A Battle of the Titans!

The race is on! Two giant Titan Arums are in a battle to be the first to bloom this year in the Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse. These giant plants, native to the rainforests of western Sumatra, are growing inch by inch every day, racing to reach maturity and open their enormous maroon blooms.

Titan Arums (Amorphophallus titanum) are the largest unbranched flowers in the world. These giant flowers have measured as tall as 3.1 m (just over 10 feet), as recorded in 2010 for the Guinness World Record holder Louis Ricciardiello.

Amorphophallus -May16,2016

Which Titan Arum will be the first to bloom this year? Anticipation grows each day as Floral Showhouse visitors gaze at the two massive pots and the emerging flower buds within, pushing skyward. The two Titan Arums had been dormant for months, but this past spring fat buds appeared, poking out of the soil and immediately causing a stir. Every day as the flower buds get taller and taller, the excitement grows. It is anticipated that the first flower will open and share its pungent aroma sometime around mid-June, but when the bloom opens is totally up to the plant! After that, the bloom for the second plant won’t be far behind.

Titan Arums may be impressive because they are the world’s tallest flowers, but they also have one of the foulest odours in the plant world. In their native dense jungles, the plants pollinate by using their scent to attract carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies. The potency of the aroma gradually increases from late evening, when the flower fully opens, until the middle of night and then tapers off as morning arrives. Titan Arum flowers usually are open for just a day or two.

A Titan Arum grows from the water and nutrients stored in its large, underground corm (which is like a huge, round potato). As the plant grows, the corm gets larger, and after about 10 years, the corm can reach blooming size. Several other Titan Arums are currently in leaf at the Floral Showhouse. Don’t miss the opportunity to see Clive, who bloomed last year, unfurl a massive leaf over the next few weeks that could reach 20 ft (6 m).

Come check out the Titan Arums on display at the Floral Showhouse, open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You’ll also enjoy the beauty of the Hydrangea Show on during the entire month of May.

Lilacs at Last!

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Lilacs are in bloom at the Niagara Parks Centennial Lilac Garden. After much anticipation of these blooms, it’s perfectly clear why these flowers attract so many instant fans and bring back admirers year after year – they are a beautiful sight and a scent-sation!   At the Centennial Lilac Garden, it’s hard to resist the urge to dart from flower to flower, inhaling the sweet lilac fragrance – at perfect nose height. There are over 1,200 plants in the 4 hectare (10 acre) garden that features 200 different types of lilacs with single or double white, pink or purple blooms. The garden contains many French hybrid lilacs developed by Victor Lemoine and his son Emile in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Over their lifetime, these two plant hybridizers introduced 214 lilac cultivars to the nursery world. The Niagara Parks Centennial Lilac Garden has many lilacs developed by the Lemoine family, including:

  • ‘Dr. Maillot’, a double, lilac coloured, introduced in 1895;
  • ‘Charles Joly’, a double, deep reddish purple, introduced in 1896; and
  • ‘Miss Ellen Willmott’, a double, white, introduced in 1902.

For many people, lilacs can bring back fond memories – memories of visiting grandma’s flower garden, having vases on the kitchen table brimming with exuberant blooms, or the celebrations of the first family outing of the summer season with a picnic at a local park.

Highly anticipated because they mostly bloom just once a year, lilacs have large panicles of flowers that are intensely fragrant with double- or single-flower petals that are predominantly light purple, dark burgundy, white, pale yellow or pink. Lilacs are slow-growing, long-lived shrubs or small trees with heart-shaped leaves.

Pruning out the flowers immediately after they start to shrivel encourages lots of blooms for the following year. Delaying removal of the finished blooms until summer, fall or the next spring will sacrifice some future flowers. Lilacs produce blooms on the previous year’s growth – buds for May blooms will have formed the previous summer – and they will produce more flowers if they are pruned only lightly. Also, if lilacs are pruned too heavily then the plant could compensate for this by producing an excess of new, leafy growth at the expense of future flowers.

Lilac leaves are food for some butterfly larvae in eastern North America, such as for the promethea silkmoth and the wild cherry sphinx. Lilacs in bloom provide nectar for adult monarch butterflies and the nessus sphinx moth.

The Niagara Parks Centennial Lilac Garden was created in 1967 to commemorate Canada’s 100th year. The Rotary Clubs of District 709 from the U.S. side of the border on the Niagara Frontier contributed funds towards the development of this unique garden.

Come give your nose a feast. The Niagara Parks Centennial Lilac Garden is located at 14004 Niagara Parkway between the Floral Clock and the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge in Queenston, Ontario. Admission and parking is free of charge. You can also get there on WEGO, which stops at the nearby Floral Clock.

Other nose-worthy plantings of lilacs can be found just south of the Niagara Parks Floral Showcase and near the Parkway entrance to the Dufferin Islands Nature Area (also both on the WEGO Green Line).

Feast on the Parkway: A Culinary Crawl through Niagara Parks

 

Last week, we invited over two dozen food and travel media to experience locally sourced food and wine pairings at our five unique dining destinations. Here’s a taste of what we served up!

Photo by @OCTA_licious via Twitter

Photo by @OCTA_licious via Twitter

 

Queenston Heights Restaurant

Our first stop on the culinary crawl was the historic Queenston Heights Restaurant, located 15 minutes north of Niagara Falls on the Niagara Parkway, at the foot of Brock’s Monument. Nestled high atop the Niagara Escarpment in the quaint village of Queenston, the restaurant overlooks the winding Niagara River and the manicured gardens of Queenston Heights Park.

