Montreal’s Botanical Gardens are among the most well known in the world, attracting tourists and locals alike. Located near the Olympic Park and a mere metro ride from downtown, the garden houses 22,000 plant species and cultivars, 10 large exhibition greenhouses, 30 thematic gardens, and a vast Arboretum. Its prominence lies in the wealth and diversity of its collections, which are devoted to research, conservation, and educational purposes. Taking a day trip to the Botanical Gardens will not only expand your knowledge of botany and the wonders of nature, but will also provide you with the opportunity to journey into Japanese, Chinese, and Indigenous cultures through the gardens inspired by them.
While my family was in town visiting, I jumped at the opportunity to take them to the gardens. I could not let them leave Montreal without having seen this local landmark. The four of us geared up for a long day of walking and hopped on the metro. Disembarking at the Pie-IX metro station on the green line, we skipped and jumped to the Botanical Gardens entrance. We instantly dove into a sea of peace and tranquillity.
Our first stop was the themed gardens, which ranged from Food Gardens to Medicinal and Poisonous Plant Gardens. Walking through rows of scarlet red tomatoes and enormous lettuce heads, this garden provides a glimpse into the wide range of plants that eventually find themselves on our plates. The food garden took us on a journey across the world and back in time, the plaques teaching us the medicinal properties of plants and how flower petals can be used to make oil and dye. The medicinal and poisonous plants garden was a great learning experience. It taught us to recognize certain plants that can be helpful or detrimental to one’s health—a skill that might come in handy on your next camping trip.
Next, we strolled through the lilacs and flowery brook. This was my favourite area: The pond filled with tranquil water lilies and swans looked like a scene directly from a Monet painting. Couples sat by the pond reading, and families enjoyed each other’s company. It was a peaceful environment where visitors could appreciate this vast garden’s breathtaking nature. A woman wearing a long purple dress holding a colourful parasol caught my attention––I felt inspired and pulled out my sketchbook to capture the moment.
We then made our way over to the Alpine Garden. From the Rockies to the Himalayas, from the Alps to the Arctic Tundra, this botanical journey shed light on the incredible diversity of plants that thrive in mountains and boreal regions. This garden is home to the widest variety of plant species in all of the Botanical Gardens.
Our visit ended with a cultural journey to the natural environments of China and Japan. The Chinese Garden looked like a painting come to life: The harmony between the plants, ponds, stones, and the traditional Chinese temple created an artistic scene for passers-by to appreciate. The Japanese Garden promoted a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere with Bonsai trees, pavilions, stone brooks, and tea gardens.
Before returning home, we decided to satisfy our hunger at the Garden Restaurant. This vegetarian and cafeteria-style lunch spot, located at the Gardens entrance, uses seasonal products and locally sourced produce. Some of the vegetables were even handpicked directly from the neighbouring Food Gardens. After spending the day reconnecting with nature and learning about the large variety of plant species on our planet, eating at this restaurant was a great way to celebrate and admire the nature directly on our plates.