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Botanical Gardens, Montreal, Canada - Revisited

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Article author: michael
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Some friends of ours from Toronto came down to visit us in Montreal for a few weeks, and as they had never been to Montreal before, we took them around to see some of the sights.

My wife and I had just been to the Botanical Gardens early last year, but as my wife absolutely loves flowers and gardens, and as our friends hadn’t been before, going back to the gardens was a must.

Botanical Gardens Info

  • Address: 4101, rue Sherbrooke Est, Montreal, QC
  • Hours:
    • Opens: 09:00
    • Closes: between 17:00 & 22:00, depending on the day & time of year
  • Time needed to visit: Minimum 3 hours
  • Free Entrance: Usually until end of April or beginning of May, basically until the flowers start to bloom
  • Official website: espacepourlavie.ca
  • Official Facebook page: facebook.com/Espacepourlavie
  • PDF map of the gardens: espacepourlavie.ca

Note: The Botanical Gardens are part of the “Espace Pour la Vie” group of places in Montreal, which also includes the Insectarium, Biodome, and Planetarium. You can buy a pass to visit some or all of these places at a discounted rate.

We were only visiting the gardens this time around, so we had to pay the full price, but if you are visiting more than one, you can save a decent chunk of change by purchasing the tickets at the same time.

Getting There

When travelling to any venue in Montreal’s downtown area, it’s usually best to use public transit. Our transit system here certainly isn’t the best, but it will usually get you to places like the Botanical Garden quite easily.

For the “Espace Pour la Vie” places, like the Botanical Garden, Insectarium, Biodome, and Planetarium, you can take the metro to the Pie-IX station on the Green line, and then walk about 10 minutes to the gardens. The other places noted are all in the same vicinity, so you can visit them all in one day if you want and can walk to them all from the metro station.

If you’re driving like we did, there are residential streets around the gardens you might be able to snag free parking on, but pay close attention to the street parking signs as the hours and days you can park vary sometimes even from one street to the next.

I decided to just park in the paid parking lot to save myself the hassle of trying to find a free spot since we were with our friends. We actually got lucky this time and ended up not having to pay for parking in the lot as Rogers, the cell network provider that the parking pay meters use, was having a major outage and none of the machines were working! 😎

If you are paying for parking at the Gardens, the current rate is $13.75 CAD for the day as of April 28, 2024.

Brief Botanical Garden History

The Montreal Botanical Garden was founded in 1931, and is considered to be one of the most important botanical gardens in the world due to the extent of its collections and facilities.

It was founded during the Great Depression, and was originally created as a means of creating jobs for the unemployed. The gardens were designed by Henry Teuscher, who was also the first director of the gardens.

The Gardens

When we visited last year, we came earlier in the year, when entry to the exterior gardens is free. This time around though we visited in summer, meaning no free entry, but also much more variety of flowers and plants to see.

One of the first differences you’ll notice visiting in prime season is that even the floral and plant arrangements outside the main gardens are done up, whereas in the spring, they’ve not yet been planted or are just starting to bloom.

Botanical Gardens

We picked a really great day to visit, with clear blue skies and perfect weather.

Botanical Gardens

In the following picture, you can see the upper part of the tower of the “Big O”, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, in the background. Directly adjacent to the stadium is the Biodome (not visible).

Botanical Gardens

The Chinese Garden

The Chinese Garden is one of the main attractions of the Botanical Gardens, and is one of the largest Chinese gardens outside of China. It’s also my favourite part of the botanical gardens here in Montreal.

The Chinese Garden is constructed along the traditional lines for a Ming dynasty Chinese garden. Covering 2.5 hectares, it has many winding paths, an artificial mountain, and a building in the Chinese style housing a collection of bonsai and penjing that have been donated. The garden is populated with Chinese plants. The garden was constructed from 1990 to 1991 by 50 artisans from the Shanghai Institute of Landscape Design and Architecture, directed by Le Weizhong. The project required 120 containers of material imported from Shanghai, including 500 tonnes of stone from Lake Tai in Jiangsu province.

Chinese Garden

Below is the layout of the Chinese garden:

Chinese Garden

We entered this time from the walled-area to the right in the image above, which is the main gate and courtyard to the Chinese garden, and walked around the garden in a counter-clockwise direction.

Chinese Garden

Chinese Garden

The pic below shows a part of the lake, that was nearly completely drained, with the Stone Boat partly visible on the right-side of the pic.

Chinese Garden

And this is the other end of the Stone Boat:

Chinese Garden

It’s really quite beautifully done.

After passing the Stone Boat and passing over the bridge that crosses over the lake, I saw that the lake was completely drained for some type of maintenance. When it’s filled, it’s really beautiful, especially with all of the colourful mythical creatures and objects within it.

Chinese Garden

Chinese Garden

The 2-story pagoda is open to visitors, but for the life of me I cannot recall if you can climb up to the top! I seem to remember doing so in the past, but it’s been over 10 years since I went into the actual pagoda, and I can’t find any info online about it, so I’m not sure if I’m just remembering wrong or not.

Chinese Garden

Chinese Garden

If you’re interested in some of the history behind the construction of the Chinese garden, there is some info and pictures from the construction of it at this slideshare.net link. Note that it’s in French though.

The Alpine Garden

We next passed through the Alpine Garden, which is a collection of plants from mountainous regions around the world.

There’s a nice, small, calm water feature in this area as you cross another bridge.

Alpine Garden

Alpine Garden

The Quebec Corner, Monastery Garden, & Garden of Innovations

A few of the gardens are in smaller sections, and housed somewhat together. They’re a bit out of the main gardens, but you can find some really nice plant and flower species here.

Smaller Gardens

Lilacs & Flowery Brook

From the Monastery Garden, we headed off to the lilacs and spent some time there. Well, really, I stood around while my wife and the ladies spent about half the day taking pics of each other in front of the lilacs and other flowers. 🙄
Actually, who am I kidding, they’d been doing that the whole time we were at the Botanical Gardens. 😂

Lilac Garden

So while they were doing that, I wandered off to the Flowery Brook, which is a nice little area with a small stream running through it, and a bunch of flowers and plants around it.

There were a few people sitting on benches just relaxing and enjoying the scenery. I can see why, it’s a really peaceful little area!

Flowery Brook

The Greenhouses

Once we (read: the ladies) were done taking pics here, we headed to the greenhouses to check those out. They haven’t really changed since my wife and I were here last year, so I won’t post the pics as they basically look the same.

Final Thoughts

Montreal’s Botanical Garden is one of the biggest in the world, and it’s filled with really beautiful flowers and plants. Summer is the best time to come, as you get the widest variety of flowers and plants to see fully bloomed.

If you have particular flowers or plants you want to be able to see, be sure to check out the Calendar of blooms on the official site. It will tell you when the flowers and plants you’re interested in will be in bloom.

And while I have yet to visit during the evening, the gardens are especially beautiful at night, when they’re all lit up.

To sum up - Montreal’s Botanical Garden is a must see if you’re in Montreal, especially in the summer! And remember, if you’d like to visit more than one of the “Espace Pour la Vie” places, you can save some money by purchasing a pass to visit more than one at once.

Until next time,
michael 😀

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