On a recent trip to MacArthur’s Nursery in Moncton we spotted a pamphlet on the wall adverting a day-trip bus tour to PEI with the Dahlia Club of Moncton. The only reason I spotted the poster was because of the Dahlia and it was similar to our first Dahlia that was blooming at home so it grabbed my attention. We had been very happy with our first Dahlia attempt, well DD did the work on this one but I provided moral support and daily growth updates as it bloomed.
So we figured that this was a synchronicity type of moment and decided to join the Dahlia club on their annual trip and since PEI is so close we couldn’t even come up with an excuse to not go it sounded like too much blooming’ fun!
Our first stop was just across the Confederation Bridge at the PEI welcome area where we were greeted by a welcoming committee complete with a big brown sack of potatoes. It was like the PEI equivalent of Santa Clause but this time our good saint handed out bags of tasty PEI potato chips! Glad it wasn’t just a red russet. We stopped in the gift shop and DD had a picture taken dressed as Anne of Green Gables. Then we got back on the bus and drove to our next stop a nursery and also our first encounter with what would become a theme: goats!
The goats outside the nursery were the big attraction, they had these cool wooden climbing ladders that went up about 30 feet into the air and the goats climbed all the way to the top it was so cute!
Next we did a tour through Charlottetown and saw the parliament building and drove down Water Street to see the historical buildings. It was nice to be in the bus because the view is from up high so we could see more than when we had been driving here a few weeks prior.
Next was the soap store where there were more goats. They were selling handmade soaps and cheeses and creams and lotions but I was just happy to hang out with the goats and they were happy to come close and lean against the fence so they could have a little belly scratch.
After the goats we went for a tour of Vesey seeds. We had a guided tour of their experimental flower gardens and research vegetable patch as well. They gather seeds from around the world and test them for hardiness and resistance in our Maritime and Canadian conditions to ensure the best seeds are available. There is a store as well with all sorts of gardening tools, seeds, gadgets, bird feeders and jewellery and knick knacks to do with gardens birds and everything that is wild and wonderful!
From their location in PEI they ship seeds and products and bulbs around North America and the world. It is quite a big operation and was started by Arrhur Vesey in 1939. We had a tour through the Arthur Vessey memorial gardens which were so nice. I found it interesting that Mr. Vessey, who spent his entire life involved in growing flowers and plants and working with the science of pollination and grafting and biological proliferation himself had no children. Kind of interesting to me that in a way he has children all over the world and so many gardens around the world are full of flowers that have genes and DNA and spores and life that can be traced back to him over all these years so in a way he does have a huge family!
The last stop was at the PEI Preserve company and their shop, resto and garden. The Garden of Hope was truly amazing! It is along the water and winds through forests and planted zones full of various bright flowers and lovely climbing vines and plants. There are benches all along the trail and some lovely sheep with bells around their necks jingled as they nibbled clover on the hill.
There was a secret enchanted garden near the butterfly house with large wooden doors suspended from the trees that created the gate into another world. Wind chimes were hanging in the woods and when a gust of wind blew through the pines they gently sounded their bells. Empty wooden window frames, the wooden kind you’d find in old Victorian houses or small PEI farms, were hung here and there in the trees and it created a ghostly feeling a bit like a walk through heaven.
There was a mama and baby llama as well as a mama and baby mini horse in a field. We also had a little black and white cat come and visit us in the field and have a little rub. He was a dapper little fellow and was living in an idyllic little place, some would even say the setting was bucolic!
We had dinner at the Preserve Company restaurant and it certainly wasn’t bland! Thant’s a bit of a joke because we had asked for the meal to be bland due to the food sensitivities DD has to deal with and the salmon came all lemony and marinated…so it was anything but bland. The dining room with stained glass and quilts hanging from the ceiling made me think of clouds in the sky and the water views were beautiful. The food wasn’t really our cup of bush tea and we decided that next time we visit we would bring a supper and eat in the garden and leave a donation for the upkeep of the Garden of Hope as they are doping a wonderful job at keeping it in a state of glory.
