The Botanical Gardens of Montreal, Quebec, Canada are second to none in the world and are both educational and a nice way to spend a great day out in the outdoors with the entire family. I did not find the price too expensive and it is accessible by rapid transit, so if you are paying for parking it is because you just have to drive your car. From the person who took my money and issued me a ticket to the lady who stamped my wrist gave me a site map and directed me on my way all were friendly, polite and professional. Thumbs up to the staff I was off to a good start.
It was an overcast day and because of that the lady at the gate suggested that I do the outside exhibits first and leave the green houses until last just in case we got the rain. Following her advice I headed down the flowered path to the Chinese exhibit. Stopping of course to smell and admire the gardens of roses that lined either side of the path. A man on a ladder attracted my attention and so I began my exploration of the Botanical Gardens of Montreal, with what just happended to be the Chinese Exhibit. As I made my way down a path towards an arched entrance way I began to hear the soft chinese music emanating from inside. I entered into a rather large garden with stone statues and placards telling you where you were and what the stones and the garden represented.
This garden opened up into the main exhibit and the first thing I saw was the pool, the waterfalls and then the buildings and I was momentarily in shock. It was almost too beautiful to look at all at once. Like suddenly coming upon an exceptionally beautiful, perfectly proportioned woman, one fights to see the whole woman while parts of her keep pulling your eyes somewhere else. I followed the path around the pool and stopped in the little shelter, housing a bathroom and small exhibit telling you about China and what you were seeing in the whole exhibit. The sky was darkening fast so I decided to continue and try to get to the next building before the rain fell. The path led down to the pool where one duck was swimming and then back up toward the little shelter and just as I stepped inside the first large rain drop fell.
Inside the pictures on the wall explained about how the chinese farmed tea and what the relationship was between Chinese people and tea. On the outside I could see others huddling close together waiting out the rain where I had started out and the one duck just sitting on the water oblivious to the rain and all of us humans. I took the opportunity to snap up photos of the entire exhibit. Thankfully the rain did not last long and I continued my way around the pool. I visited a small a gazebos like structure and looked at the fishes swimming in the pool tried to take some photos of them and left thinking what a nice spot for young love, so calm, so tranquil and so inviting.
Following the path I next entered the Alpine Exhibit and again I was struck by the beauty of the trees, the flowers and the naturalness of this exhibit. The little animals like a squirrel eating pine cones seeds and the cones sitting on the ground made this exhibit look smell and feel like you were really there. It was then that I heard it, the sounds of a waterfall. I can not resist a waterfall and so I headed off to find it.
On my trips through the Canadian Rockies in a moving van I had seen the water spewing out of the sides of the mountain in the distance, dropping what looked to me like hundreds if not thousands of feet and it never ceased to fascinate me. I took pictures of the flowers along the way walking on a path that circled in an upwardly direction, aping the look and feel of a mountain pass. Just as I rounded the last bend, a magnificent waterfall revealed itself to me and it was just how I remembered it from my adventures in the Rockies and I was transported back in time.
Nothing is wasted in this garden and true to life itself everything dies. What is nice about the garden is that nothing is wasted. When something dies it becomes food for other animals and insects in the garden and what is left is recycled and helps keep the cycle of life going. That is why I am posting this picture of a dead bird that I happened to see lying on the garden floor. It is not a beautiful part of nature but is a necessary part of life none the less and it should not be hidden or ignored.
I was captivated now and rain or shine I knew that I would complete this adventure in learning. The next exhibit was the First Nations People‘s Exhibit and at first glance it looks like it is going to be inferior in beauty to that of the other two, but one must be patient, because you will come to a lake almost hidden from view where ducks are swimming behind the safety of the reeds and bulrushes. The lillypads were flowering and the view was just spectacular. Pictures were a little hard to take, but I did not care I braved an over grown path and shot what nature would allow.
Leaving there and venturing away from the lake and deeper into the woods you come across an area with a tent and a lodge showing you where these people lived. There is a spot there in this exhibit where there is a modern learning center filled with artifacts, there are interactive displays that talk to the person watching and if requested a person will give a small talk to school children in a group. There is also a gift shop on site.
