What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens: Time to Play

What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens: Time to Play
By Melanie Priesnitz

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a vacation as “a time when someone does not go to work or school but is free to do what they want, such as travel or relax.” We all need a break from routine from time to time, no matter how lovely our lives may be. We also all need free time to do exactly what our hearts desire and nothing else. Overnight travel can be stressful for some, so adventures that are closer to home can be more restful than visiting faraway lands. A vacation can happen in your backyard or within kilometers of home. Daytrips are great reminders of just how amazing this small province is and how lucky we are to have such a beautiful and diverse place to call home.

One of the very first things that I noticed about Nova Scotia when I first moved here 20 years ago was how green it is. I remember being in awe of how many trees I saw during the drive from the airport to the Annapolis Valley on my first visit. Living in Wolfville in proximity to so many gardens, greenspaces, waterfalls, and beaches I don’t always feel the need to go abroad for vacations. In fact, whenever we do go away, I often find myself longing for the wide-open spaces of home, my comfortable bed, and the abundance of wilderness and quiet beaches that are so close at hand. There are so many daytrips to be had locally, some of my favorites can be undertaken on foot or bicycle.

If my work wasn’t at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens, I’m quite sure that I would visit our beautiful 6-acre garden for a mini getaway. As I work, I often look longingly at families, individuals and couples who have packed a picnic and are enjoying the shade of one of our trees while they lunch. To lie on the earth under a tree on a fine summer’s day and read a book while the smell of wild roses wafts by is pure luxury to me. I love watching kids run through our pathways, discover the waterfall, and gleefully hop over our stream. Many parents today have a tendency to over-program their kids during the summer holidays, forgetting the importance of free time. Many of us feel the need to keep ourselves and our kids busy for fear that boredom might creep in. I encourage you to save time this summer to go outside, sit under a tree and do nothing. Our brains and bodies need time to rest and rejuvenate.

Instead of planning an expensive and potentially stressful travel vacation, try taking a few daytrips to the amazing greenspaces in your community instead. Play in the shade of the oak trees at Oakdene Park in Kentville, allow time to swing and slide at Willow Park in Wolfville. Ride your bicycle on the Harvest Moon Trail or walk the pathways behind Noggins in Greenwich where you’ll have a great view of the Cornwallis river and see a beautiful stand of old growth pine and hemlock trees. Pack a picnic and make a daytrip to Acadia University by combining a swim at the Acadia pool with a hike to the Little Library on the Woodland Trails, while searching for butterflies. Bring your art supplies for some plein air painting of plants native to the Acadian Forest Region at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens. Finish your day with a game of scrabble in the Garden Room at the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre or bring a blanket and lie on the lawn and listen to the stream. There are so many simple and free adventures to be had so very close to home. Remember that creativity is often born of stillness and even of boredom. Give yourself (and your kids if you have them) permission to do less this summer. Stick close to home, take some fun daytrips, and discover all of the beauty that is so abundant in the Annapolis Valley.