Royal Botanical Gardens acquires, collects, researches, exhibits, conserves and interprets a living horticultural collection. A key component of this role is the work done by the Horticulture Department which is responsible for the 250 acres of cultivated gardens over 5 garden areas.
The department currently maintains 50 collections featuring plants of wild origin, ornamental plants and plants of scientific and conservation importance. Both woody and non-woody plants are displayed within the collections. Each collection is curated like a museum collection or exhibit and supports the scientific, horticultural educational and conservation work undertaken at RBG. Detailed plant records are maintained and the plants are labeled and interpreted for the benefit of our visitors. Undertaking this kind of work is one of the reasons that we are botanical garden and not simply a city or municipal park, private garden, amenity landscape or general green space. The information we curate and document is made available to visitors, students, scholars, scientists, government departments, other botanical gardens, environmental organizations, conservation authorities and the media.
Along with the responsibility for our living collections, the Horticulture Department builds and maintains gardens and displays to exhibit our collections and to address key issues in horticulture such as sustainable practices, climate change and landscape trends. The gardens are managed to have as little impact on the surrounding natural areas as possible.
One of the most important areas of horticultural research is conducting trials and evaluations on new plants acquired for our collections. These trials are carried out each year in partnership with organizations as diverse as other botanical gardens, the University of Guelph, All America Selections, major plant breeders, nurseries and flower societies.
In addition, the department is involved with horticultural outreach and continues to build strong relationships with Landscape Ontario, Master Gardeners of Ontario, Ontario Horticultural Association, Garden Clubs of Ontario, specialist societies and the institutions training students in the field.