Canadian botanical gardens are renowned for displaying diverse plant collections, especially native plants. They play a vital role in research, conservation and education. There are many botanical gardens in Canada that offer interactive exhibits, self-guided tours and classes for people of all ages. In addition, they provide an escape from the daily hustle, a chance to soak up nature even for a few hours. Ready to head outdoors? Here are the must-see botanical gardens to visit from coast to coast across Canada.
The Butchart Gardens – Brentwood Bay, BC
In 1904, Jennie Butchart transformed the property that she lived on – including a limestone quarry – into a 55-acre display garden. The internationally-renowned attraction features the Sunken Garden, which was formerly the quarry, along with a Japanese Garden, Rose Garden, Italian Garden and Mediterranean Garden exhibit. Still privately owned and operated by her family, The Butchart Gardens was declared a National Historic Site of Canada on its 100th birthday in 2004.
University of Alberta Botanic Garden – Parkland County, AB
Known as the “garden in a forest,” the University of Alberta Botanic Garden is set on 240 acres, only 15 minutes outside of Edmonton. In addition to fruit orchards and indoor showhouses, the stunning property is known for its Kurimoto Japanese Garden (a five-acre, kaiyou-style strolling garden), the Aga Khan Garden, which showcases Islamic landscape architecture, as well as the Indigenous Garden, which is the first Indigenous peoples’ garden at a Canadian botanic site.
Patterson Garden Arboretum – Saskatoon, SK
Situated in Saskatoon at the northern edge of North America’s Great Plains, the Patterson Garden Arboretum was established in 1966 as an experiment to test the hardiness of woody plant species, and is now a part of Canada’s Garden Route. Featuring an impressive collection of trees, shrubs and vines, dozens of new species are introduced each year. It’s also a popular spot for photographers, school field trips and nature walks year-round.
The Leaf, Assiniboine Park – Winnipeg, MB
Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park is home to The Leaf, which features an indoor horticultural attraction and nearly 30 acres of gardens and greenspace. Inside The Leaf are four distinct biomes for guests to explore, including a Tropical Biome and the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden. The site’s outdoor space features an Indigenous Peoples’ Garden, the Kitchen Garden (complete with edible plants and an outdoor oven) and the Sensory Garden where guests can interact with nature.
Royal Botanical Gardens – Burlington and Hamilton, ON
A National Historic Site and the largest botanical garden in the country, the Royal Botanical Gardens spans two cities across the Niagara Escarpment, including nature sanctuaries, cultivated gardens and an arboretum. For over 80 years, they’ve not only been a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike, but they are also tasked with preserving the balance between people and natural spaces. Hendrie Park in Burlington is the RBG’s largest cultivated garden, complete with an international sculpture collection, a garden with healing plants from around the world and a dreamy rose garden.
Montreal Botanical Garden – Montreal, QC
Minutes from downtown Montreal, near the Biodome and Olympic Park, is the Montreal Botanical Garden, featuring ten exhibition greenhouses, three cultural gardens and more than 15 thematic gardens across 185 acres. Recognized as one of the world’s top botanical gardens, it’s home to thousands of plant species, including 800 threatened species from around the globe. With programs and exhibits for visitors of all ages, it’s a destination for families, tourists and horticulturalists.
Fredericton Botanic Garden – Fredericton, NB
In 1990, the City of Fredericton dedicated 53 acres adjacent to the west end of Odell Park and one of Atlantic Canada’s most notable botanic gardens was born. For more than three decades, visitors to the Fredericton Botanic Garden have enjoyed everything from guided walks through foliage and floral displays to the exploration of interpretive trails. The space includes azaleas, daylilies and peonies on display, plus themed exhibits like the Wabanaki Healing Garden that celebrates Indigenous culture, knowledge and traditions in relation to medicinal and edible plants.
Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens – Annapolis Royal, NS
The historic gardens in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, are small but mighty, nestled in a picturesque tidal valley and spanning 17 acres. Since 1981, guests from around Canada and the world have been captivated by their Rose Collection, taking a step back in time to 1671 thanks to the reconstructed Acadian House, and ventured through more than four hundred years of local history represented in the flowers and plants on display. The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens also offers events like guided photo walks, live music and theatre, and scavenger hunts for kids.
Macphail Woods – Vernon Bridge, PEI
When it opened in 1991, Macphail Woods consisted of a few trails, a wildlife garden and a small native plant nursery. It’s grown over the past three decades to include a teaching space, summer camps, a greenhouse and arboretum where guests can learn about sustainable forestry practices and Prince Edward Island’s ecosystems. One of their key projects is restoring the Wabanaki-Acadian Forest, an endangered ecoregion that covers the Atlantic Canadian provinces, southern Quebec and northern New England.
Memorial University Botanical Garden – St. John’s, NL
The Memorial University Botanical Garden officially opened in 1977 as the four-acre Oxen Pond Botanic Park. It has grown to 110 acres over the decades but its mission remains the same: creating a working university garden used for teaching and learning, a botanical garden that embraces plant conservation and environmental sustainability, and a community space where locals and visitors alike can enjoy Newfoundland and Labrador’s flora.
Faro Arboretum – Faro, YT
Located in the community of Faro, Yukon Territories, the Faro Arboretum is the most northern arboretum in Canada. Operating as both a botanical park and recreation area, it’s an interpretive day-use park and a trail designed to educate visitors about the unique flora and fauna of the Yukon. Learn about native trees like Quaking Aspen, Green Alder and Pacific Willow, or shrubs like Dwarf Blueberry, Highbush Cranberry and Buffaloberry.
VanDusen Botanical Garden – Vancouver, BC
The VanDusen Botanical Garden opened in 1975 and was built on the former Shaughnessy Golf Course. It’s a research hub, a valuable resource for the community and an attraction that welcomes guests from around the world. Sign up for one of their gardening courses or guided walks, lose yourself in the Elizabethan Maze, or enjoy the view of their Stone Garden from the second-highest point in Vancouver.
Toronto Botanical Garden – Toronto, ON
Toronto Botanical Garden is located in an area of the city that’s adjacent to Edwards Gardens, Wilket Creek and the Don Valley Ravine, and is responsible for maintaining Canada’s largest private horticultural library. Its mission is to connect people with plants, encourage sustainable communities, and educate visitors on the important role that nature plays in our world. Guests can wander through several themed gardens, including the Teaching Garden, the Terraced Garden, and the Beryl Ivey Knot Garden that demonstrates the art of pruning and shaping plants in a defined garden space.