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Unforgettable Adventures at the Royal Botanical Garden
- Author: AnneC
- Accommodation: Niagara Peninsula
The Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington cover more than 1,000 hectares along Lake Ontario’s western tip, and feature an incredible array of both indoor and outdoor plantings. The gardens also host an extensive public research library, and offers more than one hundred workshops and lectures each year, including children’s programs, cooking instruction, seasonal bloom festivals, hands-on gardening studies, arts and crafts festivals, and a number of lectures. Complete with a Carolinian forest, a garden containing curative secrets, a wilderness, a wetland, and the world’s largest collection of lilacs, the Royal Botanical Gardens are the perfect place for a quick getaway as well as the ideal location to further your knowledge about the natural world. A living history museum where something is always in bloom, it is a paradise right only 8 km from Hamilton Ontario.
Highlights of a Visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens
Probably the best place to begin your trip is at the RBG Centre, where you’ll find Stedman Exploration Hall, which offers a quick look at all the gardens have to offer. A number of indoor and outdoor displays await in the Mediterranean garden, and from the Camilla and Peter Dalglish Atrium, you can walk through a subterranean tunnel to access Hendrie Park.
Part of the Niagra Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve, the park features over 27 km of scenic walking trails, which are accessed via four main trailhead locations and two canoe launch sites. There are thirty separate trails in all, which include more than 20 lookouts, seven boardwalks, twenty-one stream crossings and links to other trails. In order to access the trails, you must pay a $1 per hour fee at one of the cash acceptance machines located at the trailheads; non-members must also pay a small parking fee. Seasonal pocket guides are available at the RBG shop; these guides provide information about the birds, plants, and trees that you’ll encounter as you make your way through the park’s zones.
At Cootes Paradise, you’ll find a diverse sanctuary for old growth forest covering more than 600 hectares; this area was established in 1927 as a significant stopover for migratory birds. Here, there are 16 creeks and a stunning 25 kilometres of shoreline, along with a 320 hectare river mouth marsh and glacial plateaus. You can access this area from the Arboretum on Old Guelph Road, or from Princess Point on Longwood Road.
Hendrie Valley is a scaled-back version of Cootes Paradise, and features the 100 hectare Grindstone Creek Valley, which was granted to the gardens as an important ecological reserve in 1941. This area also features slopes blanketed with old growth trees, plus four creeks and a sixty hectare river mouth marsh complex filled with plants, birds, and animals. Major access points are located at the RBG Centre, as well as at the Cherry Hill Gate and along Plains Road.
The Escarpment Properties form a three kilometre-long ribbon along the edge of the Niagra Escarpment; covering 110 hectares, these properties include Rock Chapel and Berry Tract, and are linked with properties managed by the Hamilton Naturalist Club and the Conservation Authority. The Bruce Trail, which connects to Cootes Paradise through the Ray Lowes side trail, is the main attraction here; the best way to access it is via the visitor access gate on Rock Chapel Road.
Guided outings are available throughout the year, and there’s enough to see here, including the Royal Botanical Garden Arboretum on Old Guelph Road and the Rock Garden on York Boulevard, to last a lifetime. Visit as the seasons change for a stunning look at the beauty of nature and some of the most incredible plant life in Canada.