Saturday, April 4, 2009

Apple Blossoms - Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

When was the last time you have been standing in front of an apple tree? Or an apple orchard in bloom? And when did you see dozens of apple orchards with thousends of pink flowering apple trees, bearing millions of blooms - all in one afternoon???

Come at the end of May (May 27 to June 1, 2009) and enjoy these spectacular apple blossoms along with flowering cherry and peach orchards, that are enchanting visitors of Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley and visit the Apple Blossom Festival.

Wolfville on end of the "Valley" and Annapolis Royal on the other are my favoured towns in Nova Scotia. Why? They are so beautiful, have a lot of charm and a certain heritage feeling (Annapolis is more than 400 years old), boast wonderful restaurants and wineries and some of the friendliest people in Canada. And not to forget the surroundings orchards, wine yards, and its lush, outstanding flower gardens and parks.

Visit Wolfeville, the charming Acadia University town with it's Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, vineyards, welcoming bed and breakfast houses and even a coffee roastery, Kentville, the areas main shopping town, Middletown with its beautiful heritage homes and certainly historic Annapolis Royal with its famous Royal Historical Gardens - Motto: Smell the Roses.

Apples everywhere...

Early colonists from Europe introduced the sweet scent of apple blossoms to the Annapolis Valley as they brought seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables to the new land. From the 1600's on, production of apples was an industry with both the planters and later the Loyalists planting orchards up and down the Valley. In peak years, nearly 3 million barrels of apples were harvested, many of them dried and sold as far as Great Britain, the only "fresh" fruit that soldiers in war could carry with them.

The aroma of the blossoms in May and June, along with the natural beauty of the bloom, makes the arrival of spring even more exciting. There have been many changes in apple production since the first Apple Blossom Festival in 1933. Old orchards have made way for newer varieties of apple trees. Most trees now are smaller than the traditional umbrella-shaped trees, but there are more to the acre and more fruit to the tree.

Over the years, the Apple Blossom Festival grew to include towns and communities from Windsor to Digby, along the Evangeline tourist trail, with generations of families who have proudly hosted princesses, watched parades and been a part of nearly eight decades of celebration. The annual Apple Blossom Festival opens Nova Scotia's tourist season and continues to enjoy national and international recognition.
The Friday night Coronation of the Apple Blossom Queen is at Acadia University Hall in Wolfville, followed by the Queen's Scholarship Ball. Many of the princess candidates are studying at post-secondary schools and this financial contribution is most welcome. The Grand Street parade on Saturday afternoon is in Kentville and is truly one of the Festival's premier events as thousands line the streets to be a part of this celebration.

Where to stay and dine:

Wolfville has numerous charming Bed and Breakfast, such as the Blomidon Inn with its famous garden, the Garden House, or the Delfthouse , just to name a few.

Of the many good eateries in Wolfville, my favoured is Tempest Restaurant, (902) 542-0588, 117 Front St.

For fresh fair trade coffee go directly to the roastery Just US! at the eastern outskirts of Wolfville and browse their outstanding Fair Trade Coffee Museum.

Only a short walk away is the (Swiss) Domaine De Grand Pré, were one can taste the latest wine creations - and buy them directly from the producer. They are hard to find at the provincial wine shops.

There are quite a few great wineries in the area, Blomidon, Sainte-Famille or Bear River Vinyards near Annapolis and Digby, check out the Wines of Nova Scotia website.

The Hillsdale House Inn is located in an 1856 heritage building in Annapolis Royal and offers not only warm hospitality in authentic heritage rooms with private baths, but also a delicious full hot breakfast, including Hillsdale’s homemade brown bread and jams.

For Seafood go to the Garrisonhouse Inn & Restaurant and try their Acadian Chowder.

Apple blossoms, gourmet food & wine, beautiful gardens - what a wonderful long weekend...