Reconnect with nature at the Botanical Garden

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

Montréal’s world-renowned Botanical Garden is part of Space for Life, the largest natural sciences museum complex in Canada.

With its new summer 2020 hours, guidelines, safety precautions and measures, the Botanical Garden is an ideal getaway for families looking for a calm and spacious oasis in the city.

City jewel

With its goals of conservation, research and education, the Botanical Garden – better known as the Jardin botanique by locals – was founded in 1931. Today it is recognized as one of the world’s greatest botanical gardens. The success of the Floralies international flower show in 1980 opened the Garden up to the world, and its 75-hectare site is now home to 22,000 plant species and cultivars, 10 exhibition greenhouses, the Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion, and some 30 thematic gardens.

As of June 15, the outdoor gardens (but not the greenhouses) are once again open to the public. Compliance with the new COVID-19 health and physical distancing guidelines has forced the cancellation of some activities scheduled for this summer. The Botanical Garden is offering a lighter program during the months of July and August that will give visitors and families an opportunity to escape and reconnect with nature.

Cultural gardens

The Botanical Garden is home to some 30 thematic gardens. Here are three of the most beloved:

The First Nations Garden showcases the wisdom, traditions and culture of North America’s first inhabitants vis-à-vis the plant world, from gathering food and medicinal plants to using wood and trees to build their homes. This garden reflects their deep understanding of the ties that unite humans and nature.

The Chinese Garden is a place of contrast and harmony, illustrating age-old principles of the Chinese art of landscape design. It features seven elegant classical structures inspired by the Ming Dynasty: the Entrance Courtyard, Friendship Hall, Springtime Courtyard, Green Shade Pavilion, Tower of Condensing Clouds and the Stone Boat. These graceful, elegant structures have all the finesse of traditional Chinese architecture. Do not miss seeing its small Dream Lake with bridges crossing over it.

The Japanese Garden is a meditative place where tree, shrub and stone has been carefully placed to create a harmonious whole, with pathways, streams and waterfalls.

The pavilions in the Chinese and Japanese Gardens remain closed.

The Alpine Garden

Children of all ages will delight in discovering the eye-popping diversity of plants that grow on mountains and in boreal regions on this global Alpine Garden tour, which takes visitors from the Rockies and Himalayas to the Alps and Arctic tundra. Visitors will also enjoy going on plant-hunting journeys using the GPS-enabled Alpine Garden app.

The Arboretum

Created in 1945, the Arborerum – Latin for “place planted with trees” – covers more than half the total area of the Botanical Garden, a vast woodland with some 7,000 specimens of trees and shrubs divided into 50 collections imported from all over the world. This is a wonderfully relaxing environment to wander around in with the breeze blowing through your hair.

The Food Garden

Discover aromatic plants, forage crops, vegetables as well as all kinds of fruits, herbs, berries and spice plants in the Food Garden. Visitors will learn not only about edible plants, but also about those valued for other purposes: textiles, tobacco, forage and oil seeds, perfumes, cosmetics, aromatherapy and pharmacology. This garden has been a popular destination since its opening in 1937.

Planning your visit

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the dining areas and Jardin botanique Restaurant are closed until further notice.

To better control the number of people on-site, only timed tickets are being sold. It is strongly recommended to purchase tickets online to limit in-person contact at the box office. Free admission for children aged 17 and under from June 15 to August 31.

Numerous measures have been put in place at the Botanical Garden to ensure the safety of visitors and employees.

Before heading out to the Botanical Garden, you can also check out the “Blooms of the week” online.

NOTE: No opening date has yet been announced for the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan. Given its status as a performance venue, directives are expected from the Québec Directorate of Public Health and the City of Montréal. The Biodôme and Insectarium construction sites are once again in operation. The opening date of the Biodôme will be announced by the end of the summer, while the Insectarium is scheduled to reopen in 2021.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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