Category Archives: Gardens

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!

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).

It’s Tulip Time!

It has been a fantastic spring for daffodils at Niagara Parks and many are still blooming along the Niagara Parkway. As the month of May progresses though, many more new blooms are opening each day – forming a grand floral pageant. Now in bloom are many native wildflowers, crabapple trees full of pink, white or red petals, white blooming serviceberry shrubs, and viola hanging baskets along the Niagara Parkway median through Queen Victoria Park, just north of the Falls. Each hanging basket contains over 100 viola plants, filled with cheery yellow, blue and orange blooms.

The Floral Clock just gets better and better each day as more viola blooms unfurl on each of the 10,000 plants that make up the design of the clock face. The Spring Floral Clock made up of viola flowers will be in place until late May, when the second face will be planted with carpet bedding plants for the summer season.

Serviceberry shrubs are at their best now with masses of white flowers and can be found at the Botanical Garden and Aero Car as well as many other locations throughout Niagara Parks. Later in the summer these shrubs will have delicious blueberry-like fruits that are much loved by birds and humans alike. Serviceberries are related to the famed “saskatoons” that home cooks on the Prairies use to make their famous berry jam.

At the Niagara Glen, the native wildflowers have awakened from their winter slumber and are putting on a spectacular show. One of the most notable wildflowers is the trillium, with its distinctive whorl of three leaves. Recently, the pure-white, three-petalled flowers have unfurled. The white blooms of the trillium hold a special place in the hearts of Ontario residents – it’s the provincial flower. Another native woodland plant, the trout lily (also called dog’s-tooth violet) is blooming on the forest floor too. The distinctive spotted leaves apparently reminded an early botanist of brook trout, and so it was given the common name of trout lily. Another common name, dog’s-tooth violet, refers to the toothlike shape of the white underground bulb. Regardless of which name you use, the beautiful carpets of these yellowish-bronze, nodding flowers are a delight along many of the Niagara Parks woodland trails.

Crabapples and redbuds are adding to the floral excitement at many locations along the Parkway. Particularly showy are the rosy pink crabapples that create a vista through the arboretum at the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden. Also adding to the plethora of pinks and lavenders that abound right now are the redbud trees with their delicate blooms. Taking a close look will reveal that each bloom is shaped like a pea flower. There are many nice plantings of redbud trees at the Botanical Garden and Floral Clock. Near the redbuds at the Floral Clock there are also several flowering dogwoods with their showy white flower-like bracts.

Tulips are putting on their own tremendous display at many garden locations along the Niagara Parkway. These bulbs were planted last fall and have patiently waited until now to showcase all their blooming glory. In the Table Rock Welcome Centre area at the Falls and at Oakes Garden Theatre are deep red Bastogne tulips – a favorite for its reliable blooms and intense colour. The area around Queen Victoria Place Restaurant is bold with yellow Golden Oxford tulips now and will soon be joined by the deep maroon-red colour of National Velvet. Golfers visiting the Legends on the Niagara clubhouse will enjoy another yellow tulip, a double called Monte Carlo. The median beds down the center of the Parkway through Queen Victoria Park are a nice colour combination of three tulips with white daffodils for a showy blooming display through the entire month of May. Additional picturesque tulip displays are at the Floral Clock, Floral Showhouse and at the Botanical Gardens.

Bloom Alert

Blooms are bursting out all over Niagara Parks and one of the favourites for many visitors is the lilacs. Soon the lilacs will be in full bloom at the Niagara Parks Centennial Lilac Garden, just north of the Floral Clock on the Niagara Parkway. Always a highlight, the lilacs offer an abundance of scents and sights when they are in full bloom. It’s hard to resist the urge to dart from flower to flower inhaling the sweet lilac fragrance in the 10 acre garden. There are about 200 different varieties of white, pink and purple lilacs and over 1,200 plants in the garden. So come give your nose a feast.