Even in the dead of winter, the Montreal Botanical Garden offers a place to escape the concrete jungle and settle in amidst a lush vegetated environment. The gardens, greenhouses, and insectariums offer visitors a glimpse of flora and fauna from around the world. In warmer months, the carefully curated and planted grounds are an urban retreat, under the shadows of the Olympic Arena across the street.
Founded in 1931, the gardens take visitors on a journey through gardens of the world, both inside and out. The brainchild of Brother Marie-Victorin, the construction of the original Art Deco buildings helped to provide jobs for the many out of work due to the height of the Great Depression. Over 150 acres of thematic gardens and greenhouses make up the grounds, comprising one of the world’s most extensive and important collections of plant life and research facilities. The Botanical Gardens were meant to educate and excite the Montreal people, while also giving a lush and serene place to relax that any Montrealer could easily access via subway.
Aside from gardens that encompass China, Japan, Alpine, and a First Nations (indigenous Canadian plants) gardens, the grounds are home to the Montreal Botanical Garden School of Horticulture. Graduates study both ornamental and historical horticulture, as well as natural sciences and preservation within the on site research labs, covering plant physiology, genetics, ecology, and biotechnology, as well as conservation. Young Gardeners and amateur “Friends of the Garden,” can also learn about gardening year round.
Above all, the Botanical Garden serves as a social institution, which invigorates the public to preserve the natural environment of Montreal, promote tree planting policies and emphasize the importance of beautifying the urban landscape. The Montreal Botanical Garden functions as a platform for Montrealers to improve both their personal spaces and their city as a whole, but encouraging the growth and fostering of plants, trees and gardens through education and hands on experience.
images © Lori Zimmer for Inhabitat