5 Reasons to Visit the Arboretum
By Jackson Hudecki, Special Programs Coordinator, Royal Botanical Gardens.
If you have never heard of a “tree museum” before, you are probably not alone. One of the regions best kept secrets happens to be located between York (Boulevard) and York (Road) and just under the Highway 403: the RBG Arboretum!
This former farmland was owned by the Rasberry Family and is where they managed a dairy farm and ice cutting business in the early 1900s. Their tract of land was purchased by the Department of Highways before being transferred to Royal Botanical Gardens. The Arboretum is an autumn must-see and year-round sensorial stimulant and spiritual boost. Between the healthy mix of cultivated plant collections and naturally occurring forests, here are 5 reasons to visit the Arboretum:
We know that all life needs plants, and here the examples are bountiful. Hundreds of trees have been planted throughout the grounds, carefully and meticulously to create flow but also to highlight the range of cultivars within different varieties. Currently the showstoppers are the big and beautiful deciduous trees; maples, sycamores, oaks, lindens and tulip trees (to name a few) are awash of yellows, reds, oranges and greens, bordered by the forests almost beckoning for us to venture in an continue exploring. Come spring time, the flowering cherries, magnolias and lilacs stimulate the senses and remind us that nature truly is the best artist around.
When you’re done marveling in the fall colours, trail access isn’t far from any corner of the property. The Pinetum Trail to Bulls Point to Marshwalk Trail walk might be one of the most stunning walks at RBG(and also is perhaps the lengthiest). For a shorter but incredible jaunt, the Anishinaabe waadizwin Trail not only brings you beside Cootes Paradise Marsh, but connects you to the cultures and connections that Indigenous People have to plant medicines. Whether staying for a few minutes or a few hours, the trails at the Arboretum traverse through ravines, forests, ponds and fields, and provide stunning vistas over paradise.
Connecting to Cootes
A treasure to many living beings is the wetland marsh known as Cootes Paradise. Designated as one of the most ecologically sensitive spaces in the Hamilton-Burlington area, restoration and remediation of this important wetland has been ongoing for decades. Cootes Paradise Marsh is a home and resting place for many living things, and deserves to be treated respectfully by every one of us. Many streams and creeks flow into the marsh, before the waters make their way into Hamilton Harbour, then into the great Lake Ontario.
While hiking along the north shore trails of Cootes Paradise Marsh, there are multiple lookout points that you can seek out. Pine Point lookout, Hickory platform, Bulls Point lookout, the Marshwalk Platform and the George North Lookout Tower are all destination points. Find them in every season for a different look and feel with each passing hike.
Millions of birds pass overhead annually, while tens of thousands of birds choose to stop, eat, rest or nest around RBG. Warblers, vireos, orioles, flycatchers, waterfowl, raptors, swifts, swallows, gulls, terns, sparrows, and herons are all frequently observed around the Arboretum. Don’t forget to grab a pair of binoculars before your walk!
Remember, this is a nature sanctuary, so treat it with the utmost respect and reverence. To keep this space accessible to all for generations to come, carry out what you carry in, don’t feed the wildlife and remain on the marked trails at all times.