Not only do the Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royalrecreate gardens from the past, they also give us a glimpse into the home lives of Acadians who lived here before the British arrived.
The first occupiers in this part of the world were the French in the 1600’s. Their settlers were innovative farmers who reclaimed salt marshland and transformed it into fertile growing lands. Their relationships with First Nation groups was more harmonious than the British would be. Eventually the British – French wars meant that Acadians were thrown off their lands by the British and shipped to various outposts including Louisiana where ‘Acadian’ became ‘Cajun’.
Many families were hidden by the Mi’kmaq and refused to leave their Nova Scotian homeland. Today there are still small communities of Acadians in Nova Scotia who work hard to keep their language and culture alive.
Here in the gardens, the tiny thatched house with hand-made glass windows is a visual reminder of some of that history.
Last week in the gardens I sat in front of the thatch-roofed cabin and sketched it, later adding watercolour paint at home.
I love the Victorian Garden in the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens with the sunny, happy flowers such as the zinnias. This garden Shangri-La doesn’t know that the rest of us have experienced killing frost in our beds.
I can’t resist setting up my paints near the salvias and zinnias during Paint the Town in August. At first glance, zinnias look so uncomplicated, but the photos I took yesterday show a tiny garden of lily-looking florets sprouting out of the middle of the flower.
Each bloom is a universe of colour.
I was travelling light today and brought just a sketchbook and a fat marker. I had no chair or support for my sketchbook and stood while drawing. It was a bit awkward, but gave me a good vantage point for eye-level flowers.
Later, at home, I added watercolour to my drawings.
Painting or drawing a flower helps me to get to know its uniqueness better. I learn more about the shape, the veins in the leaves, the petal details, the way the flower leans.
I enjoy capturing the movement and the joy of these outrageously colourful and happy flowers. I painted these Zinnias a month ago during Paint the Town. All were auctioned and are blooming on walls somewhere.
About 30 years ago some clever garden and community development innovators in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia had the brilliant idea to recreate the historical periods of the town with a 17 acre garden.
This August, like the past 5 summers, I have painted in the Historic Gardensduring Paint the Town. This fall I finally bought a membership…only cost me $35 a year…and I’ve been visiting my favorite flowers when I go to Annapolis. It’s a 25 minute scenic drive from my home in Bear River.
The gardens in Annapolis are exquisite…from wild and generous, to deliberate and precise. I love the Victorian Garden with its sunny, happy flowers and it’s outrageously oversized exotic-looking plants that look like they belong in an antique glassed-in greenhouse in England.
Incredibly, all the flowers are annuals and this is what the gardens look like before spring planting.
What a difference 5 months makes!
In the days ahead, I’ll show you some drawings and paintings I’ve created lately at the Gardens.
I’m painting a series of florals for an upcoming show with fellow painter Susan Geddes…also in Annapolis Royal, so painting and drawing at the gardens is very inspiring right now and is my homework!
This little painting of mine was auctioned at Paint the Town this summer.