The Acadian Thatched House in Annapolis Royal

Not only do the Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal recreate gardens from the past, they also give us a glimpse into the home lives of Acadians who lived here before the British arrived.

Acadian HouseThe 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.

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La Maison acadienne features the only archaeologically authenticated replica of a pre-deportation Acadian dwelling in the Maritime region. The potager is based on original diary notes from the Acadian era, while the orchard and willow hedge are heritage cultivars from the 17th Century. La Maison acadienne is based on a 1671 time period when Port-Royal (later Annapolis Royal) was the centre of Acadie.- from the website of the Historic Gardens.

Last week in the gardens I sat in front of the thatch-roofed cabin and sketched it, later adding watercolour paint at home.

Acadian House © Flora Doehler, 2014
Acadian House © Flora Doehler, 2014
Acadian House © Flora Doehler, 2014
Acadian House © Flora Doehler, 2014

Japanese Anemone at the Historic Gardens in Annapolis

In the Historic Gardens at Annapolis Royal last week, I spotted a tall Japanese Anemone with a lovely curly branching habit.

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The gardens in Annapolis are exquisite…from wild and generous, to deliberate and precise. I walked through the quiet little woods, past the fragrant roses.

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I pulled out my sketchbook and a fat marker and stood and drew the Japanese Anemone at eye-level. By the time this sketch was done, I knew I had to find one of these gorgeous flowers for my garden.

Anemone drawing © Flora Doehler, 2014
Anemone drawing © Flora Doehler, 2014

When I got home, I added watercolour to my drawing. The original blooms were much paler than this, but I wanted a deeper colour.

Anemone drawing © Flora Doehler, 2014
Anemone drawing © Flora Doehler, 2014

I have tracked down some Japanese Anemones close to home and I’ll be picking them up tomorrow at Bunchberry Nurseries.

Drawing and Painting Zinnias in the Victorian Garden in Annapolis

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.

red zinnia

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.

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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.

Zinnia drawing © Flora Doehler, 2014
Zinnia drawing © Flora Doehler, 2014

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.

Zinnia © Flora Doehler, 2014
Zinnia © Flora Doehler, 2014

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.

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Zinnia paintings © Flora Doehler, 2014

 

The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens Inspire me

If Zinnias were Blue © Flora Doehler, 2014

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.

Historic Gardens, Annapolis Royal

This August, like the past 5 summers, I have painted in the Historic Gardens during 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.

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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.

canna

Incredibly, all the flowers are annuals and this is what the gardens look like before spring planting.

Historic Gardens, Annapolis Royal

What a difference 5 months makes!

IMG_0925In 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!

invitationsmallThis little painting of mine was auctioned at Paint the Town this summer.

If Zinnias were Blue © Flora Doehler, 2014
If Zinnias were Blue © Flora Doehler, 2014