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Jardin botanique de Montréal

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If you visit the city of Montreal in Canada, there are a couple of good reasons to go during the summer. The most obvious is that it will not be bitterly cold. The second good reason is that the Jardin botanique de Montréal will be in its full glory. For those who  can’t make out the French name, jardin botanique, simply means botanical garden. Montreal’s is a top shelf product.

Okay, so you don’t think you want to spend part of your vacation walking around looking at trees. I get it. It’s not the kind of adrenaline rush, or high excitement, that some people look for on holiday. If you have young children, maybe one flower looks like another and after 30 minutes of walking through the gardens, their eyes will start to glaze over. You know yourself and your family better than I do, but in my opinion, you would almost have to literally hate nature to not get some sort of enjoyment out of the Montreal Botanical Garden.

First of all, the place is pretty immense – one of the world’s largest. It’s divided into different themed sections, so if you don’t think you have the time, or stamina, to hoof it around the entire grounds, pick what interests you most and aim for that. Two of the most popular sections of the complex are the Japanese Gardens and the Chinese Gardens. During 2016-2017, there is some ongoing renovations to both of these popular sections, so if you have your heart set on either, or both, you may want to inquire ahead of time to find out what their current status is. When I visited, the Chinese Gardens were completely inaccessible. It was disappointing, but there was still plenty to see.

The Japanese Gardens feature a full scale replica tea house, with a zen garden courtyard. The area surrounding the tea house is landscaped according to Japanese tradition, as well. Inside, you will find a small, but interested exhibit of Japanese art and another internal courtyard features an exhibit of bonsai trees. I didn’t know such a wide variety of trees were used for this art form.

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There is a rose garden, an alpine garden, a native plants garden an aquatic garden and more. Strolling along the meandering paths on a warm, summer day, there is a veritable feast for the senses. You will wander beside lakes and babbling brooks, through spacious lawns, dense vegetation and more. The staggering array of flowers, among the lush greenery, creates a serene nature setting that may very well lower your blood pressure several points. It’s both beautiful and peaceful. Just don’t wear yourself out. There is plenty of walking to do, so pace yourself.

Co-located with the botanical gardens is the insectarium, If you or your kids are into bugs, you probably want to check this place out, too. Even it happens to be a particularly warm day and you want a little respite from the, it’s indoors, so you can duck in for a while to get out of the sun. Insects aren’t exactly my thing, personally, but I found it fairly interesting. There are a great variety of insects on display, including a plethora of butterfly. Please note that the insectarium requires an additional entry fee.

Although it is not physically connected to the Montreal Botanical Gardens, you are a relatively short walk from Montreal’s Biodome, which is on the grounds of the old Olympic Village, from when the city hosted the event way back in 1976. The Biodome is one example of how Monteal has re-purposed some of the old buildings. Combination tickets can be purchased for the Botanical Gardens, the Biodome, Insectarium and the nearby Planetarium (which I have not visited), or for any combination of these sites. Doing all except the planetarium, at a somewhat leisurely pace, took up most of a day for my family.

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