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The Royal Botanical Gardens Reopens The Rock Garden

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The Rock Garden is open! After closing for renovations, the 80+-year-old Rock Garden has been transformed by the Royal Botanical Gardens into a perfect blend of modern garden design and historical preservation. It reopened to the public on May 20th, but before the crowds were allowed in I was allowed a sneak peak of the newly transformed space to share with you. It is amazing how native grasses, shrubs, and flowers when planted amongst large slabs of Limestone, can turn a former gravel pit into a place of beauty and tranquility. I think I need a little tranquility during this Hamilton adventure and what better place to have it than at the David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden.

Looking at the top of the Rock Garden pavilon from the bottom

The Rock Garden of today is totally a garden for the 21st Century, but that is not how it started out. Over 80 years ago it was a gravel pit that helped form the foundations for many of the rail lines that crisscrossed the area. When the Great Depression arrived a make work project was formed and for the next two years workers transformed the pit into a Rock Garden with over 10,000 lbs of Niagara Limestone placed into the landscape t form the bones of the Garden.

History of the Rock Garden

Fast forward to today and this former gravel pit is no longer about taking from the Earth, it is about rejuvenation and reviving the flora and fauna that would naturally occur in the area.

Royal Botanical Garden Rock Garden Entrance

The entrance to the Rick Garden is a brand new Visitor Centre that overlooks the lower bowl of the Garden.

Looking down into the Rock Garden

Step outside and begin your descent on the limestone slabs to the lower bowl of the Garden.

Flora & Fauna in bloom at the Rock Garden

Limestone steps and a waterfall at the Rock Garden

Water is a huge part of the Rock Garden. There’s a waterfall and a stream that run through the entire lower bowl of the garden.

Waterfall within the Rock Garden

Lots of shrubs and plants are just starting to bloom as it’s the beginning of Spring here including a massive Magnolia Tree.

Magnolias in bloom

A look from the bottom of the Rock Garden

You can spend an entire afternoon exploring the Rock Garden or just sit and contemplate the Universe if that suits you. If you’re up for a stroll the world famous collection of Lilacs is located across the street and a short walk down towards the Arboretum

Rock Garden map

I think it is safe to say the David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden will regain its star attraction status and host thousands of visitors a month. It is worth a visit and part of over 2000 hectares under management by the Royal Botanical Gardens. I’m sure you’ll be able to enjoy a full day at the gardens. For lunch don’t forget to check out Easterbrooks Hot Dog Stand.

Easterbrooks Hot Dog Stand in Burlington


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About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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