The Royal Botanical Gardens is Canada’s largest botanical garden. In fact it is not “a” garden, but a set of 5 different gardens. Created in 1941, today it has the size of 980 hectares – the equivalent of 1373 football fields – and is home to more than 1100 species of plants. It’s so big that we only visited two of the five gardens: the Laking Garden and the Arboretum.
At the Laking Garden we visited the annual peony and iris flowering event, which usually takes place in the first weeks of June. It’s the best time of year to visit the Botanical Garden collection because you can see the flower bed that forms with different colors to be appreciated. It’s not a very large garden, you can plan for a visit of an hour or two and you’ll be able to see enough of this area and still take your gorgeous souvenir photos.
Our second part of the visit, to the Arboretum, was the longest. There we find one of the greatest lilac varieties in the world, there are 407 varieties of this flower for us to enjoy during our visit. But there aren’t many more flowers besides these.
Although the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a botanical garden is flowers and ornamental plants, a good part of RBG is made up of dense vegetation, which makes it more like a park than a botanical garden. So I would say the main activities here would be picnic and hiking.
And speaking of hiking, you will find 27km of trails here, with different terrain and vegetation to be explored. The signage is not the best, since the signs are limited to saying the name of the trails, but do not inform the distance or level of difficulty. My tip is to use the cell phone’s GPS when choosing which path to take and, of course, how to get back to your starting point.
Of course there are trails of various lengths, but the ones we followed were generally short and very easy to walk. The best part? They always led to something new to be discovered like this amazing path across the swamp.
20% of the RBG are environmental protection areas and, therefore, do not have trails or access for the public. But don’t worry, there are several lookout points in the park so you can enjoy these areas even from afar. If you enjoy watching birds and other species in their natural habitat, I recommend bringing binoculars.
If you want to visit, the Royal Botanical Gardens is located in the city of Burlington, 60 km from Toronto. Open every day from 9:30 am to 8 pm. We paid $20 per car, regardless of the number of passengers, which allowed us to the Laking Garden and Arboretum, but the price varies according to the event taking place and areas that are open. On the day of our visit, only these two gardens were open to the public. Visit the official website rbg.ca to get all the information and better plan your visit.