With its 20 themed gardens and towering plant sculptures, many consider the Montréal Botanical Garden one of the world's most impressive collections of greenery.
Quebec's largest city, Montréal is much more than a concrete jungle. In fact, the Canadian city is home to one of the world's most beautiful gardens, the Jardin Botanique de Montréal.
Known in English as the Montréal Botanical Garden, this sprawling collection of 10 exhibition greenhouses and over 20 thematic gardens contains more than 22,000 plant species and cultivars.
Visitors can walk through the various themed gardens, stop by the Frédéric Back Tree Pavillion or go next door to the Insectarium, all in a day's time. Founded in 1931, Montréal Botanical Garden was made possible by the work of chief horticulturist Henry Teuscher and botany teacher Brother Marie-Victorin.
Take a look at the serene beauty and astounding variety of plants that have put down roots in the Montréal Botanical Garden.
The Montréal Botanical Garden's Three Cultural Gardens
The Montréal Botanical Garden houses three large cultural gardens: the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the First Nations Garden.
Rustic and a bit chaotic at first glance, the Chinese Garden reflects Eastern aesthetic principles. It is home to contrast and harmony, achieved by arranging four major elements: plants, water, stones, and architecture.
All of these elements exist in spatial harmony, a hallmark of the art of Chinese landscape design. This garden was created thanks to a partnership with the Parks Department of the City of Shanghai.
The nearby Japanese Garden uses stones, water, and plants combined to produce a simple environment — but one drenched in symbolism. At the heart of the garden, koi swim beneath the shade of water lily leaves. This is a wonderful place to meditate or reflect on the immense beauty of the landscape.
Finally, in the heart of the Montréal Botanical Garden, you'll find the First Nations Garden. This six-acre garden evokes Canada's natural environment and is the first infrastructure of its size anywhere in Montréal dedicated to the First Nations of Québec.
It has more than 300 different plants and 5,000 trees, shrubs, and grasses — highlighting native knowledge, customs, and traditions involving these plants. To create this incredible space, the botanical garden worked with a committee of First Nations representatives, ensuring cultural accuracy and avoiding stereotypes.
The Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion
The Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion is set in the northeast corner of the gardens. Its goal is to bring to light the importance of forests in our lives and to showcase collections from the Arboretum. Perhaps the best-kept secret of the pavilion is the extensive collection of miniaturized North American bonsai trees.
Frédéric Back, the namesake of the Pavillion, is the animation legend and two-time Oscar-winning director of the animated short "The Man Who Planted Trees". Back — who died in 2013 — spent his career creating films with an undertone of environmental and social consciousness.
The Arboretum And Other Must-See Gardens
The Arboretum, to which half of the Garden's total area is devoted, contains about 7,000 tree specimens and shrubs. Furthermore, these are broken into 50 separate collections that cover a variety of cultures.
This 99-acre area contains nearly every species of tree capable of growing in Montréal's climate. Imagine the sights as the seasons change; the bursting of buds in the spring, and the gorgeous foliage colors in autumn.
Next, you can stroll through smaller gardens such as the Alpine Garden, Rose Garden, Pond Garden, and Flowery Brook. Even the not-so-pleasant sounding Toxic Plant Garden is a popular destination, probably because of the juxtaposition of danger mixed with beauty.
If bugs are your bag, be sure to drop into the Insectarium, which hopes to foster positive attitudes towards insects and help us realize their role in ecological balance.
Depending on when you visit the Montréal Botanical Garden, you may also catch special events, exhibits, and activities. Recent conferences at the gardens have focused on topics ranging from biodiversity to how to grow your own vegetables on your balcony.
In 2013, the garden hosted a particularly beautiful event — a mosaiculture competition. Mosaiculture is the art of using plants to create living sculptures, and you can see many of the awe-inspiring competition pieces in the gallery above.
Finally, the five-system biodome and state-of-the-art laboratory are a hub for research and conservation projects.
The Montréal Botanical Garden is the perfect scenic getaway. An oasis within the bustling metropolis of Montréal that will remind you to slow down and see the forest for the trees.
Now that you've explored the Montréal Botanical Garden, read about the dark history of ceramic garden gnomes. Then, meet the famed photographer who planted 2 million trees.