One of the loveliest places in the Hamilton, Halton, Brant Region to spend a summer day outdoors is the Royal Botanical Gardens. While the gardens are easily accessible from most anywhere in the Greater Toronto Region, I'm fortunate in that they are practically in my backyard.
Royal Botanical Gardens (the "RBG"), located in Burlington, Ontario, is both the largest botanical garden in Canada and a National Historic Site. Described as a living, interactive museum with gardens and nature sanctuaries, the RBG features numerous year-round events, entertainment and public programs that appeal to gardeners, nature lovers and families. There are guided tours and activities available but I always enjoy aimlessly wandering the various gardens. It makes me happy just to see the many vibrant flowers in bloom.
My Favourite Gardens
On our recent visit, my 11 year-old daughter, Emma, and I spent some time browsing the indoor and outdoor displays within the RBG Centre before heading to Hendrie Park to explore outside.
One of my favourites at the RBG is the Mediterranean Garden, a 12,000 square foot greenhouse which blooms all year-round and makes me dream of lazy summers in the south of France or Italy.
Whenever we visit the RBG though, we spend the majority of our time in the gardens of Hendrie Park. The two calm reflecting pools that greet visitors as they exit the RBG Centre into the gardens are the perfect introduction to the diverse collections of the park which include everything from rose gardens, to wild flowers to medicinal plants.
With so many varieties of colourful flowers and diverse gardens, Hendrie Park is a photographer's dream. It's tempting to try and capture each lovely bloom so I have to remind myself to pause and just enjoy the beauty without looking through the lens of the camera. For me, strolling the garden paths at this time of year is a mood-lifting experience. It's impossible not to feel a sense of peacefulness in the natural setting of the park.
Earth Art Exhibition
On our recent visit to the RBG, Emma and I were able to see a number of pieces of art that are part of the current Earth Art Exhibition which opened on July 1st and runs through October 13, 2014. There are 16 works on display in the RBG Centre, Hendrie Park, Laking Garden and the Arboretum - eight of which are new this year.
Earth Art, also known as Ephemeral Art, is a relatively new genre of work created using natural elements such as earth, stones, trees and plants. This year eight Canadian and international artists were invited to create original art installations using only materials from the RBG gardens and lands. The artists arrived to begin work on their projects on June 15th and had fifteen days to complete the sculptures. Both of us enjoyed discovering each unique piece of work and were amazed at what the artist had been able to create out of natural materials. There is a placard beside each sculpture which has information on the piece, the materials that were used and a quote by the artist which were quite interesting to read as we discussed the artwork.
Additional sculptures from previous years' exhibitions are also on display throughout the gardens and the RBG Centre.
Lunch in the Gardens' Café
After spending two or three hours exploring the gardens, one might find that a bite to eat will be necessary. There are two choices at the RBG - the Turner Pavilion Tea House in Hendrie Park or the Gardens Café in the RBG Centre. On our recent visit we dined in the café and had a delicious lunch in a pleasant setting looking out onto one of the courtyards. It was the perfect end to a lovely day.
Heart of Ontario - Hamilton Halton Brant
Once again this year, the Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association is offering a Heritage Passport promotion which will allow visitors and residents to enjoy many of the experiences in the Heart of Ontario at a reduced cost. The Red, White and True Canadian Heritage Passport is available free of charge and offers over $400 in savings on 20 experiences in Hamilton Halton Brant.
The offers fall under five categories - Canadian Military Heritage; Canada's Founding Families; Canadian Innovation & Transportation; Canadian Sport & Landscapes; and First Nations Culture & Heritage. The passport includes 2 for 1 admission at thirteen different heritage sites in the region, discounts for three different activities on the Grand River, and a variety of special offers and VIP experiences including discounted admission to the Royal Botanical Gardens. The passport can be used through the end of October, 2014.
What You Need to Know
- The Royal Botanical Gardens are located at 680 Plains Road West in Burlington, Ontario.
- The RBG includes the RBG Centre; Hendrie Park; Laking Garden; the Rock Garden (closed for rejuvenation until spring 2015); and the Arboretum.
- The RBG has 2,400 acres of land accessed by 27 km of walking trails.
- The Gardens are open year-round - generally daily 10am - 8pm. Check the RBG calendar for special events.
- Admission pricing is available on the website. Admission is free for children under the age of 4. Annual memberships are available.
- The property is smoke-free.
- Dogs on leashes are allowed in designated areas.
- The RBG is committed to accessibility. Wheelchairs are available for use free of charge. Service and companion animals are permitted in all buildings and garden areas. Persons with disabilities are required to pay full price, however, one attendant/caregiver receives complimentary admission.
- Interpretive guided tours and demonstrations are available seasonally - free with admission.
Thank you to Heart of Ontario and the Royal Botanical Gardens for inviting us to tour the gardens as media guests.