The Montreal Botanical Garden
A downtown oasis of tranquility.
The Montreal Botanical Garden, properly Le jardin de Botanique,
is a delightful place to visit and Montrealers do so by the thousands. It is a two minute walk from a subway station and therefore wonderfully accessible. Many of the local visitors come just because it is a large, green, therapeutic space in the centre of a big city. Gardeners of every interest level find something there to inspire them and I am no exception.
There were several Iris varieties, such as this ‘Stairway to Heaven’, that I don’t have that are now on my ‘must get’ list. Not to mention a wonderful array of Peonies and I was there to attend the Canadian Peony Society’s annual meeting and show.
Vegetables? It did my small space vegetable gardener’s heart good to see the many ways the Montreal Botanical Garden were doing vertical vegetables. Bean frames, Cucumber trellises, (pictured,) and Pea cages were there in a variety of forms. Wonderful teaching tools for the thousands of urban gardeners who wander through.
My Soil Is Dry and Gravelly There is an extensive Alpine garden here at the Montreal Botanical Garden, with a variety of heights and grades and hundreds of varieties of plants that will thrive in low water regimens. Rocks and gravel and abundant colour of many heights and textures are exhibited. Even the owner of the toughest rocky hunk of ground could become inspired to be a gardener while wandering through this extensive space.
Ultimate Small Space Gardening! If you really have nothing to do with your time and want to do extremely small scale gardening go the Chinese garden and study the many penjing. 75 year old Chinese Elm trees growing about 50 cm high in a 15 cm container that also has some carefully placed rocks in it. Infinite patience, that I readily admit to admiring but realizing that I have no ability or desire to emulate. There is also a separate Japanese garden that allows the visitor to readily see the difference in these two gardening traditions.
How Tired Will I Get? This is quite a large garden but there is an excellent tram system that can readily move the throng of visitors to the various areas of the garden if they are not up to a walk of several kilometres. Despite the large weekend crowds you never feel like you are in a crowd. The areas that have the most bloom during your visit will obviously be the busiest but even there you will have ample space to enjoy yourself and to get an unhindered view of that amazing new Peony that you have just discovered. There are large areas at the Montreal Botanical Garden that get very little traffic and you can find yourself a bit of contemplative solitude with little problem.
How About Colour? In the Montreal Botanical Garden's formal entrance areas you can see just how to deploy a wide range of colourful annual flowers to create a “Wow” factor. They also plant an extensive range of containers so that their urban visitors can discover new and interesting ways to garden on their balconies and patios. I did notice a lack of vegetables in those containers but that particular gardening technique is just one of my weird passions. The Montreal Botanic Gardens also gets full marks for its labelling. There is nothing more frustrating than discovering a plant that is your new best friend only to be frustrated by not being able to find out what it is. This garden more than fulfills its mandate to educate the public by keeping the vast majority of its plant well labelled and being Montreal they are even usually bilingual. Actually trilingual because most carry the Latin botanical name as well as the French and English.
I Love Perennials! Last but not least I will point out the extensive perennial areas. The Iris and Peonies and Daylilies are spread in large beds with huge grass and pond areas around them. There are also separate perennial beds that are organized by type of plant or size and sometimes colour. The perennial gardener visiting the Montreal Botanical Garden will find it easy to discover something new that will fill that difficult space they have that requires a particular size or colour to fulfill your grand plan.
Knowledge is Useful Avoid the Poison Plant garden, it’s scary to know just how dangerous our gardens can be. Actually! Go and look; knowledge is our best weapon in all aspects of life.
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