The beehaven garden with the Red Barn at the Botanical Garden in Ottawa


Aren’t you getting excited about being together again? Don’t you feel that if we’ve learned anything from the challenging past year and a half, it’s about the healing power of green spaces?  So many of us have sought out those unique destinations that can both be enjoyed as a place for restoration of our bodies and inspiration for our minds. A botanical garden, for instance, is a place of beauty, stimulation, physical activity and learning. With that in mind, I hope you’re excited about Canadensis, The Garden of Canada/Le Jardin du Canada, a unique world-class botanical garden centred in Ottawa.

Interdependence with Nature

Canadensis will promote a deeper understanding of our intimate interdependence with nature in Canada and the need to pursue environmentally responsible lifestyles.  Once established, environmental education will take place in cooperation with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Arboretum, The Fletcher Wildlife Garden, and the Central Experimental Farm. Canadensis will be a public resource for relevant research on climate change underway in our times. 

What’s doubly exciting is there’s no need to wait as education through Canadensis is already happening!  

Canadensis is moving forward. The enthusiasm of Canadensis Botanical Garden Society (CBGS) board members, staff and volunteers, who have been hard at work on it, was shared during an online meeting earlier this year. Here, we learned how financial support provided through your memberships and donations had resulted in the drafting of a formal Vision document. It’s this long-term planning document that lays out the groundwork to guide the creation of the botanical garden centred in Ottawa. It’s a conceptual plan based on public input, surveys and a breadth of inter-linked research elements that outlines what the garden will look like and how visitors will be engaged. It was exciting to have seen all the work already in place to ensure the overall vision is on a solid foundation for implementation.

Planning the Botanical Garden

Much planning is taking place to ensure that this Ottawa garden will present the rich diversity of Canada’s ecosystems, through public education, sustainability demonstrations, interactive displays and seasonal entertainment. Canadensis will incorporate the broad realities of the diverse environments and climates in our provinces and territories in tandem with the perspectives of First Nations, Inuit and Metis to inform the development and content of the site. Interestingly, our location in Ottawa will also provide international horticultural history and practices through the unique diplomatic community that is part of the fabric of this capital city – a green expression of global concern for a sustainable world.

So, what are some of the physical components of the Canadensis site to tempt you? A series of formal and informal green spaces, bodies of water and floral displays which combine with various nature experiences, including a Canopy Walk high above in giant trees. The Climate Change Lab will attract visitors, students, and researchers to delve into the challenges and potential consequences of climate change. The Aboriginal Garden will showcase medicinal uses of plants and historical and spiritual interrelationships with the natural world. A glass-barn Conservatory will be accessible all year. A 30-metre lookout Silo will demonstrate the vascular system in plants with dramatic views towards Parliament Hill and across our surrounding region. Designed for all four seasons in our northern climate, it will be a destination for you, your family, and your friends to visit and enjoy all year round. Domestic and international visitors will gain an understanding of Canada’s diverse geography and natural heritage of flora and fauna. 

Is there a Canadian garden style? Are we moving towards one? Canadensis will help us find out. 

Virtual Garden Tours

Canadensis, has already networked with botanical gardens across Canada, and has hosted a series of Virtual Garden Tours on botanical destinations along the Canadian Garden Route – made possible by the CBGS collaborating with the Canadian Garden Council. The presentations have attracted a national and international audience. It’s so good to know that Canadensis will be part of a rich tapestry of gardens across the country.  

Presentations included: two gardens in Quebec: the historic Reford Garden/Le Jardin de Metis, where the vision of one woman turned the land around a fishing lodge into a word-class garden, and the Jardin Botanique de Montréal, founded in 1931 and now recognized as one of the most important in the world. Additionally, The Memorial University Botanical Garden in St. John’s, Newfoundland, which encompasses multiple trails and wild places, and the New Brunswick Botanical Garden in Edmundston, with intriguing community and youth programming, thematic gardens and mosaicultures to help discover the local history and culture, were featured. 

This deep dive into gardens continues throughout the autumn with a look at the Assiniboine Park Diversity Gardens in Winnipeg, then out to the west coast for a presentation on the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver. If you missed those tours – no problem.  Many videos are saved on our website so you can enjoy the original presentations and find future events. 

Follow up

Eager for more? Beyond the resources provided online, you can also walk the Canadensis grounds now; enjoy the art installations and feel the creative energy waiting to burst out at this 34-acre destination. 

Keep an eye on the website to share in the excitement.  We invite you to dig in as a member, volunteer or donorCanadensis – this is our national botanic garden, and it promises to be a marvellous botanical garden centred in Ottawa!  Spread the word.

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