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Introducing a New Look for Royal Botanical Gardens

Royal Botanical Gardens acknowledges the long history of First Nations and Métis People in the Province of Ontario, and pays respect to the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the holder of the Treaty with the Crown for these lands. The land we steward is within the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Huron-Wendat Nations.

More to see, naturally.   

Through the past eight decades, captivating landscapes have come together to form an array of spectacular destinationsproviding unique experiences and engaging people of all ages in the wonders of the natural world.  

This is Royal Botanical Gardens.  

Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is a place for everyone to connect, recharge and engage in breathtaking blooms and outdoor learning experiences, highlighted by world-class events, entertainment, arts and culture. RBG is a place of celebration, a place of wellness, a place that connects people, plants and place for the betterment of our planet.   

In 2021, we celebrate 80 years of people, plants and place while embarking on the implementation of an ambitious 25-year Master Plan. This plan marks the newest chapter in our history, one where we will address critical environmental pressuresbuild a foundation to protect green spaces for future generations and transform our properties into a world renowned destination experience and leading centre of environmental excellence. 

There are great changes ahead and with these changes, we are proud to unveil a new visual identity. Our new look includes a logo that symbolizes the bringing together of people and plants in our unique place, to foster awareness and care for the well-being of our planet. 

Our new logo is inspired by RBGs original coat of arms and re-imagined to a more modern interpretation to reflect its rich history and content, in a more simplified, contemporary and timeless way. The elements of our logo together represent all that makes Royal Botanical Gardens whole. It visually represents the many different facets of the RBG experience.

New RBG Crest logo with labels describing the elements Plants, People of Ontario, Land, Nation of Canada, Water, Wildlife

Our Future

In 2021, we will begin implementation of a new 25-year Master Planning Project, which will take RBG in a bold, new direction. 

The plan will bring great changes to Royal Botanical Gardens, transforming it into a world class destination experience and leading environmental centre of excellence. 

Royal Botanical Gardens.

More to see, naturally. 

Sensation Lilac Bloom

PLANTS

Since its inception, Royal Botanical Gardens has established a national and international reputation as a living museum for plants. This special place is a connecting point for children in their early embrace of nature, creating a life-long appreciation for the outdoors that extends through generations. It is a place of respite, a leader in sustainable gardening, ecological restoration and plant conservation. 

RBGs five distinct cultivated gardens celebrate the diversity of plants and of garden design. Whether you’re searching for inspiration, education or relaxation, we invite you to revel in the sensory display of our Rose Garden, learn about the medicinal uses of plants in the Healing Garden (opening August 2021), or be inspired by the sustainable planting design of the Rock Garden. 

Seasonal displays of our plant collections have become annual traditions for many visitors. A stroll through the Katie Osborne Lilac Collection in May and June is a heady experience. The iris and peony collections will take your breath away. Even on a cold, dreary day, a visit to the Mediterranean Garden will lift spirits. 

But RBG is so much more than a collection of gardens. As a botanical museum, the science we do informs decisions both past and present. Our Herbarium houses approximately 60,000 plant specimens. Many of the wild plant specimens represent locally, provincially and nationally at-risk species and serve as a vital reference for scientists and educators at home and abroad. 

Father carrying daughter on shoulders in fall

PEOPLE 

Royal Botanical Gardens is not just our cultivated gardens and natural lands. It is also the people who work here, volunteer here, contribute to us, and visit us. At RBG, we recognize that we are, all of us intrinsically linked to this place, and to the plants and animals we share it with. 

Our education programs engage life-long learners of all ages in camps, clubs, courses and workshops in areas such as the environment, gardening, the arts, and health and wellness. Many of the special events we host during the year have become treasured family traditions. 

Art, music and theatre bring more beauty into our gardens, add a human element and tell stories. They create dialogue and a deeper connection to one another and to the world. 

And Royal Botanical Gardens would not be what it is today without the generous support of our members, donors and volunteers. For 80 years, your enthusiasm for this unique place has been the hand that guides us in all we seek to do. 

Looking Down A Woodland Trail

LAND 

The story of Royal Botanical Gardens begins with the landscapes that have carved our vision. These are the places we explore, cultivate and, ultimately, need to protect. 

RBG includes part of the Niagara Escarpment. It marks the floor of an ancient sea which once stretched from Rochester, New York, through Ontario and down into Wisconsinnow home to the greatest variety of habitats in southern Ontario. Traveling along RBG’s Escarpment, you will encounter cliff edges, wetlands, woodlands, savannahs, and swamps. These extraordinary landscapes are home to the highest level of species diversity among Canadian biosphere reserves, and over 50 species at risk that we work to protect. 

The Niagara Escarpment is important to ecosystems that span the border between Canada and the United States, and Royal Botanical Gardens is proud to play an important role in its preservation and conservation. 

