The Jardin Botanique de Montréal happily resides in one of the most lush areas of North America. It was founded in 1936 by one of Canada’s premier botanists, Frère Marie-Victorin and houses over 100,000 specimens representing 20,000 species. Second in size only to Kew Gardens in London, it is easily a rival for New York’s famed institutions.
There are nine public greenhouses and over 20 others that house research and maintenance plants from the world over. There are here some of the rarest medicinal herbs in the world, lovingly cared for by the Jardin’s gardeners. Associated with The Botanical Institute of the University of Montreal, it has the expertise and interest that has helped create one of the world’s finest botanical treasures.
Those specimens sit contentedly in a rock garden, a Chinese garden, a Japanese garden and many other attractions. There is a collection of alpine plants, orchids and a large variety of other flowers. Few botanical gardens can boast such a wide assortment of species from so many climate zones.
The Chinese Garden is one of the site’s proudest displays. It is reported to be the largest outside of Asia and holds hundreds of native species of that continent, such as the well-known penjing. Its winding paths and artificial mountain are the epitome of the Chinese style.
Nearby is the Japanese Garden with its renowned bonsai collection. Here you can see miniaturized, but not dwarf, species of all kinds. Bonsai are not genetically modified, but trimmed, pruned and groomed to retain their small size. Miniature plum, pine and windswept species of many types are here. Visit the tearoom when you’ve finished and enjoy a Japanese Tea Ceremony.
The Jardin also has an area that holds plants of a kind that might be found in the Sonoran desert. Cacti and succulents even bloom here, despite the variable cold and hot weather for which Quebec is famous.
At the west end of the city, the Jardin offers a relaxing arboretum, featuring willows and chestnuts, along with dozens of other tree species. Not far away is the famed Medicinal Plant Garden where species that have supplied cures since the Middle Ages can be seen.
Emulating a garden that might easily have been found in a monastery, you can hear about the most modern science used to care for them. Ask one of the friendly tour guides all about which of the herbs can help.
Along with the delightful plants there are waterfalls that mist the air, which will be appreciated on one of those typical hot Montreal summer days. One of the best times to visit is mid-August when many of the plants are at their most active. Visitors can sit and enjoy the smell of the orchids while they relax before continuing.
Located at 4101 Sherbrooke Street East, the Jardin Botanique is easy to reach via the Metro (Montreal’s subway). Just exit at the Pie-IX station.