Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Royal Manor B&B Garden in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake, located at the mouth of the Niagara River and overlooking Lake Ontario has a long and distinguished history. Site of a major battle during the War of 1812, the town was burnt to the ground by invading Americans forces and later rebuilt.

Today, Niagara-on-the-Lake is filled with tree-lined streets and beautiful century homes. Surrounded by fruit orchards and vineyards, it is often referred to as "one of the loveliest town in Ontario".

Certainly, you would be hard pressed to find another place in the Provence of Ontario that has dedicated as much public and private property to the art of gardening. "Gardening is a hobby and a passion here in Niagara-on-the-Lake, we are fortunate to have an abundance of wonderful gardens and gardeners too!", explains Vicky Downes, host of the Royal Manor B&B in the historic district of "Old Town".

The B&B is a handsome two story Georgian home that was built in the early 1800's as a tavern for the ships arriving at the docks at Navy Hall. In recent years, the house has been lovingly restored in a way that is faithful to its 19th century origins. The original pine floors still remain and are in amazingly good condition.

The B&B is surrounded by mature trees and has a lovely perennial garden complete with a small waterfall and pond. "The gardens have all been built over the last decade.", Vicky tells me, "They continue to evolve yearly, as the plants grow and need to be trimmed, separated or moved."

Let's take a peak around, shall we?

"Perennials are my passion and I have planted as many varieties as I can afford over the years. After a decade, I now have colour throughout the growing season and lots of textures and greenery too.", says Vicky.

Main border looking back towards the driveway.

A pretty hosta and Giant Fleece Flower, 'Persicaria polymorha' in the near background

Giant Fleece Flower, 'Persicaria polymorha' and Black-eyed Susan, 'Rudbeckia hirta'

Black-eyed Susan, 'Rudbeckia hirta'

Many of the perennials have a sentimental history for Vicky. "Plants that have been acquired from neighbours and friends are a constant reminder of that friendship whenever I'm working around them in the garden."

"I am always delighted when I am asked to share a cutting, because I know that that person will always remember where the original plant resided, and hopefully think of me too."

Toward the back of the property, is a large pond that was designed by Clearwater ponds to be low maintenance.

"The pond was built over a large hole that the previous owners had called a sunken garden (but was filled with weeds) and that I believe was the location of a former building/shed on the property. The pond plants were a new endeavour for me and I'm still learning how to get them to bloom and how best to locate them for maximum growth.", Vicky tells me.

The pond and the adjoining patio is a perfect spot to relax and recharge. "The fish are a delight for my Mom who watches them from her windows and calls them to feed daily in the spring and summer.", Vicky says.

Red Hollyhock

A pretty combination of several Hydrangea shrubs and a Japanese Maple.  

As well as a wide range of perennials, there is a nice selection of trees and shrubs. "I have many trees around the property, but always wanted a Japanese Maple and a Dogwood, both of which I now have."

Purple Smoke Bush, Cotinus coggygria 'puroureus'

A beautiful mixed of plants and shrubs welcomes guests at the front of the house.

Large container plantings flank either side of the front door. (Love this mix of Coleus, Sun-loving Impatiens and golden hued Creeping Jenny!)

"The hydrangeas at the front were planted in 2000 just as the 18 month renovation was being completed on the interior and now need some severe trimming yearly so that they don't cover the windows. I am not sure of the name of the variety, but they are an 'old' variety that bloom off the old branches, so they can't be trimmed too much or no flowers will appear the following year.", explains Vicky.

I found colours in these hydrangeas so pretty that I couldn't stop taking pictures of them. I think I must have over 20 shots!

"I scatter aluminium sulphate on the soil annually in the spring to create the colour variations.", Vicky tells me.

Many thanks to Vicky Downes for allowing me to show you her beautiful garden.

Further information and Links: 

Thinking of visiting Niagra-on-the-Lake this summer? You my just want to time your visit to include the Shaw Garden Tour. Visit: for more details.

For general information on Niagra-on-the-Lake:  and

For information on the Shaw Festival visit:

A bit more about Royal Manor Bed & Breakfast:

The B&B is located in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake and is a few minutes away from shops, theatres, and restaurants. The manor offers three spacious and beautifully appointed bedrooms, each with a private ensuite bath.
The B&B promises the visitor an array of gourmet breakfast options including "eggs benedict, omelettes & quiches, fluffy buttermilk pancakes with maple sausages, or apple french toast" which are served in a bright and airy breakfast room. 
Royal Manor has central air conditioning, is smoke-free, pet-free and adult-oriented. Manor House Photo gallery.

