David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden | A Garden for the 21st Century

Garden now open to the public

The David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden embraces environmentally friendly trends in garden design and management while respecting the integrity of its heritage setting. It incorporates principles of sustainability in its plant selection and layout including pollinator-friendly plants, species native to Ontario, and a palette of drought-tolerant perennials that provides broad sweeps of changing colour and texture through the seasons.

Inspired by the work of Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf, the garden evokes the idea of natural settings using ornamental species that grow together harmoniously. Visit it at different times of day and different times of year — you’ll always find something new!

About the New Garden

Royal Botanical Gardens’ mission is to dedicate our expertise in horticulture, conservation, science and education – together with our unique gardens, facilities and natural lands – to inspire and nurture society’s commitment to the environment. Like other public gardens around the world, we are embracing the changes needed to respond to the challenges of climate change.

The new Rock Garden reflects this forward-facing approach. It is truly a garden for the 21st century, one that embraces sustainable trends in garden design and management while respecting the integrity of its heritage setting. It incorporates a best practices approach to plant selection, design and management, including pollinator-friendly plants, species native to Ontario, and a broad representation of drought-tolerant perennials that provide wide sweeps of colour and texture through the seasons.

The new Rock Garden allows RBG to do more with less – less water, less upheaval of the soil, and less humanpower, plant waste and carbon emissions spent on seasonal change-outs of over 150,000 bulbs and annuals. It also allows us to do more, with new infrastructure that allows people to experience this much-loved garden in a new way with new events, year-round, day and night. And, it provides ideas and inspiration for gardeners to take home and incorporate into their own gardens, at a time when everyone’s garden can play a role in helping to make our communities more sustainable.

Visitor Centre

The garden finally has a state-of-the art facility to welcome its visitors. The centre operates as the new main entrance and houses a fully operational restaurant and conference facility that accommodates up to 130 people for weddings, corporate and private functions. The centre also features a look-out deck and patio that provides guests with an optimal view of the garden’s lower bowl.

Dalglish Family Foundation Courtyard

Just outside the visitor centre, this elegant space serves as both a welcoming point for guests making their way outdoors and a venue for social occasions and gatherings. Alpine plants representing true rock garden vegetation grow from beautiful stone walls, and gentle waterfalls create an ideal atmosphere for cocktail receptions and special events.

Water Features

Always a popular feature of the garden’s lower bowl, water features have been enhanced to create synergy with surrounding vegetation, meandering throughout the garden landscape and captivating the senses. Few people have experienced Rock Garden at night, and the addition of illuminated waterfalls and spigots make for a truly remarkable, purely tranquil experience.

Garden Areas

The garden, designed by Janet Rosenberg & Studio Inc., uses bold drifts of herbaceous perennials and grasses, chosen as much for their structure and texture as they are for their flower colour. This sustainable design style has environmental benefits, requiring less replanting and soil disturbance.

Garden House

Construction of the 1962 Tea House was the only major renovation in the garden’s 80-plus year history. Newly dubbed Garden House, it now serves as a multi-purpose facility featuring archival displays that celebrate Royal Botanical Gardens’ rich heritage. Drop by and experience Wish You Were Here — a display of old Rock Garden postcards from our archives.