Pat is a native North Dakotan, so at this point we’re headed back to his hometown to visit his brother on our way south. Back when Pat first took me to visit his fair state, I noticed the state nickname on the license plates – Peace Garden State. I asked about it and found that even he hadn’t been to see this special garden. So, it went on the “must-see” list and perfectly aligned with our exit from Canada. It turns out I really, really liked this spot and want to return to see it in another season.
We’re ready to be back in our own country with all our own customs and measurements. Yes, miles per hour, feet & inches, pounds & ounces, and boring money all the same color.
The International Peace Garden turned out to be a perfect border crossing spot and farewell location. Manitoba and the state of North Dakota partnered to set aside the garden and celebrate the peace between the United States and Canada. This cairn was dedicated in 1932 and the plaque says it so well. “To God in His glory, We two nations dedicate this garden, and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live, we will not take up arms against one another.” A lovely sentiment and we hope it spreads.
The grounds were so pretty with the Fall colors. The view West, East and the Promise of Peace sculpture.
The garden is unique since it straddles the Canadian and US borders and boasts the only structure built to also straddle the border.
Sitting on the bench in both peaceful countries. The Peace Chapel is behind me and sits on the border. You are invited to sit and contemplate a world without war, completely at peace.
Inside the chapel, the surrounding walls are all marble and are inscribed with quotes about peace. My personal favorite, Numbers 6: 24-26.
We weren’t sure what to expect at this time of the year, especially since it was rainy and cold all the way here from Riding Mountain. We had gloomy skies during the visit, but the grounds were still incredibly beautiful.
The fountains and the Promise of Peace Sculpture are in the center of the garden on the country border. The carillon was on the US “side” and serenaded us as we strolled.
My favorite tree…
The floral clock kept the correct time and has a different flower “theme” each year.
We also learned about the International Boundary Commission that maintains the border between the US and Canada. According to the Commission, ” It forms the boundary between ten states, seven provinces and one territory. It also traverses four of the five Great Lakes. This constitutes the world’s longest land border between two adjoining countries.” The Commissioners are mandated to maintain a 20 foot boundary “vista” for the entire border length. If you look closely in the picture above, you’ll see the break in the treeline forming that vista.
The most interesting part of this visit was the fact that we were “technically” not in either country. Well, we were, but we had passed the border entry station for Canada, but had not yet passed through customs to re-enter the US. The Internal Peace Garden entrance lies between the two. Again a perfect end to our Canadian travels as we pass back and forth freely across the border inside the garden for a few days. We could even pay for lunch and souvenirs with whatever currency we chose. We chose Canadian dollars since the exchange rate was in our favor and we had a little colorful currency left.
The Formal Garden
The deer are not favorites here. We saw them on the grounds, but missed the “ravaging”. They are not allowed in the prettiest of spots, probably because they eat everything in bloom!
I was particularly taken with the evergreen trees surrounded by flower beds. Such a beautiful contrast of colors and seasons.
All the colors of the rainbow in flowers. Crab apples, too. A few plants were frostbitten, but most were still gorgeous.
The Cactus Collection
There seems to always be a surprise waiting for us, even at planned stops. We knew there would be an extensive outdoor garden here, but who knew there would be one of the world’s larges cactus collections on site? The interpretive center houses over 1,000 plants that were part of Don Vitko’s donated collection. As a boy, Don started his collection in Minot, ND from a packet of seeds given to him by his grandmother in 1963. He traveled the world adding to his collection that grew to over 4300 different species of cactus and succulents and included nearly 6,000 plants. An unbelievable collection organized by regions of the world where the plants are found.
Did you know that all cactus are succulents, but not all succulents are cactus? It’s a tricky definition and basically they can all store moisture. We had no idea there were so many kinds. Love this perfect succulent specimen.
And the delicate little flowers! Definitely giving those outdoor show-offs a run for their money.
Now let’s talk texture. Everything from the spiky dog-collar look, to melted wax, frosting, Venus fly traps, and fuzzy mittens.
Then there’s this guy. He’s called the Old Man of the Andes and is from the high mountains of South America. These guys only grow above 9800 ft – at least in the wild. This collection is so extensive and special that they have a horticulturist from Africa who lives on site.
And the colors. The photos don’t do justice to the hues. They look like something from a Dr. Seuss book.
I want a Christmas tree just like this!
And one more since I simply couldn’t leave any out.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite shots of the fall colors on the grounds, and my second favorite quote from the Peace Chapel:
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again” –Author Unknown
Next up – Icelandic State Park followed by pure Scandimonium! See you on the way.