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Nature, Art & Food at the New Brunswick Botanical Garden, Edmundston, Canada

By alison - September 23, 2016 (Updated: October 24, 2016)

The New Brunswick Botanical Garden, in Edmundston, Canada

We visit the New Brunswick Botanical Garden, in Edmundston, Canada, a hidden gem of nature, art, and great food.

Over the past dozen years, we’ve tromped all over Europe in search of stunning gardens. The sad (but all too common) fact is, I had never visited the botanical garden in my home province in Canada. Granted, the New Brunswick Botanical Garden isn’t exactly in my backyard. Saint John to Edmundston, NB, is roughly four hours by car. Still, we’ve driven much farther on a whim (or for lunch).

It was high-time we visited Edmundston, a bustling little city, in the northwestern hook of NB, near the Quebec and Maine borders. We planned a three-night tour, in partnership with Tourisme Edmundston, to discover the food, culture, and history of this unique region, and the Botanical Garden was the perfect place to begin our discovery.

Edmundston, New Brunswick's Botanical Garden

Edmundston, New Brunswick’s Botanical Garden and Cafe Flora

As all good adventures should begin with lunch, we arranged to meet our guide, Janice, from Tourisme Edmundston, at the garden’s Café Flora for a bite to eat.  The café features fresh, local menu items and lunch offerings include the expected soups, salads, and sandwiches, but also tacos, crepes, fish burgers and other surprises. And, let’s face it, on a hot July day, there are a lot worse places to dine than Café Flora’s shady terrace overlooking the Botanical Garden’s waterfall.

Lunch with a view at Cafe Flora

Lunch with a view at Cafe Flora

My fish tacos were crispy, fresh, and just spicy enough, while Andrew’s crunchy baguette was stuffed with fresh veggies, apple, bacon, and brie. Paired with fresh squeezed lemonade, it was a refreshing and delicious meal.

Sharing the building with the café is the garden’s gift shop, information desk, washrooms, and the butterfly house. It’s always fun to get up close and personal with tropical butterflies, and we could see how drawn children are to this particular corner of the garden.

Beautiful butterflies at the New Brunswick Botanical Garden

Beautiful butterflies at the New Brunswick Botanical Garden
Up close and personal with butterflies in Edmundston

Up close and personal with butterflies in Edmundston

The Botanical Garden itself is no small space. This 8ha (20 acre) area is divided into 11 themed gardens and two arboretums – that’s a lot of plants. The garden’s northeastern border is the Madawaska River, and water also plays an important role throughout the space, with ponds, streams, and even a waterfall as central features.

Water plays an important role inside the Botanical Gardens, in Edmundston

Water plays an important role inside the Botanical Gardens, in Edmundston

We explored the various themed gardens: perennials, annuals, alpine, conifers, shade, and an enchanting rose garden.

The Rose Garden is a sensory (and scent-sory) experience.

The Rose Garden is a sensory (and scent-sory) experience.
Stunning blooms can be found throughout the Botanical Garden

Stunning blooms can be found throughout the Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden also includes a few unexpected features. There is an herbalist’s garden and pavilion where you can attend workshops on medicinal, culinary, and cosmetic uses for plants.

The Herbalist's pavilion at the NB Botanical Garden

The Herbalist’s pavilion at the NB Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden even has plots of veggies used in the cafe and also as a community food project

The Botanical Garden even has plots of veggies used in the cafe and also as a community food project

One of the newest features is Khronos, the Celestial Garden. More art installation than actual garden, Khronos’ 12 giant granite monoliths look straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This enormous sundial could be a modern-day Canadian Stonehenge.

Canadian Stonehenge? No, it's Khronos.

Canadian Stonehenge? No, it’s Khronos.

But Khronos isn’t the only work of art in the garden. In fact, there are sculptures, topiaries, and painted Adirondack chairs dotted throughout the space.

The is art waiting to be discovered in every corner of the Botanical Garden

The is art waiting to be discovered in every corner of the Botanical Garden
This buffalo may look hairy, but he's entirely plant-based.

This buffalo may look hairy, but he’s entirely plant-based.
Mr. Canoehead! (*Canadian 80s Pop-culture reference)

Mr. Canoehead! (*Canadian 80s Pop-culture reference)

Our favourite stop was at a sunlit, circular pavilion near the river. This building is the summer workshop of sculptor Luc Cyr. Cyr has a warm smile, talented hands, and is a real character. His humour shines through in his carvings, many of them caricatures of people he knows, local celebrities, and imaginings from his creative mind. In addition to selling at the Botanical Garden, Cyr’s work is also featured on the bottles of Edmundston’s craft beer, Petit Sault. (More on that in a future article!).

Luc Cyr, sculptor extraordinaire!

Luc Cyr, sculptor extraordinaire!

Cyr even did a hasty carving of Andrew; the likeness is uncanny.

Andrew and mini Andrew

Andrew and mini Andrew

I could have easily spent the entire day exploring, discovering, and relaxing in this beautiful place. If I lived in Edmundston (not at all a bad prospect), I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a season pass.

I could stay all day at the New Brunswick Botanical Garden, in Edmundston

I could stay all day at the New Brunswick Botanical Garden, in Edmundston

The garden is open from May to September, with a special opening on the first weekend of October for the Grande Grouille, a fall festival with evening openings to show off more than 2000 carved pumpkins. This event is definitely on our bucket list!

The New Brunswick Botanical Garden is a must-visit if you are in Edmundston, or indeed the province. Stay tuned for plenty more highlights from Edmundston, a little gem of New Brunswick.

We’d like to extend our thanks to Tourisme Edmundston for hosting us in the area and allowing us to share this hidden gem with you. As always, all opinions are ours alone.

The New Brunswick Botanical Garden, in Edmundston, Canada

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Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison
Cheese + Goats = My personal heaven. We discover an oasis in the cheese desert. https://t.co/Os8U86UEiX - 4 days ago

4 comments

  1. Comment by Tracey

    Tracey Reply September 29, 2016 at 16:55

    Gorgeous! It would be fun to see it in the fall with all the pumpkins as well. 🙂

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison Reply September 29, 2016 at 20:40

      Yes! We’d love to check out the autumn festival too.

  2. Comment by Ficko

    Ficko Reply October 5, 2016 at 06:43

    Hi Alison, it is stunning. I like its butterfly on the plate and great portrait of Andrew and his duplicate.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison Reply October 5, 2016 at 12:41

      Thanks Ficko. It is a beautiful garden.

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