Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Gardens of Montreal

     I haven't been blogging because I was in Montreal and Ottawa last week, the first time for me travelling that far East! Montreal is a beautiful city with a long and rich history which is also reflected in their gardening too. Montreal is gardening zone 5b, a couple higher than Calgary and one can tell with the broader selection of plant material. The city is amazing in so many ways from the 500 year old buildings to the way so many little nooks and crannies are planted with complex patterns of perennials or annuals reminiscent of the French knot gardens.

     This urban garden is part of The Governors Mansion and is free to the public, the house is a museum and the garden is a learning place to illustrate how people in the 1700's grew things. So, imagine this place four times larger and growing all the food for the residents ranging from vegetables and herbs to grapes and espaliered fruit trees. The  trimmed box wood and evergreens really set off that formal European look which I think influences gardens all over the city.

     Of course if you're into gardening a trip to Montreal would not be complete without a visit to the Botanical Gardens. The Gardens are easily accessible by the Metro (subway) and contain several collections in greenhouses as well as expansive outdoor collections, we did not see the whole thing because it's so large! Here a large reflecting pool sits at the end of the ornamental shrub collection.

Some of the greenhouse themes, bromeliad and rainforest garden, orchid collection, and the fern house. Each unique and beautiful and probably a wonderful place to spend a winters day!

Above, the cacti and succulent house and one example of the Bonsai house. This is reminiscent of the Calgary Zoo in the old days when they also had the conservatories of different kinds of climes, before they knocked half of it down to cater to the entertainment factor of the butterfly house, which is lovely and all but I do miss the entire plant collection they used to have when I was a boy, what happened to all those plants????

     The rose garden was very impressive, I feel like I've seen many rose gardens from Portland Oregon to Vancouver BC to the Calgary Zoo and must say this one was very impressive. Once we started rounding the corner from the Japanese Garden we could smell the thousands of roses!

     There is a large Chinese Garden here, the largest outside China as it says in the brochure unfortunately most of it was closed and the ponds had been drained for maintenance . Also, I thought the plant sculptures were a permanent display at these gardens, but they are not! If you saw them online like I did and thought oh wow can't wait!, then you were looking at the mosaiculture competition from 2013, who knew!?!?

     The Montreal Botanical Gardens are one of the major horticulture collections in North America  and a must see if you're in the area. I wish I had a slightly cooler day, more time and a more patient companion, after 3 hours of walking in 30 degrees we had enough of the heat and had to move on. One thing I really liked was every plant has a little tag that says when it was collected or how old it is known to be no matter if it is a 40 year old elephant palm or an ash tree planted in 1992.

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