June is an ideal time to get out and enjoy the gorgeous green spaces of Wascana Centre. Just in time, the Queen Elizabeth II gardens in front of the Legislature are planted and ready for visitors.
"Going for a walk in the park is one of the most popular forms of recreation and is beneficial for our wellbeing," Minister Responsible for the Provincial Capital Commission Don McMorris said. "Enjoying a walk at Wascana Centre gardens is easy to do safely while physically distancing. Whether you are a gardener, a photographer, or just looking to have a relaxing family outing in nature, we invite you to visit the beautiful gardens of Wascana Centre."
This spring, the PCC horticultural staff planted over 100,000 annuals in the area around the Legislature and 36,000 of those plants went into the QEII Gardens. The gardens also feature topiary structures in various shapes and sizes. This season, park-goers can see four new dolphin-shaped topiaries covered in moss, succulents and other creeping plants. Appropriately, Queen Elizabeth Hybrid Tea Roses will be added to the rose beds around the Queen's statue.
"Spending time surrounded by trees and gardens is good for us," Provincial Capital Commission CEO Monique Goffinet Miller said. "Walking through the park and looking at lovely flowers, the colour, the fragrance, can improve our mood and even lower our blood pressure. You can always count on vibrant flowers and this year the colour palette centers around pink, purple and blue, with accents of yellow, orange and red. Fortunately, the PCC horticultural team plants an extraordinary amount of breathtaking blooms each year in the gardens at Wascana Centre and Government House."
Wascana Centre offers 930 hectares of recreational green space. Amongst all this verdant land the Queen Elizabeth II Gardens is a must-see. On May 18, 2005, these gardens were officially named and dedicated by the Queen herself. However, the tradition of planting flower beds in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building dates back to the early twentieth century.
In 2012, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Legislative Building, the QE II Gardens underwent a $1.3 million upgrade. Each year, the PCC horticultural staff provides spectacular floral designs by adding new plant varieties while keeping plenty of tried-and-true favourites.
To start planting the gardens in Wascana Centre around the May long weekend, PCC staff need to begin preparations many months in advance.
"People are surprised with the amount of time and resources required to prepare the gardens," PCC Manager of Forestry and Horticulture Lisa Regnier said. "The horticultural staff begin designs in October. We look at plans and materials from previous years and what is trending now. How many seeds will we need? How much space does each plant need? We start ordering seeds in November. In January, seeds are geminating in our green houses and grow throughout the winter. So much of the plant materials are quite delicate. Our staff work to ensure every plant is as healthy as possible."
In addition to visiting the gardens, park-goers can also take a guided walking tour of more of Wascana Centre. Walking tours range from 30 to 90 minutes and cover a variety of subject matters such as the park's ecology and its history.
To ensure everyone's safety, a maximum of five people from the same social bubble will be allowed per tour. The tours are free of charge and available Wednesday through Sunday. To book a tour, visitors should call 306-520-8832 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PCC horticultural staff also manage Government House's lush Edwardian Gardens. Tours of the Edwardian Gardens are available Tuesday to Sunday and can be pre-booked at https://governmenthousesk.ca/public-programs.