The people of the great north’s part in this exhibit was very small for obvious reasons, but I do think that more could have been done to show how these people lived and live. I left there thinking that the western idea of success has not served these people well. In my heart of hearts I could see with all of its hardships why these First Nations Peoples would love to return to that time and that place again, where they were able to walk and live in nature in peace, living off of the land in the tradition of their forefathers.
It was on to the Japanese Exhibit and as you entered it you instantly started to relax and got gently pulled along in its flowing beauty. It did not pull you it just sort of gently took you by the hand and guided you where it wished you to go and what it wanted you to see. The gardens of sand and stone (Dry garden) were just grand and the pools with the large carp were beautiful and captured the hearts of the people especially the children.
Everything about this exhibit spoke to the dignity and richness of this people’s history and culture. Even the waterfalls fell gently cascading by levels finally ending in the garden pool holding the very large, very beautiful carp. You will see if you go to the video that I almost missed the waterfalls and had to pan backwards to get the subtly flowing streams of water.
There was also a building that housed and exhibit showing what rooms would be found in a typical Japanese house, along with the furniture that would be in it and if you went outside you were treated to a Japanese garden. This exhibit lacked nothing in the way of showing what Japanese living is about and their love of nature. I would be remiss if I did not take the time to say that the Japanese exhibit has some of the oldest bonsai as well as some of the most beautiful. They are displayed in a garden type atmosphere and they are truly a delight. They are just so fragile looking. I left this exhibit in a state of peace and so happy to have gone in; quite the spiritual exhibit.
Off I was again walking through the great exhibits of trees of all kinds and flowers and spices. You see the marsh wetlands exhibit and the building that housed the wood exhibit and some of the oldest bonsai in the park, were at the top of the garden and I was about in the middle of my adventure. Unfortunately the seniors were not able to make it unless they went and drove their cars around to the top or they entered from that side as the small tour train that used to run all over the garden was not running this year.
Before I got to the marsh though, there was the children’s day camp which I passed by without exploring fully, but I did see some of their gardening that was on show. I passed it because by this time I was getting really thirsty and I knew water and bathroom facilities were in that building.
Thirsty or not I took time in the wetland marsh taking pictures of a woman feeding the ducks bread in spite of all the signs in both languages asking people not to feed the animals and explaining why. I do not know how animal lovers as it was clear that she was will do what they find cute instead of what they know is right. The duck feeding lady was sentencing these ducks to death if not a harsh Canadian winter, because they would be too heavy to fly with her over feeding of them.
Finally I was at the building with the interactive displays of wood and its uses and history and the water. After quenching my thirst and looking at a few of the displays I went outside and took pictures of some of the most stunning live bonsai I have ever seen.
On the way out of the exhibit and back down to where the green houses were I noticed a paper mache art exhibit of masks. This was a first for me and they were simply gorgeous as the pictures will show you. Leaving the building I was off back down to finish my adventure in the garden, but before arriving I was treated to every type of garden you could imagine, from vegetable to flowers to spices and herbs.
The green houses were magnificent and covered every type continental climate from rain forest to the deep north, from rainy to desert. Every plant, seed, moss, mushroom and tree was labeled and it was easy to understand why losing just one thing in nature could harm something else. There was also a guided tour for children, but from what I saw I would not recommend it.
There was a tour going on with a group of children and they were running about trying to touch the plants which of course is not allowed and the tour guide a young man was clearly losing his patience, threatening to close the tour down if the children did not listen. I remember thinking at the time how children were hands on and maybe if they were going to offer kids this tour that they should make it more kid friendly and have some things that they could actually touch and smell, kind of like what they do at the zoo by having a petting zoo.
My adventure was now over and it was high time I was leaving. This is well worth the time and the money and I would recommend this to visitors to Montreal as a must see and to the citizens of Montreal as well. There is just so much to see and learn in a beautiful outdoor all natural learning environment.
Note: The slideshow has over 200 pictures so look at it when you have a little extra time. I tried to eliminate any doubles, but thought that you would enjoy what is left.