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One of my favorite activities during our visit to Montreal was a morning spent enjoying the beautiful fall weather at the Montreal Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanique). Holding the recognition as a National Historic Site of Canada, its sprawling 75 hectares of lush gardens and greenhouses are one of the best in the world. It currently boasts of over 20,000 plant species, over 20 gardens, and 10 greenhouses.
Our itinerary was supposed to be a visit to the Botanical Garden then the Montreal Biodome, however, we found out that the Biodome was closed for major renovations until December 2019. So I guess we’ll just have to settle for a view of the Biodome.
Montreal Botanical Garden
Address: 4101 Sherbrooke St E, Montreal, QC H1X 2B2, Canada
Operating Hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM | Some seasonal exhibits like the Gardens of Light are open from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
How to get there: Take the Subway or Bus to Pie-IX Station. There is a parking lot in front of the entrance and ticket booth facing the Biodome.
Website: Montreal Botanical Garden
From the Molson Reception Centre, we took a right and first found ourselves inside the Tropical Rainforests and Food Plants Greenhouse. Growing up (and living) in a tropical country, we recognized a lot of the plants and fruit trees in the greenhouse. It was interesting to see all the different fruits, vegetables, and spices, that provide sustenance daily in our lives all in one place. It is a great way to educate people, especially the younger ones, about where certain plant foods are from and how it is cultivated.
I am especially fascinated with the spices that were on display: Cardamom, Star Anise, Vanilla, Allspice, Black Pepper, Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Mace. I regularly use all these spices with my cooking, it’s interesting to see the plants that produce these spices.
Our next stop is the Orchids and Aroids Greenhouse. Now, while working on this post, I tried to find the names of the orchids pictured below so I can label it properly. There are apps that could identify the plant for you based on your photo. But if the image is not clear enough, there is a chance that it would not be able to identify the plants correctly, especially since some species have different varieties. I choose not to name it, to prevent misinformation since I’m obviously not an expert. Feel free to look it up though if you’re interested to know!
My late mother would have loved to see these blooming orchids. Over the years, she has tried but failed numerous times to grow and maintain beautifully bloomed orchids. I always think of her whenever I see orchids.
The last area in this part of the Main Exhibition Greenhouse is the Ferns Greenhouse. It’s green everywhere! On display were different specimens of fern plants, most are commonly found in tropical climates. There’s actually a few on the exhibit that are considered rare and possibly close to extinction in their natural habitat.
Also fascinating was the Arid Regions Greenhouse. It was my first time to see full-grown and large succulents. It is a fast becoming trend to grow mini succulent plants. Not only is it beautiful to look at, growing it doesn’t really require much attention.
Another beautiful greenhouse is the Garden of Weedlessness featuring a small pond and a collection of penjings, the Chinese version of bonsai. Contrary to popular belief, penjing or bonsai is not a dwarf tree. It could actually grow tall and big in the wild. It is the care, art, and style of the bonsai grower that keeps it short, shaped, and aesthetically pleasing to look at.
The greenhouse was conceptualized upon receiving a donation of miniature trees from a Hong Kong bonsai expert, Mr. Wu Yee-Sun. It was interesting to learn that it was actually the Chinese who developed the art of growing miniature trees and was only adapted and popularized by the Japanese. I’ve always thought that all miniature trees are called bonsai. It takes a certain discipline and lots of care and attention to master the art of growing penjings and bonsai.
The Japanese Garden also has some bonsais on display during the months of May through December.
The Montreal Botanical Garden hosted The Great Pumpkin Ball, a pumpkin decorating exhibition and I was absolutely in awe with the participants’ artistic skills and talent!
We had loads of fun admiring the wonderful artistic creations. Esmeralda, the good witch, was there to welcome the visiting children and adults with some stories and surprises!
This is definitely one of my daughter’s favorite parts of the visit. Here are some of my favorite pumpkins that were on display:
The outdoor playground also was also aptly decorated in time for Halloween! The Little Monsters Courtyard has a mini obstacle course where kids and their parents can play out in the sun.
From the Main Exhibition Greenhouse and the courtyard, we made our way to the Chinese Garden. You will first pass by the Entrance Courtyard and can cross over the bridge to the Friendship Hall and Springtime Courtyard. The Chinese Garden is home to over 300 species of plants and trees.
Featuring traditional Chinese architecture, walking through this garden will make you will like you’re in a time-period movie or the gardens of the Emperor Palace. The Dream Lake Garden was just picture perfect! The Montreal Botanical Garden collaborated with the city of Shanghai to design and create this lush oasis.
Did I mention that we were there on the most perfect fall day you could imagine?! No filters needed on any of these photos. I loved seeing the bright colors of fall scattered throughout this garden! If you are visiting Montreal in September or October, schedule your visit to the Montreal Botanical Garden in the late afternoon so you can also experience the Gardens of Light event.
Our next stop was the neighboring Japanese Garden, equally picturesque and beautiful! There is a certain feeling of serenity as you admire the beautiful and carefully curated landscape. Several bonsai trees are also grown in the garden, some are over a hundred years old!
Like the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden also has a small pond where you can watch several Koi fishes and enjoy the scenery.
I seriously underestimated the size of the Montreal Botanical Garden and looking back, we were only able to see about a quarter of the garden. It was still okay though because we did manage to see the highlights, most especially the big greenhouse exhibition halls. I also wished that I had known about the Gardens of Light Festival and had scheduled instead an afternoon to early night visit. Nevertheless, we had an amazing time exploring the gardens and admiring the beautiful fall colors. I think we spent about four hours exploring the area, but if you’re visiting during the summer, maybe add a couple more hours to fully enjoy your time in the garden. This is by far the largest and most beautiful botanical garden I have ever seen in my life! I absolutely recommend including the Montreal Botanical Garden in your itinerary during your visit to the city. I for sure would like to go back when I have the chance again.
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Check out my other posts about our Toronto, Quebec City, and Montreal Road Trip below:
Day 1: The Toronto Islands | CN Tower Experience
Day 2: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada | Must-See Sights in Downtown Toronto for First-Time Visitors
Day 3: Niagara Falls, Canada: Hornblower Cruise, Table Rock Centre and Outlet Collection
Day 4: Royal Ontario Museum | Kensington Market and Chinatown | Toronto’s Graffiti Alley
Day 6: Old Quebec Town
Day 7: Montmorency Falls | Musee de la Civilization
Day 10: Mont-Royal Parc