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Niagara Falls and Niagara Parks

August 9, 2017

Wow, is all I can say about our post conference tour to Niagara Parks in Ontario. The falls are spectacular by themselves, but the commitment this community has made to a unified parks system is pretty incredible. We packed a lot into one day. We weren’t back until after 11 pm.

Our first stop was the Floral Showhouse where there were amazing displays of annuals, tropicals and permanent plants.

They change out their displays 4-5 times a year. Thy are already growing their mums in many different forms for fall

along with poinsettias for Christmas.

From there we went to lunch and then the journey behind the falls, where you go down an elevator and walk beneath and to the side of the falls. 

We did not have time for the boat ride. The place was packed with tourists as this is high season. To find some tranquility in the midst of organized chaos we went to Oakes Garden Theatre–a garden with living walls that truly buffer the sound. The garden  is beautiful and has breathtaking views. 

Other than our bus load there were only a handful of other visitors.

We next went to the Niagara Glen Nature Center. This is very similar to our Nature Centers in Arkansas but on  a smaller scale, with hikes and interpretive events. An interesting twist is that kids (and adults) can bring in a rock, shell, cone, etc. having done some history on it and you leave it behind and get to pick one from their collection to take home. This new facility is geared to education.

Then it was on to the Butterfly Conservatory at the Botanical Gardens. It was one of the largest I have been in and teeming with plants and butterflies.

We walked through the gardens to the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture.

This is truly amazing. Many people apply but only 12-15 students are chosen. It is a 3 year program which runs 12 months a year. The students spend the growing season providing the labor to the gardens, learning how to do it, then the winter months in 8 am to 4 pm classes. They get one week off a year. The cost is $1200 per year and includes room and board!! What a deal! Tools and books are extra, but at the end of three years they have the equivalent of a horticulture degree but with the added bonus of real life experience. No one has any problem getting a job.  Their parks program subsidizes this program realizing the benefit these students will be to their communities. The beautification efforts were everywhere throughout this large park system.

To top off a fabulous day we had an excellent meal on an outside terrace overlooking the falls. We get got to see the light show before we left. Wow! 

If you have not been to Niagara Falls, put it on your bucket list!

We were up early trying to fit all the plants and things we got at the conference into our suitcases. We think we are right at the weight limit so we are keeping our fingers crossed! Off to the airport and home tonight. 

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