Montreal does not disappoint the tourist. It offers rich history, global cuisine and a wide range of entertainment including numerous cultural festivals. Although predominantly a French city, practically everyone a traveler encounters is bilingual. Danny and I first visited Jardin botanique do Montréal in 2004 and I was eager to revisit them.
On Tuesday morning I was surprised to find many sections of the gardens still in spring disarray. I would expect them to draw peak crowds in mid-May, but Jardin botanique seemed unprepared. The remarkable bonsai collection in the Japanese garden was not open. Most of the manmade streams and ponds were dry. An army of gardeners teamed over the grounds, which was entertaining in itself.
We were happy to find at least the Chinese garden in close to peak form. This large enclave encloses a curving pond. The water had a milky hue, but that did not seem to discourage the wildlife. The air was full of the eerie trills of American toads a-courting. The garden makes employs surprising plants like great white trillium to great advantage. They are accompanied by more traditional specimens. Nothing calms the soul quite like a stone path littered with crabapple petals.
The alpine garden contains a stunning range of species. A huge number were unfamiliar, or I had only seen them in picture books. The landscape includes sections devoted to mountain flora from most of the world’s ranges. This year a new display in under construction to feature species from the Southern Hemisphere, including Africa, South America and Australia. While not as spectacular as the rockeries of Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, this collection expresses more about biodiversity. We missed this section on our first visit, but it is my new favourite.
The Aboriginal garden is more of a teaching garden than a designed landscape. Along forest paths, wanderers may view displays illustrating the use of plants by Inuit and other Native Canadian groups.
There are also extensive greenhouses featuring collections such as orchids and bromeliads. A number of smaller garden contain specialized collections. One of the most interesting was poisonous plants. A splendid collection of azaleas and rhodendrons can be viewed in May and June. The botanical gardens contain something for everyone interested in plants.