Nominate an amazing place

Holleford Crater
Holleford Crater

Recently I spent two weeks in Ireland with my girlfriends. To say it was an amazing vacation is probably an understatement. Ireland is a country full of amazing places and we were lucky enough to discover and explore many of them in our travels.

The Frontenac Arch biosphere, where I live is another amazing place in the world, and they are asking people to nominate an amazing place in our region before September 3, 2015. Long Point and Georgian Bay biospheres are also asking for nominations.

I know how lucky I am to live in Canada and Frontenac County. The Frontenac Arch biosphere is a unique palette of rich fields, limestone, granite, towering pines and crystal blue lakes. It was designated by UNESCO in 2002 as globally significant for its diversity of plant and animal life and geographic features.

I’ve been thinking for the last couple of weeks about which place I would nominate and I’ve decided to nominate three amazing places.

1) Wintergreen Studios on Canoe Lake Road near Westport. Wintergreen is a non-profit year-round education and retreat that hosts programs on the arts and the environment on its 200 acres. We discovered Wintergreen about five years ago and I still think what they are doing there is amazing and commendable. The main lodge is made entirely from straw. We’ve attended some of their music nights, where you get a scrumptious catered meal, followed by terrific music. What makes this place truly amazing is the passion and commitment of Rena Upitis, its founder to educate people on off the grid and sustainable living and to provide people with a unique and beautiful retreat to spark creativity.

2) SpindleTree Gardens in Tamworth. You may remember I blogged last year about this very special place. When I was in Ireland, I toured many beautiful gardens nestled among ruins and castles. I think SpindleTree rivals these great gardens for its beauty, creativity and for the vision of its owners to carve out a piece of paradise from the Canadian shield that reflects and retains the geographical features of this area. It is an amazing place.

3) The Holleford Crater, mainly because it’s just down the road and I think it’s kinda cool that we have a crater formed by a meteor that struck the earth 550 millions of years ago in our own backyard. There is a plaque there that says the meteor was travelling 55,000 kms an hour and blasted a hole 244 metres deep and 2.5 kms wide. That’s pretty amazing.

Now it’s your turn. This week’s #HappyAct is to nominate an amazing place by September 3. Share it here—I somehow doubt the Holleford Crater will make the list but you’ll thank me when you make the trip up here to see it. (Ok, maybe you won’t, but if you drop in, I’ll at least give you a cold beer!)

Gardens
Spindletree Gardens
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Top 7 gardens to visit

Garden walkway
One of the many beautiful paths at Spindletree gardens

For some people, the thought of spending time in a garden would be a yawnfest.

Even if you don’t like gardening, spending time in a garden can be cathartic. I’ve always found gardens to be peaceful, inspirational places where the wonders and beauty of nature unfold and transform from season to season.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit two spectacular gardens this year: numbers 1 and 7 on the list. For those of you in Eastern Ontario, I’d highly recommend you visit Spindletree Gardens in Tamworth—it is truly a treasure in our own backyard and one of my all-time favourite gardens. They also serve a great lunch.

Here is my top list of favourite gardens to visit and spend time in:

  1. Longwood Gardens, in Pennsylvania: we visited this garden in July. I loved the fountain show and the conservatory, which had one of the largest pipe organs I’ve ever seen
  2. Larkwhistle, the home of garden authors Patrick Lima and John Scanlan’s on the Bruce Peninsula—simply stunning but you may be too late—when we visited it last summer we heard it may be the last season they open to the public
  3. The Rideau canal in Ottawa in May during the Canadian tulip festival
  4. The gardens at Chatsworth Hall, in Bakewell, England: 105 acres of formal traditional gardens and where they filmed my favourite version of Pride and Prejudice
  5. Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens—beautiful in the spring when the cherry and apple trees are in full bloom
  6. The garden atrium and conversatory at the Opryland hotel in Nashville–nine acres of inside oasis
  7. Spindletree gardens and tea room in Tamworth: a gem in our own backyard

This week’s #HappyAct is to spend time in a garden. Find a quiet bench to sit on then look around you. You never know what you may find and where your thoughts will take you.

Flowers in a conservatory
The conservatory at Longwood
Flowers in bloom
My garden