There’s nothing nicer than a mini-summer-holiday with old friends.
Unless it’s old friends and really good theatre.
Scratch that. Unless it’s old friends and really good theatre and good food and wine.
Scratch that. Unless it’s old friends and really good theatre and good food and wine while staying in a lovely bed & breakfast with a spectacular garden. That’s how I spent several days last week in the lovely theatre town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, while taking in five productions of the annual Shaw Festival. And, of course, catching up with old friends, as we do every summer here; dining in town; sipping wonderful Niagara wines; visiting the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden; and resting our heads at the charming Lakewinds Bed and Breakfast.
This was our first stay at Lakewinds and I was excited, as I’d visited it on a garden tour years ago. Jane and Steve Locke bought the manor house in 1994 (once the summer home of a scion of the Fleischmann yeast family of Buffalo) and refurbished it completely. It’s a wedge shot from the historic (1875) Niagara Golf Course across the street and beyond that, the shore of Lake Ontario (thus the Lakewinds name) and a healthy 6-9 block walk from the centre of town, all three Shaw theatres and lots of restaurants and shopping. Not to mention thousands of tourists!
After seeing the matinees and before heading out to dinner, we sat on the big front veranda in the late afternoon.
In fact, there are two shady verandas at Lakewinds. The side one has a nice view of the long, shade border.
And a great centrepiece of Rex begonias.
A stroll towards the border takes you past the stairs festooned with a massive swath of Hall’s honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’) mixed with clematis. As big as it was, Jane said she’d recently trimmed most of it away!
Here’s the long border, with its quiet mix of mostly green hostas and other foliage plants.
On the most hot, humid day of the summer so far, we took a post-matinee dip in the lovely swimming pool.
Stand under the redbud tree and you get a view over the pool along the checkerboard paving into the potager-style vegetable garden.
I love this kind of path!
In early July, it’s just getting started, but the potager is full of colour..
There are lots of cottage garden flowers here, including red breadseed poppies (Papaver somniferum) and orange Spanish poppies (P. rupifragum).
And Clematis ‘Rooguchi’ is climbing the obelisk.
Off in a corner is a little formal space centred with a fountain.
And at the back of the property is a serene, shady woodland with a path running through.
Jane keeps a bowl of flowers on long dining room table where we enjoyed breakfast…..
And on the table in the lobby where afternoon sherry was accompanied by the curried almonds that Jane has made famous. By chance, I found these nuts on the internet years ago and they’ve become part of my Christmas cooking routine. The breakfasts were delish – eggs Benedict, Belgian waffles, and baked French toast, below. Because you can’t start a day with George Bernard Shaw on anything less than a full stomach!