I have never had the pleasure of staying at Royal Manor, but did note an abundance of favourable online reviews that spoke of the B&B as a "true gem" and described the hospitality as "gracious" and "welcoming".  

Royal Manor Bed and Breakfast


  1. Brilliant post, and it seems like you wrote it with me in mind! For years I have wanted to visit Niagara, and if I don't get there this year, I definitely will next. So links saved and a star added to this post! Thank you so much for sharing, the garden is gorgeous.

  2. I can't believe I used to live only an hour or so away from Niagara-on-the-Lake & never ever visited it! Gorgeous photos, TFS!!

  3. What a stunning garden! Sounds like a great place to get away and relax! Thanks for sharing this lovely place!

  4. Karin has beaten me to it - that's just what I was going to say - I've never seen so many plants packed into a garden - a real photographic opportunity. If mine looks anything like this in summer I will be ecstatic.

  5. Just beautiful! I love the combinations of the plants. And she is so right - when I have a plant I got from someone, I always think of them when I walk by.

  6. How lovely! What a perfect place to relax amid all that beauty.

  7. My girlfriend just moved from Ottawa to Niagara on the Lake (or NOTL as the residents call it) so I hope to do a lot of visiting!! It is the most gorgeous little town at any time of year but especially summer. Vicky's garden exudes a welcoming tranquility and your stunning photos capture the atmosphere. Thanks for giving us this bit of summer when out the window I can see it can't decide whether to rain or snow today.

  8. Hi Jennifer - NotL is one of my favorite places. This B & B will surely be added to that list. I think I pinned about 5 pictures as inspiration. Thanks for sharing this wonderful place.

  9. The place lookes lovely. All this colors. A little bit to far away for staying a long weekend for me.
    have a lovely day

  10. What a beautiful place to be Jennifer, especially with a camera!
    Thank you so much for taking us along with you.

  11. Sigh........... I can feel the sunshine. What a lovely place. I'd be a bit nervous of the Persicaria. Is that variety invasive?

    1. Karen,

      I don't blame you for being cautious. I have Knotweed at the back of our property that I have been struggling to eradicate for almost 10 yrs.

      I have had 'Persicaria polymorha' in my own garden for about 4 years and it has yet to bolt and become invasive. It forms a big clump. I have also not had a problem with it self-seeding everywhere (although I tend to remove any spent blooms as they get a bit mangy-looking.)

      Negatives: 1. It is a huge plant however, so be prepared to give it some room. Mine is in half shade and so is a bit smaller than it can be in sun. I have seen it here in Ontario at Lost Horizons Nursery's display garden and it is bigger/taller for being in full sun (4-6ft high with a spacing of 4-6ft).

      2. I don't care for the flower's fragrance. It isn't overpowering, just mildly unpleasant.

      Positives:If you want to make a statement, this is a plant to do it with.

      Alternative: A plant with a similar appearance is Goat's Beard, Aruncus dioicus. This shade lover has similar, though smaller white flowers.

  12. Lovely place. I always notice how B&Bs always seem to have beautiful gardens. The owners are pretty much caretakers through and through.

  13. Wow those are very lovely and well cared for plants and flowers. I think i haven't seen a post like these in Donna's yet (GWGT), reading hers and yours make me know so much already about Niagara, because i might not be able to see it in this lifetime. Your photos are great too! thanks.

  14. No wonder you couldn't stop taking pictures of the hydrangeas, they're gorgeous! Beautiful B&B with a beautiful garden. Beautiful photos too.

  15. The memories came flooding back from when we were over about 5 yrs ago and we stopped for a while at NotL, what a lovely place it was and still is obviously!! You certainly found a fantastic garden to photograph, the plants all look so well cared for, it must be a joy for their B and B guests.

  16. Just enchanting. I love the historical value of the area and the homes. Her gardens around the B & B are spectacular. What a wonderful place to visit.

  17. What a beautiful garden - thanks for sharing your tour! I especially like the little rocky creek.

  18. Stunning photos of this gorgeous garden.

  19. What a fantastic garden! Wandering those paths and viewing all those blooms is inspiring. My perennial bed is not as filled in as that one, but I look forward to when it is. The result is obviously lovely. Thanks for sharing this incredible garden.

  20. What a great tour. I love that garden. The Giant Fleece Flower is a wonderful focal point in the garden. The coleus, impatiens and creeping jenny containers are really a nice bold bright color combo!

  21. Hermoso lugar, precioso jardín!!!


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