One of the crown jewels of Canada’s public gardens is kind of like Disney World for adults. Located in Brentwood Bay, about half an hour outside of Victoria, BC, the gardens turned 100 in 2004. The age is reflected in the style of gardens, many of which are rather formal in layout. There is a Japanese garden, the Sunken Garden, and Italian, Mediterranean and rose gardens. There are restaurants and a children’s pavilion featuring a carousel with hand-carved animals.
This public garden at U of A is formerly known as the Devonian Botanic Garden. It’s in Devon, just outside of Edmonton. It now includes an Aga Khan garden, the most northerly Islamic garden installation in the world, which was opened in 2018. It joins the Kurimoto Japanese Garden, the Patrick Seymour Alpine Garden and an Indigenous garden.
This one is for the tree lovers. The University of Saskatchewan has domain over this arboretum, located in Saskatoon. A map of the place makes it look dull as can be, with trees and vines planted in straight rows, but once you get inside amongst the foliage and flowers, it is heavenly.
It straddles two countries! The IPG is on the border between Manitoba and North Dakota, not far from Boissevain. The outdoor public gardens are lovely, but for a real treat go into the conservatory and spend time looking at the cacti and succulents. The Peace Garden encompasses 3.65 square miles and includes walking trails, camping and hiking.
Formal gardens, natural areas, an arboretum, a conservatory, sculptures, restaurants, walking trails; the holdings of the RBG are in Burlington and Hamilton, Ontario, spread out over five areas. They are active in preservation of flora and fauna native to the area, too, which is part of the rich Carolinian zone. If you were doing a travelogue of Canada’s botanical gardens, this would be a good place to start.
6. Reford Gardens.
Located on the south shore of the mouth of the St. Lawrence river in Eastern Quebec, this started its cultivated life as a fishing lodge. The owner, Elsie Reford, started gardening after an appendectomy in 1925, when her doctor suggested gardening would be better for her than hunting and fishing. Today the site, known in French as Jardins de Métis, hosts the International Gardens Festival. The festival is held every year and features innovative garden installations by landscape architects and designers.
7. Kingsbrae Garden.
In Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, is this 27-acre Eden. One unique thing at Kingsbrae the cedar labyrinth. There is also a 1/3-scale working windmill, a sculpture garden and artist studios. It’s a great afternoon out for a family or a beautiful place for fine dining in the evening.
8. Gardens of Hope.
Located in New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island, this little spot is a registered non-profit located next to a shop selling preserves. There is a respite cottage offering rest to families and individuals coping with terminal illness. Twelve acres of gardens in the rolling hills of PEI. Beautiful.
Billing itself as “17-acre horticultural paradise,” the displays of these Acadian-area Nova Scotia gardens tell 400 years of history. There are 270 roses dating from the apothecary rose to the Canadian Artist series, a potager based on 17th century diary notes, and apple trees from the 18th century. There is also an Innovative Garden, instructing folks on how to design a compact, sustainable urban garden today.
Featuring traditional and native plants and vegetable gardens, it’s the walks through the natural areas that will really make your heart sing. The cultivated but informal public gardens are definitely worth a visit too. Located in St. John’s, Newfoundland.