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Niagara Falls
Friday, September 29, 2023
Big changes, big growth in NOTL’s gardens over 30 years
J.B. Hopkins gave NOTLers the rare opportunity to get behind the scenes intel on just how our town has become on of the prettiest in Canada. Julia Sacco

Niagara-on-the-Lake residents took a tour of their town last Monday to learn about the work that goes into making it the place they call home.

For the public library’s final Live and Learn session on July 17, NOTLers got the chance to learn the ins and outs of town on a walk led by J.B. Hopkins. 

Hopkins is a parks supervisor with the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and has been in the position for 17 years.

He has seen NOTL go through the monumental changes that made it the popular tourist destination it is today, including the reconstruction of Queen Street in 1992.

Hopkins emphasized that when he began his work with the town in 1990, things looked much different. 

“It was a very historically significant place, with a lot of attractive trees and architecture, but in terms of improvement, it wasn’t there,” he said. 

Part of that vast improvement is due to the horticultural landscaping Hopkins and other members of the town completed – and continue to work on every day.

“How I do my plant selection is, I base it on what is most successful,” he said. 

He said he surveyed different university trial gardens across North America for the most aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting plants to ensure success in our plantings. 

“That certainly doesn’t exclude pollinator plants,” he said, though his main focus is beauty and longevity. 

With a somewhat limited budget of $32,000 for ground supplies on Queen Street and $56,000 for all parks, Hopkins and the town are proud of being able to cultivate the space worthy of the title “one of the prettiest towns in Canada.”

There’s more to a successful design than just picking florals, Hopkins added, citing the town’s 2017 international victory in the Communities in Bloom competition. 

“Certainly we did extremely well in terms of our gardens and floral displays,” he said.

“But it was the volunteer component that was so instrumental.”

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