Gardens At The Leaf in Winnipeg, Manitoba

August 22, 2021
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Outdoor gardens at The Leaf in Assinboine Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The Assinboine Park Gardens at the Leaf in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: a series of outdoor gardens celebrating diversity through plants

In July of 2021, the outdoor Gardens at The Leaf in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, opened to the public. Six green spaces with a central theme of celebrating cultural and biodiversity comprise the nearly 30 acres. The six areas are: Indigenous Peoples Garden, Kitchen Garden, Sensory Garden, Performance Garden, Seasonal Garden, and The Grove.

I love to visit gardens when I travel (and at home). Most of the gardens I’ve written about on this blog are well-established with years of history. It was interesting to visit a new garden. Work on Gardens at The Leaf began in the summer of 2017. The shrubs and trees planted are still young, but not all of the garden feels new. It has been created amidst a landscape of mature trees.

Walkway through mature trees and green area at the Gardens At The Leaf in Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park
Esplanade
The Leaf building under construction at the end of outdoor gardens in Assinboine Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The Leaf Building at one end of the gardens is still under construction and scheduled to open in late 2022. This indoor, multi-seasonal attraction will contain a tropical biome, a Mediterranean biome, a display house showcasing rotating floral exhibits with global themes, and the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden. The Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden is currently located within Assiniboine Park Zoo. The Leaf will also feature the tallest indoor waterfall in Canada. Although the Leaf is still under construction, the outdoor gardens around it are ready and open to the public.

Indigenous Peoples Garden

Native prairie grasses and shrubs at the Indigenous Peoples Garden at the Gardens at The Leaf in Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Indigenous Peoples Garden recognizes Canada’s strong Indigenous heritage. The garden’s design was created through a collaborative process involving Indigenous elders, designers, and community leaders. It features local prairie grasses and perennials.

Two areas within the Indigenous Peoples Garden acknowledge the importance of water and fire. Signage shows the translation of “where the water is” and “where the fire is” in seven Indigenous languages.

Carved wooden balls sit around a gravel circle amid a landscape of native grasses and shrubs
Water gathering place

For many Indigenous peoples, water is associated with birth and life’s journey. A gravel circle in front of a pond contains round pieces of wood with carvings in them. Several have been leveled off to create seating.

Large carved wooden ball on gravelled are in front of pond surrounded by tall grasses and shrubs
Pond in the Indigenous Peoples Garden
Circular cement seating around a fire pit in the Indigenous Peoples Garden at The Leaf in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Fire circle

Fire is considered a gift from the Creator in many Indigenous cultures. Fire was used to cook, hunt, protect, and stay warm. Gathering around a fire to share stories, memories, and dance is a tradition that brings comfort and creates community.

The Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden contains a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and other edible plants. The space will also be used for demonstrations and classes.

Collection of garden beds with pathway between them at the Kitchen Gardens at the Leaf Gardens in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Three Sisters planting of squash, corn, and beans
Three Sisters

The Three Sisters planting of corn, beans, and squash is a companion planting used for centuries by Indigenous peoples. The three plants grow and thrive together.

Two gardeners spreading out the branches of a pear tree against a cement espalier wall
Staff attach pear tree branches to an espalier wall

An espalier wall sits at one end of the Kitchen Garden. Espalier is the process of controlling plant growth in a flat plane, usually against a wall or fence. As well as being decorative, espalier saves space, provides for greater exposure to sunlight, and makes for easier picking of fruit. The process works particularly well with apple and pear trees, both of which can be found in the Kitchen Garden.

A garden bed of assorted vegetables surrounded by marigolds

Marigolds surround most of the beds in the Kitchen Garden. Marigolds attract beneficial insects and repel harmful ones.

Several picnic tables under a pergola at the Kitchen Garden at Gardens At The Leaf in Winnipeg
A patio area where people can enjoy a picnic lunch at a table with a herb garden at its centre
Wooden picnic table with a herb planted in the centre of the table

Sensory Garden

Colourful aromatic plants and hills of grasses with walkways on either side

The Sensory Garden includes garden beds with rotating varieties of colourful and aromatic plants as well as hills of tall grasses.

Performance Garden

A cement stage in the centre of the Gardens at the Leaf in Winnipeg, Manitoba with gentle tiered seating on the lawn in front of it

The Performance Garden sits at the edge of the Sensory Garden. The outdoor stage in front of a gently tiered seating area can host a variety of art forms.

Seasonal Garden

A bed of yellow and purple blooming flowers with a walking path around it and a seating area with four red chairs in the centre

The Seasonal Garden contains perennial plant selections that will peak at different times through the spring, summer, and fall. There are paths through the beds and several inviting seating areas. The photos I’ve included here were taken in mid-August. Other times of the year would see different plants in bloom and different colours on display.

A bed of purple flowers amid green foliage with bench seating at the back at the Gardens at The Leaf in Winnipeg
Red chairs and park benches at the edge of a flower bed with mostly purple blooming flowers
Cement half-circle shaped lily pond with path around it and gardens in the background
Lily Pond

The Grove

Green lawn surround by walking path and trees

The Grove focuses on the majesty of trees. All of Manitoba’s 24 native species of trees will eventually be represented here.

New planting in The Grove with a background of mature trees
New planting in The Grove with a background of mature trees
Green walkway between rows of mature trees with busts bordered by busts of important figures in a citizens hall of fame
Citizens Hall of Fame

The Citizens Hall of Fame, which was initiated by the Winnipeg Real Estate Board in the 1980s, sits between The Grove and the rest of the Gardens at The Leaf. Busts of Winnipeggers who have made outstanding contributions to Winnipeg’s quality of life border a green pathway between mature trees.

Visiting The Gardens At The Leaf

The Gardens at The Leaf sit at the southeast end of Assiniboine Park. The flat main walkways are mostly accessible. They are either paved or made of packed crushed gravel. They are free to visit and open year-round. The Kitchen Garden and the Seasonal Garden are open from 9 am to dusk. Other gardens are open 24 hours.

It will be a delight to see the gardens evolve with the seasons and mature over the years.

Other points of interest within Assiniboine Park include the Zoo (I’ve written about its Journey to Churchill exhibit), the English Garden, the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden, the art galleries and the Winnie the Pooh gallery at the Pavilion, and the Nature Playground.

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Gardens At The Leaf: The Assinboine Park Gardens at the Leaf in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: a series of outdoor gardens celebrating diversity through plants

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  • Reply
    Eva Dueck
    August 22, 2021 at 11:05 am

    Hi Donna, I did not know that these new gardens had opened. Being a Winnipeger, I’ll have to make a point of visiting them soon as they are in their prime right now.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      September 3, 2021 at 11:19 am

      Eva, the gardens are lovely.

  • Reply
    Ken Dowell
    August 22, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    Looks so peaceful.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      September 3, 2021 at 11:20 am

      Ken, yes definitely a peaceful atmosphere.

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