On a recent vacation to Quebec, my husband—who is not really into gardens—made sure we visited this one. It was listed in all the guides as a “must-see” for everyone from tourists with just one day in Montreal (we had two) to horticulturists. Comparable to Kew in London and the Huntington in Los Angeles, the Montreal Botanical Gardens encompass 180 acres, display over 20,000 types of plants, and include extensive exhibition greenhouses.
The setting is parklike, with shrubs and bedding plants beautifully incorporated into the landscape.
The ambience is inviting, with numerous areas for sitting and enjoying the scenery.
But unlike a public park, the plant material is anything but ordinary. Everywhere you look there are unusual plants and combinations—great ideas designed to inspire visitors to try them in their own gardens.
Pink coneflowers, for example, are paired with an ornamental grass that has delicate pink seedheads.
All plant material is pristine, and many beds are changed seasonally. The garden must employ an army of gardeners.
It’s not all flowerbeds; this lake is surrounded by serene greenery.
Everything is on a grand scale…including the vegetable garden. I wonder what they do with all those cabbages.
There are both Japanese and Chinese gardens and numerous examples of bonsai and penjing (a Chinese art form that preceded bonsai).
The pattern in the pavement in this walled Chinese garden consists of pebbles turned on their sides.
This walkway is within one of the greenhouses. You can go from one to the next without going outdoors. If I lived in Montreal and feeling garden-deprived during the long winter, I’d hang out here all the time.
Cacti and succulents—the plants that I specialize in—are displayed as though in a SoCa setting, adjacent to a red-painted front door and clay tile roof.
Agave americana gets no respect in my part of the country; in Canada, it’s somewhat exotic. This specimen looked a little peeved at being grown indoors.
Unusual flowering plants in the greenhouses grow in lush abundance.
Another simple yet super idea, which I noticed as we headed for the exit: red-frilled coleus with bright red cockscomb. (Many thanks to my husband, Jeff!)
More info: Montreal Botanical Gardens.