Destination - A relaxing stroll through Kingsbrae Garden

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St. Andrew, New Brunswick - Created on a former grand estate, KingsbraeHorticulturalGarden’s 27-acre hilltop grounds showcase some 50,000 trees, shrubs and perennials in a score of separate gardens.

Created on a former grand estate, KingsbraeHorticulturalGarden’s 27-acre hilltop grounds showcase some 50,000 trees, shrubs and perennials in a score of separate gardens. Though you may not be a gardener or even own land for a garden, there’s something here for everyone’s enjoyment.

Strolling through Kingsbrae, immersed in the interplay of colors and textures amid the ever-changing light, is an experience. And you needn’t read the labels giving the Latin and common names of every plant to enjoy the walk. Everywhere there are colorful plantings, playful sculptures and life — not just enthusiastic visitors and diligent employees, but also butterflies and hummingbirds, goats and ducks, cats and peacocks, even two dogs to keep the deer away.

A self-guided trail meanders through the grounds, beginning with the formal gardens of the original estate. Here, 100-year old cedar hedges frame the Knot, Rose and Perennial gardens, and form the Cedar Maze that emerges into the Fiddlehead Labyrinth. Beyond are informal gardens, divided by color, species, season and mission. All were created and are maintained using environmentally friendly techniques.

Most visitors just enjoy the colors and the unexpected whimsical sculptures: “flower pot people,” a foul-weather-clad fisherman floating in a small boat, metal figures with “changeable hair-dos” made of living plants, among others. The motion of the stained glass and wrought iron stabile is reminiscent of the nearby 1/3-scale Dutch windmill built in Holland, which pumps water to the upper irrigation pond.

Youngsters likely will prefer the FantasyGarden, where the playhouse has a plant-covered roof; a chair, bed and Loch Ness monster are of moss; and the fence is of living apple suckers. Munching on strawberries and tomatoes in the EdibleGarden also is a treat.

Horticulturalists will thrill to see the Wollemi pine seedling, remnant of a species that flourished during the Jurassic era 200 million years ago and was presumed extinct. The seedling was propagated from a tree discovered in an Australian rain forest in 1994. That discovery “is the equivalent of finding a small dinosaur still alive on Earth,” writes professor Carrick Chambers, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia. Fewer than 100 Wollemi pines exist in the wild, making it one of the world’s oldest and rarest trees. Acquired at auction, the 3-foot plant was coddled and quarantined for three months before arriving at KingsbraeGarden in 2006. (Proceeds from the Sotheby’s auction went to preserve the undisclosed original habitat.)

The Garden Café offers gifts, art, light meals and a spacious lawn for croquet and bocce. Ranked among Canada’s Top 10 public gardens, Kingsbrae is up King Street from MarketWharf. It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (including holidays), May 16 to Oct. 11. Admission is $9.75 for adults, $8.25 for students and seniors, and $23.50 for a family (two adults and their children under 18). Children under 6 are free. www.kingsbraegarden.com

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