The Montreal Botanical Garden is a surreal paradise
One of the largest and most impressive botanical gardens in the world is located just minutes from downtown Montreal, close to the bustling streets of Quebec’s beloved capital. The Montreal Botanical Garden is more than an oasis of tranquility and natural beauty amidst the bustle of the city; it is a place of botanical study, conservation, scientific advances and carefully designed garden worlds. The varied greenhouses, thematic gardens, sculpted landscapes and more than 10,000 different types of plants on display at the Montreal Botanical Garden are more than a garden, a real living museum.
How the Montreal Botanical Garden was born
The Botanical Garden is part of Montreal’s Space for Life, a natural science museum complex located near the Olympic Park, the largest of its kind in Canada. It houses not only the Montreal Botanical Garden but also the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, the Biodôme, the Biosphere and the Insectarium. The Botanical Garden is the oldest of these structures.
Plans for a botanical garden in Montreal had been in talks since the 19th century, but it was in the 1920s that the young botanist Brother Marie-Victoire, very passionate about the fact that Montreal needed a botanical garden, put the plans in practice, in partnership with horticulturists, gardener and landscape architect Henry Teuscher. In 1931, the botanical garden was officially founded and construction began, even during the Great Depression and World War II.
Educational and scientific mission
From the outset, the project of Brother Marie-Victoire and Henry Teuscher was to make the Botanical Garden a place of research and teaching. Brother Marie-Victoire was a professor of botany and the gardens were used for research and learning as early as 1938 and a collaboration established in 1943 with the University of Montreal still thrives today.
Scientists from the Institute for Research in Plant Biology (IRBV) can still be seen in the gardens, where research into phytotechnology, molecular biology, environmental conservation, ecology and plant life is regularly carried out. ; the research carried out at the Botanical Garden is invaluable to the city. The Garden’s initiatives aimed at raising awareness among Montrealers, encouraging enlightened tree planting and teaching children the basics of gardening, as in the Jardin des jeunes, are also an integral part of the Botanical Garden’s mission.
The surreal gardens of the Botanical Garden
Covering an area of 75 acres, the Montreal Botanical Garden is home to more than 10,000 species of plants, ten greenhouses, 15 thematic gardens, three cultural gardens and the Frédéric Back tree pavilion. Each garden and greenhouse has a specific theme or type of plant, and walking through each of them is like a wonderful walk through different plant worlds.
The shrub garden with its ornamental and rare shrubs, the Alpine Garden bringing the Himalayan mountains and their flowers to Canada, the rainforest rainwhere it is hot and humid even at the height of the Quebec winter, the Garden of Innovationswhere seasonal blooms are organized into ever-changing ornamental compositions, rose gardenthe fern greenhousethe Vegetable garden, Medicinal and Poison Plant Gardens (separate, no worries!) and many more waiting to be explored.
Of the themed gardens in the Botanical Garden, three are particularly special, as they were built to honor and explore cultures that had very specific connections to plants and natural gardens. These are the Japanese garden, the Chinese garden and the First Nations garden, all idealized by Henry Teuscher as early as 1930.
The Japanese garden, which opened in 1988, is the product of renowned landscape architect Ken Nakajima. There were also different gardens inside, such as a promenade garden, a tea garden, various bonsai trees, pavilions, and stone streams to promote peace and quiet.
The Chinese garden is described as a “painting that comes to life”. Built in 1990 by Le Weizhong, then director of the Shanghai Institute of Landscape Design and Architecture, the construction seeks to interpret nature as an art form and create harmony between plants, the pond, the stones and the architecture of the walls and the typical Chinese temple.
The First Nations Garden opened in 2001 with the intention of showcasing Quebec’s original forest plants and showcasing the culture and botanical knowledge of Indigenous, Inuit and First Nations peoples, as the original inhabitants of what is now Quebec and a people rich in knowledge and in uses and relationships with plants.
Special events at the Montreal Botanical Garden
Every year, there are a few special events held at the Montreal Botanical Garden that elevate the experience of visiting it to new heights. The Taste You Garden gourmet tasting party throughout the month of August, and from September until October, takes place the most anticipated event of the Garden: the Gardens of lighta poetic, moonlit celebration, where visitors can see the already beautiful gardens take on a magical aspect at night.
How to visit the Montreal Botanical Garden
The Montreal Botanical Garden is just one part of the Space for Life complex and is very accessible, just minutes from downtown Montreal. Rules and guidelines are available to direct visitors. Tickets can be purchased online at varying rates.
- Location: 4101 Sherbrooke Street East, Montreal
- Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday