From the moment I arrived at Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, my camera didn’t stop clicking. First there were the vivid orange begonias in the urn perched on the low stone wall in the entrance courtyard. Then the water rill called out for attention. Walking through the opening in the 10-foot (3-m) cedar hedge and into the perennial garden, my camera and I were drawn to a clump of pink lady slippers, then to the tiny scarlet and purple spikes of a drift of primulas and then on to a border filled with tangerine-coloured poppies. And that was just the beginning of my visit to this 27-acre garden, which opened in 1998.
Although the perennial garden is at the heart of the site, there’s much more to see, including a knot and rose garden, a labyrinth planted with thyme, a bird and butterfly garden, and a gravel garden where drought-tolerant plants thrive. And there’s more: a white garden and a blue garden; a heath and heather garden that must look amazing in early spring; an orchard; and an ornamental grass garden. Not only are all of these areas picture-perfect, but they offer lessons for gardeners looking for colourful plant combinations, plants that attract pollinators or ideas for a children’s garden.
Much of my time, though, was spent exploring the garden’s collection of rare dwarf conifers. Donated by retired forester William Journeay, the trees and shrubs in this section are intriguing. From perfectly round balls of black spruce to alien-like weeping larches, the collection surprises and delights. It may, in fact, be the only one of its kind in Canada, so be sure to check it out when you visit.
Throughout the gardens, I noticed that birds chirped non-stop, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that Kingsbrae is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary — the first in the province. About 65 bird species have been sighted at Kingsbrae, from ruby-throated hummingbirds to red-eyed vireos.