Who's watching you from the trees at Annapolis Royal's Historic Gardens?
Have you ever had that unnerving feeling that someone or something is watching you while you travel? Knowing that a set (or several sets!) of eyes are on you but you just can't tell where they're coming from? That was definitely my experience while visiting the Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia - but it wasn't scary at all. In fact, the garden actually wanted it that way!
34 sets of bird eyes are watching you from nooks and crannies of the garden's trees and shrubs but visitors have nothing to fear. These are charming ceramic birds, made with Nova Scotia clay, and there's one for every year the gardens have been open. I've never seen a piece of artwork quite like this before and it immediately elevated the Historic Gardens to one of the best art experiences I've ever had.
Local artist Shauna MacLeod wants visitors to the garden to ponder the question of whether the guests are watching the birds or if the birds are watching the guests. One bird in particular that I was especially fond of watching myself was "Isobel". Isobel is a black crow - a very Nova Scotian bird - and she's the largest in the collection. Isobel looks like she's just waiting to open her mouth and squawk! I know that visitors of all ages will love her as much as I did.
The ceramic birds weren't the only pieces of sculpture at the Historic Gardens. Everywhere I looked there were pieces of art made from many materials, including the natural grass sculpture in the picture above - it looks like a romantic coupling of a husband and wife from a distance!
The Historic Gardens represent four centuries of gardening techniques and heritage in the area, including Aboriginal and Acadian history. They also offer workshops on everything from floral photography to basket making.
The seasonal planting plan means that there is always something in bloom from the beginning of spring to the end of autumn, ensuring an amazing visit no matter when you go. And go you should - especially when you see where you can sleep and eat!
Where to sleep and eat near Annapolis Royal
During my time in Nova Scotia, I stayed at the Digby Pines Resort, which is 30 minutes away from the gardens. A hotel has been on the property since 1903, which has fantastic views of the Bay of Fundy. Staring out at the beautiful blue water, I really felt like I was truly home on the east coast again. I enjoyed sweet slumbers in the comfy king sized bed but the real highlight of the visit for me was Digby Pines' incredible food. It was Canadian comfort food at its finest!
Digby Pines is committed to local food, including serving up famous Digby scallops. But I was tempted by other fare, including a kind of build your own bruschetta and a delicious salmon filet. It was the perfect setting for a relaxing meal at the end of a full day.
I've always maintained that Nova Scotia is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world and a visit to the Historic Gardens of Annapolis Royal only adds to the charm of your east coast visit. It's always an eye opening experience when you discover some unexpected art - especially when the art is watching you back!
Have you been to Nova Scotia before? What was your experience like?
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My time in Nova Scotia was facilitated in part by a press trip. All research, writing, and opinions remain my own.