Canadian Arboretums and Botanical Gardens

Tree Trips?

Travel within Canada is all the more appealing this summer given concerns about minimizing health risks during the pandemic.

We are privileged to live in a country renowned for its stunning natural beauty and welcoming diverse citizenry.  What better time than now to explore and get to know Canada’s riches better, whether on a short day trip or by going farther afield, perhaps to holiday in another province or territory?

Don’t forget the trees in your travel and sightseeing plans!

To help in this regard, our post this week profiles noteworthy botanical gardens and arboretums from coast to coast.

photo credit Andrew

The Huffington Post puts this “List of Canada’s best botanical gardens, arboretums and parks,” on the radar, which it introduces this way, “Canada is a country of wide open spaces. That means a lot of green space (and ice, but we digress) for gardens, arboretums, and straight up dazzling natural vistas. You could plan an entire vacation just visiting some of the best botanical gardens, arboretums, and parks across the country. There are hundreds of gardens across the country and we chose just a few that you really can’t miss.” 

Nova Scotia

Point Pleasant Park, Halifax

Harriet Irving Botanical Garden, Wolfville

The Historic Gardens, Annapolis Royal


Allan Gardens Conservatory, Toronto

High Park, Toronto

Royal Botannical Gardens, Burlington

Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, Niagara Region

High Park Toronto Cherry Blossoms


Mount Royal Park, Montreal

British Columbia

Stanley Park, Vancouver

Butchart Gardens, Victoria


Photo Credit Alberta Travel Magazine

Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens, Lethbridge

Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton

Banff National Park,  Banff

Jasper National Park, Jasper

Here is a link to the photo gallery and article which offers a brief paragraph on each garden and park: 

Here are just a few of their descriptions you will find there, to help wet the appetite for  “staycation” itinerary planning-

Butchart Gardens (Victoria, BC) – “If you’re in Victoria, rent a car and go to Butchart Gardens. It’s worth the drive. The stunning Japanese maples, the roses; it’s hard to believe that Butchart Gardens started off as a limestone quarry. Thanks to Jennie Butchart, this garden has been around for 100 years. If you go in summer, you can listen to concerts in simply stunning surroundings.”

Royal Botanical Gardens (Burlington, ON) – “These gardens have 27 kilometres of trails which take you through wetlands where you can observe fish, birds, and other wildlife. They also maintain 50 collections of wild plants as part of their research.”

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden (Lethbridge, AB) – “It’s not Japan, but it’s very, very close. It’s one of the newer gardens, built in 1967 to recognize the contributions made by Canadians of Japanese ancestry. The goal, according to the park’s website, was to create a Japanese-styled garden that reflected the stunning Alberta scenery. Japanese architects, landscapers, and tradesmen created many of the features in Nikka Yuko and shipped them to Canada.”

The Historic Gardens (Anapolis Royal, NS) – “The Historic Gardens is the place to go if you love roses. It has hundreds of roses, and the caretakers even put out a bloom report so you can go when the flowers are at their best. The gardens also have a reconstructed Acadian house, based (as they say) on the pre-deportation 1671 time period.”

Wikipedia offers another list of “Botanical Gardens in Canada,” organized by province: 

Devonian Botanical Gardens, Alberta Photo credit: Lucy

We found casting an eye down this list to be an invitation to find out more about our country’s vast geography, with intriguing location names such as Kakebeka Falls, Boissevain, Summerland, Ladysmith, Otter Lake, and more! (

Ottawa Gardens

The Gardens Ottawa website includes a map profiling more than 140 community gardens across the Nation’s capital: 

The web-site also profiles the Community Garden Network, hosted by JustFoods, which promotes sustainable  development of community gardens within Ottawa —

Village Green Rockcliffe, Ottawa. Photo Credit Andrew

Central Experimental Farm 

Check this Parks Canada website to learn more about Ottawa’s  Central Experimental Farm, “…an agricultural research facility and a working farm located in the heart of Ottawa,” and why it is a National Historic Site of Canada: 

The Friends of the Farm website adds additional information, including the COVID-19 update that the Farm has re-opened, and, that “The Arboretum and Ornamental Gardens are free and open to the public from dawn to dusk, and there is free parking. Most areas are accessible for those with physical limitations.”

