For my birthday in October of 2021, we spent a week in the Buffalo area and were thrilled to visit Niagara Falls. They are amazing and I was very happy to be able to finally see them in person. While in the area we were lucky enough to be able to head into Canada and see them from the Canadian side. Both sides are beautiful and so glad we decided to take our trip internationally and went to Canada. Since we were already in Canada, we decided to spend part of the day checking out waterfalls, Lake Ontario, and such in the city of Hamilton which. It is a little city about an hour away but sadly we weren’t able to do that because you had to have reservations (thanks to the sadist Chinese “leader”, NOT) but ended up visiting the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington/Hamilton area. It was a very wonderful alternative and perfect day weather-wise to be strolling through their gardens.
When we first got there we parked and checked out the front of the gardens which were decorated fall colours. We made our way in, paid our admission fee, and found out the gardens were actually 5 gardens throughout the city of Burlington and Hamilton, 27 km of nature trails, 2,400 acres of nature sanctuaries, 300 acres of cultivated gardens, 2,400+ plant species, and 312,000+ individual plants. Sounded like a fun adventure. We got a parking permit for the other gardens and explored the first garden.
Royal Botanical Gardens Centre
As I said this is where you enter and where you will find the home of many types of plants and smaller garden areas. You will find the Camilla and Peter Dalglish Atrium, Aldershot Escarpment Garden, Stedman Exploration Hall, Natural Playground, Cacti and Succulent Collection, as well as the Mediterranean Garden. This area sort of reminded me of the visitor center at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska.
This garden is actually connected to the Royal Botanical Gardens Centre. This was what I was mostly wanting to see during our visit. This garden not only has a beautiful tea house called the Turner Pavilion Teahouse, as well as two calming reflecting pools, but it also holds the Rose Garden! I love roses. Sadly since it was October many of them had died or were dying, but there were still quite a few pretty ones to see.
If you are into natural remedies, you need to check out the Healing Garden and the Scented Garden. In the Hendrie Park Garden, you will also find the Medieval Garden, the Morrison Woodland Garden, the Helen M Kippaz Garden, the Lily Walk, Veggie Village, Global Garden, White Garden, Trials Garden, and finally the Prehistoric Grove.
David Braley & Nancy Gordon Rock Garden
My favorite of all the gardens we visited was here at Rock Garden. It was so beautiful and such a peaceful place to stop and smell the roses, lol. While there aren’t any roses (at least that I saw) in this garden, it is home to season-long perennials, unique trees and shrubs, elegant conifer displays, and was quite beautiful during the fall with many different colours. The whole garden was magnificent.
When you first walk in you are in the visitor centre and can go either left or right into the gardens and it’s a big circle when many little trails leading down, around, and back to the main trail. It is so beautiful. They have several water features meandering throughout the garden landscape and captivating the senses. I really enjoyed the soft playing music we heard in some areas which added to the experience. It was a perfect day and I could have sat for hours just taking in the peaceful atmosphere and relaxing in this amazing environment. If you plan to come to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, make sure to spend quite a bit of time here. You will not be disappointed.
Another place we really wanted to see was the Arboretum. When in bloom this garden is filled with beautiful displays’ such as the Katie Osborne Lilac Collection, Magnolia Collections, Dogwood and Redbud Collection, the Crabapple Collection, Flowering Cherries, Synoptic Shrub Collection, and the Pinetum. Since we were there in October, there wasn’t too much to see except the Pinetum which was pretty but the real fall colours hadn’t popped yet. Maybe next time.
Sadly this is the one garden we weren’t able to visit due to time restraints (we got there too late). I am disappointed as it sounds amazing. In this garden, you will find an Iris Collection, a Peony Collection, the Barbara Laking Memorial Heritage Garden (which contains herbs and fruits), as well as the Clematis Collection. Hopefully, we can come back and check out this garden on a future visit.
We had a marvellous time checking out the Royal Botanical Gardens while in Burlington and Hamilton, Ontario Canada. My only regret was that it was not in the spring when so many other flowers and trees would have been in bloom. I hope we can come back sometime in April or May and truly experience the gardens in full bloom. They were designated a Historic Site of Canada on January 1, 1994, and I can see why. Here is a link to their website with more information about each garden and a list of FAQ’s. I will share below a list of what is in bloom when and where to help you if you are planning to visit in the future.
Magnolia – Arboretum
Japanese Cherry – Arboretum and Rock Garden
Crabapple – Arboretum
Lilac – Arboretum
Late Spring/Early Summer:
Iris – Laking Garden,
Peony – Laking Garden
Rose – Hendrie Park
Lily – Hendrie Park
Brilliant Fall Colours – Gardens and Natural Lands
Mediterranean Garden – Royal Botanical Garden Centre
The Breezeway – Royal Botanical Garden Centre
Royal Botanical Gardens Centre Visitor Information
680 Plains Rd W, Burlington, ON L7T 4H4, Canada
Hours vary due to time of year, each specific garden, special events, etc. The best advice is to check out their website with updated hours.
|Children aged 4 to 12
|Children under age 4
|Family (2 adults and up to 2 children under age 18)
- All rates include HST.
- Student ticket requires showing a student card indicating full-time attendance in a recognized post-secondary institution.
- RBG considers a senior to be a person of 65+ years of age.
From Toronto and East
Queen Elizabeth Way to Highway 403 West (Hamilton). Exit at Waterdown Road. Travel 800 metres south along Waterdown Road to Plains Road West. Turn right onto Plains Road West and travel 2km. Turn left into the RBG Centre parking lot.
From Kitchener-Waterloo and West including Detroit (U.S.A.)
Highway 401 East to Highway 6 South. Follow Highway 6 South for about 25 km. Exit onto York Road, make a left and then a right on the new Plains Road and drive south crossing over the 403. Turn left at the lights to continue on Plains Road West for about 1 km, passing the glass building. Turn right into the RBG parking lot.
From the Niagara Region and Buffalo (U.S.A.)
Queen Elizabeth Way to Highway 403 West (Hamilton). Exit at Waterdown Road. Travel 800 metres south along Waterdown Road to Plains Road West. Turn right onto Plains Road West and travel 2km. Turn left into the RBG parking lot.
Burlington Transit and HSR buses connect seamlessly via free transfer in downtown Hamilton, and all local buses are equipped with bike racks. Please note that public transit does not stop in front of Rock Garden, the Arboretum or Laking Garden at this time.
RBG Centre is located ~9 km from the Burlington Train Station, accessible by GO Transit and VIA Rail. The Burlington Transit Route 1 Plains to Hamilton bus is available to transport you from the Burlington station to RBG Centre.
Please note, there are no buses that run from Aldershot GO to RBG at this time. It is possible to walk 1.2 km from the Aldershot station to Plains Road to catch the Route 1 bus from there. Please see the Burlington Transit Trip Planner for details. Travelers arriving at Aldershot GO may also consider taking a cab or rideshare to the Gardens (4 km distance).
Free parking is available at each Garden Area in the lots with paid admission. Please note that driving or taking transit is recommended to travel between garden areas during your visit. Please place the parking pass on the dashboard of your vehicle for the duration of your visit. Neglecting to do so may result in a parking ticket.
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