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Les Jardines de Quebec - Part Three
by Carla Allen
by Carla Allen

Greetings from Nova Scotia!

Carla Allen has been gardening for the past 25 years, co-owned a nursery in southwestern Nova Scotia for 16 years.

Carla has an extensive image library and nurtures a network of horticulture in the region. She was the first president of the Yarmouth Garden Club.

August 26, 2001

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The Montreal Botanical Garden is easy to find. From anywhere in the city, or outside for that matter, just head for the clearly visible, tallest leaning tower in the world. The 190 metre `Tour de Montreal' Olympic tower supports the roof of the Olympic Stadium. Situated near its base you'll discover a 73 hectare complex that includes an insectarium, arboretum, alpine garden, Japanese garden, Chinese garden and numerous other horticultural treasures. Over one million people visit these botanical gardens annually.
Our group of garden writers were on a tight schedule when we arrived, so we made a quick escape from our guide (who was struggling valiantly with English) to surge ahead in small groups. We had three hours to explore an area that required three days.
In 1936 the Botanical Garden began with the construction of an art deco administrative building adorned with fountains and waterfalls. Formal gardens were located on the West side. The mission of this botanical institution has included educational and scientific pursuits from the very beginning. Unusual uses for plants, new varieties, incredibly designed gardens - all of this was observed during my quick passage.
The Chinese garden, composed of seven pavilions, was built in China then transported to the port of Montreal in 1990 and re-constructed by 50 craftsmen from Shanghai. Alpine plant enthusiasts should plan on visiting the Montreal Botanical Gardens at some time in their lives - the collection is astounding. In the Innovative Gardens I saw something I'd like to mimic - a linear series of weeping hemlocks, trained to grow as a living curtain along a beam. Giant pots of pretty blue agapanthus (grown by many Quebecers) were everywhere. The Garden of the Senses with its rich mixture of texturally unique and fragrant plants caught everyone's interest with its appealing design. All of us were treated to a traditional Japanese box lunch, complete with chopsticks. Then it was onward to the butterfly house where several of these gossamer winged beauties landed on me as soon as I stepped inside. My experience, and seeing them land on delighted children was absolutely fairyland-ish.
Mosaiculture International is our next stop, but first a short visit to a community garden. Montreal has five to ten times more community gardens than other cities of the same size. 6,400 garden lots are available to residents at a cost of $10 each. Some gardeners harvest over 200 pounds of produce from their 10 x 20 plot.
At Mosaicultures we all donned headsets and listened to our guide as she led us around the Old Port of Montreal, home to these fantastical creations between June 19 and Oct.9, 2001. I'd received a promotional catalogue earlier this year for this event and longed to see it in person. This year's theme is The Magicians' Garden. The artists who have designed and created these two and three dimensional exhibits are modern day horticultural wizards! Over 100 metal framed sculptures can be viewed here with approximately 2 million plants planted snugly on their surface. Alternanthera, echeveria, santolina, sedum, wax begonias and coleus are just some of the plants used to provide different textures and colours. Sculptures must be pruned weekly and up to 10 waterings are required on some days. Countries from around the world are represented, as are capital cities in Canada. Halifax is a hit with its `Theodore Tugboat; St. John's, representing Newfoundland and Labrador, entered two panels of Celtic motifs ; Charlottetown P.E.I. built an elegant Palladian rotunda and the Fredericton, N.B. entry portrays the legendary Coleman frog.
Mosaicultures International Montreal is a photographer's paradise. No room for all of the pictures here, but if you'd like to see photos of the entire Quebec Garden excursion, I've set up an album online for easy viewing. Access this at: You can even use the slide show feature.
The bag containing my PR info weighed as much as my suitcase on the way home! If you'd like more information on any of the topics I've mentioned in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me at The Vine, P.O.Box 615, Yarmouth, N.S. B5A 4B6 or by email: 
For more information on the Gardens of Quebec and a free brochure, contact: Association des Jardins du Quebec 82, Grande-Allee Ouest, Quebec G1R 2G6 (418) 647-4347

Montreal Botanical Gardens
ph 514.872.1400

Mosaicultures International Montreal

Reford Gardens

Domaine Joly de Lotbinière

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row