So it was a long day we finally got back home at 9:30 and had a great time. The Dahlia club members were lots of fun and very friendly. Hal the driver was a top notch pilot and Paulette and Merle both did a great job of making sure everything went smoothly.
Yesterday, Dami and I had our first organized bus tour although Jasper and Alaska, our Burmese cats, didn’t approve of us leaving at 7 in the morning and returning at 9:30 in the evening! It was a long day indeed but it was nice for Dami not having to concentrate on the road and being able to enjoy the scenery and play some games on his smart phone.
The weather was perfect and we met a great bunch of life loving people. I had my Anne of Green Gables book and a PEI travel guide on my phone and was able to read 1-10th of Anne’s story. I am a very slow reader but so far I can already tell I do have a couple common traits with Anne: I talk a lot and I like to rename things and animals especially cats in my case.
Our first stop was at the Welcome Center where I had my picture taken dressed as Anne. Then it was off to the Jewell’s Country Market in Charlottetown where we met some lovely goats. As we were driving away, the goats went back to their tower perch and would have waved goodbye if they could have I’m sure.
Our second stop was lunch at Sam’s although both of us had packed a lunch and after we ate we went for a walk to a near by park.
Our third stop was at the famous Vesey’s Seeds where we had a private guided tour of the trial gardens. It is very interesting that Arthur Vesey, the founder of Vesey’s Seeds never had children, human that is because he created life in so many other forms!
After that it was off to the Great Soap Company with more goats! We watched a couple of them ruminate their food and then I imagined this parody of the song “Do that to me one more time”: Let me chew it more more time, Once is never enough, For a Goat like me… it turns out both males and females have horns, and goats have 4 stomachs, one less than cows.
Our last stop was at The Preserve Company in New Glasgow and we were greeted by a passionate owner who had a great story to tell with a definite talent in Comedy. Dami and I went for a tour of the Beautiful gardens where we saw some Dahlias, sheep, donkeys, lamas and a very cow like looking cat; fat, spots and bell included: If it was my cat I would call it Moo! Our dinner was a big deception: Gordon Ramsey would have spat his food and had a chat with the owner: “frozen vegetables in the middle of summer? Under-cooked low grade Basmatti rice? Nothing but marinated fish and seafood in PEI?” I’d love to visit again but next time we’ll pack a lunch that we’ll eat in the lovely gardens and make a donation instead.
At 7 O’clock it was time to get back in the bus and our driver brought us all back safely to Moncton. What a day! Thank you to Merle and Paulette for organizing this event!
We drove to The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s protected lands along the Bay Of Fundy at the Johnson’s Mills Grande Anse Mud Flats. We had stopped at the site on another trip along that coast but the site had been closed and so after seeing on the CTV News a report about the hundreds of thousands of Semi-palmated Sandpipers that gather at the site prior to their 4500 km migration to South America we decided to get and check it out.
The actual interpretive center has a few rooms of displays and information as well as guide books and souvenirs for sale and there was a guide on the boardwalk lookout answering questions. A crowd of bird watchers was on the boardwalk poking their long lenses left and right hoping to see the flocks of pipers either hopping along the mud looking for food or flying in the awesome packed formations the birds create when so many thousands are flying together.
All the pipers had decided to move their picnic spot to a little bay a few hundred meters from the info center so we drove over to the beach area where the pipers were gathered. As soon as we got out of the car we could hear the high pitched squeaking and chirping of the thousands of birds and it created a whispering siren of crystal bells, a chorus of secret communication that we could only imagine what was being said.
Through the binoculars it was amazing, the telephoto perspective flattened the slope of the mudflats and all you can see is a wall of tiny grey and black and white birds moving this way and that. We always like to see a piper on the beach wherever we are but this was something else! It was the sort of sensation you get when you look closely at an ant hill that is swarming and thriving and heaving with thousands of ant bodies; this was similar with the feather bodies seeming to create a moving carpet or a curtain of singing bodies that flitted and danced along the mudflats.
What a lovely visit to this intertidal piece of heaven with all these tiny singing angels who gathered together for one last goodbye before they took to the skies on their way to the warm South. See you in the Spring!