became the first capital of the newly-created colony of Upper Canada, and the legislature met here for five sessions, until Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe moved the capital to York. By 1796, 70 new homes were built, and the town continued to prosper as the economic, administrative and judicial centre for the Niagara Peninsula. The physical appearance of the town, with the exception of the powder magazine at Fort George was virtually erased by the burning of the town by the Americans during the war of 1812.

Rebuilt, Niagara became an active commercial centre, with a busy shipping and ship-building industry, as well as many shops and warehouses. The beautiful old homes lining the tree-shaded streets attest to the prosperity of its citizens.