 

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Photo by @karencng via Instagram

 

At Queenston Heights Restaurant, guests sipped on Trius Merlot while enjoying Chef Bill Greenan’s Braised Ontario Short Ribs on a bed of Sundried Tomato and Arugula Risotto. During the meal, we discussed how Niagara Parks Culinary is working with the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA) to achieve full Feast ON certification at all of five of our full-service restaurants. Three of our five restaurants are currently Feast ON certified, with the remaining two aiming to receive their certifications later this year. The Feast ON accreditation recognizes businesses committed to showcasing Ontario’s unique taste of place and is awarded to restaurants following a rigorous review of their menus and food purchase history. Through the Feast ON program, Niagara Parks is helping to support and profile Ontario products while bringing particular focus to the Niagara region and our local producers.

 

Photo by @eatdrinktravels via Twitter

Photo by @eatdrinktravels via Twitter

 

Whirlpool Restaurant

Our next stop was Whirlpool Restaurant, located on the grounds of one of Canada’s most highly rated and renowned public golf courses. Whirlpool Golf Course was designed by famous golf course architect Stanley Thompson and officially opened on July 2, 1951. The course will be celebrating its 65th anniversary this summer.

The airy dining room at Whirlpool Restaurant offered the group panoramic views of the tree-lined Niagara Parkway that runs alongside the course. Chef Tim VandeLaar served up a creamy Asparagus and Forest Mushroom Soup with Quinoa Salad with Micro Greens. The dish paired perfectly with a glass of Reif Estate’s Pinot Grigio.

 

octa

Photo by @OCTA_licious via Twitter

 

Whirlpool Aero Car

On our way to Legends on the Niagara, we stopped to take a ride on the 100-year-old Whirlpool Aero Car and sampled hand crafted sweets from Pop and Lolly’s Candy Shop.

2016 marks the centennial anniversary for the Whirlpool Aero Car, which was designed by Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo. The Whirlpool Aero Car soars 3,500 feet across the Canadian side of the Niagara River and offers riders panoramic views of both the swirling waters below and surrounding gorge scenery.

 

Photo by @saradomini via Instagram

Photo by @saradomini via Instagram

 

 Legends on the Niagara Restaurant

Next we travelled south along the Niagara Parkway passed Table Rock, the Floral Showhouse and the site of the Battle of Chippawa to arrive at Legends on the Niagara Golf Course. Located inside the golf course’s grand clubhouse, Legends on the Niagara Restaurant is situated on the rolling greens that border historic War of 1812 grounds.

Here, Chef Chris Brown served up tender Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Rosemary Chutney, with a side of spicy Pad Thai Noodles. The dish was paired with a glass of Creekside Syrah.

 

Photo by @sincerelykn via Instagram

 

Queen Victoria Place Restaurant

Our next stop was Queen Victoria Place Restaurant, located in the heart of Queen Victoria Park which overlooks the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls. Constructed in 1904, the building was the former residence of the Commissioners of Niagara Parks.

As it enters its 112th year in the heart of Queen Victoria Park, Queen Victoria Place Restaurant offers guests a true taste of Niagara with locally sourced cuisine presented in the indoor dining room or on the outdoor terrace.

 

Photo by @angeliesood via Twitter

Photo by @angeliesood via Twitter

 

At Queen Victoria Place Restaurant, we sampled Chef Sidney Krick’s flaky Northern Rainbow Trout wrapped in a Spinach and Sweet Potato Strudel with Shoal Lake Wild Rice. The dish was paired with Jackson Triggs’ Reserve Chardonnay.

 

eatingniagara 2

Photo by @eatingniagara via Twitter

 

During the meal, Lindsay from WildPlay Niagara Falls spoke to guests about two brand new attractions opening in Niagara Parks later this summer. WildPlay’s MistRider Zipline to the Falls will be opening just north of Queen Victoria Place at Grandview Marketplace, at the base of Clifton Hill. Riders will soar on four parallel ziplines, travelling 670 metres (2,200 feet) through the wide river gorge, and will enjoy panoramic views of the American and Canadian Horseshoe Falls. WildPlay’s Whirlpool Adventure Course will also be opening later this summer at Thompson’s Point, offering three self-paced courses including dozens of climbing, ziplining, jumping, and swinging aerial games.

 

Elements on the Falls

The last stop on the culinary crawl was Elements on the Falls. Situated on the upper level of Table Rock Centre, only steps from the brink of Horseshoe Falls, Elements on the Falls offers an unforgettable view of the falls any time of the year.

At Elements on the Falls, guests dined on a timbale of Spaghetti Squash and Bean Pulses, served with Hemp Seed Ratatouille and a Maple Vidal Drizzle. Chef Elbert’s work of art was paired with Château des Charmes’ Gamay Noir.

 

niagarafied 4

Photo by @niagarafied via Twitter

 

For dessert, guests enjoyed Raspberry and Peach Sorbet on Pear Sponge Cake. The sorbet and sponge cake was cloaked with a white chocolate dome which was then melted by pouring the decadent Cherry-Scented Hot Chocolate Sauce atop the dessert.

 

Photo by @feedmyphone via Twitter

 

 

Experience local cuisine with Niagara Parks, Ontario’s only 56 kilometre outdoor adventure museum, by visiting any five of the full-service restaurants listed above. Looking for more adventure? Check out Niagara Parks Attractions located on the Niagara Parkway with one of our Niagara Falls Adventure Passes.

Feast on the Parkway was presented by Niagara Parks Culinary, with gracious support from WildPlay Niagara Falls. For more information on dining in Niagara Parks, please visit www.niagaraparks.com/dining.