Rock Garden

By Liliana Usvat

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Rock gardens and other public gardens are public spaces that offer inspiration for us all to plant on spaces that are more difficult to plant such as deep slopes.

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Royal Botanical Garden in Burlignton Ontario offer such inspiration that is a pleasure for spirit and eye and is good for the soul. It is also like a school for those that need ideas to plant.

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A beautiful place can be a better choice for the owners of the land as touristic attraction instead of using the trees for wood and logging. The land that is stripped of trees is difficult to be of good use in the future if it looses the soil that sustain life.

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Also the land needs constant care to maintain its beauty. So logging and planting one type of trees with temporary underpaid  workers that take the money and leave is not a sustainable solution in long run in my opinion.

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Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is headquartered in Burlington and also include lands in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

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It is one of the major tourist attractions between Niagara Falls and Toronto, as well as a significant local and regional horticultural, education, conservation, and scientific resource.

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On 31 July 2006, Royal Botanical Gardens was selected as the National Focal Point for the Global strategy for plant conservation (GSPC) by Environment Canada

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The 980 hectares (2,422 acres) of nature sanctuary owned by Royal Botanical Gardens is considered the plant biodiversity hotspot for Canada, with a very high proportion of the wild plants of Canada in one area; is an Important Bird Area according to Bird Studies Canada

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More than 1,100 species of plants grow within its boundaries including the Bashful Bulrush (Trichophorum planifolium) which is found nowhere else in Canada, and the largest remaining population of Canada’s most endangered tree, the Red Mulberry (Morus rubra). Both of these plants are listed as Endangered in Canada under the Species at Risk Act.

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Initial sections of the RBG were built during the Great Depression in the 1930s as a make work project, under the impetus of Thomas McQuesten. It beautified derelict or undeveloped land in north Hamilton and west Burlington.

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For instance, a disused gravel pit was turned into the Rock Gardens, by using stone relocated from the Niagara Escarpment. The original vision of the RBG was a mixture of horticultural displays and protected natural forests and wetlands. Formal permission was obtained in 1930 from King George V to call the gardens “Royal Botanical Gardens”.

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The first Director of RBG, Dr. Norman Radforth, was appointed in 1947 and was a Professor of Botany at nearby McMaster University. In the early 1950s, Dr. Leslie Laking was appointed as Director and served until the early 1980s.

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Under his guidance, the institution developed into the major entity it is today. With approximately 1,100 ha (2,700 acres) of property, Royal Botanical Gardens is one of the largest such institutions in North America. In 2006, the Auxiliary of RBG published Love, sweat and soil: a history of Royal Botanical Gardens from 1930 to 1981 authored by Dr. Laking.

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Funding for the institution was initially provided largely by the City of Hamilton and then in the 1940s by the Province of Ontario.

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By the early 1980s, funding restrictions and the desire to become increasingly self-supported led to charging of an admission fee for the cultivated garden areas.

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The extensive system of nature trails, more than 20 kilometres (12 mi) in length, has remained accessible free of charge. As of 2006, approximately 40% of RBG’s annual budget comes from support from the Province of Ontario, the City of Hamilton and the Region of Halton.

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The remainder, 60%, is classed as ‘self-generated revenue’ and is raised annually from admissions, memberships, donations, summer camps, and fees-for-service.

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Innovative educational programs are operated from both RBG’s main building in Burlington and the Nature Interpretive Centre, located in the Arboretum to the north of Cootes Paradise.

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Over 18,000 school children per year visit the organized school programs, and over 200 public education offerings include such diverse topics as botanical illustration, organic cooking and basic botany.

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