Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or the countryside, botanical gardens can be a wondrous, colourful, inspiring escape from routine views and commutes. 

What makes botanical gardens not just regular parks are the wide array of plant and flower families preserved for history, conservation, public viewing, and environmental studies. You can spend the day wandering through the gardens, then explore the city in which it lives. 

Canada is full of botanical gardens from coast to coast, each offering stunning views of water features, flowers, and stonework–the perfect setting to spur some imaginative ideas for your own garden. There’s no shortage of beauty to explore, but these are four botanical gardens you can start with.

Butchart Gardens (Brentwood Bay, British Columbia)

A project envisioned by Ontarian-turned-British-Columbian husband-and wife-team, Robert and Jennie Butchart, Butchart Gardens is the result of a transformation of an old limestone quarry—and the results are stunning!

Now a National Historic Site, The Gardens feature more than 900 types of plants and florals, including feature areas such as the Sunken Garden, Rose Garden, Italian Garden, Japanese Garden, and Mediterranean Garden. Guests can also view and enjoy attractions and amenities including historic totems, Waterwheel Square—where you’ll find the visitor information centre, seed & gift store, and coffee shop—and boat tours, Rose Carousel rides, and more. 

Open year-round, Butchart Gardens is located at 800 Benvenuto Ave. in Brentwood Bay–23 kilometres north of Victoria, British Columbia. 

One of the fastest developing villages on the northside of Vancouver Island, Brentwood Bay is situated on the Saanich Peninsula, a municipality with a population of about 119,000 people. Additional destinations and attractions within the peninsula include the Brentwood Bay-Mill Bay Ferry, Coles Bay Regional Park, Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, Mount Work Regional Park, Saanich Fall Fair, and a wide range of championship-calibre golf courses.

Image via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/oSrd8B
Image via Mack Male on FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0

Muttart Conservatory (Edmonton, Alberta)

One of Canada’s top indoor botanical gardens, Muttart Conservatory preserves its more than 700 flowers and plants inside large glass pyramids, each of which are regulated in three categories: tropical, temperate and arid. There is also a feature pyramid for seasonal and special displays and events. 

This conservatory also hosts the Marigold gift shop, open and free to the public, which offers plants to take home, jewellery, crafts, décor, fashion accessories, and much more. 

Muttart Conservatory is located at 9626 96A St. in the North Saskatchewan River Valley area of Edmonton, Alberta. 

The largest urban parkland on the continent, the River Valleyprovides residents and visitors with more than 160 kilometres of nature trails plus attractions like Fort Edmonton Park, the John Janzen Nature Centre, and the Edmonton Valley Zoo. While there’s no census for the River Valley alone, the last census of Edmonton counted a population of about 972,000 people. 

Image via Flickr ​​https://flic.kr/p/WDkpHS

Toronto Botanical Garden (Toronto, Ontario)

A break for the eyes and mind from the urban jungle, Toronto Botanical Garden offers free garden tours, guided or self-guided, over four acres of space. Feature themed gardens include the Woodland Walk & Bird Habitat, the Pollinator Garden with Urban Bee Hives, Floral Hall Courtyard, Green Roof, and more. 

When visiting, be sure to stop by the TBG Bloom Cafe for coffee, tea, wraps, and pastries!

Situated at 777 Lawrence Ave. East, close to Toronto’s famous Bridle Path neighbourhood (hi, Drake’s house!), nearby attractions for its 2.9 million people and countless tourists also include Ontario Science Centre, Aga Khan Museum, CF Shops at Don Mills, and Sky Zone Trampoline Park. 

Image via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/P23gei

Montreal Botanical Garden (Montreal, Quebec)

Wth 185 acres of beauty, Montreal Botanical Garden offers 75 themed gardens and explorable greenhouses during all seasons. Greenhouse collections include Bonsai, Cacti, Ferns, Orchids and Aroids, among others, while garden composition includes Aquatic Garden, Courtyard of the Senses, First Nations Garden, Food Garden, Garden of Weedlessness, Japanese Garden, Medicinal Plants Garden, Rose Garden, Toxic Plants Garden, and more. In fact, there are more than 10,000 plant species ready to be discovered! Admission costs are required. 

Montreal Botanical Garden is located at 4101 Sherbrooke St. E, across from Olympic Stadium. Also serving environmental amazement and education to Montreal’s 1.78 million people and its visitors are the city’s famous Biodome, the Biosphere, the Insectarium, plus an out-of-this world exploration via the Planetarium.

Another must-visit space within Montreal Botanical Garden is the First Nations Garden, which opened in 2001 and presents “the close bonds First Nations and the Inuit have always had with the plant world.” First Nations Garden is the largest garden devoted to First Nations and Inuit in North America, with more than 2.5 hectares showcasing the knowledge and know-how of Indigenous peoples specifically related to plants and the plant world.

Botanical gardens are a beautiful way to walk through nature while discovering flowers and species you may have never heard of otherwise. They’re also a great starting point when planning a trip to your new city, giving you somewhere to begin your journey! 

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