Spring Blooms at the Arboretum
Celebrate Spring at the Arboretum!
Get outdoors and celebrate the emergence of spring as RBG’s Arboretum and surrounding nature trails come alive with inspiring plants and wildlife! From delicate and ephemeral wild plants and flowering trees to beautiful migrating birds and wildlife, every spring visit to the Arboretum brings a new adventure.
Access an abundant network of trails and explore fantastic birding hotspots — our marsh area is especially great for spotting a diverse range of migrating birds.
Timed-ticketed parking reservations are required.
Bloom times vary — see What’s in Bloom for updates on our key collections and other spring blooms to plan your visit.
Book Your Visit Today
Pre-Registration is required for visitors (including RBG Members) parking at the Arboretum May 5 to June 1.
Parking Fee: $30 per vehicle, redeemable at the Arboretum only. There is no additional admission fee to access the Arboretum.
Parking is FREE for RBG Members displaying a member parking pass, though registration is still required.
- Parking registration applies to all Arboretum activities including access to nature trails.
- These tickets are valid for one vehicle, regardless of number of passengers (not applicable to busses / tourism groups), and are redeemable at the Arboretum only.
- Does not include Garden Admission to all RBG’s cultivated garden areas.
- Arrive any time within your designated timeslot, and please keep your visit to a maximum of two hours..
- Paid reservations are valid rain or shine, and are final sale and non-refundable; plan for weather accordingly
- For ticketholders in the final admission timeslot, please ensure you arrive prior to 8 p.m. Please note that the gates close at 9 p.m.
- Members, if you are no longer available to attend your selected date and time, we ask that you cancel your order with at least 24 hours notice, to allow others the opportunity to visit. Please do not book further timeslots without canceling your original order.
Check back for updates as our key collections come into bloom this spring!
Current status: In bloom
The Katie Osborne Lilac Collection at the Arboretum is one of the largest and most diverse lilac collections in the world. Thanks to the range of varieties and staggered bloom times in our collection, peak interest extends over a few weeks.
Peak bloom time for individual lilacs generally lasts about 10 days to two weeks, but by planting a mixture of hyacinth, common, Preston and Japanese tree lilacs blooms and fragrance can be experienced from mid-May to mid-June.
What’s In Bloom
Plants of interest are ever-changing in RBG’s five cultivated garden areas and nature sanctuaries. Check back to learn what’s blooming now or see the blooms calendar for a rough estimation of what to expect each season.
16 Old Guelph Road, Hamilton
The Arboretum holds the Katie Osborne Lilac Collection, one of the largest and most diverse lilac collection in the world. The lilac dell is a must-visit during peak bloom!
Directions & Parking
The Arboretum is located at 16 Old Guelph Road, Hamilton ON.
A $30 time-ticketed parking flat rate applies when the parking lot is staffed beginning May 5, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Parking is FREE to RBG Members, though booking is still required. Outside these hours, pay and display parking is in effect at the Arboretum, available inside the traffic circle, or just inside the kiosk gates. Fees are $5/hour to a maximum of $15.
Learn more about getting to RBG at rbg.ca/directions
Most of the Arboretum is grassy field, or rough trail pathways. The lilac walk at the arboretum is paved / packed gravel. Descending into the lower lilac dell includes a steep slope, not recommended for those with limited mobility.
Accessible parking spaces are available.
Washrooms are available at the Nature Interpretive Centre at the Arboretum available during operating hours. Portable washrooms are also available at the Arboretum.
Food, Drink, & Picnics
Outside food is permitted during regular hours (restrictions may apply during specific special events). Please pack-out or properly dispose of any waste. Outdoor cooking is not permitted in any of RBG’s properties.
The Arboretum has a limited number of picnic tables. Enjoy your meal on one of the many benches or bring your own blanket for a picnic!
Are bikes permitted?
Be as green as our gardens and ride your bicycle to RBG. Timed parking fees do not apply to those arriving by bicycle, only motor vehicles.
Please note: For safety, maintenance, and conservation reasons, biking is not permitted on RBG’s trail systems. A secure bike locking station is available so you can leave your bike behind and enjoy a walk in nature. On our trails, bikes pose a direct threat to plants and ground-dwelling wild life, causes erosion, root death and tree dieback. This permanently alters nature’s balance by changing microclimates and paving the way for invasive species.
Find your bike route to RBG here.
Can I bring my dog?
Dogs are welcome at the Arboretum and in the nature sanctuaries so long as they remain on-leash, on-trail, and are cleaned up after.
Keep the nature sanctuaries fun and safe for everyone, comply with local bylaws, and help with our conservation efforts by keeping your dog leashed. If you see someone with an off-leash dog on the trails or at the arboretum, call Animal Services to report the incident to the by-law enforcement branch.
- Hamilton: 905-574-3433
- Burlington: 905-335-3030
Trail User Code
Upon entering the nature trails you are making a pledge to respect the environment and fellow visitors. These lands are Canada’s biodiversity hotspot, set aside at the head of Lake Ontario for environmental protection, open for environmental education and passive recreation only. While walking our trails, it is important to remember that you are a visitor in someone else’s home, and that your impact will be multiplied over by 200,000 other visitors. Environmental protection bylaws are posted at each trailhead. Please follow them and play a role in protecting and restoring the area for future generations.
Trail Use Bylaw Restrictions
- Trail running is not permitted.
- Pets must remain leashed at all times. Please clean up after your dogs and leave waste trailhead garbage receptacle.
- Bicycles are prohibited on the trails.
- Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
- Horseback riding is prohibited.
- Picking or collecting plants or wildlife is prohibited.
- Feeding the wildlife/birds is not permitted.
- Cross-country skiing is prohibited due to the hilly topography.
- Ice skating is restricted to Cootes Paradise in the area adjacent to Princess Point.
- Use of drones is prohibited under RBG bylaw and further regulated by NavCanada.
About the Arboretum
RBG’s Arboretum is designed like an English landscape park with access to many nature trails. 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.
Horticulture & Collections
With tens of thousands of plants in our four cultivated garden areas, there is always something interesting growing at RBG. Here are some of the key collections curated by the Royal Botanical Gardens’ horticulture department.
Courses & Workshops
RBG offers courses and workshops in Burlington & Hamilton for families, kids and adults in the areas of gardening, nature, botanical arts and wellness.