May 20, 2013

Find inspiration at Great Gardening Weekend

Montreal Botanical Garden presents weekend of green ideas

By STEVEN HOWELL Press-Republican

---- — MONTREAL — The seasonal garden party at the Montreal Botanical Garden is in full bloom.


Need some gardening-season inspiration? The green ideas start here.

The Montreal Botanical Garden presents the 16th edition of its Great Gardening Weekend Friday, May 24, through Sunday, May 26. This year’s theme is “Setting up Your Gardening Area.”

The weekend features talks with horticulturists and growers; garden-inspired workshops; sales of unique plants and one-of-a-kind gardening supplies; and tips on organic gardening, floral arranging and food-producing horticulture. In all, more than 100 growers, craftspeople and horticultural experts will be on hand. While most lectures and workshops are held in French, many exhibitors are bilingual and can answer a variety of gardening questions. Topics cover advice for vegetables and roses, pruning- and training-technique demonstrations, and bonsai care and cultivation.

A number of the botanical garden’s partner organizations will also be on hand to share their love, passion and expertise for specific plant species such as lilacs, orchids, gladiolus, dahlias, hostas, daylilies, bonsai, roses and alpine plants.


The Botanical Garden also hosts one of Montreal’s major summer events.

Making its return is International Mosaicultures, a collection of 50 outdoor large-format living sculptures that each use hundreds of colorful plants to create shape, color and texture. The horticultural artists hail from 25 countries.

The event, last seen in Old Montreal a decade ago, is a natural to be hosted at the Botanical Garden. The sculptures will adorn a pathway that’s about 1.3 miles long. The event is held Saturday, June 22, through Saturday, Sept. 29. 


While there’s definitely a lot of ground to cover at the Botanical Garden, a free garden tour led by volunteer guides can make the experience more manageable and insightful.

The official daily tour season began last week and continues through Thursday, Oct. 31, with tours departing at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The tour lasts from 90 minutes to two hours; wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

Stops along the way include any number of the Botanical Garden’s signature outdoor-garden spaces. There are 30 thematic gardens in all, including the Garden of Innovations, an outdoor space that highlights the latest annuals, perennials, ornamental trees and shrubs, and ground coverings available on the home and gardening market.

In addition, the First Nations Garden offers a contemporary take on an ages-old gardening sentiment and is one of the more popular summer visits. The space offers a look at hardwood and conifer forests; an actual indigenous longhouse; and the “Three Sisters” dietary staple of squash, beans and corn. The ongoing “Knowledge and Know-How” series offers woodworking examples and arts and crafts demonstrations throughout the year.


The Tree House, an indoor-exhibition space devoted to trees, features “Romans des Bois,” an exhibition of 30 unique wood sculptures created by artist Alain Stanke. It’s presented through Thursday, Oct. 31. 

The Chlorophyll Room in the main greenhouses offers “Your Garden,” a look at the 80-year history of the Montreal Botanical Garden. It continues through the end of the year.


Check out the Botanical Garden’s website for its “Blooms of the Week” calendar. Currently on the late May springtime docket: magnolias in the Japanese Garden, spring flowering bulbs in the Alpine Garden, and primroses and rhododendrons in the Leslie Hancock Garden.

Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at

IF YOU GO WHAT: The Montreal Botanical Garden. WHERE: 4101 Sherbrooke St. E. (Metro station Pie-IX), Montreal. HOURS: Great Gardening Weekend hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. ADMISSION: Non-Montreal resident adult admission costs $18.75. International Mosaiccultures adult admission costs $29.50. Discounts are available for students, seniors, youths and families. CONTACT: Call (514) 872-1400, or visit