Kingsbrea Gardens and the Atlantic Salmon Interpretive Center - July 16
Today we plan to move to Saint John, but on the way out of St. Andrews we want to stop and see the Kingsbrea Gardens, which are quite famous in this part of Canada. Like everything in St. Andrews they are only a mile from our campground and easy to get to and find parking.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a prettier or more comfortable and inviting a town than St. Andrews. The houses are so neat and clean, and the flowers and trees around them are so colorful and green that driving through any residential neighborhood is a treat for the senses. And to add to the charm there are ocean and bay views down many of the streets. This is an old town, dating back to the time of the American Revolution, and like Savannah, Georgia it is laid out in a grid with blocks for public buildings and parks, and designed with an eye toward defense.
We found ample parking in the lot at Kingsbrea Gardens, and even in the parking lot we were struck by the brilliant color of the lavishly planted flower beds and planters. The geezer entry fee was a modest $6.00, and after seeing the gardens it’s hard to see how they can maintain such a large (27 acre) and gorgeous garden on such a low income. One of the gardeners said that in the summer they will need a staff of up to 25 - 30 people just to maintain it, and by the looks of it even that many people would still have a lot to do.
They offer guided tours, but a movie crew was on the premises and there were no guides available, so we just took our time and spent the next few hours guiding ourselves. They have so many things to see here. There are gravel gardens, edible berry gardens, organic vegetable gardens, therapeutic gardens, pine and fir gardens, azalea and rhododendron gardens, and even a ‘secret garden.’ There are ponds, and goat and peacock compounds. There are gardens planted specially for children, and in one garden children are invited to even help with the planting.
There are every kind of flower we’d ever heard of, and some, like the Tumbleweed Onion that we had never heard of. Every plant looks healthy and well cared for, and the net effect of the whole place is to leave you feeling like it is the finest garden you’ve ever seen, anywhere. And all this on a sunny day with incredibly blue skies overhead. Perfect.
We ended with a walk along their ‘scarecrow’ display. These are scarecrows created by local people and groups in competition with each other, and the emphasis is on sCAREcrows. This meaning ‘care’ for the hungry and homeless, who benefit from the proceeds of the project. The people’s choice winner was the ‘Tinman’.
We had lunch at their café which overlooks a spacious lawn where they have bocce and croquet games set up for anyone who wishes to play. It has a view of the bay, and while we were waiting for our food a huge bald eagle flew over and past us. We dined on an excellent seafood chowder that was made of scallops, shrimp, salmon and lobster, and before leaving we bought a glass ladybug magnet for our stove hood. They release ladybugs here for pest control, and there is a slight smell of vinegar in the air, which they use to organically discourage any weeds.
We left the gardens and headed east out of St. Andrews, but after only a few miles we stopped again, this time at an Atlantic Salmon Interpretive Center, owned and operated by the Atlantic Salmon Federation that promotes the protection of the species, as well as the farming of Atlantic Salmon for food and for the local economy.
A nice young woman guided us on a tour of their small museum and their stream display, which has a large aquarium built into the stream for about twenty full grown salmon. They were big and fat, and most bore the marks of their years surviving in the open ocean. There were scars and lesions on their bodies, and nearly all of them had at least one chunk missing out of a fin or tail. Atlantic Salmon do not die after spawning as Pacific Salmon do. They return to spawn as much as eight times turning from silver to black on their backs after spawning. After the tour we took one of their two trails. One leads up to the lake that is the source of their stream, and the other leads down to the bay where their stream empties into the ocean. We followed the stream up to the lake.
From there we pushed on toward St. John, but after stopping in St. George for groceries we decided to camp for the night at a Provincial campground at the little town of New River. The campground is in the woods, but has a nice beach where we took a late evening walk down to watch the tides. This is right on the Bay of Fundy, and the tide here is amazing. When we got there it had ebbed and was starting to flow again, and so we got to go down on the sand and experience the rhythm of the incoming surf under a nearly full moon.
Back home we could still hear the waves, and so again we were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the sea. Last time was at Hatteras Island with the famous light winking over the dunes, and now at the Bay of Fundy with the famous tides flowing and ebbing. How truly blessed and grateful we are.