The most beautiful Sunday drive in the world

Thanks to an unusually mild winter, we have just experienced the most beautiful display of spring blossoms in recent memory here in the “Golden Horseshoe” of southern Ontario. The height of blossom season is Blossom Sunday, an event that has been a part of “western” culture since at least the Middle Ages. It symbolizes rebirth and renewal, the end of winter and the promise of bountiful crops.

In more recent times, many of us have memories of the leisurely Blossom Sunday family car ride spent ogling blossoms. The drive along the Niagara Parkway was called, by no less an authority than Winston Churchill, the most beautiful Sunday drive in the world. (Perhaps he never had the chance to drive through the Okanagan or Annapolis Valleys!) During blossom season, even the jittery children of the television age seemed to settle down in the back seat and enjoy a different kind of show.

Development in the form of housing (and vineyards too!) has reduced the spectacle of a generation ago. Individually, as well, many of us are giving up on fruit trees because of disease, pruning and other maintenance issues. However, judicious tree selection, from amongst the products of modern breeding programs, will enable us to find compact, disease-resistant cultivars that evoke the glories of Blossom Sunday in our home gardens – with no spraying and no driving required to enjoy the show!

As for getting the kids and grandkids to settle down and appreciate it – good luck. But you might try videotaping the display and putting it on TV!

Harry Jongerden is a Garden Designer/Horticulturist at the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Photo credit: Royal Botannical Gardens. ‘Prince of Wales’.

Visit the Royal Botannical Gardens at