Montréal’s Jardin Botanique is the third-largest botanical garden in the world, after London’s Kew Gardens and Berlin’s Botanischer Garten. Since its 1931 opening, the 75-hectare garden has grown to include tens of thousands of species in more than 20 thematic gardens, and its wealth of flowering plants is carefully managed to bloom in stages. The rose beds are a sight to behold in summertime. Climate-controlled greenhouses house cacti, banana trees and 1500 species of orchid. Here are some of the garden’s highlights.
The twinning of Montréal with Shanghai gave impetus to plant a Chinese Garden. The ornamental penjing trees from Hong Kong are up to 100 years old. A Ming-dynasty garden is the feature around Lac de Rêve (Dream Lake). In fall (mid-September to early November), the Chinese Garden dons its most exquisite garb for the popular Magic of Lanterns, when hundreds of handmade silk lanterns sparkle at dusk. Montréalers are devoted to this event and it can feel like it’s standing-room only even though it’s held in a huge garden.
A popular draw is the landscaped Japanese Garden with traditional pavilions, tearoom and art gallery; the bonsai ‘forest’ is the largest outside Asia.
Frédérick Back Tree Pavilion
In the northern part of the Jardin Botanique you’ll find the Frédérick Back Tree Pavilion, a permanent exhibit on life in the 40-hectare arboretum. Displays include the yellow birch, part of Québec’s official emblem.
The First Nations Garden reveals the bonds between 11 Amerindian and Inuit nations.
This is a prime spot for birdwatching, so be sure to bring your binoculars. Look out for nuthatches, woodpeckers and goldfinches (among many others), who visit the feeding stations.