A treat for the senses: Why a visit to the Assiniboine Park is a must before summer ends

Posted August 20, 2021 | Author Breanne Sewards

I know I am not alone in saying that during challenging times, nature has been a true friend. Whether taking a simple hike or swimming in a lake, I feel renewed after spending quality time with Mother Nature.

Here in Winnipeg, there's a new way to soak up some of nature’s beauty. The Leaf at Assiniboine Park is Assiniboine Park’s latest and most ambitious venture. While the indoor, multi-seasonal portion of The Leaf is still under construction (and it’s going to be amazing), the almost-30-acres of The Gardens at the Leaf are open and in full bloom.

Before the summer is through, plan to visit the Assiniboine Park for patio drinks, snacks and a garden stroll - the perfect way to bid adieu to the season.

Cargo Bar

Cross the Assiniboine River Park Bridge and you'll find one of the most iconic spots in Assinboine Park. Set against the backdrop of the Park Pavillion, the duck pond can be further enjoyed with a cold beverage from the Cargo Bar pop-up. In their second year, this stylish patio has a number of seating options including a rooftop section which can be reserved for small groups by sending Cargo Bar a message on Instagram.

Choose from a delicious drink menu which includes Poptails - cocktails with a popsicle twist - and pair with a variety of snacks and small plates like nachos, fries, beet salad and a chicken wrap, made and delivered from The Park Café.

Next, walk, bike (with rentals from Bee2gether Bikes) or drive over to The Leaf at Assiniboine Park. There is a small parking lot and a trail that leads into the gardens.

The Gardens at The Leaf

I often joke with my partner Adam that we have become garden tourists before our time. Indeed, every trip we've ever taken together has intentionally or unintentionally included some kind of garden visit or tour. With time, I've come to understand the reason why many so-called garden tourists will travel across the country and even the world to see these blooming attractions: gardens are restorative and relaxing, blending art with the outdoors.

Now, these tourists and garden enthusiasts can add The Leaf at Assiniboine Park to their list. There are five spectacular themed gardens to see during your visit to The Leaf.

Indigenous Peoples Garden

The first garden you will see as you enter the Gardens at the Leaf is the Indigenous Peoples garden, with translations from 7 different Indigenous languages - Ojibway, Cree, Dakota, Oji-Cree, Michif, Dene and Inukitut.

Here, you will find gardens consisting of plants native to Manitoba and two unique zones: water and fire.

The water and fire sections feature unique art installations that depict the importance of each element in many Indigenous cultures, whether it be the role that women have as “keepers of the water” or as a physical space/element for ceremony.

Performance Garden

As events start up once again, the performance garden will provide a space for art forms of all kinds, with an outdoor stage surrounded by a landscaped seating area.

Sensory Garden

Next, the sensory garden is the place to engage all five senses - sight, smell, touch, taste and sounds. The garden is a reminder to slow down and really smell the roses.

In this area, there are gardens dedicated to aromatic species, swaying tall grasses set atop elevated topography (accessed via a flight of stairs - making it a great spot for photography) and more.

These senses must be attractive other species, too, as there was an abundance of Monarch butterflies fluttering throughout the sensory garden during our visit.

Seasonal Garden

Plan to return to The Leaf at Assiniboine Park in every season to check out the seasonal garden, which celebrates change with activities for spring, summer, fall and even winter.

Kitchen Garden

Last but not least, as you make your way closer to The Leaf, you will find yourself surrounded by lush vegetables, herbs and more in the kitchen garden.

All cultures have a tradition of growing their own food — and the kitchen garden serves as a reminder of what’s possible when you cultivate your own green thumb. Home and community gardens lower food bills, reduce your carbon footprint, and in this case, feed hungry patrons of the Assiniboine Park’s restaurant, The Park Café.

In the future, the space will also host a number of cooking demonstrations and classes. Stay tuned!

Travel Manitoba staff was hosted by Assiniboine Park, who did not review or approve this story.

About The Author

Hey! I'm Breanne, Editorial Content Specialist for Travel Manitoba. First to jump in the lake and last to make it down the River Trail. Lover of croissants, cats, and croissant-shaped cats. Got a story idea? Email me at bsewards@travelmanitoba.com.

Editorial Content Specialist