An Afternoon at Montreal Botanical Garden

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Quebec
Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

The Montreal Botanical Garden is world-renowned for, among other things, its expansive outdoor gardens.  In fact, I first added the Montreal Botanical Garden to my (quite extensive) travel bucket list when I saw photographs of the Japanese Garden and Pavilion in a magazine.  Thousands flock to this Quebec landmark during the summer, when the gardens are at their peak, and in the fall, the Chinese Garden hosts a wildly popular lantern festival.

On the surface, I understand a botanical garden may not seem like a perfect winter attraction – but the Montreal Botanical Garden isn’t your normal garden variety garden.  Ha!  See what I did there?  I truly cannot stop myself from making a good pun

Anyways, when I visited a few days before Christmas last year, it was so cold outside I quite literally ran to garden from the nearest metro station.  Even in twenty-two degree weather, however, the garden’s greenhouses epitomized urban oasis, and for about two hours, I completely forgot about the North Pole-like conditions outside.

Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

I am impressed that I have even one photo of the gardens’ exterior.  Oh, how I could not wait to enter a heated space.  I had Kevin and my younger sister, Jen, in tow, both as cold as I was.  Kevin himself loves plants, I adore any and every excuse I can use to take two hundred photographs, and Jen has long had an interest in the outdoors and natural world.  The garden, I had figured during my trip planning process, ought to be a crowd-pleasing attraction.

And, my friends, it did not disappoint.  Now, I studied literature in college, so to say I know absolutely nothing about botany is somehow still an understatement.  But I do know pretty plants when I see them.

Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

There are ten greenhouses in total, each featuring a unique array of plants from climates as diverse as the tropics and the desert.  Each of the greenhouses are open during the winter, and, I might add, considerably warmer than the outdoors.  Being late December, my travel companions and I hadn’t seen green leaves or flowering plants in months, and Kevin commented the garden made for an ideal winter attraction.

Yes, I thought to myself.  Just what every trip planner likes to hear!  And like I said, who knew a garden would prove to be the highlight of a trip to Canada in the wintertime?

Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

So many colors!  A number of these plants reminded me of the outfits Mindy Kaling wears on the popular sitcom The Mindy Project.

Pardon me, I’m going through a bit of a binge-watching phase of some reruns right now on Hulu.  Surely you understand; a few weeks ago, I was up until well after five in the morning watching this show.  I know, I should have been writing, but alas – and wow, I do digress easily.  All I’m trying to say is at the time of our visit, everything north of the Carolinas had long since turned to a monotonous brown.  Escaping winter for an afternoon is something this summer-obsessed travel writer will never refuse.

Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

My favorite part of the Montreal Botanical Garden is that it has an exhibit for everyone.  I’m something of a hobby chef and baker, and I work with a variety of spices anytime I step foot in the kitchen.  I absolutely loved the gardens’ display of popular spices from around the world, next to the plants that produce them.  Cinnamon, for example, is probably my favorite food (sorry, pizza) and I use the ground stuff you buy at the supermarket on a daily basis.  Rarely do I think about its origins; the same could be said about cardamom, one of the many other spices featured at the Montreal Botanical Garden.

Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

Another personal favorite of mine was the Arid Regions greenhouse, featuring a variety of flora one would find in the American Southwest.  I will never forget the feeling of walking from greenhouse to greenhouse; thankfully, they are all connected to one another by a series of airtight doors so visitors do not have to step outside, but the climate in each greenhouse is noticeably distinct.  The Arid Regions greenhouse was observably less humid and more, well, arid.   I felt a deep appreciation for the obviously skilled botanists who can somehow keep a cactus alive in the middle of a Quebecois winter:

Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

Jen and Kevin, meanwhile, found the Garden of Weedlessness to be the most attention-grabbing.  Its feature, the collection of impeccably manicured bonsai trees, are unarguably one of the highlights of all ten greenhouses:

Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, CanadaMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

We spent about ninety minutes to two hours at the Montreal Botanical Garden, and I would heartily say that the somewhat hefty admission fee is completely worthwhile.  An out-of-town adult ticket is roughly twenty U.S. dollars, and readers, y’all know I only recommend attractions over ten bucks when they are truly exceptional.  I’m committed to budget-friendly travel, but some experiences are well worth the price.  My travel theory is this: make a budget and stick to it,  but never, ever let a frugal attitude keep you from what could be a vacation-making experience.

And a vacation-making experience this was.  Like I said above, I appreciated that the gardens has something for everyone and is incredibly family-friendly.  And for sun-lovers like myself, a wintertime visit to the Montreal Botanical Garden offers a much-needed escape into a colorful, occasionally tropical world – if only for a few hours.

Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

The above photograph of Jen and Kevin, taken outside the gardens, shows I’m not exaggerating about how cold it was that day.  Luckily, the winter weather did work in my favor for one part of our visit: while the greenhouses are connected to one another, the Insectarium (included in the basic admission price) was a decent walk away and Jen, something of a bug lover, did not feel up to the stroll.  I’m not that big a fan of the insect world, so I was relieved.  I’ll stick with beautiful purple flowers, thank you very much!  But the Insectarium is there for those who don’t scream bloody murder anytime they see a dark piece of lint on the carpet that could be a beetle.

Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

Now, I didn’t know this prior to visiting, but we happened to pop by the gardens during an intimate Christmas concert!  The Montreal Botanical Garden hosts a variety of concerts and other events throughout the year, and those interested can learn about upcoming performances on their website.

Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

I was not paid, reimbursed, or offered any incentives of any sort to write this article.  I simply visited the Montreal Botanical Garden with my family and I loved it so much I knew I had to recommend it on my blog.  As I’ve stated elsewhere on this website, I do firmly believe “sponsored posts” are inherently deceptive, and that no writer or blogger can be truly unbiased when receiving compensation for a  review/advertisement.  Your trust, dear readers, is of utmost importance to me, and I do my best to recommend attractions and sights I think you’ll love!

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