New Brunswick Week: First Stop, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea

Kingsbrae Garden, St Andrews For the past two decades, Canada’s Atlantic Maritimes and particularly New Brunswick have been one of my favorite outdoor playgrounds to sea kayak, bike, and hike in or around the Bay of Fundy waters. But it’s not just the stunning granite ledges, huge tidal shifts, and towering pines that beckon. The majestic scenery certainly excites, but it’s the people of this province and their distinctive passions that keep me returning as often as possible.

Take, for example, one Mrs. Lucinda Flemer of St. Andrews. In 1998, she had the brilliant idea of taking the century-old hedges and boxed gardens of her youth and creating arguably the most magical botanical garden in Canada. In 2010, I was so enraptured with the 27-acre grounds that I named the Kingsbrae Garden one of my top travel destinations of the year, competing with trips to Africa, Europe, and Latin America that year. When I returned yesterday, I was even more impressed. The yearly sculpture contests in the garden has led to one of the largest permanent sculpture gardens in Canada. The perennials were still in bloom, as they are throughout the spring, summer, and fall. This time, the pinkish-purple echinacea radiated throughout the garden. The sensory garden is just as seductive to touch and smell as I happily felt the velvety lamb’s ear and inhaled the powerful lemon scented geraniums.

Next door to the garden is Kingsbrae International Residence for the Arts and a glorious amphitheater for outdoor concerts and performances created in 2016. Monthlong arts residences are open to artists, sculptors, writers, and filmmakers and I had the good fortune to meet one illustrator working on a children’s book based on the groundbreaking work on indigenous culture, Braiding Sweetgrass. Now a nonagenarian, Mrs. Flemer was also seen walking the grounds, her imagination still fertile as she continues to build on her whimsical creation. She continues to inspire the next generation of horticulturalists, botanists, sculptors, artists, chefs (as evidenced by the innovative fare we had for lunch in Garden Café) and yes, even travel writers.