Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Charmed Afternoon in a Garden

During my very brief three days in Winnipeg visiting Hubby’s family, I did manage to spend my last afternoon with my dearest friend from our university days. We met in English Lit on the first day of classes and remained fast friends ever since.

We dressed up a little and went for lunch at the fabulous Terrace Fifty Five Restaurant in the Pavilion at the gorgeous Assiniboine Park, a huge urban park along the river that also houses gardens, a conservatory, an art gallery, two fine restaurants, a zoo, a forest, sports fields, a duck pond, and walking and biking paths.

(photo courtesy of Wikipedia commons)

Our restaurant was at the back of Pavilion and was in the style of a large glass conservatory that looked out over the grounds of the park. For lunch I had a lobster and shrimp roll with salad and for dessert we shared a trio of tiny crème brulees: a lavender one, a chevre (goat cheese!) flavoured one and a pistachio one. The lavender was my very favourite!

It was wonderful to have some one on one time with my friend. It is especially nice that she is in Winnipeg now. It is a truly romantic ending to a beautiful story. (Short story: a friend of Hubby’s at our wedding fell for my beautiful bridesmaid and wooed her across country until eventually she moved to Winnipeg and they married! – I love it when that happens!)

Okay, back to our afternoon in the garden. We finished lunch and popped upstairs to the gallery to visit this little guy. Look familiar? Yes, Winnie-the-Pooh is named after the City of Winnipeg and the story is rather lovely.

Then we wandered down to the English Garden where I took some pictures of those things that were unique to this beautiful site.

This fellow originally presided over the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Royal Alexandra Hotel and now has found a cosy corner of the garden to live out his retirement.

He is made of Tyndall Stone, a limestone from Manitoba used in many important historical buildings including Canada's Parliament Buildings. Personally, I find looking at Tyndall Stone is like looking at an “I Spy” book, soon enough you will spot a skeleton of a long-extinct marine animal (yes, those squiggley lines are the trails of things that once moved around)

From the English Garden we wandered the paths over to the stunning Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. This garden features bronze works from the incredibly talented artist Leo Mol, who sadly passed away at the age of 94 last month. Now, I have to tell you – I am a bronze fanatic.

I love bronze. I love the patina, the texture of it, I love how it ages, but most of all, I love how it feels. It seems to actually warm up under my hand when I am touching a sculpture. It must be because bronze is a good conductor of heat, but the effect really makes this a ‘living’ metal for me – fantastic for recreating the sense of a living being.

It’s obvious that Leo Mol understood his medium well. His sculptures thrum with life.

Of course, there is nothing like adding water to reflect all that beauty around to create a restful and rejuvenating garden experience. The ponds in this garden are stunning. There is a large wooden pagoda at one end of a pond where my friend and I sat and talked and talked and watched grandmothers and babies get their picture taken in front of the water.

Ahhhhh, now, is there anything quite like a beautiful afternoon in a garden with an old friend?

Hope your summer holidays create some new happy memories!


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had one of those rare golden days, the memory of which will warm your thoughts for a long time.

I've had similar experiences in old pub gardens in England, were the warmth of good food, real ale and ancient surroundings - shared with family and friends - brought about an almost mystical feeling of contentment and a shared oneness with the world.

And my teetotal sister remembers them that way too... ;)

sweet bay said...

Thank you for the lovely tour!

tlc illustration said...

No - that is the *best* way to spend a day - tea, gardens and friends... Can't think of anything I'd rather do.

And yes, the PNW does have many ammenities, and pretty much something for everyone. (It is the least it can do to compensate for the extreme population density, traffic and high costs of living!)

ruthie said...

Wow, beautiful gardens, im a real sucker for statues and stonework etc!!

Northern Shade said...

I love the sound of lunching in a conservatory, and your meal sounds delicious. Touring the grounds with an old friend would make a perfect afternoon.

I find buildings made of Tyndell stone fascinating. Seeing all of the history in the stones makes them fun to search.

Teza said...

What a wonderful way to spend a day - fine wine,company and such gorgeous gardens. I was struck by the beauty of the bronze staues, especially when included in a landscape that includes water. What a gorgeous way to spend the last glorious days of Summer! Beautiful post and photographs!


Great photos from a great garden. Good luck with your blog. Ingrid

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

What a beautiful blog you have here. I'm writing from the Giraffe Head Tree - you left such lovely comments on my blog earlier so I had to look you up! I'm in complete agreement about bronze sculptures. Their color is exquisite. This garden and area is quite lovely. Good friends are hard to come by and are treasures in our lives. Good for you guys taking time for each other. Thank you for sharing your experience with us all.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful afternoon and good trip, loved the bridesmaid story.

Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel said...

Wonderful garden tour. Thanks ever so much, Alice
aka BayAreaTendrils
p.s. Always wanted to visit Winnipeg when I lived in Chicago, but alas never managed it.

The Garden Ms. S said...

Thank you everybody for your kind comments. Winnipeg is truly a warm and friendly city with some stunningly beautiful gems tucked away.

Of course, there is nothing like having a best friend there to make all the sweeter :)

Pub Garden said...

Among some exotic Pub gardens in Britain & Ireland, Ran inn; Firle, East Sussex has evolved into a pub for everybody. As it caters to everyone’s needs like good food, attractive drinking and affable service. Royal Oak; neham, West Sussex has 13th century touch with classic & delicious food. Square & Compass; Worth Matravers, Dorset is perfect for relaxation with winning informal mood with ancient roman relics and fossils. Shave Cross Inn; Bridport, Dorset is 700 year old pub. It is attracting all kinda people with its live & fun atmosphere.