Arboreta Levels and ArbNet

The world of things to learn about trees is seemingly endless we are discovering since starting this Blog.  It is one thing to learn about different arboretums across Canada through garden lists such as those above. But, did you know that the plural of aboretum is ‘arboreta,’ and, that apparently there are four levels of aboreta accreditation? This we learned from ArbNet, launched in 2011 to foster, “a global network for tree-focused professionals”. According to its web-site, to-date ArbNet has accredited over 300 arboretums across 28 countries.

Canada’s list on ArbNet includes 41 aboretums. You may want to check to see if there is one near you:

Catherine is fortunate to be able to stroll through and enjoy the beauty of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Arboretum in her neighbourhood – a level II accredited arboretum that has “over 600 species of shrubs and trees that span more than 120 genus, situated on over 200 acres.”  The criteria for ArbNet level II arboreta are they must “have at least 100 species of woody plants, employ paid staff, and have enhanced public education programs and a documented collections policy.” (

Photo credit Andrew

Toronto Green Community, and Lost River Walks describes this arboretum in these glowing terms:

“One of the finest tree collections in North America is to be found in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The landscaping at Mount Pleasant follows a plan developed in the late nineteenth century to provide an arboretum for public enjoyment. Practically every tree that will grow in this climate is found here. Many trees bear small signs with their names. There are hundreds of varieties of trees in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, ranging from rare introduced trees to oak trees that were mature when Mount Pleasant Cemetery was founded in 1873. Many specimens have been named Heritage Trees because of their fine condition and venerable age. Over the years, many varieties of fruit and nut trees have been planted, attracting many birds and small animals. Along with its treasure- trove of trees, Mount Pleasant has a vast range of flowering shrubs and herbaceous perennials. An arboretum guide with alphabetical index and map is available at the Cemetery headquarters.” 

This informative Arboretum Guide flipbook provides photos and a brief description of many of its trees:

Nature Sanctuaries Near Edmonton

This long weekend Lucy visited two nature sanctuaries within 30 minutes of her home in Edmonton. The first going SW was the Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary. It has an extensive boardwalk over wetlands as well as forested areas and lots of families were there. We found it to be very serene.

Photo Credit Lucy

The second one Lucy visited was the Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park in St. Albert. It connects to the Sturgeon River where we saw many people leisurely kayaking through the river and wetlands. The park is also the site of the John E. Poole Interpretive Wetland facility which includes a Ducks Unlimited trail and boardwalk with interpretive signs. Abundant with diverse bird populations, especially waterfowl and shorebirds, the park is a favourite for walkers, hikers and bird watchers. It was hard to find the entrance as it was under construction and Lucy would love to know the best place to launch a kayak. There was not a lot of shade cover.

Photo Credit Lucy

The Great Green Wall Project

For those who want to travel further afield to the African Sahel, Catherine recommends this 90-minute virtual trip via the documentary The Great Green Belt. It is currently streaming via the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto for $9.99 admission ticket– a unique pandemic opportunity for cross-Canada viewing, as the theatre has pivoted online during COVID-19.  Here’s the Hot Docs film descriptor:

“Embark on a music-filled journey across The Great Green Wall—an ambitious initiative to restore 8000 km track of land across the African continent—in this cinematic gift of hope from the director of City of God. Guided by Malian activist-musician Inna Modja, and a dazzling array of African artists, the film takes you through the wall’s scenic route in Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Niger and Ethiopia, sharing the communal dream it represents in the stand against climate change. An unforgettable exploration of a modern ecological marvel, The Great Green Wall celebrates the role of music, culture and resilience in the collective task of reshaping our planet.”

It is a hugely ambitious project, as the project’s website describes –“Growing a World Wonder…Once complete, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, 3 times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.”

“The Great Green Wall is an African-led movement with an epic ambition to grow an 8,000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa. 

“A decade in and roughly 15% underway, the initiative is already bringing life back to Africa’s degraded landscapes at an unprecedented scale, providing food security, jobs and a reason to stay for the millions who live along its path.”

“The Great Green Wall isn’t just for the Sahel. It is a global symbol for humanity overcoming its biggest threat – our rapidly degrading environment.”

photo credit Lucy

“It shows that if we can work with nature, even in challenging places like the Sahel, we can overcome adversity, and build a better world for generations to come.”

Here is a two-minute YouTube trailer for this film of resilience and hope:

And finally, to learn more, here is the link to the official project website for The Great Green Wall Project

Here’s to our Readers’ happy “tree trips” –whether virtual or otherwise!

Podcasts: Lucy has been listening to the CBC Podcasts What On Earth series. They are exceptionally well done and each about 30 minutes long. Something to listen to while walking or when cooking or when bored!

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