Garden Adventures in Quebec, Part Two

– Posted in: Garden Adventures

White and red

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.

Overview copy

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

Pink coneflowers, for example, are paired with an ornamental grass that has delicate pink seedheads.


Yellow & burgundy beds

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.

Vegetable beds

Everything is on a grand scale…including the vegetable garden. I wonder what they do with all those cabbages.

Chinese pagoda

There are both Japanese and Chinese gardens and numerous examples of bonsai and penjing (a Chinese art form that preceded bonsai).

Chinese garden, bonsais copy

The pattern in the pavement in this walled Chinese garden consists of pebbles turned on their sides.

White collonade

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.

Red door

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.

Basket plant

Unusual flowering plants in the greenhouses grow in lush abundance.

Coleus & coxcomb

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.

Debra Lee Baldwin
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified, all Timber Press bestsellers. Her goal is to enhance others' enjoyment and awareness of waterwise plants and gardens by showcasing the beauty and design potential of succulents via books, articles, newsletters, photos, videos, social media and more. Debra and husband Jeff live in the foothills north of San Diego. She grew up in Southern California on an avocado ranch, speaks conversational Spanish, and at age 18 graduated magna cum laude from USIU with a degree in English Literature. Her hobbies include thrifting, birding and watercolor painting. Debra's YouTube channel has had over 3,000,000 views.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin
15 comments… add one

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Sylvia (England) October 7, 2009, 6:30 am

Debra, lovely pictures. My husband is very good about wandering around gardens as well, though if there is a historical house or castle attached so much the better! You are right, the pink coneflower and grass look good together and I will be considering this for my garden.

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

Hi, Sylvia — Iagree. Great architecture really enhances a garden tour. I love the way historic homes are like time machines, and you really get a sense of what it was like to live back then. So many wonderful examples in England. Jeff is so sweet about indulging me. We went to Warwick when we were in England, as well as Kew and other great destinations. I should do a nostalgia blog! Debra

Eric Hegwer October 7, 2009, 6:59 am

It looks like a great visit. Next time in in Montreal, I’ll be sure to check it out.

Hi, Eric — You should. Just make sure you have at least half a day to spend there, especially if you go when the gardens are in full force. Debra

Lisa at Greenbow October 7, 2009, 7:05 am

I really like those simple yet beautiful ideas. That first photo is really eye grabbing.

Hi, Lisa — My photos didn’t do the place justice. This is a destination that would never be the same twice. Amazing what they accomplish there, on an ongoing basis. Debra

Dave October 7, 2009, 8:20 am

Beautiful place! I can see why it’s a must see.

Hi, Dave, it certainly would be a shame to be in Montreal and not go there. Even in the dead of winter those greenhouses, which are like beads on a necklace, would be worth it. Debra

our friend Ben October 7, 2009, 9:15 am

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Debra! It’s been too long since I’ve been there!

Hi, Ben, you’re welcome! Debra

kris at Blithewold October 7, 2009, 9:35 am

I’m with you – a big fan of the succulents and if I lived in Montreal they’d have to kick me out of that greenhouse in the winter.

Ha! I know. And they make it so easy to stroll and sit. Every greenhouse has two walkways through it, so you can do one big loop if you like. Debra

Joseph Tychonievich October 7, 2009, 10:23 am

I love the first photo — the combination of celosia with the grass seed heads is lovely! I’m going to have to take celosia off of my “ugly plant” list. Yet again I’m learning: There are no bad plants, just plants in the wrong places.

Good point, Joseph Some plants seem garish or common, but that’s because they’re used unimaginatively. I think your blog is terrific, btw. Debra

Helen at Toronto Gardens October 7, 2009, 12:33 pm

Obviously, I need to plan a visit. Montreal is a five-hour drive from Toronto, but that’s practically next door in Canadian terms.

Hi, Helen — Yes, it’s in your back yard. We had to cross a continent to see it! Debra

Alice Joyce October 7, 2009, 12:59 pm

Great post! Stunning gardens. Haven’t been to Montreal for a very long time. Maybe too long ;~D

Hi, Alice, Thank you. Yes, this definitely should be on one of your wonderful tours. (But go in summer.) Debra

Ken from Sweden October 7, 2009, 2:16 pm

Hi Debra,
Beautiful garden, nice to see a garden froma a zon almost like ours. Ken

Hi, Ken, Oh, my goodness, you’re in Sweden! Welcome to GGW! Debra

Marlene October 7, 2009, 2:43 pm

Thanks for a great tour. I love that greenhouse walkway; I have to believe that strolling that walkway in January would be soothing. Someday, the truckload of money will appear in my driveway and I’ll re-create this in my own conservatory. Until then, I’ll settle for photos.

Hi, Marlene. No kidding. I love the idea of a large garden in a bubble, with the wind howling and snow piled up outside. Debra

cityslipper October 7, 2009, 4:33 pm

It’s so nice to spend time at a garden where you can enjoy the designs without doing any of the work. I especially like that a public garden showcases kitchen gardening… as I scheme about replacing my lawn with something useful, I imagine various ornamental plantings of fruits and vegetables.

How nice that your spouse put your interests first… though he probably had a very nice time despite his lack of interest in gardens.

Hi, Daniel — I made sure to squeal and point a lot. Debra

Yvonne at Country Gardener October 8, 2009, 9:28 am

Nice work, Debra. Great to see these photos. I visited this garden about five years ago, and it was most impressive. I’m glad to see that it remains so in these austerity times. Hmmm, must plan another trip to Quebec to see it again.

Hi, Yvonne. How nice to hear from you! Btw, thank you for mentioning GGW on your excellent blog last month. You are a wonderful writer and photographer. That snow scene with the ornamental grasses is breathtaking, but everything you do is excellent. Yes, do go to Montreal, and be sure to take your camera! Debra

Commonweeder October 8, 2009, 12:19 pm

Beautiful photos of a great garden. When we visited two years ago, there was a special exhibit from China for the Moon Festival which is the Full Moon of the eighth lunar month. We spent a couple of years in China and the splashy exhibits made us misty.

Nancy October 14, 2009, 3:41 pm

What a gorgeous looking place!! I’ll definitely have to remember that if I’m ever back east (I’m in BC). I know you said your photos don’t do it justice, but your photos make me want to go there 🙂

That’s so sweet of you, Nancy. Do let us know if you go, OK? Debra

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