Within the breathtaking beauty of this unique ecosystem lie five unique cultivated gardens offering both traditional and modern garden design and showcasing some of the worlds most cherished horticultural collections.  See what’s in bloom, find inspiration, relax and unwind amidst our impressive horticultural collections. 

Explore our natural lands at your own pace. 27 kilometres of trails showcase the variety this landscape has to offer. Admire the view from the top of the Escarpment, explore the slow meander of Grindstone Creek, or birdwatch from the shores of Cootes Paradise. 

Three turtles on a submerged brand in a pond

WILDLIFE 

One of the key mandates of Royal Botanical Gardens is to protect these lands not only as an ecological legacy for future generations, but as vital habitat for wildlife. Due to the incredible diversity of this landscape, RBGs conservation efforts occur in forest, wetland and prairies. With over 50 species at risk, and numerous other species, RBGs dedication to conservation plays an important role both inside and outside the Hamilton/Burlington area. 

RBG holds over 900 hectares (2700 acres), but there are few areas where people and infrastructure have not encroached. To ensure that all species have an opportunity to persist, 20 percent of its property has been designated ‘Special Protection Areas’. There are no trails within them, but there are observation points and interpretive signage to help you appreciate their significance. 

Project Paradise is one of RBG’s key conservation initiatives. It includes a range of projects which will help restore Cootes Paradise Marsh to a healthy wetland ecosystem. One project, the Fishway, located at the mouth of the Desjardins Canal, keeps invasive carp out of the marsh while allowing fresh water and native species to get in. RBG’s turtle recovery plan partners with other area stakeholders to educate the public, and rescue and release native turtles which are critically endangered. 

One very exciting sign of the renewing health of the area was the return, in 2013, of bald eagles. The eaglets who hatched here in 2013 were the first in over 50 years. RBG maintains a close eye on the eagles, and, if you’re lucky, you may see them when visiting the marsh. 

Arial View of Princess Point Summer Credit Markzelinski.com

WATER 

Royal Botanical Gardens’ identity is intimately linked to the waters at the head of Lake Ontario. Although we are called a botanical garden, almost a third of the property we manage is wetland habitatAmong our conservation goals are the restoration and stewardship of the largest river-mouth marsh complex on western Lake Ontario. 

Cootes Paradise Marsh is part of the traditional territory of both the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Nations, who have thrived here for centuries. More recently, European settlers to the area enjoyed the plentiful game it had to offer. In the 1820s, the growing town of Dundas was connected to Lake Ontario by the construction of the Desjardins Canal through the marsh. Today, Cootes is part of a National Historic Site of Canada, and it is also a provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, and an Environmentally Sensitive Area. 

RBG is working to create the underlying conditions for ecosystem recovery of the marsh by encouraging native species and by managing the  non-native carp that dominates and destroys the wetlands. Ultimate sustainability is based on returning water quality and water cycles to those reflective of conditions naturally occurring in Ontario. 

RBG invites you to get to know our wetlandsVisit the Fishway, one of our key tools in wetlands preservation. Discover spring-fed creeks and exposed glacial beach rocks. Explore our largest and most diverse sanctuary from our extensive trails, or from the water. 

Cootes Paradise

HERITAGE 

The beginning of Royal Botanical Gardens goes back to 1917 when the City of Hamilton envisioned Burlington Heights as a grand entranceway to the city 

Thomas Baker McQuesten, politician, lawyer and Chair of the city’s Park Management Board, imagined a botanical garden, and in 1927 the City bought 377 acres of land for the project. Architect Carl Borgstrom was chosen to transform  an additional 55 acres on the Burlington Heights, includingan abandoned gravel pit into a display garden. By 1932 that abandoned gravel pit was transformed into the magnificent Rock Garden, considered by many to be the Gardens’ birthplace.  

In 1941 the Province of Ontario created Royal Botanical Gardens through a special Act, which gave the young botanical garden the ability to develop and display gardens, prepare educational facilities and programs, attract visitors, acquire new lands, and undertake all of the activities of a botanical garden.  

In the 1990s RBG was recognized as a National Historical Site of Canada and become part of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. In 201586 years after its start, RBG rejuvenated the historic Rock Garden. It reopened to the public boasting allnew sustainable trends in garden design and management while respecting the integrity of its heritage setting. 

Continuing the spirit of progress and innovation, 2020 saw the inception of a new 25-year Master Planning Project, which will take RBG in a bold, new direction. The Master Plan will guide RBG as it helps to address critical environmental pressures that threaten its community and build a foundation to protect green spaces for future generations.  

The plan will bring great changes to Royal Botanical Gardens, transforming it into a world class destination experience and leading environmental centre of excellence.