One of the biggest and most impressive Botanical Gardens in the world is located just a few minutes out of downtown Montreal, near the bustling streets of Québec’s beloved capital. The Montréal Botanical Garden is more than an oasis of tranquility and natural beauty amidst the busy hustle of the city; it is a place of botanical study, conservation, of scientific advancements, and carefully crafted garden worlds. The varied greenhouses, themed gardens, sculpted landscapes, and over 10,000 different types of plants in exhibition in the Jardin Botanique de Montreal is more than a garden, a true living museum.
How The Montreal Botanical Garden Came To Be
The Botanical Garden is part of Montreal’s Space for Life (Espace Pour La Vie), a natural science museum complex housed near the Olympic Park, the largest of its type in Canada. It houses not only the Montreal Botanical Garden but also the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, the Biodôme, the Biosphere, and Insectarium. The Botanical Garden is the oldest of these structures.
Plans for a botanical garden in Montreal were in talks since the 19th century, but it was in the 20s that young botanist Brother Marie-Victoire, who was very passionate about Montréal needing a botanical garden, would put the plans into practice, in partnership with horticulturalists, gardener, and landscape architect Henry Teuscher. In 1931 the Botanical Garden was officially founded, and construction began, even throughout the Great Depression and World War II.
Educational and Scientific Mission
Since its early days, Brother Marie-Victoire and Henry Teuscher's plans were for the Botanical Garden to be a place of research and education. Brother Marie-Victoire was a botany professor, and the gardens were being used for research and learning as early as 1938 and a collaboration established in 1943 with the Université de Montréal thrives to this day.
Scientists of the Institut de Rechérche en Biologie Végetale (IRBV) can always be seen at the gardens, where research on phytotechnology, molecular biology, environmental conservation, ecology, and plant life are regularly conducted; the research carried out in the Jardin Botanique is invaluable to the city. Initiatives of the Garden to bring awareness to Montreal citizens, encouraging informed tree planting, and teaching kids gardening basics, such as in the Youth Garden, are also a fundamental part of the Jardin Botanique’s mission.
The Surreally Beautiful Gardens of Jardin Botanique
At an amazing 75 acres, the Montréal Botanical Gardens host over 10,000 plant species, ten greenhouses, 15 themed gardens, three cultural gardens, and the Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion. Each garden and greenhouse has a specific theme or plant type, and walking through each is like taking a marvelous stroll 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 Tropical Rainforest, where its hot and humid even at the height of the Québécois winter, the Garden of Innovations, where seasonal blooms are organized in ever-changing ornamental compositions, the Rose Garden, the Fern Greenhouse, the Food Garden, Medicinal and Poisonous Plants Gardens (separated, no worries!) and even more are all waiting to be explored.
The Cultural Gardens
Of the themed gardens in the Jardin Botanique, three are particularly special, for they were built to honor and explore cultures that had very specific connections with plants and nature gardens. They are the Japanese Garden, the Chinese Garden, and the First Nations Garden, all actually idealized by Henry Teuscher even back in 1930.
The Japanese Garden, which opened in 1988, is the product of renowned landscape architect Ken Nakajima. It also had different gardens inside, like a stroll garden, a tea garden, various Bonsai trees, pavilions, and stone brooks to propitiate peace and tranquility.
The Chinese Garden is described as a “painting come to life.” Constructed in 1990 by then director of the Shanghai Institute of Landscape Design and Architecture, Le Weizhong, the construction seeks to interpret nature like an artform and create harmony between the 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 to showcase original forest plants of Québec and highlight the culture and botanical knowledge of Native, Inuit, and First Nations people, as early inhabitants of what today is Québec and a people with a well of knowledge and different usages and relationships with plants.
Special Events At The Montreal Botanical Garden
Every year there are a few special events hosted at the Montréal Botanical Garden that elevate the experience of visiting it to new heights. The gourmet tasting fest of Taste You Garden throughout August, and in September all the way through October, the most anticipated event of the Garden takes place: the Gardens of Light, a poetic, illuminated celebration of the moon, where visitors can see the already stunning gardens take on a magical aspect at night.
How To Visit Montreal Botanical Garden
The Montréal Botanical Garden is only a part of the Space For Life complex and is very accessible, a few minutes away from downtown Montréal. Rules and guidelines are available to orient visitors. Tickets can be purchased online at varying rates.
- Location: 4101, rue Sherbrooke Es, Montréal
- Hours: 9 AM - 6 PM Sunday through Thursday, 9 AM - 7 PM Fridays and Saturdays