After being deterred from visiting the Hatley Park Gardens due to the rather hefty fee I was pleased to discover that Father’s Day was slated for free entry. Gardens only, the castle was closed to the public. All we had to pay for was parking, $3.00 for three hours seemed like plenty and it was. I ended up passing along my parking receipt to another visitor. My friendly good deed for the day.
I stand by my beliefs that entry was free due to all the film paraphernalia and areas close to the castle, as well as some garden sections were closed off. My astute daughter took a quick look at the recently added embellishments hanging from the castle and flowers tucked into bushes before stating this was the setting for the Disney TV film Descendants. She was even able to provide some background information about the show. I had no idea she still harboured interest in the film industry. Look closely at one of the banners to see the Beast. The blue flowers in the bushes and front garden are all fake. According to my daughter blue flowers are the go to choice for the movies! (We do get blue hydrangea) The castle itself, and it is a real castle, depicts the school where the children of well known fairy tale characters attend. Ergo, Descendants. The fact the whole space was – since the 1940s -and remains, a university is a fun fact. The history is interesting, more can be found at http://hatleypark.ca/
Unfortunately the Italian Garden was closed. Most likely the most appropriate section for filming outdoor scenes: walled in, formal and a lovely loggia and pergola make this a romantic or eerie setting depending on lighting and the imagination. I can see Belle hanging over the balustrade dreaming of home; or the prince from Sleeping Beauty grabbing a low hanging wisteria to pull himself over a low sandstone railing to discover the castle glimpsed was not a vision.
There are benches dedicated to individuals for visitors to have a pleasant rest or to drink in the fragrances and feast the eyes. One couple commented on the filming, they said the helpful security person told them the set was for the Big Sleep. When I expressed doubt, it being a well known Bogart & Bacall movie and that this is a Disney film they were adamant. I mentioned this to my daughter who laughed before she told me many film settings have a false title to prevent crowds from descending on the setting. She did say, however, it may be the title of the latest installation – so I looked it up and indeed that is the case. Even at 60 I am learning things.
who needs fake flowers when nature provides beauties like these!
The castle had not been our focus so we were not too disappointed, I had already been inside on a few occasions many years ago. We headed to the rose garden, an enclosed space to keep foraging deer from decimating the rose bushes, a delicacy for them. Although beginning to look a little worse for wear as we approach the final days of spring the bushes and vines had enough colour and fragrance – without overwhelming allergies my daughter has – to encourage guests to linger before leaving through the rose handle gate at the far end into the fruit bearing garden. We found apple and pear trees roped along the fences, beginning to plump up, yet again having missed the full glory of flowering. This bounty does not go to waste, all the fruit is donated to food banks. I guess students are not considered in desperate enough need for fresh fruit in mid-September. (Student loans tend to last at least to mid-October)
We returned through the rose garden, remembering to carefully close the door behind us, to head to the Bog Garden and Japanese Garden. My daughter was not about to miss a Bog Garden! For some reason I was expecting something more along the line of a peat bog, but this was far more interesting for how clear it was. The underwater flora was just as interesting as the variety floating atop the water. Swift dragonflies and smaller insects did not always outrace the small birds skimming above, slight splashes indicated a successful catch and meal. These were some very happy birds. In addition to the splashes there were tiny bubbles rising from the depths – although we tried to figure out what caused these we really had no idea. We could see to the bottom, we could not see any living creatures. I was intrigued by the thin green spines rising from the water, they appeared to be horsetails. Upon closer inspection we were convinced they were, albeit much thinner, and not at all spread out as ones along banks of ditches.
No idea what this giant leafy plant is – it looks dangerous!
As with most of the plants in the various gardens the Japanese Garden was no longer as full of flowers as it would have been even two weeks earlier. However, it is still rather magical with its three hump curved bridge to a pavilion sitting on the manmade lake. The quiet, trees, slight breeze and water had me wishing I still lived in the little cottage at Grouches Lair (of course the name enthralled me) I rented for several months now nearly ten years ago. How fortunate we are to live so nearby such lovely gardens and wilderness.
Despite missing the rhododendrons in full bloom, the cherry blossoms and wisteria the gardens still remain welcoming. Perhaps the giant, ancient Douglas Firs providing natural shade, and soft ground for laying down a picnic blanket, the rugged appearing paths that are actually easy to traverse, and the mountains in the far distance beyond the ocean are enough. It was a pleasant, easy afternoon wander.
All it needs is a Prince, or these days a princess, to scale the walls