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Blooming with Pride

June 7, 2023

By Christie Brodie, Erin Aults, Kathleen Hutcheson, Royal Botanical Gardens.

June is an exciting time of year at RBG as some of our largest collections reach peak bloom this month. It’s also Pride month, a perfect time to highlight the rainbows of colour found in the many thousands of plants now flowering here!

Rainbows have long been associated with Pride celebrations. They help represent the spectrum of diversity found within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. In the 6-coloured striped Pride flag, the colour green was chosen to represent nature, and we’re excited to be celebrating Pride through the colourful blooms found in our gardens. Of special note are the following:

rainbow of iris displayed at Laking Garden
Laking Garden Iris Collection

Irises are named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow and after a walk through Laking Garden and our Iris Collection, it’s easy to see why. Explore an astounding array of colours as the Iris Collection reaches its peak in the first half of June.

peachy roses in the rose garden collection blooming
Hendrie Park, Rose Garden

Roses are red… and yellow, and pink, and orange, and purple, and more! Reaching peak bloom in mid-June (but blooming through to late September), the Rose Garden features sustainable and hardy varieties of roses, including these peachy pink ones.

Natural roses range in colour but artificially dyed roses further extend the colours that cut roses can display. Blue roses, for example, start out as a white rose, freshly cut. The leaves are removed, and the stem is cut on an angle and immediately placed in a vase of water containing blue dye (you can experiment with food colouring but the most vibrant shades come from florists’ dye). The stem will take up the dye into the petals. Similarly, black roses are deep red roses that look almost black. While florists can manufacture unusual colours, our Rose Garden in Hendrie Park features all shades of rosy reds, pinks, corals, yellows, whites, and even lavender.

Make sure to visit the Breezeway at the entrance to the Mediterranean Garden in RBG Centre, where our horticultural team has designed a beautiful Pride display full of interesting textures in a stunning rainbow of colours. In gardens, a diversity of species brings plants together from around the world, from multiple climatic regions and create beauty, resilience, and a multitude of interest. During Pride season, 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and allies come together to spotlight resilience, celebrate talent, and recognize the contributions of the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. The horticulturist was inspired to create a beautiful display of diversity of plant species, inclusive of many textures, flower forms, and a spectrum of colours to celebrate Pride and represent the diversity of the community. A wide range of plants were chosen with origins from around the world to complement and enhance this gorgeous and diverse display garden.

Flowers have been part of a coded language within the community for centuries. Beyond the wide spectrum of colours including black anthurium, brown grass, and yellow hibiscus, you’ll find plants which have been important to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, including lavender, pansies, and violets.

blue, red, and gold sunset over cootes paradise
Sunset on Cootes Paradise
male mallard duck
Mallard Duck

Of course, nature provides more rainbows in our Nature Sanctuaries. You’re in for a real treat if you’re lucky enough to catch a sunset from the north shores of Cootes Paradise Marsh.

We’re also lucky to be the home for many other colourful creatures. It could be a Green Frog catching your eye on the shoreline, or the yellow flit of a Yellow Warbler flying by – nature is bursting with colour for us to enjoy.

This Pride, challenge yourself to look for colourful blooms, feathered friends, and more in our Gardens, along our trails, or even from home. Using this activity, can you find a rainbow of colourful birds in nature? Explore nature’s rainbows during RBG’s Pride Family Picnic, Sunday , June 11th at the Arboretum. Find out more and register.

More from the RBG Blog

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