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Botanical Garden
Photograph: Daphne Caron

The best gardens to visit in Montreal, from botanical to secret spots

Big, small, hidden or wildly beautiful, the best gardens of Montreal show off the city's most fabulous side

Isa Tousignant
Written by
Isa Tousignant

Wander through someof the most beautiful gardens of Montreal, filled with blossoms, horticultural variety or just sheer, unabashed beauty. Unlike the greatest parks in and around Montreal, or the greatest green spots for day trips, these beautiful gardens are all central and accessible by metro—often also conveniently located next to the city’s top cafés and sandwich shops, so you can pick up a picnic on the way.

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The Jardin Botanique de Montréal has a variety of natural environments to soak in. In the warmer months, stroll through the beautiful grounds that encompass the Chinese, Japanese and First Nations gardens, each with their own vibe and species. They all come to life at night at the annual Gardens of Light event in early fall, a lantern festival so popular you have to book your spot way ahead. Year-round, you can soak up the vibes, smells and humid earthiness of the vast greenhouses, ranging from indigenous to tropical. It does the soul good midwinter, that's for sure.

Take the metro (or the free shuttle bus that runs all day from downtown Montreal to the Casino) to Parc Jean-Drapeau, an incredible island park packed with 25 km of trails lined with blooms and views of the St. Lawrence in the summer months. The star of the show is the Floralies garden: just outside the Casino, it’s a collection of shrubs, trees and flower beds crisscrossed by pretty walkways. Take in La Toundra and Place du Canada while you’re there, two iconic buildings dating back to Expo 67.


3. Governor’s Garden 

The green space behind the Old Port’s historic Château Ramesay museum is free of access from the street, and you’ll often find it animated with some educational activity or another in the growing months. Bring a snack and sit among the highly groomed shrubs, aromatic plants and fruit trees that make homage to the New France gardens of the 18th century.

4. The Quiet Garden 

It wears its name well. You’d never think you’re smack bang in the middle of downtown’s busiest strip in this garden of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. This true oasis of calm and green abundance is appointed with a couple of benches for contemplation anytime between June and September. Keep in mind it’s intended as a meditative space and it’s privately owned by this presbyterian church, so keep it quiet, like the name says.


5. Christ Church Cathedral Garden

This Anglican Gothic Revival cathedral on Sainte-Catherine has small grassy grounds punctuated with flowering trees, under which downtown workers congregate to eat their lunches. It’s not the most glorious of gardens, but it’s a lovely spot of green in the centre of the concrete jungle, and the perfect pit stop for a quick hit of chill.

6. Musée des Hospitalières Garden 

You’ve probably wondered what’s behind the wall if you’ve ever walked along the beach volleyball courts on Avenue du Parc, at the foot of the mountain. This is what: a truly breathtaking enclave owned by the Musée des Hospitalières, ex-monastery related to the Hôtel-Dieu hospital. The garden was initially used as a kitchen garden to feed both the community and the hospital’s patients; now it’s a pleasure garden packed with flowerbeds and a large orchard, open to the public all summer long.


7. Westmount Conservatory and Greenhouses

This lovely four-season spot on the edge of Westmount Park was built in 1927. It's been restored and updated over the decades, notably by being linked with the Victoria Hall next door via the creation of an exhibition space, often worth a look itself. Shallow pools, water features, specimens from the four corners of the globe—it’s a whole universe in there, well worth a half-day.

8. Concordia Greenhouse

This 13th-floor greenhouse that’s original to Concordia’s Hall Building (built in 1966) is an all-organic space geared towards community, education and sustainable horticulture, and good news, it’s open to the public. It’s a year-round, sun-drenched, south-west facing green space full of produce grown using eco practices, and it’s the site of all sorts of workshops and events to raise awareness around contemporary agriculture and consumerism.


9. Garden of the Way of the Cross

The grounds of Saint Joseph’s Oratory are one of the best kept secret gardens in the city, with both formal French-style gardens and wild English-garden flowerbeds strewn with 42 towering stone sculptures, plus sitting spots. The famous landscape architect Frederick Todd designed the pathway meandering around this lush, leafy garden on the flank of the mountain, which abuts onto the Père-Louis-Trempe Natural Reserve.

This beautiful rooftop garden in the Quartier des Spectacles is prime strolling grounds for the downtown crowd seeking some natural refuge over lunch or after work. Its sprawling 7,000 square feet of harvested space included decorative plants, flowers and produce, the latter of which is used by local chefs or sold at nearby farmers’ markets.


11. Grand Quay de Montréal Walkway

Another city initiative to greenify common areas, this handsome wooden walkway running along the second floor of the Grand Quay to Montréal towards the river has really cool flower beds filled with local species in a re-wilding initiative, requiring very little tending and giving the whole stretch a really nice wild prairie feel. It’s great for a quick walk, but you can also park yourself on one of the benches and gaze out at the river views all around

12. Ruelle Champêtre Henri-Julien

Montreal has a growing number of green lanes—some of which are designated that way just because they’re closed to traffic, while others, like this one, take the term much more literally. This community project in the back lane between Henri-Julien and Drolet near Carré Saint-Louis is tended with loving care by the residents, who’ve planted a true Garden of Eden back there. Wander through at your leisure, and feel free to pick something from the community book box while you’re there.


It’s more of a backyard, we’ll concede, but this is the quaintest green spot you’re likely to find to sling a pint back in the city. This Irish pub in the Village draws the summertime crowds for its incredible back garden, set under a canopy of leafy trees, with every surrounding wall covered with lush creeping vines. It’s a real oasis, but the kind where you never go thirsty.

14. Café Santropol Garden

This Californian-style sandwich shop on the Plateau (est. 1976) doles out some vegetarian-forward snacks that are decent indeed, especially if you enjoy them in the gorgeous back garden at the foot of Mount Royal. It’s small but mighty atmospheric, with cotton lanterns, bunting and twinkly lights for the evening, and lots of small tables set in nicely landscaped nooks. Try the carrot cake, still one of the best in town.


Nestled within the Ritz-Carlton Montréal is Daniel Boulud’s eponymous restaurant, and nestled in the back of that restaurant? Easily the prettiest little restaurant garden of all. Order your weekend brunch (hello, Parma ham and cheese tartine) or an elaborate dinner (starring the squid ink taglierini topped with Rimouski urchin, perhaps) from a table overlooking the water feature and the little bridge. Venture out to stretch your legs after the feast.

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