Three local gardens have been honoured with the “Canada 150 Garden Experience” designation as part of the 1000 Islands and Rideau Garden Trail. Machal Gardens, in Spencerville, A Labour of Love, in Oxford Station, and Rideau Woodland Ramble, near Burritt’s Rapids received the distinction from the Canadian Garden Council in collaboration with the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association. This designation highlights 150 garden ways to celebrate Canada’s birthday year.
In 2015, the Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office launched the 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Garden Trail initiative linking six private and three public gardens that has now grown to 14 gardens throughout Leeds Grenville. The inaugural year of the trail captured national media attention that resulted in attracting visitors from around the world plus additional travel writers who have continued to promote the gardens in the region.
David Cybulski, Maitland Garden of Hope, and Ann Weir, Leeds Grenville Economic Development Manager, co-chairs of the Garden Trail, were asked to speak about its success at the 2017 North American Garden Tourism Conference held this week in Toronto. Attendees included gardens from Paris, Denver, Philadelphia, Charlottetown, Canary Islands, plus many more.
Entering into its third year, David Cybulski shared, “the 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Garden Trail and its members are proud to be recognized with the Canada 150 Garden Experience designation. It speaks to the quality of the gardens in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.”
To grow tourism in the region, the Counties have taken a leadership role in facilitating collaboration to develop new tourism products that results in increased visitation and spending. “In everything we do, a strategic approach is taken to ensure we maximize opportunities while being efficient, sustainable and effective. A 5-year strategy was developed that has been implemented very successfully”, said Ann Weir. “Garden tourism is on-trend as a key travel motivator that has resulted in increased visitor spending and bringing new visitors to the region. In order to grow visitation, we need to create new experiences that utilize our assets and can take advantage of our iconic brands.”
Over 121 million people visit gardens annually in the United States according to the American Public Gardens Associations. The Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport quoted in the Garden Tourism strategy that an average of 13 million North Americans visit public gardens while on overnight trips to Ontario.
“The 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Garden Trail is a leader in the province in developing garden tourism,” said Michel Gauthier, Executive Director, Canadian Garden Council. “It’s an outstanding example of public and private sectors working together to create a garden experience that we are proud to recognize with the Canada 150 Garden Experience designation.”
May 12, 2017 will be the official launch of the trail and the announcement of its newest member. Gardens on the trail will be opening mid-May and remain open until September. For more information visit the website at www.gardentrail.1000islandsandrideaucanal.com.