An enchanting garden in the heart of the city: the Montréal Botanical Gardens

Katerina Bulovska
Living plant sculpture from the Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013. Matias Garabedian. CC BY 2.0

The Jardin Botanique de Montréal is a picturesque garden in Canada, founded in 1931 by the determined Brother Marie-Victorin.

Despite the harsh climate in Quebec and the economic crisis of the Great Depression, he initiated the creation of one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world.

The Montreal Botanical Gardens fully blossomed in 1936 when Marie-Victorin shared his vision with German botanist Henry Teuscher, who liked his plans and accepted the position of chief horticulturist of the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

Teuscher turned the garden into one of the finest in the world and is regarded garden’s “other father”. Today, it is one of the most visited sites in Montreal, attracting from 700,000 to 900,000 people a year.

It occupies an area of 185 acres (75 hectares) and contains a collection of 22,000 species and cultivars, ten greenhouses, and 30 thematic gardens.

The most popular areas are the First Nations garden, Chinese garden, Japanese garden, alpine garden and the rose garden, as well as an arboretum that includes approximately 7,000 trees and shrubs.

Flower-covered beetle in the Montreal Botanical Gardens greenhouse, 2005. GarrettRock. CC BY-SA 3.0

The Insectarium is an interesting feature of the garden which has over 160,000 insects, among which are tarantulas, scorpions, scarabs, and many different arthropods.

From November until April, the gardens are coated with snow, and only the greenhouses and Insectarium remain open, but the garden is most beautiful from May to September.

The rose garden is the most romantic spot in the Montréal Botanical Gardens, with its collection of more than 10,000 rose specimens, some of them even more than 150 years old.

It is divided into a perennial garden planted with polyantha and floribunda roses, and a shrub garden planted with rare wild roses. Other colorful collections in the botanic garden include the Nordic rhododendron, the orchid, and the alpine plant collection.

Japanese Garden, Montréal Botanical Gardens. elPadawan. CC BY 2.0

The Japanese garden was designed by the landscape architect Ken Nakajima, using the characteristic element of Japanese garden design: stone.

The concept of the garden is consistent with traditional Japanese gardens, creating a sense of inner peace and tranquility.

It was completed in 1988 and is full of exotic plants and trees. The oldest is a bonsai needle juniper that is over 370 years old.

Chinese Garden, Montreal Botanical Gardens

In 1991, the largest Chinese garden outside China, and one of the most extraordinary was opened, to mark the close friendship between the two countries.

The Chinese garden was designed by Chinese architect Le Weizhong and is modeled after the gardens of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). It is planted with 75,000 specimens, including lotuses, also known as Buddha flowers.

Besides being famous for its beauty, the Chinese Garden is also known for its symbolism, such as the lotus representing purity and bamboo, the symbol of virtue.

Guarding the entrance are two lions, indicating authority. Three stars that represent the star gods Fu, Lu and Shou, symbolizing prosperity, wealth, and longevity, can also be seen.

Living plant sculpture from the Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013. Matias Garabedian. CC BY 2.0

In 2013, the Jardin Botanique de Montréal hosted a competition of living horticultural art called Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal 2013.

For the occasion, more than three million colorful flowers and plants were used by 200 horticultural artists from 20 countries who participated in the competition.

A True Story by Shanghai, China. Matias Garabedian. CC BY 2.0

The exhibition was titled ‘Land of Hope’ and it featured more than 40 works of art. Among the amazing exhibits were a floral version of a 1,500-year-old mosaic discovered in Turkey in 2000 named “The Gypsy Girl”, and a Phoenix from an ancient Chinese legend made of begonias.

Life-like horticultural replicas of endangered mountain gorillas from the Virunga Mountains in southwest Uganda and aquatic species from the island of Okinawa also featured.

The Phoenix by Beijing, China. Matias Garabedian. CC BY-SA 2.0

Annual events that take place include the Gardens of Light in September, which imitates the ancient traditions of Imperial China.

During the magical Butterflies Go Free event, hundreds of colorful butterfly and moth species from the Philippines, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Tanzania, Malaysia, and the United States are set free in the greenhouses for the winter months.

Some of the oldest surviving botanical gardens in Europe

With idyllic landscapes and colorful, vibrant plants in many different shapes, forms, and sizes, the garden is one of the most beautiful and impressive botanical gardens in the world. In 2007, it was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.