Garden Photo of the Day

GPOD on the Road: Assiniboine Park Gardens

A sprawling park and gorgeous gardens in the Keystone Province

Assiniboine Park sensory Garden

Happy Friday, GPODers!

Last Friday I shared some wildflowers I spotted on my travels through Ontario last summer, but the trip did not stop there. As I continued my way across Canada I finally reached the next province, Manitoba. The scorching summer temperatures in early August meant I couldn’t stay for long and had to rush through to get to higher elevations and cooler temperatures in the west. However, I made time to visit one landmark in Winnipeg that was a must-see: Assiniboine Park.

A sprawling 1,100-acre park, Assiniboine features a zoo, outdoor theatre, conservatory, and more. I came to view the many different gardens. Though it was a sweltering, sunny day with little shade relief, it was absolutely worth the stop. Below are some of the highlights, but keep your eyes out for a part two because this park had so many gorgeous garden spaces there is much more I want to share.

kitchen garden with lots of marigolds planted along edges

Assiniboine Park might be the first public gardens I visited that featured a truly impressive kitchen garden. I’ve seen small sections in other parks dedicated to edibles, but often herbs and absolutely nothing of this magnitude. Of course, the vegetable garden’s favorite flower, the marigold, was on full display here.

three large pots of various plants

Another fabulous companion plant spotted in these stunning pots, nasturtiums. Actually a tasty edible flower itself, this flower is often grown for its ability to attract bugs like aphids, which keeps the pesky pests away from your precious crops. Though the most common varieties don’t have the flashiest flowers, I think their circular leaves are very interesting and a great contrast to the bold red banana tree (Ensete ventricosum, annual)  and spiky ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum, annual).

hill-like mound covered in ornamental grass

Even before I was done winding my way through the kitchen garden, these out-of-this-world mounds of ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, Zones 5–9) were catching my eye from a distance. When I got closer, I was enamored. This was the start of the “Sensory Garden” and I couldn’t think of a more apt name.

These striking masses of plants invite you consciously slow down and immerse yourself in the garden from all different angles and perspectives. The gravel and stone paths literally leading you through, up, and around these plants so rich with gentle movement and sound (though there wasn’t even a whisper of a breeze on the day I visited 😅).

view of garden from elevated platform

This included a great elevated viewing platform that allowed you to take in the garden from above.

ornamental grasses in the garden

Ornamental grasses were the real star of this garden (very appropriate for a garden at the start of the Canadian Prairies) , on the mounded masses and throughout the beds. Here, ‘Blonde Ambition’ blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’, Zones 4–9) looks like a frenzy of flying bugs next to the arching plumes of fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides and cvs., Zones 6–9).

bright pink flowers surrounded by ornamental grass

Even more fluffy ornamental grass creates a spectacular fine-textured frame around this pop of bright pink bee balm (Monarda didyma, Zones 6–9).

ornamental grasses and other fine-textured plants

Big, bold flowers and large, lush leaves get lots of attention, but don’t underestimate all the thin and wonderfully wispy plants. Planted in mass, like this wonderful swath of Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia, Zones 4–9), these plants look like colorful clouds floating in your garden beds.

tiny pink flowers in front of mass planting of ornamental grass

And the plants just kept getting finer and finer until they were nearly see through! Here, ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass makes a gorgeous golden backdrop for the skinny-stemmed meadow rue (Thalictrum rochebruneanum, Zones 5-9).

I can go on for hours talking about this garden, but I’ll stop there for today. Next week I’ll continue this tour and show you what was on display in the Indigenous Peoples Garden, English garden and Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. Have a wonderful weekend, GPODers!


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    musabasjoosue 06/07/2024

    So many great gardens to visit, so little time! Thanks for putting this one on my radar.

  2. User avater
    user-7007816 06/07/2024

    Great photos. I wish we lived closer. Thanks for sharing.

  3. jos29803 06/07/2024

    Beauty, peace, serenity and comfort.

  4. btucker9675 06/07/2024

    Love me some ornamental grasses - glorious garden!

  5. user-6841468 06/10/2024

    why is the garden of the day not always the right one that is emailed to me? today's emailed one was from Friday, instead of about Martha's Vineyard garden. Plus i never received the part 2 of blue flowers. i received a duplicate of another day. i found the right ones online. what's going on?

    1. khayes22 06/10/2024

      Hello - so sorry for the technical difficulties. We're having an issue with the programming that sends out the daily email. We're are actively working on resolving the issue. Thank you for your patience!

  6. btucker9675 06/10/2024

    What a terrific garden! I especially love the bright pink bee balm against the grasses. Wonderful place...

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