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All aboard VIA Rail’s Garden Route

Train journey links some of Canada’s most incredible gardens

03 July 2013
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There’s something about a train journey: the soothing rhythm of the rails and the gentle back-and-forth rocking motion top an hour on the therapist’s couch. It reins in life’s frenetic pace. Gives perspective.

The same could be said of time spent in a garden. Being enveloped by nature: a palette of flowers and the fragrance of blooms. Soothing. Calming.

Combine the two – some of Canada’s greatest public gardens with the country’s train routes – and there’s a relaxation reward worth its weight in gold. That’s the beauty of the VIA Rail Garden Route.

From coast to coast, the Garden Route touches 19 feature gardens and dozens of award-winning Communities in Bloom.

The steel rails between Toronto and Vancouver on The Canadian link some of Canada’s most unique gardens:

The Butchart Gardens flaunt Victoria’s milder climate with four seasons of colour – spring bulbs, a summer rose garden, summer perennials and Japanese maples shifting to red and gold.

• Near Edmonton is Devonian Botanic Garden, Canada’s northernmost botanical garden. Almost 200 acres of formal gardens and natural areas include an alpine garden, rose garden, butterfly garden and a sensory/healing setting.

• In Winnipeg – the heart of the Prairies – Assiniboine Park’s Leo Mol Sculpture Garden intertwines art and nature with the placement of sculpture among the stunning gardens.

• The Toronto Music Garden is designed as six “movements,” inspired by a Bach cello classic. Three acres include swirling paths and lake views – each dance movement within the musical suite corresponds to a different part of the garden.

Southern Ontario’s routes shuttle green thumb gardeners from Windsor to Ottawa and Cornwall, and for the scenic hop from Toronto to Niagara Falls:

• Along the Niagara Parkway, the enormous Floral Clock contains 20,000 carpet bedding plants in designs changed twice annually. The clock’s Westminster chimes ring on the quarter hour.

• In the heart of Québec’s Gatineau Park (minutes from Ottawa), the picturesque gardens of the Mackenzie King Estate are part of the rural retreat of Canada’s longest-serving prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Eastward, VIA’s Ocean route connects Montréal and Halifax:

• In scenic St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Kingsbrae Garden includes a cedar maze, woodland walking trails and more than 50,000 perennials in themed gardens.

• Nova Scotia’s Acadian heritage lives in nature at the Historic Gardens, overlooking a tidal river valley in Annapolis Royal. The gardens highlight methods and designs from more than four centuries of local history.

Follow us on Twitter @DestinationCAN / Suggested Tweet: @VIA_RAIL @butchartgardens @DevonianGarden @assiniboinepark @NiagaraParks @HistoricGardens goo.gl/kDg6G

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