Arboretum

16 Old Guelph Road, Hamilton, L0R 2H9

RBG’s Arboretum is more like an English landscape park than a garden. As its name implies, this is the place where you can see a wide variety of trees and other woody plants up close. It is especially beautiful in spring and fall.

Please note that RBG’s Arboretum will be closed to general visitation on Sunday, September 2nd to accommodate a third-party event, Royal Mountain at Rasberry Farm, presented by Lower Level Entertainment. The Arboretum will open for regular business hours on Monday, September 3rd at 10 a.m. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If you are interested in purchasing tickets for this event, please visit www.rasberryfarm.com for more information.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Parking: Paid parking is available inside the circle and just after the kiosk gates. Parking passes are available with paid general admission.

Tours: Drop-in tours of the Arboretum are available seasonally. Click here for a schedule of all tours and activities happening at RBG. To inquire about personal group tours, visit rbg.ca/grouptours.


Collections and Areas of Interest

lilac tree

Katie Osborne Lilac Collection

Peak Interest: May and early June

The Lilac Dell exhibits over 600 species and cultivars of common lilacs. French hybrids form the basis of the collection, but also displayed are Preston hybrids (originated in Canada by Isabella Preston), early-bloomers such as hyacinth lilacs and a selection of species found in the wild. An introductory Lilac Walk at the entrance to the Lilac Dell is organized in a series of exhibits that interpret the desirable breeding characteristics of lilacs, and major developments in the history of lilac breeding. On more challenging terrain, The Katie Osborne Lilac Collection in the Lilac Dell is one of the most diverse and one of the definitive collections to demonstrate the range of the genus Syringa. A popular seasonal attraction, it provides visitors with weeks of delightful springtime colour and fragrance. Visit during the Lilac Festival (late May) and enjoy special tours and demonstrations.

Learn more

magnolia tree in bloom

Magnolia Collections

Peak interest: April and May

Magnolias are among the most primitive of flowering plants, with fossil remains dating from over 100 million years ago. Relatively unchanged since then, they are found in the wild in tropical and temperate Asia and America. The collection, located in two separate locations in the Arboretum, displays a selection of magnolias that are hardy in our area. The collection also exhibits Ontario's native magnolia, the Cucumber-Tree (Magnolia acuminata), an endangered species found wild in only a few locations in the Carolinian Zone. The western section of the collection was originally developed as a memorial to local architect Lester Husband, while the eastern section, near the Synoptic Shrub Collection, commemorates past Gardens’ staff member R. A. Sims.

dogwood with white blooms and redbud with pink blooms

Dogwood and Redbud Collection

Peak interest: May

RBG’s woodlands are home to some species more commonly found in the southern United States. For example, south of the lilac dell the collection of dogwoods (mostly Cornus florida and its cultivars) and redbuds (Cercis canadensis) at the edge of this woodland provide a springtime show of mauve-pink and white blossoms. A member of the Pea family, Redbud reaches the natural limits of its range near Lake Erie, though it can be planted further north. Interestingly, Cornus are commonly used as shrubs in the landscape but can reach 5m tall in their natural habitat.

bright pink crabapple blossoms

Crabapple Collection

Peak interest: May (flowers) and fall (fruit)

Our display highlights the range of form and colour in the Malus genus. Crabapples are a common small tree used in residential landscapes. Over the years RBG has grown and evaluated many of the hundreds of cultivars bred from the two-dozen or so wild species found in North America, Europe and Asia.

light pink cherry blossoms

Flowering Cherries

Peak interest: April and May

At RBG, our flowering cherries are part of our early spring celebrations. Globally, flowering cherry trees have a long history especially in Japan where the cherry blossoms are celebrated each year. Every year flowering times are recorded and noted and this has occurred for around the past 1300 years. RBG also annually records the flowering times of its Cherries as part of a biological science known as phenology which is an important tool in helping to track climate change. In 2010, we added 34 trees to this collection donated to RBG as part of the Sakura Project. These trees are planted at both the Arboretum and Rock Garden sites and are a must see in early spring.

bright red leaves on trees in the fall

Avenues of Trees

Peak interest: all year

Radiating from the central parking circle, avenues of trees showcase many tree species grown in open, sunny spaces, allowing them to show off their natural forms. Each avenue illustrates a unique form, including large boulevard trees, conical-shaped trees, globe-shaped trees, medium-size oval-headed trees, fastigiate (upright) trees and small-size flowering trees. Many of the avenues end in a circle of trees of one species or cultivar. By far the most spectacular is the Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) circle near the Synoptic Shrub Collection.

yellow blooming shrub

Synoptic Shrub Collection

Peak interest: all year

The Synoptic Shrub Collection presents a living encyclopedia of shrubs that can be grown in our area. Like a dictionary, it is organized alphabetically, by genus, from A to Z. It includes species as well as cultivated plants commonly available in the horticultural trade as well as unusual shrubs that are harder to find and have been sourced from other botanical gardens through plant exchanges. Currently undergoing rejuvenation, visitors will be able to see how a collection of mature shrubs can be revitalized.

tall pine tree

The Pinetum

Peak interest: all year

Also called evergreens, needle-leaved trees or softwoods, conifers are trees whose seeds are open to the air, most often in cones. Most keep their leaves for at least two years, and all have soft resinous wood.

Ontario's tree emblem reflects the major role that some members of this group of plants have had on our history—the British Navy's demand for White Pine (Pinus strobus) shaped the early settlement of our province. Along with pines, the Pinetum explores the diversity of conifer genera around the world.


exterior of teahouse

On the Trails

Our nature sanctuaries feature more than 27 km of nature trails. There are four main trailheads, as well as two canoe launch sites. Learn More

 

trailhead for Anishinaabe waadiziwin

Anishinaabe waadiziwin

Native plants provided indigenous peoples with almost all of life’s essentials. Starting in the Arboretum near the Nature Interpretive Centre, this new trail explores plants used by the Anishinaabe peoples, and their connections to culture, language, ecology and history.Learn More

 

child pointing to map at NIC

Nature Interpretive Centre

Our educational hub for programs, seasonal childrens’ day camps, and school group programs. Learn More