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Iconic Plant Tours: Lilacs of the Arboretum

Date & Time:

May 27, 2023, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Arboretum (16 Old Guelph Road)


Courses and Programs, Green Thumb


1 to 2 Hours


Pre-Registration Required

Event Description

RBG’s Iconic Plant Tour series explores the fascinating world of plants from RBG’s curated collections. From the why to the how to the who, you’ll be joined by our expert staff who’ll discuss the history, horticulture, and unique stories of plants.

  • Fee: $26 + $1 Service Fee & HST (Members 10% off)
  • Registration Closes: May 20, 11 a.m.

Every May, a heavenly fragrance drifts through Royal Botanical Gardens’ Arboretum, marking the official start of lilac season! For decades RBG’s Katie Osborne Lilac Collection has attracted thousands of visitors to delight in the springtime colour and fragrance of this seasonal attraction. Join Alex Henderson, Curator of Living Collections, as he shares his passion for plants, on a walk through the Lilac Dell. Learn about the cultivars that put on their best show at this time of year, what to look out for in the coming months and experience one of the most magnificent and diverse collections of lilacs in the world.

Rain date: Sunday May 28, 2023; 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

Tour registration includes admission to the gardens. Proof of purchase and RBG parking pass required for entry. If you require a parking pass please contact

lilac bushes in full bloom along a paved pathway
RBG - Alex Henderson - headshot

About Alex Henderson
Curator of Living Collections

Instructor Bio

Alex Henderson has studied horticulture and museological studies in his native UK, Curatorial Practices for Botanic Gardens in the US and the Life and Science of Linnaeus through the Department of Molecular Evolution, University of Uppsala, Sweden.  

He worked in the School of Horticulture at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, teaching and training students for the Kew Diploma in Horticulture and International Internship of Practical Horticultural Experience. He also assisted in delivering Kew’s Botanic Garden Management Course and was involved with the Kew Mutual Improvement Society founded in 1871 by Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker to encourage the discussion of new and cutting-edge ideas in the world of horticulture.  

In 2006 Alex moved to Canada to become Curator of Living Collections at Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario. RBG is Canada’s largest botanical garden, part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere reserve and is Canada’s National Focal Point for the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. RBG is also one of Canada’s plant biodiversity hot spots. In his role as Curator of Living Collections Alex is part of the Horticultural Management Team responsible for curating, developing managing and maintaining RBG’s plant collections and cultivated landscapes. 

Alex is an active figure in the American Public Gardens Association having been a past Vice Chair and Community Chair of the Plant Collections Community Leadership team and in addition has presented and moderated sessions at symposia and annual American Public Gardens Association conferences. He also serves on various horticultural advisory panels locally in Ontario, has authored several chapters for books, articles for magazines and is a regular garden expert for CBC’s Ontario Today. 

  • Two Tone Lilac Blooms
  • Lilac Tree In Foreground Overlooking People Walking Along A Path In Distance
  • Syringa vulgaris ‘McMaster Centennial’
  • Lilac Dell in full bloom with a bright pink lilac bloom in focus in the foreground
  • Purple Lilac Bunch In Bloom

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