For many years, I used to take garden tour groups to the Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village in Whitby, Ontario. It was a display garden that featured, among other attractions, a miniature village based on life in Ontario, each structure built on a 1/12 scale. Think of a local version of Holland’s Madurodam and you’ll get the picture. I always found the miniature village fascinating as a garden as well, with its living plants and trees trimmed down to scale match the houses.
Sadly, the Gardens closed in 2006 and, as far as I knew, that was the end of the miniature village. I changed my group travel plans and started taking people to other gardens. Life goes on!
Then, on July 28, 2017, the miniature village, or at least part of it, magically reappeared in Niagara Falls, Ontario, at the Floral Showhouse, the display garden and greenhouse complex only a stone’s throw from Table Rock Centre, the principal site for viewing Niagara Falls.
If you’re in Niagara and can pull yourself away from the Falls for a few minutes, you’ll find the Floral Showhouse well worth visiting. The greenhouses are wonderful, with fantastic changing displays throughout the year, spectacular orchids and the granddaddy of all giant plants, the titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) … in multiple copies, at that. The outdoor gardens, with their pond and brilliant blooms, also change through the seasons … and now there is a miniature village too!
Village Saved From Demolition
It appears the miniature village was not destroyed when Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village closed, but stored away with the idea of reusing the houses one day. They passed through several hands over the years, but were finally taken over by the Niagara Falls Parks Commission in 2012. Some of the houses have been on display now and then since 2012, notably in the indoor Christmas shows, but many were in need of serious restoration (actually, restoration is ongoing) and it was only in 2017 that the first major permanent exhibit—called Life on Display—was finally opened.
The visit is included in the cost of visiting the Floral Showhouse itself.
Life on Display Exhibit
The most striking presentation is the scale reproduction of Parkwood Estate, one of Canada’s premier estates open to the public. (The real Parkwood Estate is a National Historic Site and the home of Samuel McLaughlin, a pioneer in the manufacture of motorcars in Canada.) Equally fascinating is “Muskoka Cottages,” a recall of the cottage-lined lakes of the Muskoka region of Ontario. Some houses now stand on pedestals, while a miniature train wanders through the garden. And the Floral Showhouse has added its own special touch: miniature treehouses made of bark and twigs.
It was altogether a lovely surprise to rediscover the beautiful miniature houses I thought were lost forever in such a gorgeous setting. Niagara’s Floral Showhouse has long been worth the visit … and now it has a stunning added attraction!
The Floral Showhouse is open daily all year long from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $3.75 for children, plus tax. You can simply walk there from the Falls: it’s an easy and picturesque stroll to the Floral Showhouse through the less visited part of beautiful Queen Victoria Park.